Makeover | Giving a dark, dated curio cabinet a new look

I had some leftover milk paint after last week’s jewelry box redo, so I decided to use it on a sad little curio cabinet I had stored away in my basement waiting for inspiration to strike.
curio cabinet before being painted
The cabinet was a thrift store find — although calling it a “find” might be a bit of a stretch. It was dark. It was dingy. It was dated. Literally. There was a stamp on the back that read “Enesco Imports 1979.
1970s curio cabinet before being painted
And the felt glued onto the back of the cubby holes was an odd choice.
1970s curio cabinet before makeover
Fortunately, the roof section was separate from the rest of the cabinet, so the first thing I did was remove it. Then I pulled up all the felt squares and sanded off the glue residue left behind.
wall-mounted curio cabinet redo
I took off the one handle that was still on the cabinet door. The other one had been sheared off previously. I wasn’t able to remove the portion of the metal screw that was still embedded in the wood.
replacing curio cabinet handles
So instead of screwing in new hardware, I had to glue a couple of wooden knobs onto the door. It’s not ideal, but it will do the job. The door isn’t going to get opened real often, and the knobs aren’t going to have a lot of stress on them, so I’m sure the glue will hold.
replacing curio cabinet handles
Next I broke out the milk paint. Just like with the jewelry box I redid last week, I didn’t use any primer or bonding agent in hopes that the paint would peel off at least a little, leaving me with a nice chippy (faux aged) finish. But just like with the jewelry box, the paint didn’t chip at all. Maybe I need to invest in better milk paint? Or maybe I’ve just been using it over the wrong kinds of finishes?
curio cabinet makeover by
Except for the lack of chippy-ness, I have to say I’m happy with how the milk paint looks. It’s got a nice flat finish, and it’s a definite improvement over the original dark stain and felt.
curio cabinet makeover by Wisconsin Magpie
I decided to decoupage newspaper onto the backs of a few of the cubbies, because everything looks better with a little newspaper decoupaged onto it.
decoupaging newspaper into curio cabinet cubbies
Then I decided the newspaper was too distracting, so I whitewashed it with a quick coat of paint. Now a hint of the type peeks out, but it’s very subtle.
curio cabinet makeover
I also screwed hooks into a couple of random cubbies, so I could hang things off of them.
Here’s the cabinet with the doors closed, all ready to be put to use.
white wall-mounted curio cabinet
With Valentine’s Day coming up, I rounded up some heart-shaped items, like this little frame, to put in a few of the cubbies.
curio cabinet makeover
These hearts are metal cookie cutters that I backed with newspaper-lined cardboard.
milk-painted curio cabinet
I found this sweet heart-shaped lock in the bottom of a thrift store bin a while back.
milk-painted curio cabinet

I also put a couple of keys in the cubbies. None of them fit in the heart-shaped lock, but they were the right size for the cubbies. I’ve had this rusty old skeleton key forever.

white milk-painted curio cabinet

This one has an old-timey skeleton key look to it, too, although it is definitely not old; it came from Michael’s craft store a couple years ago.

cabinet makeover with milk paint

I filled some of the cubbies with newspaper flowers.

milk-painted curio cabinet
I blogged about making the flowers here.
white farmhouse-style curio cabinet
I filled a few of the other cubbies with some random treasures from around my house.
faux pocket watch

So here it is in its entirety: my new improved curio cabinet.

curio cabinet makeover by Wisconsin Magpie

Anybody else have experience with Folk Art brand milk paint? If you’ve got any advice, leave a comment below. I’d love to know if there’s anything I can do to get it a chippy finish with it. Or what brand would you recommend?

curio cabinet makeover

One Reply to “Makeover | Giving a dark, dated curio cabinet a new look”

  1. I’ve used this brand paint and had mixed results. For a more shabby chic look, maybe try “erasing” some of the edges, corners WTC. With a damp rag?
    I tried painting a stool with red paint from this company, then stenciled a saying in white..all was well until I tried brushing on a clear coat of polycrylic. It smeared everything. Ruined the project.
    I’d suggest using a spray clear coat on this stuff in a matte finish.

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