Who doesn’t love a gorgeous transformation? This antique furniture makeover will win your heart! Using Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint and a little bit of elbow grease, we transformed an antique radio cabinet into a gorgeous and useful piece of furniture.
let’s do this!
I eyeballed this piece of furniture at the vintage shop where we are vendors – Wilderlvoe Handmade and Vintage. It had sat in a dark corner for months and months and I wanted it so bad!
Then the magical day happened – it went on sale! Woohoo! Load that baby into my truck!
first things first
The first step in this antique furniture makeover was to sand it down. Since the wood on the doors was so gorgeous, my initial plan was to sand it down to bare wood and then hemp oil the whole piece. I knew this would lighten it up a fair amount while allowing the beautiful wood grain to be the star of the show.
But that wasn’t going to happen on this piece.
Once I started sanding the sides, I quickly realized that parts of the radio cabinet had been made from less expensive poplar wood. Poplar can have greenish tones and sometimes weird brown tones to it and honestly it is not that pretty on its own.
The more I sanded the more I realized that bare wood with hemp oil was not going to work!
I sanded the whole piece using 150 grit sandpaper on my DeWalt Orbital Sander and then switched to 220 grit to smooth out the surface.
remove the doors
The sanding process usually goes much easier if the doors are removed.
As a side note – most antique furniture pieces have flat head screws in the hardware. Be careful and take your time when removing them so that you don’t damage the head of the screw. The groove in a flat head screw can get wonky pretty quick and then they are difficult to put back in!
Back to sanding! See how the radio cabinet is on its side? This allows gravity to work with you. If the piece was standing right side up, the weight of the sander can wear on your shoulders. Turning it on its side helps to take some of the weight off of your muscles.
You can see here that the orbital sander doesn’t get into the corners very well. I save the worn out pieces of sandpaper from the sander, fold them to create a straight edge, and then use it to sand the corner by hand.
Speaking of sanding, these heavy-duty Scotch pads work perfectly on spindles. I cut a section just wide enough and long enough to get into the grooves. Holding each end, I go back and forth (think about using a towel to dry your back after a shower) and I am able to get a good scuff on the details of the spindle.
The flat edges are sanded using a worn-out 150 grit orbital sanding disk. I use sandpaper on the areas that are flat or at least flat enough to maneuver the sandpaper around.
sanding the edges
The orbital sander can be used along the decorative edges like on the top of this radio cabinet. Let me warn you though, you have to be very careful because the orbital sander works fast and can take away edges that you don’t want to be taken away! Before turning the sander on, test out how it needs to be angled on any given edge.
See how the sander fits into this curved edge? I can run the sander all the way down this edge, holding it at the exact same angle.
Then I can change the angle for the next curve on the edge.
This is where you need to be careful — if the sander were running at the angle I am holding it in the image below, I would damage the edge on the top.
If you are unsure of your ability to hold the sander at the same angle as you go down the edge, it is best to do this part by hand. Turn on some music and hand-sand to your little heart’s content!
new paint = old wood
Remember how I mentioned that the original wood turned out to be poplar wood after all that sanding? I decided not to go with the bare wood look on the whole piece but instead to paint the sides and the framing of the cabinet. I love a good distressed look and I must admit my favorite look in distressing involves a dark wood tone underneath the chippy, painted surface.
Poplar wood would not give me that result but I know what will! Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Curio is the perfect brown for distressing!
I used a 1″ artist brush to paint detailed edge.
And then I painted the framing and sides with my favorite Zibra Paintbrush in the Palm Pro size. By the way, this little brush is like an extension of your hand! It makes painting so easy!
The interior needed a coat of primer – I like Zinsser Shellac Based White Primer. I have had good results with this primer in the past! Two coats will seal in all the old finish.
After painting the one coat of Curio on the radio cabinet, I did a light sanding of the edges, the sides, and the framing using a worn-out 150 grit sanding block.
The wood tones of the top and the doors needed to be the same as the legs and the wood that would show through in the distressing process. I didn’t want to cover the gorgeous grain of the doors and the top so I watered down the Curio milk paint quite a bit, sorta making a wood stain.
I applied the watered-down paint and then wiped it off right away. This left the same wood tone color for the whole piece.
I added a bit of beeswax in the areas that I wanted distressed – you know like the corners, the edges, and the places where some chipping would naturally happen.
Remember how we talked about using gravity in our favor when sanding with the orbital sander? The same idea can apply when painting. I laid the cabinet over on its side to access the underneath surfaces of the piece. It is just easier to paint a vertical surface rather than an upside-down surface. Hope that makes sense!
The whole piece needed three coats of Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Farmhouse White. I painted the interior of the cabinet as well as the sides and the framing.
Notice also that I protected the legs of the piece. I didn’t want any drips or spatters of white on the dark brown legs!
Don’t worry when you see the first coat of MMS milk paint – it’s always a little scary. 😬
sealed with hemp oil
After a bit of distressing, I gave the whole piece a good coat of Miss Mustard Seed Hemp Oil. A chip brush spreads the hemp oil nicely and then I wiped off the excess with a blue shop towel.
The hemp oil gives a beautifully sealed finish for this antique furniture makeover.
The top got a good coat of the hemp oil too! Look at the difference the hemp oil makes! The gorgeous grain of the wood shows up so well!
One of the reasons I love to do an antique furniture makeover is finding unique details on the piece. See the groove I am pointing at on the cabinet? The opposing grove on the door fits into it perfectly!
I just love detail like that!
thanks for popping in!
Well, that’s it for today! In my next post, I will share the final results of this antique furniture makeover. You won’t believe the improvements!!
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want to see more?
more transformations: Vintage Kitchen Cupboard Reveal
and here’s one more for ya’: Vintage Sideboard Transformation