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After looking unsuccessfully for an elegant shoe cabinet for months, I finally decided to buy a regular sideboard and use it as a shoe cabinet. After a couple of weeks, I found the perfect piece at my local thrift store. Size was just perfect to fit the corner of my entry hall and I loved the delicate floral carvings.

There was a big crack on the sideboard top. So, I knew from the beginning that I would have to paint the top of this piece. On the “pro” side, the cabinet still has its key which is quite rare for thrift store furniture, the doors and drawers were in pretty good shape and it was made of solid oak wood.

Here are the “before” pictures I took at the thrift store the day I bought it.

Thrift store find of the day!

You can see the long crack on the top of the carved sideboard.

Supplies and Tools Used for this Makeover

Prep Work

Every makeover starts with a good prep work. So, when the sideboard arrived in my workshop, I first removed the doors and drawers. The handles were nailed, not screwed and I was not able to remove them. I really loved the handles and did not want to change them. Since, I was too afraid to damage both the wood and the handles, so I decided not to try harder and leave them in place.

After dismantling the sideboard, I gave it a good cleaning using a vacuum cleaner.

Then, I removed the original wax finish with a regular degreaser. The trickiest part was removing the wax from the carvings. At this stage, I didn’t know if I would paint the carvings or not, so I cleaned them thoroughly using an old knife and a small brush. I tried to remove all the wax accumulated over years in the carvings.

I removed the remaining degreaser with a damp cloth, and then, my husband helped my carry the sideboard outside to air out and dry.

Once the piece was dry, I fixed minor cracks and damages with wood filler, paying special attention to the long crack on the top.

Last step before painting, I sanded the entire piece with a 120 and 180-grit sandpaper to get a smooth finish.

Painting the Sideboard in Linen White

As I mentioned earlier this sideboard is made of solid oak wood. And oak is a wood rich in tannins which means there is a 100% chance to get paint bleed-through when painting it with a bright color. Bleed-through on wood furniture is the tannins of the wood coming through the paint layers. It’s a furniture painters’ true nightmare! If you want to learn more about bleed-through, you can check this article about Painting over Stained Wood.

That’s why I always recommend priming before painting when dealing with oak furniture. Primer prevents bleed-through paint and allow paint to better adhere. Some furniture painters always prime before painting even when they’re not dealing with oak furniture.

Applying primer on the sideboard doors

For this specific project, I used oil-based primer. I applied one coat of primer all over the piece (inside, outside) except on the drawers’ side. At this stage, I’ve made up my mind, I would go for a total white look with wallpaper in the inside of the sideboard.

The next day, I applied the first coat of paint all over the piece except on the back panel in the inside since I planned to install wallpaper there.

As for the inside of the drawers and the shelf, I painted them with beige color. I decided to paint those parts using a different color for 2 reasons: 1) this beige perfectly matches one of the colors of the wallpaper I’ve chosen and 2) I was afraid of not having enough white linen paint to fully cover the shelf and the drawers as well.

Inside of the drawers painted with beige paint

I lightly sanded the piece by hand before applying the second coat of paint.

Topcoat and Protection

To seal and protect the sideboard I applied one coat of polyurethane. I usually prefer wax to seal painted furniture, but I tried to be realistic. We wanted to use this sideboard as a shoe cabinet and poly is definitely more suitable for high traffic furniture.

Adding Wallpaper

For this project, I used some remaining wallpaper from my daughter’s bedroom makeover. This is a non-woven vinyl wallpaper with a trendy floral design. I also had some remaining ready-to-use wallpaper adhesive. For a quick and easy installation, you can buy “Peel and Stick Wallpaper”! No Water, no paste, it’s less messy to apply.

Old furniture is rarely perfectly straight. So, I cut the piece of paper a little bit longer and wider than the wood panel to be covered. I applied adhesive with a paint brush directly on the wood panel inside the cabinet, not on the paper.

Once the paper was on the panel, I run a smoother over every square inch of the paper like I would do on a wall. I then used a tape knife as a guide to trim the extra paper. Lastly, I cleaned off paste residue with a clean natural sponge.

My sideboard with its cute floral wallpaper.

The dark brown sideboard is now more bright and modern. Here is the after!

Sideboard after makeover

I love this sideboard with it new bright color. It really enhances the floral carvings.

White Painted Floral Carvings

This sideboard is now in my entry hall and full of shoes (I’m not going to share pictures today because this room is not renovated yet).

Save this project for later!

Happy Makeover!

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