Laminate Armoire Makeover

Friday, 2 May 2014
Since moving into our starter home five years ago, the husband (Regan) and I have been living with some less than desirable furniture. At 25, we were just happy to have things to sit on and store stuff in. At 30, we began to notice that while our friends were evolving their styles, we were just letting the dust settle on ours. 
Literally. Things were getting dusty up in here. 

But I have declared 2014 to be the year of change. Cheap change. In full disclosure, this motivation mainly stems from the fact that we're trying to sell our little home, and have been for about a year. (Any takers?) 

The first piece of furniture to benefit from the newly-lit fire under my butt is this beaut:
I call her Behemoth. 
Think 'monstrous,' 'beast-like.' 
Not the most becoming name for a lady.

The armoire was generously given to us by my mother-in-law when we first moved in, and though it's not a looker, it is sturdy and provides much needed storage space in our master bedroom that is a little lacking in the closest department. Basically, it was the perfect candidate for a DIY update. 
And really, it couldn't get any worse, right? 

After years of sit-and-stare sessions with Behemoth, I had a pretty solid vision in mind. Crisp white paint, satin nickel hardware and some kind of design in the sunken panels. 

While perusing the Internet one day, I came across this post and inspiration struck. The quatrefoil pattern would be perfect for the armoire! The simple geometric pattern mimicked the shape of the panels and would allow me to introduce a pop of colour into the room without making the armoire look too busy.  And best of all, it was a FREE printable! #boom 

I printed the pattern on card stock I had on hand and used an exacto knife to cut out the stencil. 

But, first thing first, I prepped Behemoth with two coats of Zinsser 1-2-3 Primer which I applied with a brush then smoothed out with a foam roller. Then came two coats of paint - I chose Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace that I had colour matched at my local Home Hardware in economical Beauti-Tone paint. And here comes the tedious part – I decided to trace the stencil onto the sunken panels with a pencil then paint in the pattern using a small artist's brush rather than rolling over the stencil with paint in order to get cleaner lines. This took forever! And by forever I mean approximately a week worth of trace and paint sessions while I watched Netflix in the evenings. A week feels like forever when your project is causing disruption in 60 per cent of the house. Like I said, it's a 'cozy' house. 
Excuse the terrible photo, please. This was taken around midnight with a less than stellar point and shoot by a less than stellar photographer (moi). But you get the idea. 
I used leftover paint from my bathroom to fill in the stencil. It's Colonial Aqua by Pittsburgh Paints. This was after one coat. It took two. 

This is more true to colour. 
PS – While painting by pellet stove light may look romantic, it's actually a terrible idea. 
Dust and wet paint are not amigos. 

Meanwhile, Behemoth's hardware was getting a little spa day of its own. 

From brassy to classy with a few quick coats of Krylon Satin Nickel spray paint.  

And, finally, all of this hard work had to be protected. I went with Minwax Polycrylic. Apparently polyurethane yellows over time on white paint, but polycrylic does not. I applied the first coat with a foam brush to avoid brush marks, but I found it created tiny air bubbles in the finish. I lightly sanded down the first coat of finish to fix that, and painted on the second coat with a decent synthetic bristle brush, making sure to work quickly and not go over the same area twice to minimize brush strokes. I had better results using this approach. 

After two torturous days of curing time, Behemoth was ready to reassemble and in need of a new name befitting her new look. 

Let's remember where we started:

Drumroll please …

I am just so stinking happy with the result! I've been eyeballing all the furniture in my house looking for my next victim project. Nothing is safe.... nothing! 

What do you think, is it worth all the time and effort to paint outdated furniture? Have you painted laminate furniture before and, if so, has it held up? Do you sit and stare at your furniture and give it names, or am I alone on that one? 


  1. Could be a Bertha, the still sturdy yet softer side of Behemoth. Needing to do this to a few items around here, although I'm pretty pleased with the progress we're making reno-wise and am not going to start bugging John about furniture projects anytime soon.

  2. I just love this project Krista! A friend took on a similar project and I've been wanting to do this since. I so think it was worth the tedious hours. It's beautiful.

  3. What an incredible transformation -- amazing job! And what a treat to see an elegant word like "quatrefoil" used in a 21st century blog entry!


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