Last Updated on May 16, 2024 by Stacy Averette

A huge, old wardrobe wasn’t on my list when I went thrifting recently but as soon as I saw it I knew I’d be hauling it home if the price was right. After gently haggling with the store managers and agreeing on a price, the workers moved it toward my car. They were so rough and careless, treating it like a piece of thrifted trash, that I thought they might damage it further. I certainly didn’t need another piece of furniture, especially a huge wardrobe that needed some TLC, but I could see a treasure in disguise.

Thrifted Trash to Treasure

One of my goals this year has been to buy less stuff and finish some of the projects I’ve started. I’m proud of my progress but this piece spoke to me and I chose not to pass it up even though I still have several big, unfinished projects.

The natural beauty of the wardrobe was marred by someone’s poor attempt to sand the wood on one side, packing tape wrapped around the piece to secure the doors, and lots of dust and dirt.

I considered sanding the entire piece and keeping the bare wood look or painting it antique white. Warm, neutral decor is beautiful and I went through the “woods and whites” phase a few years ago but it’s not the look and feel I wanted in my home. I’m never sure how to describe my style—cozy, collected, vintage, eclectic, and definitely thrifted/secondhand . . . ?

I buy what speaks to me, mix colors and patterns, and move everything around when I’m ready for a change.

DIY Chalk-Painted Wardrobe

Due to the different types of wood uncovered by a previous owner’s attempt to remove the original stain, I decided sanding wasn’t the best way to take this old wardrobe from thrifted trash to treasure. I also wanted a quick before and after turnaround (no priming or waiting hours for the paint to dry) so chalk-paint was an easy decision and by making my own chalk paint, there’s no limit to the color I could choose!

Pinterest is a great resource for color inspiration. I have a board called “Color” and another one named “Painted Furniture” and they both help get my creative juices flowing when I’m ready to paint. Follow me on Pinterest!

Black is always an option for me:

The custom-made furniture in another guest room is black and I love it.

Of course, blue is lovely:

And yellow:

But there’s always green:

All the colors I considered were lovely options (and it’s just paint after all!) but the final decision was easy since green is one of my favorite colors. I love all the shades of green in the photo above. You might remember the green-painted dining room table post. The table didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped and I ended up painting it black and eventually moved it to my “playroom” AKA craft room/office downstairs as a work table. (I rearrange the furniture a lot and would probably rearrange more if I had more help and fewer stairs!)

A Make-Do Makeover

After getting some help (Actually, I watched two men move it. I’m strong but I know when to stay out of the way!) moving the heavy piece from the garage to the guest room, I gave it a good scrub and couldn’t wait to get a first coat of paint on the wardrobe.

The lighting in this room isn’t great and affects how the colors appear in a photo but the color was lighter than I wanted so I thought it would be a good idea to add some black paint to the mix before applying the second coat.

After the first coat, you can still see the partially sanded wood but I like where it’s going.

After the second coat, the final product is lovely.

I decided to leave the inside “as is” after cleaning to keep the old feel of the piece. Thrifted baskets help organize my collection of vintage purses.

The smokey green-gray chalk-painted wardrobe turned out beautifully. However, it’s not exactly the distressed, mossy-green painted wardrobe I had in mind when I started. I’m disappointed a bit but not surprised.

  1. The “green” isn’t exactly what I had in mind because I decided to make do with the green paint in my stash (leftover from the green-painted dining table) instead of buying a new can of paint. After the first coat, I added some black paint hoping to get a darker, mossy green but instead, it’s more of a smokey gray-green.
  2. The finish is different than I’d imagined (undistressed and no dark wax) because I prefer the distressed/aged finish to be original or at least look like it is. This takes a lot of talent and practice. I’ve never been able to create the look so I leave the piece alone and don’t worry when painted pieces get scratched, chipped, or worn looking over time. They become naturally distressed, perfectly imperfect, and more beautiful.

The walls in this room are still the blue-gray color my daughter chose when this was her room and there’s been no reason to repaint but I’m considering it. Somedays I like the smokey gray-green wardrobe against the blue-gray walls. At times, I don’t love the wall or wardrobe color. I think the painted wardrobe would stand out more in a room with a contrasting paint color and different lighting but for now, I’m going to live it while experimenting with curtains and decor from my stash to create a look I love.

Here’s the view from the doorway.

Embrace Imperfection

This room is a long way from being finished and the old (perfectionist) me would’ve waited until the room was done to share a photo of the beautiful DIY chalk-painted wardrobe. I’d have waited until all the little decor details were perfect: curtains, clean carpet, and a new rug!

“Perfect” is a goal that can never be reached.

Perfectionism is a joy-stealing, creativity-killing habit that can be overcome. I’m living proof (my family and friends who’ve been to my house know!) and I’m determined to share more of my imperfect home and DIY projects here to inspire you to let go of fear and perfectionism and create a life and home you love.

With HGTV shows and influencers on social media, there seems to be no limit to budgets, resources, or time. Creating magazine-worthy rooms isn’t my goal and probably not yours either. Our 1974 fixer-upper ranch still isn’t “fixed up” after 22 years and probably never will be. Our slightly bohemian mindset embraces the imperfections and I thrive on the challenge of making do with what I have. Stay tuned to see where this current one-room project ends up. I’ll share updates on Facebook and Instagram if you want to follow along.

I hope my DIY one-room project, as imperfect and unfinished as it is, inspires you to be creative in your home without being afraid of making a mistake or having a project NOT turn out the way you’d imagined. Keep learning, have fun being creative, and embrace the imperfections.

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