A buffet cupboard was missing in our living room. When one day, while browsing eBay, I discovered one for sale, it didn’t take long and I had another new project in my garage. Due to the size I had to rent a van for one afternoon to get the cupboard home. But fortunately everything worked without any problems.
I wanted to create a cupboard that had a Shabby Chic look but didn’t look too distressed. Sometimes I like it better when you can see the handwork, the individual brush strokes and the natural unevenness of the wood, but the surface of the lacquer is not sanded off.
A piece of furniture can get a special Shabby Chic look, even if it does not have the typical worn corners and edges. Especially if you work with chalk paint, which gives each piece of furniture a unique flair. But see for yourself and see how you like it. 🙂
So far this project was my most complex one. The work took more than three weeks due to the number of work steps and the size of the furniture. But I think it was worth it. 🙂
The kitchen buffet cupboard was made of clear lacquered solid pine wood. The top was easy to remove, but the cabinet could not be further disassembled. Apart from the fact that you could remove all the drawers and the five doors from the hinges, I had to work on the cabinet in two large parts. Since I would replace the simple round handles with new furniture handles that fit the Shabby Chic look, I dismantled them.
This piece of furniture has also been in use for many years and was correspondingly dirty. I planned to paint the cupboard with Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan. There is a lot of advertising that this paint will hold on all surfaces without any preparation. You can not only save yourself the sanding but – apart from rough soiling – even the cleaning. Nevertheless, I did not have a good feeling about simply applying the paint to the obvious deposits that inevitably appear on any old piece of furniture. For example, the handles and the wood directly behind them had a strong greasy film, which was caused by frequent touching.
In order to be able to remove these very stubborn deposits, I mixed a special degreasing solution (I use Molto’s, also available at amazon: Molto Anlauger & Entfetter). Then I applied it generously with a brush with plastic bristles on all surfaces.
Please take care of your health
But before that I made sure that the floor was well covered with foil and that I wore gloves. I also left the garage open to ensure good ventilation. Because such chemical additives are not completely harmless for you and the environment!
2. Filling and Drilling
Before the painting I thought about the new furniture handles. For the doors I imagined handles and for the drawers clappers (hanging handles) made of silver metal. Since both handle types should fit optically together, it was not so easy to find something in the internet. But finally I found what I was looking for at a small internet shop specialising in furniture handles.
For a central positioning of the clappers on the drawers the old drill holes were no longer suitable. And for the handles I needed now two instead of only one drill hole. For this reason I now had to fill the old holes and to drill new ones.
If you are looking for a filler, you will find a huge selection, because there are many different suppliers and many different types of fillers. Since I thought it was too much work to mix the filler by myself, I chose the wood repair filler from molto (also available at amazon: Molto wood repair filler). It is already mixed and therefore very convenient to use. You open the lid, take out what you need. After using it you can close it again so that the filler remains usable for a long time. After drying, it can be treated just like wood, i.e. it can be sanded and varnished.
The filler I have chosen is relatively coarse and grainy, as it is intended for repairing larger cracks and holes. If you want to make finer repairs, I would recommend a thinner texture. These are also available in very practical ready-to-use tubes. To get the filler into the holes, I needed a spatula. I prefer to work with so-called Japanese spatulas, because they are flexible in contrast to classic metal spatulas. They consist of a very thin sheet metal, with which you can press the filling paste deep into the holes. Such spatulas are usually available in sets of different sizes and do not cost much (e.g. amazon: Japanspachtel).
After the filling paste had dried in the holes, I finished the surface with some sandpaper. That way I got a really flat blending, which you wouldn’t see after painting over.
In order not to strain the finished piece of furniture more than necessary, I drilled the holes for the new handles now. In doing so I could make marks with a pencil and work with help lines, since I would paint over the pencil lines in the end anyways. I would also avoid leaving unwanted marks when drilling, for example if the wood around the holes splintered. With a cordless screwdriver and a small wood drill this was done very quickly.
3. Masking off
Since the glass could not be easily removed from the vitrine doors, I had to mask all eight glasses from both sides with paint crepe. In addition, I decided to paint only the fronts of the drawers. More of the drawer would not be visible anyway. In order to create a clean border, I taped around the drawer fronts. That was the end of the preparatory work and the fun part was about to start. :)
4. Painting White
Now I could start with the chalk paint of Annie Sloan. Although there are certainly many very good brushes for less money, I couldn’t help but buy the original brush, the Pure Bristle from Annie Sloan. With almost 30€ a very expensive brush. But after having seen how it was used on the internet again and again, I became weak.
