In this post: Have you got a piece of furniture that’s too dark for your room? Here’s how I lightened up my dining room with a DIY chalk painted china cabinet.⇒
Sometimes you know something needs to be done and you put it off anyway.
In this case, I knew that painting the dark cabinet in the corner of our dining room would lighten up the space. It’s a corner that’s dark even on the sunniest of days and having an imposing dark green cabinet dominate the corner compounded the problem.
Add to that the fact that this was not my favorite piece of furniture and you have a recipe for action. And yet time went by and dark it stayed.
Painting a Dining Room China Cabinet
Of course, the time to paint it would have been a couple of weeks ago when I cleaned it out as part of my project to organize our dishes.
However, I couldn’t complete that project until I decided where everything would be stored, and so I wound up refilling the cabinet, lining up the dishes with the utmost of precision.
Now I really didn’t want to take it apart again because I hated to lose that pristine organization.
I actually considered painting it with everything it in, and I might’ve even done that if I could get the drop cloth under it while it remained full. But I couldn’t.
Again it sat for a week or two unpainted. And the corner remained as dark as ever.
But spending lots of time at home has very much motivated me, so finally I decided to bite the bullet and tackle the job. I pulled everything out, being careful to place it on the table in order, so that putting everything back wouldn’t jeopardize the organization I had achieved.
Then I located my favorite paint, a chalk paint from Pure & Original’s Classico Line.
I had decided to do this piece a bit different than the others I’ve completed, by painting it flat without antiquing or highs and lows. I felt the piece lent itself to a more modern take on painting, given its straight lines and heavy presence.
I wanted it to essentially fade into the wall behind it, so I chose a light greige color that was slightly darker than the wall. The color is Soft Taupe Classico and it’s the color I used as the base layer of our French dresser. I recall thinking how pretty it looked as a flat color.
I set up my space and got started on the first coat.
The beauty of chalk paint in general and Pure & Original’s paint in particular is that you don’t need to prep the surface or apply base coats or primers. I just wiped down the cabinet to ensure it was free of dirt and began to paint.
On past projects I’ve always removed the hardware before painting, but the hardware on this cabinet was a bit trickier to remove, so instead I just carefully painted around it, at first coming close-ish with the larger brush and later going back in with a smaller brush for a more refined edge.
If I wasn’t aiming for a flat finish, I might’ve gotten away with just one coat of this base color, but since I was painting only one color, it definitely needed a second coat. After the second coat you can appreciate the soft velvety finish of this lush paint and once that dried it was time for the clear wax.
Below you can see the piece after I had just applied Pure & Original’s Classico Italian Wax, as it was still wet, but it dries clear and after buffing, provides a lovely soft protective finish.
While the wax was drying I decided to paint the crown that sits above the cabinet. I’ve always wanted the crown to be a distressed white, as I had seen it that way when I purchased it but that color wasn’t available. So now was the perfect time to tackle that, as well. I used Soft Taupe, Calm Classico and Milk White, layered in dry brush strokes on its rugged surface.
When layering, it’s always best to start with less and layer more as you go, working with a light hand and keeping a sponge nearby to remove paint when you apply too much. My general strategy was to leave dark in the recesses and layer the lighter colors on top, applying less and less as the colors got lighter.
Next I needed to address the hardware and I used gilding paste brushed on in much the same way, dry brushed with a light hand, leaving some dark in the recesses.
I added vintage crystal drops for a finishing touch and a note of ‘pretty’.
I did consider painting the inside of the cabinet, and Pure & Original has a new line of rich colors called Upside Down, that would be perfect for this, but I didn’t want to wait for the paint to be delivered, so I’ll leave that for another time. (Check out their color Mauve Love which is what I’m thinking of.)
Instead I put back my dishes in their orderly fashion and stood back and appreciated the functionality of the cabinet.
Yet, the dark inside was driving me crazy and I decided to give it a quick few coats of the same color as the exterior. I may still add a pretty color inside someday, for a sweet surprise when the door is opened.
The corner is now much lighter and I no longer hate the piece of furniture. Yes, it’s utilitarian, but it also works in this decidedly French-inspired space.
So is the dining room finished?
Well, not quite yet. There’s one more thing left to do and that, too, involves paint. This time I went ahead and ordered the paint right away.
And hopefully I won’t put it off until the next time I’m stuck inside!
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