China cabinets can be a make it or break it for the look and feel of your room.
There’s a decent chance that if you have an old china cabinet, it might be time for a furniture makeover.
In this blog post, I’ll be sharing inspiring painted china cabinet ideas executed beautifully by other furniture flipping and DIY masters.
I’ll also offer some practical tips and ideas for picking the right paint for your china cabinet, how to refinish it step-by-step, and more inspiration for styling the cabinet.
Ready to give your china cabinet new life with a dreamy paint job? Here some great painted china cabinet ideas to inspire you!
- The best paint for china cabinets includes latex paint, acrylic paint, milk paint, and chalk paint.
- Refinishing a china cabinet involves disassembling, cleaning, sanding, priming, painting, and sealing.
- There are many different painted china cabinet styles, like rustic chalk paint, bold and modern, traditional vintage, and French chic.
Painted China Cabinet Ideas
Here’s the fun part! Browse through these painted china cabinet ideas. You’ll find everything from a painted vintage china cabinet, to an heirloom old china cabinet revamped and colorful modern cabinets.
This dreamy blue painted china cabinet was painted with chalk paint, and distressed on the edges to give it a lovely rustic feel.
It was then sealed with clear wax to ensure the chalk paint holds up beautifully over the years. Use any one of the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint lighter blues to achieve this soothing rustic look.
If you’re looking to achieve that timeless, traditional china cabinet style, look no further than this timeless antique china cabinet painted in black.
Antique-like pieces often have intricate carvings, ornate headpieces, and elegant fixtures.
You can often find old vintage-style china cabinets being sold for cheap at thrift stores, or given away for free on curbs (it’s almost sad!).
So if you’re on the hunt for your next major furniture flipping project, keep your eyes peeled for a traditional one. You can breathe new life into an old piece that just needs a little TLC.
To achieve this traditional vintage look, you’ll want to keep the color simple and neutral. Black, white, gray, and stained brown wood colors all look stunning and classic.
Want to make your china cabinet really stand out? It’ll steal the show with this fun yellow color. Yellow shades look great with white plates or glassware sets on display.
You can even install a floral wall paper in the back panel that will really make the whole piece pop.
Want to add a pop of color and fun pattern to your china cabinet without having to paint the entire thing in something bold? Go for a fun wall paper job on the back panels!
This example utilizes a geometric red wall paper that pops against the white paint. It really catches your eye and also beautifully highlights the objects you have on display behind the glass.
You can even make your cabinet look expensive and glam with a marble-patterned wall paper.
Paint your vintage-style china cabinet white, and you’ll almost feel transported to the Provencal France countryside.
This dreamy rustic cabinet looks gorgeous with pastel decor on display. Add some mason jar candles, a pitcher of flowers, and a bundle of dried lavender to really enhance the experience.
Black & Dimensional China Cabinet
Check out this rich, dimensional china cabinet painted black. There’s something so modern and elegant about a matte black piece of furniture.
You can dress a black china cabinet up with crystal glassware and gold hardware. Or dress it down with plant-patterned wallpaper and white pottery or coffee mugs.
This “pretty in pink” painted china cabinet is an adorable, chic way to dress your room up. It’s like bubblegum for your eyeballs.
A fresh coat of pink paint would look amazing in either lacquer gloss, or matte chalk paints. Gold trinkets and tea sets will look like a fairytale behind those glass doors.
Imbue your china cabinet with really interesting ombre and stenciled floral designs. This floral boho china cabinet is something you can’t find anywhere else.
Test your refinishing chops and create a truly one-of-a-kind piece of furniture. You could make a good profit off one of these too–limited supply!
Bet you didn’t think of this one. The last painted china cabinet idea on the list is a coffee station china cabinet.
While most of the time we think of a china cabinet as a display case for plates, why not transform it into something both totally functional and majorly hip?
For this style, you’ll need to disassemble the cabinet doors and shelves, wood panel the interior, add cute overhead lights, and adorn with your favorite coffee maker.
Definitely a lot of work, but think of the years of rewarding, delicious enjoyment.
White Painted China Cabinet
Looking for an amazing white painted china cabinet? Check out this amazing idea from Lost and Found Decor!
