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How I Refinished a China Cabinet for $55

Updated: Jul 23, 2021

A china cabinet serves many purposes in a home. Whether you need one for storage, or showcasing your family heirlooms, they serve as an accent piece in your home and can truly make your dining space feel complete. Often, china cabinets are handed down and can be difficult to part with; similarly, with the china it is meant to house. If you feel your china cabinet needs a little bit of sprucing up, you are in search of something antique to refinish, or you simply need a new cabinet but don't want to spend a fortune, this post is for you!

My parents always told me that someday, my grandmothers china would be passed down to me. My mom always kept it in a beautifully lit cabinet in our dining room where we had all of our special occasion dinners. We used my grandmothers china every Christmas, and it's those small family traditions that I wanted to incorporate into my home someday. I was searching for something pretty specific, so it took me some time. I wanted the top to be rounded, the hardware to be salvageable and preferably brass. I wanted it to be fairly wide, but not too deep. Most of our furniture in our home is modern however we do have a couple of antique pieces that have been refinished. I felt that something more antique with a pop of color would really compliment the dining room. So, I set up Facebook Marketplace to alert me every time a new china cabinet came available in my area. I finally came across the one above, for $55! It really checked all of my boxes, especially the dimensions but it also came with some red flags...


Transportation for large furniture can be complex and needs to be considered for antiques. This piece was not only upstairs in a 2 story beach house, the stairs were somewhat of a death trap. Will you need a U-Haul? Hired help? These questions need to be factored into your decision making process and you must ensure that the price of the piece is right. We often think that because it is antique, used, or consignment furniture that it is inexpensive, however; that isn't always the case. In fact, if the furniture is already up-cycled, the piece can often cost just as much or more as purchasing a new piece.


I had previously painted the inside of our front door in Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore and was really fond of the color. There was some left over however it wasn't the right finish. I got Emerald paint in a Satin finish at my local Sherwin Williams and they matched the Benjamin Moore paint color. I was pregnant at the time and with the nausea accompanied with the fatigue the sanding and painting was not something I was ready to tackle on my own. After calculating all the supplies I would need to do it myself, it was worth it to hire my trusted painter/handyman.


We kept the interior of the cabinet original. The original color was so beautiful I was hesitant to change it, but I'm ultimately glad I did. We (well George, my handyman) removed the glass and hardware, sanded down the cabinet, primed it, and then lastly sprayed it in my chosen color. Had I done it myself, I probably would've chosen chalk paint to avoid purchasing a sander, sprayer, and primer. However, the colors are limited in chalk paint. Chalk paint can also result in a more rustic look, which wasn't exactly what I was looking to accomplish.


It definitely has its kinks. There's a drawer inside that doesn't work very well, and the plug for the light inside is on its last leg. However, after looking at many up-cycle furniture videos and Instagrams, a little TLC can go a long way! If you are looking for upcycle inspiration, or DIY motivation, I highly suggest you follow @maggiemcgaugh, and @theflippedpiece, on Instagram. They find the cutest, most creative ways to flip furniture pieces that are often on their way to the dump!



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