I’m pretty excited to show off my latest thrift store rescue/makeover: a concrete apothecary cabinet.
It started out life as a cheap five-drawer jewelry box.
But with a skim coat of cement and a little elbow grease, it turned into this industrial-style beauty.
I’ve done a few of these concrete makeovers before, and so far at least, I haven’t been disappointed.
The secret ingredient in the makeovers is TEC PerfectFinish Skim Coat, which is normally used to patch or repair a subfloor. I’ve never used the product for its intended purpose, but I’ve had great results using it on crafting and home decor projects, like my concrete desktop and my concrete chicken.
Tools and supplies: concrete apothecary cabinet
Here’s a list of the tools and supplies I used for my concrete apothecary cabinet makeover:
- Thrifted multi-drawer jewelry box
- TEC PerfectFinish skim coat
- Disposable bowl
- Paint stir stick
- Putty knife
- Paper towels (for cleanup)
- Craft paint and paintbrush
- White wax
- Small library drawer pulls
- Drill and drill bits
Step 1: Clean and prep
To start the makeover, I removed the star-shaped knobs from the drawer fronts. The drawers were really cheaply made — the knobs weren’t even screwed into place. I just had to wiggle them back and forth a few times with my pliers and they popped out.
After I had the knobs removed, I wiped down all the surfaces with a damp cloth to make sure everything was clean and dust-free.
Step 2: Skim coat and sand
Next I dumped about a cup of the skim coat powder into a disposable bowl and added water, a little at a time, until it started to resemble frosting.
Once I had the cement mixed, I spread it onto the jewelry box and the drawer fronts with a metal putty knife.
I tried to smooth the cement out as much as I could while it was wet, but my first coat was far from perfect.
The cement set up in about 15 minutes.
I’ve found the time it takes to harden varies, depending on how much water you’ve added and how thick of a coat you’ve applied.
Once the concrete was hard, I sanded off the ridges left by the edges of my putty knife.
Then I mixed up a second, more watery coat of cement and applied it over top of the first coat. The second coat covered the remaining bare spots, as well as the striations left behind by sanding.
Step 3: Drill holes for hardware
When the second coat was hard and I was happy with how the concrete looked, I measured and marked where my new drawer pulls would go and drilled holes for them.
I used small card holder drawer pulls in an antique bronze finish from Amazon. A pack of 50 of them cost me $15.99, which comes out to 32 cents a piece, if I end up using all 50.
Step 4: Wax and buff
After I had the holes drilled, I applied a coat of Behr white furniture wax to the concrete to make it velvety smooth. Clear wax would work, too, but I wanted the concrete to have a chalky white finish.
I wiped the wax on with a lint-free rag. Once it dried, I buffed it with another clean, lint-free rag.
I didn’t like how the insides of the drawers looked being unfinished, so I painted them with some grey acrylic craft paint. When the paint dried, I applied wax to the insides of the drawers and attached the library pulls with the tiny screws that they came with.
I also waxed the top and bottom of the drawers, so they would slide into the chest easily.
A word of warning
A quick word about cleanup: TEC PerfectFinish skim coat is a cement product that hardens quickly, so clean up your tools immediately after use. And if you don’t want dried concrete inside your drain pipes, don’t rinse your tools in your kitchen sink.
I always mix the cement in a paper bowl or an old cottage cheese container that I can throw in the garbage when I’m done. I wipe my knife off on a paper towel, and if it needs rinsing yet after that, I take it outside and spray it down with my garden hose. I also wear disposable gloves when I’m working.
Concrete apothecary cabinet: before and after
I could look at this sweet little cabinet all day. 😊
Here’s another “before” and “after” shot, just because I can’t get over the dramatic change.
Hard to believe it’s the same piece, right?
If you’re wondering about the bunnies, they were also thrifted finds that I skim coated with the same TEC PerfectFinish cement that I used on the jewelry box.
They remind me of the Pottery Barn bunnies, but my version cost a whole lot less, lol.
So what do you think? Are you as obsessed with the concrete look as I am? Would you use white wax or clear? And am I going to live to regret coating all of my worldly goods in cement? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!