French Styled Cabinet Makeover (Graphics & Chalk Paint)

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Sweet and unique French-styled cabinet makeover, first time wasn’t the charm… but it’s a winner now!

Edited 1-19-2023

Today I’m pulling this oldie (but oh-so goodie) out of the archive! All the way back from 2014, wow! I think it totally deserves a little more attention.
One of my favorites that I kept for years but no longer have. I hope you enjoy this visit down memory lane!


Want to see how this little Frenchy gal started out?

stained antique cabinet before

It’s been a long time coming.

If you follow me on Instagram…you’ve seen it. BUT it didn’t quite turn out as I had originally planned.


It was a bit of a big fat ole fail at first.
I had a vision. (that’s a scary thing sometimes…just ask my husband!)
But sadly, as it goes sometimes, the vision and what I actually ended up with were two totally different things. Boo.

So back to the drawing board, it was.

And this is what I ended up with.

French writing on front of white cabinet with blue lamp on top

Not a bad cabinet makeover at all.

I am actually happier with this outcome than I was with my original vision! Yay!

Paint and hand painted French graphics...WOW! What a difference! - BEFORE #chalkpaint #frenchgraphics #frenchstyle #frenchdecor #frenchcountry #chalkpaintedfurniture #paintedfurniture

It was a thrift store find…. $20! At that time, we had recently put the TV over the fireplace (we’ve since changed that too… here) and I had been looking for a while, a long while, for something to house our cable box, etc.
This was a pretty good find for that, I think. Maybe not ideal or what I totally had in mind but it would work.

But it was in not-so-great shape.

showing the inside and hinges

The door was not even attached when I bought it. Easy to see why!
So I brought it home with the idea of painting the bottom and sanding/restaining the top.

That was going well until I sanded…uh oh.

particle board top

…and yes, that is particle board. Weird, huh? It was stained particle board.
Not sure what’s up with that except maybe the top was ruined at some point and replaced with this?

Who knows?

I was so bummed. There went my plans to restain.

But not one to be deterred for long I decided to stain it anyway. I wanted it ‘stained’ so it was getting stained! haha
And I’m pretty happy with the result.

stained particle board

I used Minwax PolyShades (which I thought was ideal for this situation).
It was perfect since it kind of just lays on top of the wood. I was able to disguise the fact it is particle board underneath…for the most part.
Isn’t that the coolest??

So anyway, back to my original “vision” for the paint. (which was yellow)

Yep, didn’t love it so I repainted.

This time I used a shade of Aubusson Blue with my blend of Old White/Pure White over top of that.
Edited to add: Similar colors to those are Seaside and Casement.

I sanded and distressed to really get the blue to come through all over. Even the sides.
Which I ended up disliking …highly.

So back to the drawing board on those….again.
I repainted the white and then added grain sack stripes instead.

grain sack stripes

And then distressed (lightly sanded) those to match the rest of the cabinet.

sanded and distressed grain sack stripes

What a fit this little cabinet was giving me, right??? lol
It’s okay…it all worked out in the end. That’s just how the creative process goes sometimes.

I did this project quite a few years ago now and used chalk paint. I don’t use that often anymore.
But here’s a post with a bunch of different paint types/brands you might enjoy reading about.

Want to know about 26 other chalk style paints?
I’ve got the low down for you right here! >>> 26 Types of Chalk Style Paint For Furniture

I reinforced the underneath of the cabinet to hold the screws for the door and painted the inside with Cream colored chalk paint.

inside of antique cabinet before and after

You can see it in “action” here. We removed the back so the equipment could get air and not overheat when the front is closed.

I transferred a graphic (from The Graphic’s Fairy) onto the door using the “projector method”.
You can see how I do that in this post here–> Coastal Themed Chest.

penciled on transfer graphic on front door of cabinet

I used a blue watercolor pencil since I knew I’d be painting it in with the same shade of blue I used underneath.

I hand-painted it in using a script liner brush.

front of cabinet painted with french blue lettering

Want to see all of my favorite transfer methods?? Check out this post, here!!

You can see how I already distressed the underneath a little bit already.

Then I lightly distressed a bit more, including the lettering.
I really wanted to see some of the blue under there.

front of cabinet lightly sanded to distress

I sealed the entire thing with a coat of Annie Sloan Clear Wax, including the top stained portion.

french styled cbinet with curvy legs and seashells on top

I don’t use wax that often anymore but here are a few nice ones >>>Wax options.

Side views of the grain sack stripes…

french cabinet with blue grain sack stripes on sides

blue and white french cabinet with blue lamp on top and pink flowers

Up close of the lettering…

up close of french lettering

Painted pull…

up close of pull

What a difference, right?

before and after of french cabinet

And what a sweet and very unique cabinet.

I was really happy with how it finally turned out.

white walls with white chair and colorful pillow and french cabinet beside chair

It was really perfect for holding that equipment without being too big or bulky beside the fireplace.

Although, I didn’t like how open it was underneath because you would see the wiring.
That was something I had not anticipated so I placed a basket there to “cover” it up.
That was a happy little accident too.