Best Paint for China Cabinets
Painting furniture can be a great way to transform any room, including your kitchen or dining room where your china cabinet is.
Here are some of the best paints to complete your china cabinet makeover:
Latex paint is a very popular choice for painting china cabinets, kitchen cabinets, and a variety of furniture types.
This is a budget-friendly option with a nice durable finish. It offers somewhere between a glossy and a matte finish (satiny? Is that a word?).
As an affordable option, many people like to opt for latex paint with indoor projects that have large surface areas, like china cabinets.
Latex paint is water-based, making it non-toxic for those with odor sensitivities, or concerns with chemical inhalation.
It also washes off much easier than alternatives like acrylic.
Just keep in mind: if you choose latex, you’ll want to make sure you prime your furniture first, and seal it after, to ensure proper paint adhesion.
Latex is also more prone to chipping overtime than acrylic.
Acrylic Lacquer Paint
Acrylic lacquer paint is a revered paint for its seamless coat finish, impressive durability, and beautiful glossy appearance.
It’s a good choice for painted china cabinet wood.
This clear coating is designed to be chip-resistant, waterproof, and effective at stretching and shrinking with the material surface it’s applied to.
This means acrylic lacquer works great in humid environments and on exterior furniture or even metal surfaces.
Acrylic can also be removed from wood if needed.
It will make your china cabinet shine and give it that brand-new look. And if it dulls over time, it can be polished.
There are a couple disadvantages: acrylic paint is a bit more expensive than latex, partly due to the fact that it’s so long-lasting.
Acrylic lacquer is also chemical-based, meaning it has toxins that are harmful to ingest or inhale for long periods of time.
If you’re painting your china cabinet with acrylic, ensure proper ventilation in the room.
And consider wearing a respirator mask to protect yourself from respiratory tract infections.
Milk and Chalk paint
Milk paint and chalk paint: the MVPs of trendy painted china cabinet styles! No doubt you’ve been hearing murmurs of the chalk paint craze over the past 10 years.
Artist Annie Sloan actually invented chalk paint and trademarked it in 1990 (talk about a billion-dollar idea!).
Since then, it’s been widely used to create charming rustic-style furniture pieces with a unique distressed flair.
What’s so special about milk and chalk paints, anyway? Chalk paint is an opaque, natural VOC-free paint that doesn’t require a primer or sealant.
It has a thick consistency, and can be applied directly on top of a lacquer or oil-based paint. It gives a lovely chalky, matte appearance over your piece.
Milk paint is similar to chalk paint, but has a thinner consistency and isn’t used for full coverage like chalk paint. Because of this, milk paint is perfect for achieving an antique, cracked, aged, or layered coats of paint look.
Like chalk paint, it’s also natural and VOC-free. But it does require a sealant to protect its distressed coats, whereas chalk paint doesn’t.
Beyond Paint is like a miracle paint, with properties that seem almost too amazing to be true. But it’s all true (and also true that you’ll pay through the nose for it!).
The magic of Beyond Paint is that it doesn’t require any furniture prep–no need to sand, strip, or prime.
Beyond Paint is an all-in-one bonder, primer, and finisher. Once you let it dry completely, it creates a durable, washable surface in just one or two coats.
This paint is like a one-stop-shop kind of deal, with a really thick pudding-like consistency that adheres to nearly any wood surface. It really only needs one coat.
The downsides? It’s expensive. Also, this paint leaves more of a textured, matte finish, which wouldn’t be good for those who want a glossier, crisp look.
Things to Consider When Choosing Paint
Before making a conclusive decision on paint type or color, you should answer a few questions for yourself.
- What color will the wall behind the cabinet be?This should play into the color you choose. If the walls are light, you might consider going for a dark wood color to create some contrast, and vice versa.
- What colors will go in the glass display case?For example, if you know you’re putting a set of turquoise dishes on display, maybe avoid painting your cabinet orange.
- Do you want a matte, distressed, or glossy finish?If you want a flat matte or chippy look, you’ll want to opt for a milk or chalk paint.And if you want a more satin and glossy finish, keep your sights on acrylic or latex.
How to Paint a China Cabinet
Now that you’ve explored some painted china cabinet ideas, I want to share the boiled-down steps to painting a china cabinet.
