Makeover — ‘Stella’ the Wardrobe

by Lia Fagan

Here’s makeover motivation for the weekend, from my new Canadian friend, Interior Designer Lia Fagan. (I seem to make lots of Canadian friends—must be the hockey gusto.)

Lia can spy neglected furniture cowering in the corner of any second-hand store; and she has the beauty kit to give it new life – literally. Enjoy this guest post from Lia, where she introduces us to the formerly forlorn, but now high-society, ‘Stella.’

Wardrobe-Worthy 'Stella'

I found Stella at a used furniture store on Ottawa St., which is a lively street in a neighbouring city that is home to numerous antique stores, fabric & decor shops.

“What’s a pretty girl like you doing in a state like this?”

Stella Before

Time had not been kind to Stella.

She was scratched, dented and buried behind other unwanted furnishings near the back of the shop. Someone had tried at some point in time to line her drawers, but did so poorly. They used vinyl kitchen shelf liner and didn’t even take the time to cut it to size or press it into the corners .

This dame had seen better daysThe Wardrobe's Drawers Before

I saw so much potential though, in her sturdy frame and unusual shape. Stella was a great candidate for makeover because she was well constructed of solid wood, and the original finish was already well worn, meaning it would be fairly easy for me to remove.

I found it almost amazing that this one piece of furniture with a door and 4 drawers once housed someone’s entire wardrobe. It seems crazy given the giant walk-in closets we’re used to today.

“What I could do for you with a little color and sparkle.”

I thought that this antique would make a great addition to a contemporary home, adding the character and charm of days past to a modern bedroom.

Stella SandedStella Primed

Stella sanded and primed.

I really wanted to modernize Stella without losing her vintage flavour. In order to really make her shine, I chose to use this bold, Kelly green for her exterior and crisp white for her interior.

The original interior was so dark and drab. I couldn’t imagine hanging a fabulous new dress in such a dreary space.

And a quirky surprise

I always line the drawers of my pieces. I figure the inside deserves the same treatment as the outside. Plus, it’s such a simple treat to open a drawer and get a tiny thrill from the beauty that lies inside.

A little bling

To top off the transformation, new hardware was in order. I chose to use these classic, floral, clear glass knobs.

“What’s in my makeup bag?”

(The paint colours are from Benjamin Moore’s Canadian line. You may have to speak to a local representative to find the equivalent colour in its U.S. line.)

She's a Beauty

“Beauty isn’t always easy, sugar.”

The challenges? While dismantling Stella, removing her hardware and preparing her for paint, I realized that the screws that held the door on were old and completely stripped. I tried everything to get them out…I did not succeed.

Normally I would prefer to remove the door to paint it separately. I also usually prefer to install new hinges/screws or at least clean up the existing ones. In this case, that was not an option. Given that the existing hinges and door were operational, I opted to leave it alone and continue on with painting.

I am not a fan of painted hinges, but sometimes, there is no alternative. If you have to do it, I recommend opening and closing the door several times while the paint is drying to make sure that the hinges continue to operate smoothly.


Burlington, Ontario Interior Designer, Lia Fagan’s background in design, and her eye for detail, enable her to breathe new life into otherwise unwanted furnishings. Her distinctively styled, colourful and quirky “characters” can find a way into your home through her Etsy shop, Mod Pieces.

Lia loves all things beautiful and mixing the old with new, into uniquely personal spaces. She writes about style and design at her blog, Mod Nest.


What furniture is hiding in your basement or garage, that you could transform?

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15 Comments for “Makeover — ‘Stella’ the Wardrobe”

So great to see this piece through it’s transformation! Love it, Lia!

Lia has many beautiful pieces. You must check her out on Etsy Shop. You will see so many other pieces she has brought new life and colour too. Check out her Blog – Mod Nest as well, many design ideas and materials.

I adore how you transformed Stella from drab to fab with my favorite green, you are one talented terrific artist. I will have to visit your Shop on Etsy. Did you check out The Hive?
creative commons for crafters. Witty prose and pretty Stella!!! I am in love with this wardrobe.

Jen Duchene
The Home Makeover Mixtress blending cool & cozy style

Awesome! We don’t have closets in our new house so I’ve been looking for wardrobe ideas.

Wow! That transformation is amazing! It turned out so beautiful! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I now want to paint my armoire. And maybe even paint it green! 🙂

WOW! Absolutely love how Stella turned out! What I would give to have back some pieces that I had several years ago to do a similar type of transformation! ah well… gives me a reason to go scrounging in the thrift shops!

Wow! That is my favorite color of green and you did such a fantastic job!

Thanks everyone! I’m thrilled you all responded so well to this makeover. Lia most definitely has the ‘eye’ to see the potential in a piece.

Laura — great to hear from another Etsy artist — fabulous work!

Amber — Yes! Definitely worth a trip to Lia’s shop & her blog.

Jennifer & Amy — It is a lovely shade of green and excellent that it’s your favorite. And Jennifer — what’s the address for The Hive?

Debbie, Lindsay and Phyllis — More power to you for your own projects. Please email me photos and updates of what you rescue and transform. Great idea for your closet-less house Debbie!

Thanks for stopping by,

I love Stella. I want a Stella wardrobe for my new place. Absolutely fantastic job on the makeover.

This wardrobe is awesome!!!!! Such a beauty. Great job!

Sasha and Ray*,

I was also inspired by Lia’s transformation here. Goes to show what a little elbow grease and creative vision can do.

And hey! Thanks for visiting,

P.S. Ray* — Fabulous work you are doing on your house and in your projects. Definitely worth a click to visit, folks:

Thanks for the lovely comments everyone!

Hey Lia,

I think you’ve got something goin’ on with this makeover thing. Great work!


Love, love, LOVE the green cupboard…love that you rescued it from it’s dark dingy self! The knobs are the icing! Love it!

So glad you love it, Terri!

Looks like you’ve got some furniture renovation experience too — how fun!

Thanks for stopping by today,

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