How to Update Your Old Oak Furniture

coffee cart

Today you get 3 makeovers for the price of 1!  I painted this cabinet and re-painted it and re-painted it.  Originally I chose white to be safe for re-sale, but it didn’t actually sell until I added a more artistic finish. 

This oak TV stand was dropped off in my driveway one day.  My friend, Ali, was getting rid of it and offered it to me. 

cabinet before

Before I jump into the makeovers, I wanted to share you can get my FREE Comprehensive Guide to Dixie Belle Chalk Mineral Paint here.  It contains all kinds of helpful reference info on how to use the products.

Makeover 1 – Cotton White

I am noticing some changes to the farmhouse trend lately.  All white is no longer king.  Colorful little modern touches are being sprinkled in.  A little gold here; a little color there.  I have to say, I am a fan! 

That said, I didn’t really reflect that in today’s project.  BUT, a lightly distressed white cabinet will always be a classic.  It can be accessorized with color, and fit into so many styles, modern farmhouse included.

Repairs and Prep

The top was the swivel type which I think dated the piece.  So I had the hubby remove it, take out the swivel mechanism, and glue and nail it down.  This makes it more versatile, so the cabinet can really be used for anything.  Also, it changes the proportions slightly, in a good way.

One of the little “feet” at the bottom was not attached, so we also glued and nailed that back on.  I gave it a light sanding all over with 220-grit sand paper.  Then a good cleaning with a damp shop towel, and it was ready for paint.  That is usually all the prep I do when I’m painting a whole piece, and not staining any part of it.

I chose a bright white color called Cotton for this cabinet.  But once I got one coat on, I could see bleed-through.  Some of the wood tanins leak up through the paint layer, causing it to be yellowed.  With bleed-through, you can’t just keep adding layers of white, because it will keep coming through all the layers.  I’ve never had it happen with oak before; it’s usually cherry or mahogany finishes.  But live and learn, it can happen with oak too!

So, to solve that problem, I painted a coat of white BOSS (a primer designed to block bleed-through) over the first coat of Cotton.  Then I went ahead with my second coat, and the coverage was all good this time.

white cabinet left view

Finishing Touches

I distressed it lightly around the edges.  I prefer to use a coarser grit sand paper for that, like 80-grit.  I replaced the larger knobs with some I found at Target.  I love matte black with white.  It’s what I’m using in my farmhouse bathroom remodel.  I spray painted the little knob that pulls out the tray black to match.  And I found that perfectly sized basket at Marshall’s.

white cabinet tray out

The whole time I was working on this piece, I had this other cabinet I did over a year ago in the back of my head.  It had a lot more details to work with.

Farmhouse finish end table with swirly hardware

Resource list

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Makeover 2 – Kudzu Green

When white failed to sell, about 3 months later I chose a different color called Market Green.  That color was since discontinued, but it’s super close to Kudzu.  You can see the full post on that version here.

market green end table

Makeover 3 – Adding Metallics and Waxes

Solid green didn’t do the trick either, and I needed a sale!  So I decided to do something more artistic and one-of-a-kind.  And guess what?  It sold!

To start, I broke out a couple metallic paints – Gold Digger and Steel Magnolias.  I applied these with a pretty dry brush in a criss-cross motion.  When that was dry, I added brown wax and warm gold gilding wax in the same way.  You can see what that looked like here.

oak cabinet wax update

Then I added some parts of transfers on the top and the pull-out tray.

green cabinet tray out

I definitely prefer this version the most because it is more unique.  Which version did you like best?  Please let me know in the Comments!

Green table makeover

9 thoughts on “How to Update Your Old Oak Furniture”

  1. Hi I’m new to your site. I am such a white furniture person with my decor but the green surprisingly I love for that piece. It has so much character, I can see why it sold. You do beautiful work!

    • Thanks, Robin! Glad you found my site on the interwebs! I loved the green as well; the white version was a little too plain for this piece.

  2. Hi I’m new to your site. I am such a white furntiure person with my decor but the green surprisingly I love for that piece. It has so much character, I can see why it sold. You do beautiful work!

    • Thanks! I envy some of the farmhouse decor you were sharing (corbel shelf and wood cutting boards). You have a great eye!


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