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Upcycle Cabinet into a Vintage Masterpiece with Red Chalk Paint

Discover the step-by-step guide to upcycle cabinets using red chalk paint. This DIY tutorial will teach you how to transform an old cabinet into a stylish and functional piece of furniture.

Picture this: I was taking my usual neighbourhood walk when I saw a rather unloved cabinet sitting curbside, begging to be rescued. The sight inspired me, and I knew right then that this would be my next upcycle cabinet project.

The first thing needed was to bring this abandoned gem back to life. It had seen better days. The mission was clear: transform it into a stunning curio cabinet for my dining room.

before creativ cupboard upcyle

Using The Best Chalk Paint To Upcycle A Cabinet

I couldn’t help but think of the glorious Annie Sloan red chalk paint waiting for the right project. This paint’s luxurious, velvety texture and deep, rich red colour are renowned for giving the furniture a regal touch. And so, with a paintbrush in hand, I lovingly coated the cabinet’s exterior in this beautiful red.

But what’s a curio cabinet without a dash of character? The inside needed something extraordinary. That’s when it hit me – vintage insect identification posters for decoupage! I wanted the cabinet to have the essence of a Victorian-style curio cabinet that would house trinkets and treasures from exotic lands.

I scoured the internet for the perfect posters – beetles, butterflies, and other critters in detailed, vintage drawings. Once I had these in hand, I began decoupaging the inside of the cabinet. The posters created a fascinating backdrop to make any entomologist’s heart sing.

The rich red chalk paint and the vintage insect identification posters inside transformed this once dull and forgotten cabinet into an antique Victorian-style curio cabinet that looked like it could have belonged to a 19th-century explorer. I also personalised it with some decals on the glass doors.

The result was beyond my wildest dreams and now sits proudly in my dining room, a conversation starter. It’s a reminder that you can upcycle cabinets and forgotten pieces with some imagination and effort into timeless treasures.

The best chalk paint cupboard upcycle with Annie Sloan Red Emperors Silk, decoupaged vintage graphics (Cavallini's insect wrap) and printable window decals.  Full tutorial.

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What I used for the furniture flip

  • Annie Sloan Emperor’s Silk Chalk Paint
    Annie Sloan Emperors Silk Chalk Paint for creative cabinet upcycle.

The Cupboard upcycle

First, the paint job uses the best chalk paint.

Step 1: One of the best things about using chalk paint is that very little prep is needed. I hate preparing furniture for painting. When I decide to paint, I want to paint immediately and not have to fuss about loads of prep. My only prep was wiping down the cabinet with a damp cloth.

Step 2: I started with the red chalk paint. Making sure I stirred the paint well before I applied it. If it was a little too thick, I diluted it with water. After masking off the glass doors, I painted two coats of the Emperor’s Silk red paint on the outside of the cabinet. I allowed the first coat to dry before applying the second.

Step 3: At this stage, the Cupboard looked slightly pinky red and not very Emperor like. But I wasn’t too worried as the wax transformed the paint. I used dark chalk paint wax to achieve the antique Chinese red I wanted with my cabinet.

Step 4: The idea is for the cabinet to look old. Therefore with a fine grade of sandpaper, I sanded the wax and painted it off in bits around the edges of the Cupboard. This gave it a more distressed and antique look.

Step 5: To finish the paint job, I applied a final coat of wax and buffed off the excess.

The inside of the curio cabinet

Step 1: Firstly, I painted the inside of the Cupboard (except for the back panel) in grey chalk paint. This time I used clear wax to seal the chalk paint.

Step 2: However, the star of the show with the inside of my Cupboard was the decoupage. I used a gorgeous vintage-style gift wrap (3 Sheets).

Step 3: I measured the back of the Cupboard. It took three sheets of gift wrap to cover the backboard. I used decoupage glue and stuck the first gift wrap sheet in the centre.

Step 4: The next thing I did was cut the other sheets of paper to finish decoupaging the back of the Cupboard. I used a wallpaper brush and a credit card to iron out any trapped air bubbles as I stuck the paper down.

best chalk paint cupboard decal inside.

Decals for the Glass Doors

Half the point of upcycling furniture is not just about reducing waste and reusing what you already have. It’s also about creating your unique one-of-a-kind piece of furniture and personalizing it.

So not only did I make this Cupboard unique with the best chalk paint, but I also personalized it by adding some decals to the glass doors.

  • This is pretty straightforward to do. All you need is some printable window cling. Design what you want on your glass doors in a program like Word.
  • I choose our family name (Armstrong) and the No.5 as there are 5 of us. I printed the decals according to the instructions that came with them and stuck them onto the glass doors.
The best chalk paint cupboard upcycle window decals and decoupage

What was once a boring but helpful cupboard has now become a centrepiece of my dining room. I love how the Emperor’s Silk red chalk paint and the decoupaged back turned out.

The Cupboard is far too good for random craft supplies; it’s now a home for all my love Anthropologie dinnerware.

I used the same chalk paint but in graphite for my tea towel upcycled chairs.

The best chalk paint cupboard upcycle window decals and decoupage
The best chalk paint cupboard upcycle with Annie Sloan Red Emperors Silk, decoupaged vintage graphics (Cavallini's insect wrap) and printable window decals.  Full tutorial.
Furniture flip using the best chalk paint Annie Sloan Red Emperor's Silk and decoupage vintage graphics.

This furniture flip featured under the letter F in the A to Z of clever upcycling ideas.

You should check out my fabulous furniture flips and these DIY medicine cabinet ideas.

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Free Natural History Posters

Anita holland

Tuesday 11th of February 2020

It is gorgeous, I do like the insect paper. Good choice.

Claire Armstrong

Wednesday 12th of February 2020

Thank you, yes that paper is lovely.

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Friday 6th of July 2018

That insect paper at the back of the cupboard is a cracking idea! LOVE that. Might do the same on one of our glass fronted shelves that have things in too - would make such a difference! :)

Claire Armstrong

Friday 6th of July 2018

Thank you, I do love that insect gift wrap too!

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