PIN this little cabinet makeover for later!!

Paint and hand painted French graphics...WOW! What a difference! - BEFORE #chalkpaint #frenchgraphics #frenchstyle #frenchdecor #frenchcountry #chalkpaintedfurniture #paintedfurniture

I think the basket on the bottom compliments the look and balances it out a bit.

Paint and hand painted French graphics...WOW! What a difference! - BEFORE #chalkpaint #frenchgraphics #frenchstyle #frenchdecor #frenchcountry #chalkpaintedfurniture #paintedfurniture

Yay for happy accidents…which this entire project ended up being. It certainly did not end up like my original vision but that’s okay.
Sometimes the creative process is a bit long and foggy…until it becomes clear!

EDITED: Our home has undergone some changes since I gave this little cabinet a makeover.
We’ve since got a different cabinet and a little bit of a different look in here. (we do have a small ottoman/coffee thing in the center there, I don’t have a photo of that at the moment)

Don’t miss this one next! It turned out SO good!

Check it out now, here!!

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!



  1. Hi,
    First of all beautiful! I am a true beginner and only have done a few simple pieces. I am wondering how you did the strip on the sides? I am sure it’s simple but I have seen a few times, just wondering. Also, on the dresser when you used the stencil with the overhead projector, did you paint the design in with a small artist type paint brush? This is of course way above my level of chalk painting, but just asking.

    Thanks. So much,
    Tracey Cain
    Alexandria, Va

    1. Hi Tracey,

      Thanks so much! I did the strips using painter’s tape. You can see how a did another project with stripes here–>
      Yep, I usually use a script liner type of artist’s brush to paint in the wording. I feel I have more control over that and it allows for thin lines etc. :)
      Not above your level…you can do it!
      Hope you have a great day “neighbor”…I am just a few hours south of you! :)

  2. Beautiful! Love reading your blogs. . .inspiring. . .informative. . .encouraging!
    Thanks, for taking time to write and share.

  3. Great job!!! It’s just perfect and seems to fit all of your needs. We seem to have trouble here in Houston finding old pieces like this. Our thrift stores and such have become quite greedy and have upped their prices past common sense. Hooray for you for being able to rescue these wonderful pieces.

    1. Hi Vickie!!

      Thanks so much! :) Ours have become a little greedy too but I can still manage onto some great finds. We have an abundance of thrift stores in my area so I think that helps some with pricing! :)

  4. Great job Nancy! I love the basket underneath especially. Don’t you love it when a project all comes together.

    1. Thanks Sheila! Me too, that basket was never planned from the beginning at all but it is just completes the look so perfectly. And oh yes, I love when those kind of things happen! :)
      Hope you have a great weekend!

  5. Nancy this is adorable!!! I am pinning and looking around my “stash” to see which piece of furniture I can do this too. I want one in my house! What a great idea to store your cable box in here. If you have a chance, would love for you to Share at The Handmade Hangout, opens tonight at 4:00 my time.

  6. That is one stunning makeover Nancy! I will never look at particle board the same – holy smokes it looks good with that stain, you’d never know. Lov’n the distressed grain sack stripes on the side and of course the graphic on the front too. $20.00 – now that’s a great score! Don’t you just love it when fails turn into unexpected perfection :)

  7. Oh my gosh, I LOVE!!!!!! That is fantastic. Seriously fantastic! I love that you stained the particleboard and it turned out looking just like it was real wood. You’re my painting idol! :) xoxo, Sharon

  8. absolutely love it Nancy! Sorry you had so much trouble, but it turned out perfect. I may be on the hunt for a table like that.☺️ Love the blue graphic lettering too.

  9. This piece is adorable! I love the whole thing! It is such a unique looking piece anyway, and with the lettering that you added….wow. Well done! :)

  10. I discovered this piece and your blog on pinterest. So glad I did!! I love this piece. You did a wonderful job!! I just painted my 1st piece last week (I’m always late to the party) and am currently looking for a sideboard for my kitchen and have found the perfect script to try this technique. You have definitely inspired me.

  11. It may not have turned out like you thought, but it did turn out beautifully. I am currently working on a desk that is now going in a totally different direction than where I started. We will see how it turns out since it is part of Thursday’s tour! Wish me luck!

    1. Thank you Shanna! Isn’t funny how these things do this to us!! ;) I think I have *finally* figured out what I’m going to do for the tour!


  12. Lovely job with a great purpose – who needs to look at a tangle of cables?? I have been working on my hand-lettering, and really appreciate your skill. What is a script liner brush? I’ve been using a round brush, but have yet to develop the knack. Can you share a tip or two?

    1. Thank you Gabrielle! Exactly! I am so happy they are hidden. :) A script liner is just a long, thin bristled type of artist’s brush.
      A round brush will be hard to get the thin, twirly lines in the lettering. Always water down your paint a bit too so it’s easier to work with. Keep a paper plate close by to wipe excess paint on before doing the letter.
      Hope that helps!