Don’t forget to prime
Since you never can be sure how old wooden furniture and in particular such from pine wood reacts, meaning whether it bleeds through the applied layers of paint, I painted first only one of the doors and a small drawer front. When I applied the paint, everything looked fine. But 10 minutes after the painting I saw exactly what I didn’t want to see: The white colour turned yellow in some places! In particular, the stains came out very clearly on the areas that I had just treated with sandpaper in the filled drill holes. So the sanding apparently removed the still sealing varnish layer, so that the wood ingredients could now pass unhindered through the chalk paint to the outside.
Since it wouldn’t help to apply several layers of paint on top of each other, I had to do an intermediate step with wood insulating primer. I used the DurAcryl Wood Insulation Primer from Schöner Wohnen in the colour „pure white“. So later I would only need one layer of the chalk paint to achieve a covering result. In my most recent projects, however, I mostly work with a colourless varnish, the Shabby Chic Sealing from Lignocolor (Amazon Lignocolor Shabby Chic Versiegelung). It doesn’t smell too chemical and it is super easy to apply.
Using a foam roller, I applied the primer evenly to the entire piece of furniture. On the picture above you can see what the cabinet looked like after priming it.
Painting with Chalk Paint
After drying I could then continue with the chalk paint. I painted my buffet cupboard relatively evenly, but always with the brush in different directions to give the surface an individual character. On the right you can see what the surface looked like after being painted with chalk paint. Details on how Annie Sloan’s chalk paint can be applied can be found soon in a separate chapter.
5. Taping and Sealing
To make the cabinet more interesting, I wanted to paint the shelf and the back in grey instead of keeping everything white. In order to get a clean blend between the two colours, I had to mask it with paint crepe. After the white paint had dried I stuck the tape on it (picture above) and „sealed“ it with white paint. Because paint crepe is never completely sealing, no matter which tape you buy, a bit of paint will always run behind it.
But by painting over the tape again with the same color as underneath, you make sure that only this color runs behind the tape. And this is totally ok, because the same color is underneath. This layer of paint seals the tape completely. After drying, the edge can then be painted over with the second colour.
6. Painting Grey
Now I painted the missing areas with Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint in the color „Paris Grey“. In contrast to the white colour, the grey was already perfectly covering in the first working step. On the picture with the close-up of the grey painted corner (above) you can see the structured surface of the chalk paint in detail. With the chalk paint it can happen from time to time that small chalk chunks remain stuck in the painted surface. You can also see such a clump on the picture. But it is not necessary to do the work to fish it out of the freshly painted surface. After drying such unevenness can simply be sanded flat with some sandpaper.
If you want to enjoy your piece of furniture painted with chalk paint for a long time, it is absolutely necessary to seal it. This works very well for example with the furniture wax „Soft Wax clear“ by Annie Sloan. It has a very soft consistency and is therefore easy to apply. Soon you can find more about this wax in my chapter Furniture waxes. Annie Sloan also offers wax brushes, but so far I was too stingy for them ;) (size S starts at 35€). Instead I used a simple round brush with plastic bristles.
I put the wax bit by bit on bit on a paper plate, on which I could knock off the brush again and again. Every time, when I had the feeling to have caught too much wax at once, I brushed it off. When waxing, the painted colour becomes slightly darker. It’s not really visible on white. But on darker colors you can see where you’ve been with the brush and where you haven’t.
Important: Lint-free cloth!
Whenever I worked on a small spot with the brush, I used a lint-free cloth to follow it in circling movements. Doing this I removed any excess wax, worked it into the surface and to polished the surface. If you like, you can work with a lot of pressure to ensure an even distribution of the wax. But it is important that the cloth is really clean and lint-free! If there are even the smallest particles in the cloth, you rub them into the wax. And then it is a really hard job to remove them!
The end result is a very nice smooth and slightly shiny surface. In the picture below you can see what the surface looked like shortly after waxing.
The brush strokes in the grey color are still very well recognizable and the surface looks beautifully noble. You will immediately feel the difference between the untreated and the waxed surface. The pure colour is rough and powdery. Every little dust particle gets stuck and you hardly have a chance to remove any stains. When I accidentally touched a door with slightly dirty hands, I had no choice but to paint it over again. The sealed surface, on the other hand, is nicely smooth and insensitive. After hardening it can be cleaned like any other piece of furniture.
8. Furniture handles
In the last step only the furniture handles had to be mounted and the cabinet had to be assembled. I had painted over the hinges of the doors. This is why I had to remove the paint from the pins of the lower parts of the hinges now. Otherwise I would not have been able to insert the doors. This went however completely problem-free by scraping the paint off with a carpet knife. With another kind of paint, like acrylic varnish for example, this would not have been so easy. So, if you also paint doors, it is a good idea to mask the parts that have to be put back into each other afterwards. ;)
After many hours of work a – in my opinion – great Shabby Chic buffet cabinet was created. It brings a great flair into my living room. 🙂