before and after

before & after: two clever cabinet makeovers

by Kate Pruitt

For today’s second Before & After project, we’ve got a pair of modified wood furniture pieces: One has been given an aesthetic facelift, and the other has received a functional makeover. When it comes to wood furniture, I’m still a little sheepish about grabbing the paint bucket, mainly because I hate the laborious process of stripping furniture in case I change my mind. However, I’ve come around in a big way to natural wood/paint combos, particularly when there’s a smart geometric pattern involved. This dresser makeover from Patty is a great example of how a sharp, high-contrast design can turn a banged-up piece into the focal point of a room. The pattern is so lovely, and the warm wood pops wonderfully against the white. Nice work, Patty! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read the full post after the jump!

Time: 2–3 weeknights

Cost: $30 for paint, paintbrush, tape, sandpaper and polyurethane (with a free hand-me-down dresser)

Basic Steps: Begin by sanding each drawer face well and wiping clean with a damp cloth. I found cutting out the cardboard “z” pattern and taping it onto the drawers helpful for picturing the final result. You could then either trace around the cardboard or lightly pencil a diagonal 1” grid directly onto the wood. Cut 2” and 5” sections of painter’s tape, and lay the sections down onto your grid to create a template. If you find the pattern is a bit finicky at first, make sure you have the Kat Webster link close at hand. Paint two to three coats of furniture-quality acrylic paint, letting dry fully in between. Carefully peel off the taped areas. I found them easier to peel if I lightly scored along the tape edges with a dull Olfa knife. This also ensured a clean edge once peeled. If needed, stain the exposed wood to match the rest of the dresser (for mine, this wasn’t necessary) using a steady hand and a 1/2” or 1” paintbrush, wiping up mistakes as you go. Finish with a coat of clear polyurethane to protect against wear and tear.

My advice when tackling the project would be to make sure you sand well!  When you think you’ve sanded enough, sand for 1o more minutes. Good luck! — Patty

This second dresser makeover is simple but so smart and practical that I just had to share. Attractive TV consoles are few and far between, but unfortunately, they are often the only type of furniture that provides the right features for media storage — mainly ventilation, open access for remotes and holes for cords. Marti had the ingenious idea of modifying the front of a mid-century piece by adding an unobtrusive metal screen panel that allows for proper air flow for her media equipment. She cleverly kept the design simple and stained the frame to match. The result is a clean, minimal media center that doesn’t sacrifice form for functionality. Well done, Marti! — Kate

Time: 2–3 hours (plus drying time)

Cost: $5 for oak wood trim, $4 for hinges, $14 for metal snips and $20 for the metal screen (other supplies were on-hand)

Basic Steps: I applied one coat of stain before cutting the pieces and another coat once the frame was assembled. Then I used a miter box to cut the wood and then glued it to join the pieces into a frame that would serve as the door. I spray painted the metal screen black and cut it to fit the wood frame. It’s held in place with simple black thumbtacks.

The door is attached to the dresser with brass hinges that I spray painted black, and the door stays shut with a small magnet in the upper left corner. A power strip, modem, router, DVD player and Roku box are concealed behind the door. It’s a hot mess of cables and plastic and blinking lights that I am grateful to have hidden. My laptop lives in the drawer on the left; it’s plugged into the power strip, as well. Remote control laser beams pass through the screen with no problem. Victory! — Marti

Suggested For You


  • Ok, between this, the horse mirrors (flux, which I happily reposted, weeeee!) and the oh-so-delicious extension cords, I’m in designsponge HEAVEN.

    What size wings do you wear, anyway?

    feelin’ the love
    – d.

    post script: don’t forget, shoulders back.

  • I had to smile when I saw Community on the TV! I miss that show. Oh, this is a great project. Where’d the Mac go? I’ve got one just like it I never use anymore. Wondering what to do with it.

  • Eek….I’m drooling!
    Loving the intricate pattern of the first one and blown away by the patience shown! Wish I had stamina to complete a project as fab as this one.
    The second one is just a classic beauty to the core. LOVE!!!

  • Love that they both kept the warmth of the wood. The media cabinet is such a great example of ‘less is more’! In the market for a media cabinet so I am drooling over this.

    Also wanted to comment about Community showing on the TV…miss it.

  • Thank the gods you didn’t paint that gorgeous dresser in the second makeover! My heart initially sank, but the screened panel is a very considerate, practical, and handsome improvement. Well done!

  • I love the cabinet after incorporate the glass. And the first piece of furniture has been very good. I’ve painted some furniture and the best paint to paint furniture is the wall paint, this paint is ideal for wood. Now I have at home a cabinet Castilian type, and I want to paint it. When changing the look, I will send you pictures of before and after.

  • I love the idea of putting a pattern on a dresser. If you have a small bedroom (like most of us) the dresser is gonna take a big chunk of space. Why not turn it into an art piece??

  • Just amazing! You got the touch. First one is beautiful now and the second one is the best because you only added minimalist touches to it. Bravo!!!

  • Not totally keen on the first cabinet. The pattern is a little overwhelming. It would need to be in a fairly large room otherwise it would tend to dominate. The second cabinet looks really good and would suit any decor. Am thinking of vamping up my solid pine bedroom furniture to a semi-shabby semi French Provincial style. Any hints and clues. They are lacquered in a semi gloss. From “OZ”