  13. Nancy what a wonderful job you have done on this piece.Love your staging too!I have just set up my website down here in N.Z and have received much inspiration from your site.
    Thanks and regards Ali http://

    1. Thanks so much Ali! I have been working on improving my staging and better photos so I truly appreciate that feedback also! :)
      All the best to you!! xo

    1. Thanks Christy! :) It was a fit for sure but has turned into one of my favorite pieces!
      Enjoy your weekend! xoxo

  14. It’s beautiful!! Can you tell me what you used to stain the top? I have been wanting to try the combination of painting the base of a piece with staining the top but am unsure what to use. Thanks a bunch! ~Christie

    1. Thanks Christie! :)
      I used Minwax PolyShades in the color Tudor. I was going to stain and then poly but ended up having to use the PolyShades for the reasons I mentioned in the post! It worked great for this!
      Hope that helps!

      1. Thank you! I read through the post before asking and completely missed where you mentioned the Minwax. I’m going to give this a try!! Thanks again :)

  15. Nancy this came out gorgeous! I love the basket that was added to the bottom too as you said it “Balanced it out” But then I got to wonder HOW is it balancing. Since the cabinet has one rail down there, how is it defying gravity? LOL Did I miss something? Thanks ~Lady T

    1. Thank you! :) Haha..yes, it is just that, balanced! I have magazines in it and I just put it in the middle and it doesn’t move! I was surprised it stays so well. (even with the opening and closing of the door up top…never falls!)

  16. I love this fabulous makeover! Thanks so much for sharing at our Vintage Inspiration Party. Gave you a shout out too on my FB page MySalvagedTreasures. Love it!!

  17. Hi Nancy, I saw your post at Redheads Can Decorate. This table is fantastic, I love it. I love French country too with a bit of farmhouse. I’m your newest follower. Pinning. I hope you visit and follow back.


  18. I am lucky to have a house in France and see a lot of French furniture. You have done a great job with this! I think the reason why the top had been replaced is because it was originally a chevet (pot cupboard) that would have stood by the bedside. The giveaway is the way the shaped wood under the front of the cabinet has apparently been cut up the centre and a new piece added to widen the whole cabinet. I suspect the central stretcher bar between the legs has been replaced too, as has the door. No matter because it is a great way to repurpose a piece of furniture. Great job!

    1. OH yes, you are very lucky indeed! :)
      Thank you and thank you for the information on the piece! How neat! I had never heard of that.
      Thanks so much for sharing.

  19. This is absolutely stunning. A lot of work, but certainly well worth it all. If you ever decide to sell this piece, I’m your buyer!!!! Just gorgeous, well done.. well done!

  20. I absolutely love it! You are so talented and inspiring. I’m on the lookout for an old desk to redo and I may follow your lead in color and finishing technique.

  21. Your cabinet is just beautiful. I love the scalloped edges on that piece of furniture. I like the basket underneath it also. That’s a really good idea.

    1. Thank you Bonnie! I love the uniqueness of it. I’ve never seen anything else quite like it before (the style). :) xo

  22. Hi Nancy, I’m just catching up on some blog reading. This piece turned out really nice :) It’s funny how some times the pieces that give us the most problems have a way of turning out the best.

  23. Followed from your FB post… First time I’ve seen this one! That handpainted graphic is amazing! I’ve done a little on my dresser, and my hand was KILLING me afterwards! ;-) This would work great for a printer cabinet, too! Do you still have it in your home?

    1. Thanks Julie! :) Oh yeah, printer cabinet! I do still have it because I couldn’t part with it. But I recently decided to sell it so we pulled it out of our storage unit to put a back piece back on it. And……I don’t think I’m going to sell it right now after all! lol

  24. The cabinet came out so wonderful and gave it a new life. I love everything about it and your style. Can’t wait to see what is next.

  25. You mentioned that you don’t use chalk paint all that often anymore. Is there a post where you talk about what you DO use/recommend for painting furniture? I have painted several pieces, but aside from when I used crackle paint and its coordinating finish, I find my paint nicks off too easily, even when I use polyurethane. But chalk paint intimidates me, so… 😆

    1. Hi Laurie!
      I mostly only use Fusion Mineral Paint these days. I really love it (and now sell it too…however, I began using it and fell in love with it before I ever considered selling it :) ) It goes on so nicely and has a wonderful finish that is self-sealing too. (you can also apply a sealer if desired though) I will say, that even with Chalk Paint you need to do some prep work. I know that it’s touted as no prep etc, but it’s always best to prep before painting, no matter the kind. Some paints just require less prep than others. I think it’s always a good rule of thumb to at least lightly scuff sand any piece you are painting first. Clean well, then paint, etc. If you are interested in paint, you can check out my store here. Just note that I am out of several of the most popular colors. I have a shipment that will be here on Weds so should have it up in the store by late next week. Not only that, but we have a couple of new colors we’ll be adding too! So excited to see them! Here is a link to our store. :)

  26. Love your little cabinet!!
    You do such nice work on all your projects. I always look forward to your post😊

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