Modernized Armoire


I have a cottage style home which means very little storage space. I purchased an armoire from a friend several years ago with the idea that one day I’d paint, stain, or at least change the door handles.

I wanted to modernize the whole room. It currently serves as a makeshift office, spare bedroom and a lazy catch-all storage space. The thought was to get rid of a lot of useless stuff and shift the room toward a contemporary office space that could quickly convert into a bedroom when guests arrive.

The first step and the topic of this post was to change the overall aesthetic and appearance of the armoire. We wanted it to feel more like an office storage space even though I do have clothing and shoes inside. Additionally, we figured I could get rid of the ugly plaid covered table to right of the armoire, the fake Persian IKEA rug, and paint the walls a cleaner color. And what is with all that stuff on top of the armoire?

Isn’t it funny how once you’ve decided to embark on a project, the features you’ve been ignoring scream UGLY really loud!

Back to the Armoire. The features I wanted to change:

  1. Color – Didn’t really ever like the pine, but thought it would be easy to paint or stain. And I needed a closet at the time. Still do.
  2. Door Detail – The beveled door detail is and always was fuddy duddy.
  3. Knobs – They had to go. Too tiny and fussy.

Changing the Color: I selected a neutral deep gray for the armoire color. Benjamin Moore “Nightfall” (#1596). The paint base we chose was Benjamin Moore Regal Select with a Pearl finish. We already knew that those knots in the pine (some might say age spots) were going to cause some problems with sap seeping through the paint over time. After a little research we discovered BIN primer for exactly our issue. So off came the doors and out came the saw horses plus a lot of drop cloths. We painted 2 coats of the Bin primer overall plus spot-primed all the age spots, I mean knots, two more times. Next we applied the magnetic paint to the inset panels (see detailed notes below) and finished with two coats of the Benjamin Moore “Nightfall”.

Door Detail: We realized that the inside of the doors were a simple shaker style. We decide to flip the doors around. Ugly bevel on the inside. Flat and more modern on the outside.

Those Knobs: We removed the knobs, filled the holes with wood putty and found some industrial silver handles. They were a little too shiny so we decided to see if we could dull the shiny finish with some extra strength Lysol toilet cleaner. Who knew it would work? Heidi did.

This part of a multi-step project is complete. We love it and perhaps you noticed the walls have been painted. And maybe you noticed that there is a lot less stuff nestled around the armoire. No fake Persian rug either. This purging and simplicity is intentional and it’s going to stay that way.

A Cautionary Tale: We did learn something we’d like to pass along.

Since this was going to be an office space we decided to use magnetic primer paint on one side of the armoire and also within the 6 square panels on the (inside out) door fronts.

We did some online research, talked to a few people at our local paint store and did a small test. Reviews were a little mixed, but with the tips we gathered and after doing a small test we decided to go for it.

The tips:

  1. Apply 2-4 thin coats with an extra smooth roller. We applied 2 coats to the test and 4 coats on the armoire.
  2. When possible, paint lying flat. The furniture – not us. Apparently the magnetic particles are heavy and will slide down…not visible to the eye. We did this with the door, but didn’t flip the armoire on its side to paint.
  3. Stir constantly and always to keep those heavy little magnetic particles suspended in the primer. Yep, they’ll sink to the bottom if you don’t keep stirring it. Did we mention constantly?
  4. Be prepared for a coarse finish.
  5. Make sure to have good ventilation, safety glasses, and wear gloves.
  6. You’ll need to use those “super strong and mighty magnets”

What we learned: Barely worth the effort. Don’t believe the online reviews. Bunk!

We were meticulous and followed all the tips and still the “super strong magnets” barely held up a piece of card stock. “Use bigger/stronger magnets,” you might suggest. The bigger the magnet…well, the heavier the magnet. They can’t hold their own weight on the wimpy magnetic surface. Slides down and falls off. Useless.

We are disappointed with the result of entire experiment. The primer paint was pretty expensive and toxic for us and the environment. But, we thought it was a small area, a small amount of paint – how could this one time be so bad?

Lesson learned and we are happy to pass our lesson along to you: Don’t do it! Not worth it. Save yourself, your time, the environment, and your money.

Hey! We’ve updated other ugly things – check them out here –

11 thoughts on “Modernized Armoire

    • Yes. Cottage homes have little storage space. Piece by piece I hope to clear out the unused clutter that has been piling up over the years. Perhaps the designer of cottage home had the right idea about less stuff. It is so refreshing to walk into my room now. It’s like I can think, breathe and create in there :) Desk and Bookshelf post to come so keep an eye out. Cheers!

    • Thanks for taking a look Charlie. Glad you found it useful and I’m glad my spare room is no longer stuffed with…..lots of stuff:). Stay tuned for additional posts about this room. New desk space from reclaimed signs and an awesome bookshelf.

  1. I don’t get why more people aren’t stopping by…….I learn so much here. I’m totally going to check out the INSIDE of cupboard doors, that’s just a flippin brilliant move. You’re so right, the shaker style is so much better. Thanks for the honest review on the magnetic paint too. You always make me laugh too, “hey we’ve updated other ugly things too”…hahahaha.

    • I know. I know. Isn’t it awesome? I love it and now I only cringe when I open the doors, not every time I walk in the room. Plus the darker color kinda makes the details more subtle. It was Heidi’s bright idea. She’s sharper than your average blade :).

    • A quick note if you do try and flip your doors- just take a look at where the hinges will be attaching in their NEW position, so you can be sure that there is a good, flat place to screw them in. You can always make adjustments, but it’s better to know that before you pull all the doors off!! (PS I have maple cabs in shaker style, love the light they bring to the kitchen. I also have paperstone tops, which I love but they do stain and require sanding every few years. I just hope I don’t end up sanding some kind of weird pattern into them as I sand down through the layers of paper…so far so good but I’ve only sanded lightly twice. Next time I will take a good hard look at laminate – sturdy as can be!)

      • Oh good to know! Thanks again. I probably should clarify, I was referring to the old maple cabinets that are a honey colour with heavy profiles, sometimes like church windows. The kind you usually find in homes from the 90’s. Sometimes they can be rescued with a good paint job like yours. Other times I just plain don’t care for the style. We were in one house that had light wood floors, honey maple (old profile) cabinets and similar coloured counter and backsplash….so monochromatic and flate. The advertised an ‘updated’ kitchen…eck. At best, we’ll find a place that needs a whole new kitchen and be able to personalize it. :D Paper Stone? That’s something new. We had Silstone in our old home. It was ok (not great). I had them refinished twice to take out wear and re-lustre them. We like Quartz as an option. Seems to hold the shine and wear well with little upkeep. See you round the work bench…LOL.

        • Cringing with a very clear image of those obnoxious maple “updated” cabinets! Hey, just watched your video of the house tour, so fun to see the craftsmanship and materials of the past, thanks!

          • Thanks for watching…I’ll work on the narration bit…a little monochromatic myself, HA. You I loved the trim round the doors. Those floors were done by someone with mad skills. Too ornate for me, but a work of art.

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