Before and After: A $48 Redo Breathes New Life into a Piece of Childhood Furniture

published Apr 16, 2021
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Before: vintage cabinet with glass doors on top and drawers on bottom, painted entirely white

Well-made furniture can stand the test of time — all these pieces need to keep going is a little TLC, and sometimes a bit of creative vision. Take it from Emma Hildreth, whose childhood bedroom was furnished with this vintage cabinet. Years ago, Emma’s mom had found it on the curb and saw the potential beneath. “My mom is an expert trash picker,” Emma says. “I swear that woman has a sixth sense when it comes to curbside furniture.” So when she saw this piece which was, Emma says, “shabby, rickety, and needing love,” she recognized that it needed only a touch-up with white paint and some fixing up the rickety drawers. Once that was done, the cabinet was a staple in Emma’s childhood bedroom, holding CDs, copies of “Teen Vogue,” art supplies, pictures, and “anything else I could stuff inside,” Emma says.

Now, in adulthood, Emma got a second chance with her cabinet after her mom offered it to her for her new apartment. “I immediately knew where I wanted to put it, and how I wanted to change it up,” Emma says. “The piece was changing locations and changing usage, so I knew it needed a fresh face.”

After a good scrub, the cabinet was ready for a fresh paint job. Emma knew from the start she wanted to repaint this piece navy blue for a classic look; she chose Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy for the job, and used it for the entire outside of the cabinet, including feet and pulls. For the inside, she chose a bright white, which helps show off her decor and lets the detailed glass doors shine.

But, Emma says, “since it was going to be in our dining room, I wanted it to have some spice.”

Using leftover wallpaper from another project, Emma lined both the shelves and the flip-out desk. The paper’s palette of blues with a pop of yellow were a perfect complement to the navy cabinet. “They worked together flawlessly!” Emma says.

Emma’s results may look high-end, but her budget was not: For the paint and paper, her total spend was just $48.

“I am obsessed with the color and the way it looks in our dining room,” Emma says. “It’s perfect for storing our bar tools and it still stores my art supplies!”

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