Makeover — Girl-Next-Door Painted Cupboard

by Diana Durkes

Don your possibilities spectacles and scour the alleys, Design Junkies! It’s DIY time with furniture and accessories makeover specialist, Contributor Diana Durkes. Diana gives “New Life to the Tossed and Found” at her blog, Fine Diving.

DIY Painted Cupboard Makeover

This cupboard deserved a second lease on life, I thought when I came upon it in the alley last month. It was in well-used but sturdy shape and had a girl-next-door friendliness about it–plain and pretty.

This became the challenge for a new look, how to bring out its personality without going too far and ending up with a prom queen wannabe.

Cupboard Before Alley-Worn

I started by stripping the layers of paint from the chest. White, then green, then a caramel color – each layer was like a history lesson about the life of the former users. While purists would value this original finish, it held onto years of grime, so time for a fresh start.

DIY Painted Cupboard Steps

After sanding the chest, I brushed on two coats of primer, then a butter yellow semigloss. Cool turquoise, celery green and a medium bright pink were also colors that came to mind for this small piece.

When the paint had cured for a few days – very important! – I gave the chest a final coat of water-based polyurethane. This will protect the painted finish from chipping.

As with some decorating details, you never know what will work until you try it. I find this especially true with pillows and scatter rugs. For the hardware on the chest, I chose three pulls to try from the selection at Anthropologie.

First, this glass nob.

Cabinet Hardware Option 1

Then, this whimsical one.

Cabinet Hardware Option 2

And last, this one for a yellow on yellow look. This is the keeper, and with makeover complete, this chest is ready for its sunny new life.

Cabinet Hardware Option 3

Diana Durkes

Diana Durkes is a creative recycler and a confessed alley shopper. She gives a makeover to one found item each week, and publishes the before & after on her blog, Fine Diving.

She also writes the Tossed and Found column for Time Out Chicago and pens the blog Garage Sale Warrior for the Chicago Trib’s Chicago Now.



What piece of furniture is calling out to you, to be made over? How will you transform it?

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7 Comments for “Makeover — Girl-Next-Door Painted Cupboard”

Bravo! I just picked up a child’s chair at the local Goodwill. It’s going to be painted a shade of aqua blue and I’m planning to paint one large cherry on the seat. We’ll see.


Hi Marsha,

That sounds retro-fabulous! We would all love to see the project when you are done. In fact, take some good Before and After photos and send it along to us at

Have a blast!

P.S. You have a beautiful blog.

P.P.S. Thanks for the virtual kiss — needed that!

What a pretty piece! Made even more so by a simple coat of paint. Love the transformation (and the knobs too – best choice by far)

It looks just like an old commode/wash stand I have. Mine also comes with a towel rack that attaches to the back.

What a great find and a great job on the redo.

Wow! What a great before and after. Nice post. I am inspired to refresh a couple of things hanging around my house. 🙂

Tracy, I love how Diana resurrects pieces most people would pass right by.

Marsha, it also reminds me of an old New England piece. How does she find these cool things??? Did you re-do your wash stand?

Shari, thanks for your enthusiasm, and let us know what you refresh!

Thanks all for your comments,

Enjoy this web site. Have just purchased one of your chairs and can hardly wait for it to be delivered. I’m in the process of redoing my family room and got your wonderful looking chocolate color. Thanks! I’ll let you know what it looks like in there when I get it. Might even send you a pix!

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