Because the painted china cabinet ideas won’t be super helpful if you don’t know how to do this part!
Painted China Cabinet Materials & Tools Needed:
- Wood filler or spackle
- Sandpaper or a power sander for furniture
- Super glue or wood glue
- Furniture paint of your choice
- Primer and sealant (if the paint you choose calls for it)
- Hardware i.e. doorknobs (if you’re replacing the old hardware)
- Power drill (if installing new hardware holes)
- Angle paint brush & paint tray
- 4” Mini foam roller
- TSP cleaner or dish soap & rag
Before you begin the process of doing any stripping, sanding, priming, or painting, you should disassemble your cabinet. This isn’t as quick as it sounds.
You’ll want to first separate the bottom china hutch section from the upper cabinet section, if possible.
Then remove all the hardware, china hutch drawers, and glass (gingerly!).
This will make it so much easier to thoroughly paint all the nooks and crannies, without having to go too crazy with the painter’s tape.
2. Clean & Prep
Now that you’ve disassembled the piece, it’s a great time to do a deep clean before applying products.
This is especially imperative if you picked this piece up for a furniture flipping project. We don’t want any lingering stinks!
You can clean your piece a couple different ways: use a stronger TSP cleaner.
Or simply spray it over with Miracle Green and wipe it down thoroughly with a cloth.
You could also mix trusty ol’ dish soap and warm water, and scrub it down.
3. Sand & Prime
Now that the piece is squeaky clean, you’ll want to go in with your electric sander or sandpaper.
Make sure the entire surface of the china cabinet is uniform, even, and as smooth and bump-free as you can get it. This is necessary for proper adhesion of the primer and paint.
Once your piece is sanded, you’ll want to go in and prime the entire china cabinet.
But remember, this step isn’t necessary if you’re using Beyond Paint or chalk paint.
INSL-X has some really good primers, so take the time to browse their color options for a good match.
4. Paint & Seal
This is the best part: painting time! By now we hope you’ve selected the paint type, color, and style you want.
Apply a couple coats of your favorite paint color, and let it dry completely.
Apply paint to the larger negative spaces using the roller for convenience, and get at the corners, edges, and details with the angled brush.
This is also the time to add any aesthetics you’re going for, like the chippy look or stenciled patterns.
Once your piece has fully dried, you can go in and apply a coat of sealer like wax or oil-based sealant. And you’re done!
Just reassemble the hardware and drawers, and stage it with nice decorations.
If you need more help check out the video below for help painting your china cabinet!
Tips for Styling & Modernizing Your China Cabinet
- Install new hardware and display lights.
- Add a fun cabinet wallpaper to the back panels.
- Install new glass or decorative trim to the cabinet doors.
Items to stage behind the glass:
- Dish sets
- Little plants or dried flowers
- A small salt lamp or crystals
- Golden trinket decor
How can I paint over my china cabinet without sanding?
If you plan to paint directly over your china cabinet without sanding or prepping, be prepared for a more natural, flawed appearance.
This style works great if you’re going for a rustic chippy style. Choose beyond Paint and milk paint for that distressed, aged look.
Chalk paint may also work to cover up any blemishes on the wood, as chalk paint requires no stripping or priming.
What to put in a china cabinet besides china?
You can place dishware, glassware, crystals, lamps, candles, books, plants, dried flowers, golden decor trinkets, a coffee bar, or anything else you can imagine.
What happens if you paint cabinets without sanding?
At the very worst, your paint will chip and peel rather quickly. If you want to skip sanding, you can try and use a paint that requires no sanding or priming, like chalk paint but I don’t recommend this. When you paint furniture, it’s always best to sand it.
Ready to start your china cabinet makeover?
Remember: go with an acrylic or latex paint for a glossier, clean look.
And opt for a milk paint or chalk paint if you want to achieve that rustic, charming, aged look.
I hope you’ve found plenty of inspiration and feel excited to dive into your china cabinet painting project!
Whether you’re refurbishing a piece you’ve had for decades, or flipping a china cabinet to make a profit, you should have everything you need.
Now pick up that paint roller and get ready to bring your vision to life.