Cabinet Painting


Back with another episode of “How I Salvaged my Ugly Bathroom!” Let’s talk about how I gave my vanity cabinets a total makeover, shall we? Do you remember where my cabinets started? They are wooden, but painted a terrible brown. Not even a pretty brown, but just plain ugly brown. This is where we started…



Pretty bad. This thing needed a face lift…and fast! I have linked the products I used throughout the post, but for a quick reference, see the supplies list below! This post uses affiliate links which you can read more about in my {Disclosures}.


I knew I wanted to use a chalk paint. Right now, it is all the rage! Scroll your pinterest or instagram account and you’ll see dressers, desks, coffee tables, kitchen cabinets…you name it…painted up in the pretty matte finishes. I heard it was a pretty painless process that requires minimal prep work. Now, you’re speaking my language. No prep work? Where do I sign up?

img_0770My dreams of slopping that paint right over this icky brown quickly faded when I took a close look at my cabinet. What they say is true. “Your finished product is only good as your prep work.” This brown paint was a really funky texture, almost stretchy. Maybe a latex? I wasn’t sure, but I knew my paint job would look less than fabulous if I painted over this nonsense. See those white marks on the picture to the left? That’s where the paint had peeled away a bit showing the surface under. I knew my paint would never look smooth…even with the magical chalk paint.

So, that left me with prep work. Seriously the WORST prep work I have ever had to do. I’m praying your cabinet isn’t painted with this junk so you can just skip this part. Just writing this down is bringing back terrible memories.

“I’ll just sand it down.” HAHAHA famous last words. I started sanding and realized those white spots were actually another coat of paint. Ok. So it was painted twice. No wait. Here’s another layer of lighter brown paint under the white. Needless to say, I was about an hour in and only had sanded a 2 x 2 space down to the actual wood. This was not working. I would be 100 years old sitting criss-cross apple sauce still sanding this thing. Nope.

So I did what any other rational person does. I googled it. “How the heck to get off three layers of paint from a bathroom vanity?”

Paint stripper.

img_0785Yes, ok. Sounds great! So much more fun than sanding! How hard can this be? I read the reviews on a product called Citri-Strip and it sounded pretty good. Fumes were less than regular paint strippers and it even had a nice citrus smell. I bought some and got to work.

If I ever decide to take on a project that requires paint stripping….just remind me about the three WEEKENDS in a row I traded DAYS of my life stripping paint off this vanity. It is seriously a labor of love. You better LOVE love love love whatever you are stripping that paint from. I hardly loved this vanity. I wouldn’t even say I liked it at this point. But, I had started and I couldn’t stop now.

In case you decide to take on this project, here’s how it works.


Suit up! I mean it. Long sleeves and rubber gloves. They recommend wearing protective eye gear in case you get crazy slinging this stuff around the room. Cover your floor if you care anything about it and use an OLD paint brush because it ruins the brush. Put a heavy coat of the Citri-Strip on the surface. You want it really goop-y. If you can get a half-inch coat of this stuff, you’ll be golden. The good thing is, it is very thick and gel-like so it sticks to vertical surfaces. I learned from experience, if you make the coat too thin, it dries out and doesn’t work to loosen the paint. I let mine sit for a few hours and the bottle says it stays active for 24 hours. The longer the better I feel.


img_0789You think you’re making a mess now? Just wait. Time to scrape the paint off. I used a plastic putty knife for the large surfaces, a butter knife for smaller surfaces and the point of a paper clip for the details of the cabinet fronts. I cannot stress enough to plan ahead and have a place to put all this nasty paint you are scraping away! I used a large cardboard box to collect all the goop. Some places you will need to do a second coat of paint stripper. At this point, you’ll want to rip the cabinet out of the bathroom and buy a new one. Don’t give up! You’ve given too much of your life to this thing.


Just. Keep. Scraping.


I seriously felt a weight off my shoulders when I got this thing down to the bare bones. Time to paint! I ended up choosing an Americana Decor Chalk paint in the color Relic. I have had a lot of people ask about it so I have linked it here for you! This paint is really pretty! It goes on very smooth and blends easily. I highly highly recommend it. One small tub of it covered my whole vanity twice with a little leftover. It goes a long way and is much cheaper than other chalk paint options.



After two coats, I had awesome coverage and the color was even prettier than I anticipated. I was going more for a dark gray, but it has a hint of navy in it and I LOVED it. I think I drug my husband in there like 4 times to show him how pretty it was. Soon, all those nightmares of the Citri-Strip incident were behind me.

img_0872Being a bathroom, I knew the cabinet would need a protective coat. I didn’t want a shiny polyurethane cover. I did a little research and decided to use a product by Americana Decor again called Soft Touch Varnish. Again, I have linked it here for you! It goes on shiny, but dries flat and gives the cabinet a soft to-the-touch finish. It rocks!


The picture on the left is with the varnish wet and the picture on the right is when it dried. So smooth and pretty! I changed out the hardware for these pretty pulls that I found at Hobby Lobby!

Ready to see the finished product? Ta-Da!!


This project was truly a labor of love! It was the one project in this bathroom that took a substantial amount of time to complete. I absolutely LOVE how it turned out and it makes it worth the giant the mess I made along the way.

Thanks for following along on this bathroom redo! Next up, I’ll share how I built my floating shelves! Stay tuned!


2 thoughts on “Cabinet Painting

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