Refresh your chiffonier

By Rosanna Holmes,
6th January 2010 - 00:00
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Once only fit for a junk shop, this chiffonier has become the prettiest linen cupboard with the help of a fashionable paint shade, wallpaper and lots of TLC

 
The junk shop find
This old sideboard with its chiffonier back plate languished at a clearance company and had a £70 price tag. It had stickers on it indicating that it had been shipped to Australia and back during its lifetime, which could be anything up to a century. With pieces like this it can be difficult to see past its browness and finish, but this is practical, simple and classic in shape, and the detailing isn't over embellished - just rich enough to give the piece some style and personality. Look for furniture in good condition as no amount of elbow grease and paint will rejuvenate a badly damaged piece. The ample room inside begged to be used as a linen cupoard and by painting it a fashionable, subtle shade, an inexpensive piece has become something rather special.
 
Making good
Remove the old polish with wood cleaner and sand inside and out - first with sandpaper, then finish off with wire wool. For the detailed areas use a sanding fluid with wire wool and an old toothbrush. Mask off any details (hinges and key plates) you don't want painted. Masking tape can be fiddly, so try Winsor & Newton artist's masking fluid (available from art supply shops). Seal the wood by priming and undercoating with oil-based paint. This prevents any stain coming through. A small roller gives a good finish for large areas, and a small brush for any detailing. Apply three coats of dead flat oil paint, rubbing down between each coat with wire wool and removing any dust with a tack cloth (these useful cloths are also available in art shops). The same paint was used to refresh a wooden tray picked up at an antiques shop for £10, and it now looks the part on the top of the linen cupboard.
 
Finishing touches
We've partnered the neutral paint shade with a classic, contrasting wallpaper, with just a hint of the paint colour in its design. This paper has a large pattern repeat so we used up a whole roll - a smaller design would be easier to work with and you could make do with less paper. Using a spray adhesive or wallpaper paste, line the drawer, inside the cupboard, the shelf and the back of the door panels. Protect the paper with a coat of wallpaper varnish.