Vintage Medicine Cabinet Makeover

The after picture of our vintage medicine cabinet.

We first brought this vintage medicine cabinet home in 2013. It had been sitting in an old family farm house and was in rough shape. Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures of it in this condition. We replaced one of the sides because or dry rot and of course the whole thing looked really dull and dirty.

We cleaned it up and painted it red, with a navy and white chevron stripe on the interior. It looked nice.

The before picture of our vintage medicine cabinet.
(The before picture of our vintage medicine cabinet.)

At the time, we were living in base housing at Fort Polk and I felt like we needed some more color. Apparently, I thought red was the right way to go….just like every other southern housewife looking for something bold, lol.

Fast forward to 2020, we’re living in a rental near Fort Bragg and it’s painted weird colors.

The our living room is yellow on top and red on bottom, separated by a chair rail, the kitchen and bathrooms are an avocado-ish green, the bedrooms are a flat white, and the den is baby poop brown.

And we’re NOT ALLOWED to paint!

Our red cabinet blended right in, which I guess is a good thing. But after more than 3 years of these funky colors, I am over it! And I am especially tired of the red.

So, over the weekend, we updated our vintage medicine cabinet once more! So that when we make the move to Texas in a few weeks, we are taking nothing red with us!

And I love how it turned out!

The after picture of our vintage medicine cabinet.
(The after picture of our vintage medicine cabinet.)

Here’s how we did it:

Get the Supplies

This project costed me very little because I had most of the supplies already on hand.

The primer and paint are left overs from previous projects. (You might recognize this light blue paint from our vintage trunk makeover!) So, the only thing I had to buy was the removable wallpaper and some new paint roller covers. In total it cost me about $50.

Remove Doors & Hardware

The first step was to remove the doors, drawer, and hardware.

A super simple task that only required a screwdriver and 10 minutes.

After that, we peeled off the chevron fabric that I had glued inside the cabinet. It was pretty easy to remove and just took a few minutes.

After removing the doors and drawer from our vintage cabinet.
(After removing the doors, drawer, hardware, and chevron fabric.)

Start Sanding

This is my least favorite part of each project. I hate sanding furniture. It’s dusty, dirty, tedious, and just a whole lot of not fun.

BUT it’s such an important step! It makes the piece smooth and makes the paint much more durable. As irritating as it is, I never skip this step.

After sanding, I wiped it down really good to get all of the dust off.

Primer Time

After a light sanding, our vintage medicine cabinet was ready for primer.

I have been using the same gallon of Zinsser Bulls Eye primer since we moved here! Seriously, it’s lasted so long. It’s not cheap, but I can definitely say that we’ve gotten our money’s worth.

I rolled on 2 coats of primer and let it dry over night.

Two coats of primer later, the cabinet was ready to go!
(After 2 coats of primer. It looked so much brighter already!)


The next day, the vintage cabinet was ready for it’s ‘pretty paint’.

I rolled on 2 more coats of the light blue paint and let it dry over night.

I couldn't forget to paint the doors and drawers.
(I couldn’t forget the doors & drawer. *Also pictured: an upcoming project!)

There was no need to paint the backs and sides of the interior of the cabinet since I planned to cover them with wallpaper. I figured I would save myself some work and some paint!

2 coats of paint!
(With 2 coats of paint, I was starting to see my vision!)


The next day, I moved the cabinet back inside the house and laid it on the the floor. Putting the wallpaper on the inside of the cabinet was much easier with the cabinet laying down

Removable wall paper is such a trendy thing right now and I’m here for it! I’ve used it on 2 other projects and love how it turned out (check out this vintage trunk and this vintage hardware cabinet).

Measuring and cutting the wallpaper for the interior of the vintage cabinet.
(It was a lot of measuring and cutting!)

To get the wallpaper in the cabinet, I first measured each spot where I wanted it to go. Then, I cut each piece of wallpaper to the right size. And very carefully stuck it down, while smoothing out the bubbles.

It’s a little tricky, but pretty easy because these pieces were pretty small and all rectangular, so I didn’t have to worry about weird or rounded shapes.

Putting the wallpaper inside the vintage cabinet.
(Putting the wallpaper inside the cabinet was easier than I expected!)

Re-Attach Doors & Hardware

After the wallpaper was in place, it was time to put the vintage cabinet back together again.

For now, we put the original black knobs back on, but I’m thinking that white or glass knobs would look better. I’ll get around to getting some….eventually.

After adding the doors and the knobs, we were finished.
(After adding the doors, drawer, and knobs we were finished!)

Making over our vintage cabinet costs around $50 and was complete in one weekend. It was a simple project, but it makes such a big difference in our living room!

Some lessons we learn the hard way and I will never again sign a lease that doesn’t allow paint! Especially if I don’t love the wall color to begin with.

In a couple of weeks, we move into a new house in Texas and can be rid of red walls forever! Until then, our blue cabinet looks a little crazy in our red and yellow living room.

The finished vintage cabinet!
(I love it! But I think it will look better against more neutral walls.)

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