Chalk Paint Tutorial (Distressed Vintage Style)

Chalk Paint Tutorial | The Painted Hive

Some of you may not know that when I started this blog, I was up-cycling and on-selling A LOT of furniture.

It was a hobby. My second job of sorts. And I LOVED it.

Though with the growth of my blog, and, more pertinently, the emergence of my little family, came the gradual demise of my blossoming furniture “business”.

Sometimes I miss that creative outlet badly!

Which is why I was excited to learn about Annie Sloan’s Made It My Own campaign.

Made It My Own encourages people to put their spin on a piece of furniture or item of decor using Annie Sloan products then share their creation to help inspire others…and there are $100’s in prizes up for grabs too! Painters are encouraged to upload a pic of their finished work directly to Annie’s online gallery and to share socially using the hashtag #MadeItMyOwn.

Yay, what an awesome excuse to get painting!

More than that though, I was super excited to actually try out Annie’s legendary products for the VERY first time (#anniesloanvirgin).

I received a little starter-pack in the mail and set myself the challenge of using each product contained there-in to totally transform a very basic brand new item into something authentically vintage.

Here’s how the whole thing went down.


Chalk Paint Project Supplies

Raw pine step stool ($20 from Bunnings)
Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan (Chateau Grey)
Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan (Graphite)
Soft Wax by Annie Sloan (Clear)
Soft Wax by Annie Sloan (Dark)
Brush by Annie Sloan (Flat n. 38)


Of course, you can choose any item of furniture you like and any paint colours your heart desires. I also recommend a large round paint brush though a regular flat brush will suffice.


Step 1 | Chalk Paint Tutorial

1 Sand and clean.

Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan doesn’t call for much prep (in fact,  none at all – yay!) though some of the edges on my raw pine stool had killer splinter potential and were just plain messy so I gave the whole thing a super quick sand.

I also rounded off the square corners to give the piece a naturally worn look.

Sanding Edges

Once sanded, I wiped the stool down to make sure it was clean and dust free.


Step 2 | Chalk Paint Tutorial

2 Paint colour one.

I was provided with two little pots of Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan; Chateau Grey and Graphite. I decided to make Chateau Grey my main colour. I gave the pot a really good shake (this is important; make sure your paint is well combined) then started liberally slapping it on my stool. This was, quite deliberately, the messiest paint job I have ever done!

Chalk Paint is quite thick and can be used to create texture. Hence, my intentional imperfection. I stippled, criss-crossed, dragged, dripped and dribbled.

Creating Texture with Chalk Paint

Don’t be too discouraged by the sloppy appearance. I know it looks pretty crappy, and I had my doubts, though the subsequent steps bring everything together beautifully. Oh, and don’t be concerned about the unpainted or patchy bits; these are just process pics.

Quite a fussy painter ordinarily I found this haphazard process so liberating. How fun – an excuse not to care!

I used a standard flat brush because that’s what I had. It was fine though I do think a large-ish round brush would produce more random texture with greater ease.

One of the best ways I found to produce interest in the texture was to wait until the paint had dried just a little and then gently drag an almost dry brush over the surface. This caused any still damp paint to “tear” and created very organic-looking “cracks” (this detail can be seen in some of the close-up after pics).

I applied two coats of paint for optimal coverage and to build-up textural layers.


Step 3 |Distressed Chalk Paint Tutorial

3 Paint colour two.

Once my paint was completely dry (I used a hair-dryer to help speed up the process – especially for the thick dribbles) I used a smaller brush to pick-out some of the edges in Graphite. Once again, I wasn’t fussy with my paint job. Oh, and please excuse the cruddy tattered brush!

The distinct green undertones in the Chateau Grey caused the Graphite to throw a lot of blue. Although they’re probably not colours I would ordinarily pair together, I instantly thought the combo would be great for a boy’s room. And that’s just where this stool will probably end up living; in my little boy’s bedroom.


Step 4 |Distressed Chalk Paint Tutorial

4 Sand.

Although I wanted to retain as much texture as possible, I needed to knock back the more obvious drips and any overt roughness. I also wanted to reveal some of the Chateau Grey beneath the Graphite and give the whole stool a bit more of a uniform appearance.

I sanded quite lightly, paying extra attention to any thicker areas of paint, and the transformation was almost instant. What was looking unattractively crude became, to me, quite desirably rustic! A little smile curled my lips :)

Rustic Vintage Chalk Paint Tutorial

Sanding helps soften and meld the overall look.

I went back to raw wood in a few areas though only very sparingly.


Step 5 |Distressed Chalk Paint Tutorial

5 Clear wax.

Waxing isn’t a necessary step. If you like the chalky matte appearance of your piece and don’t require a protective finish you can omit it. As mentioned above, I set myself the challenge of using all of the products I received so although I did like the way my stool was looking I decided to go for it – and I’m glad I did!

Clear Waxing Furniture

Please excuse my multi-coloured fingers – it’s not from this project though from painting with the kiddies!

I simply collected a small amount of Soft Wax (Clear) on my brush then went about working it into the paint (you could also use a lint-free cloth though I think a purpose round brush would be best). You will notice immediately how the paint becomes more vibrant and takes on a subtle sheen. I worked in sections (top first then each leg and so on), rubbing the Wax in with my brush before buffing it off again with a cloth. It’s a pretty quick and easy process and I found there’s no need to be overly fussy.


Step 6 |Vintage Distressed Chalk Paint Tutorial

6 Dark wax.

Apparently this step scares a lot of people! I was a little tentative myself because I was conscious of perhaps not liking the result and having to start my stool all over again. But, meh right? If that’s what happened, then that’s what happened. Luckily I LOVED the result.

I applied my Soft Wax (Dark) using the same process as the Soft Wax (Clear); working in sections I rubbed some on then buffed it off again. I paid particular attention to any deep grooves (such as the staple holes) and areas of notable texture.

How To Dark Wax Furniture

Now, I’m not gonna lie. It was kinda daunting at first. The Wax not only invades all the nooks and crannies (which is the intention) though can also look somewhat patchy to begin with and it does alter the over-all tone of the paint. For me, what was originally quite a soft sage green became decidedly more olive. It took me a little while to work out whether I liked this “new” colour. Thankfully…yes!

Before and After Dark Wax

I love the sags and dribbles the most!

Following buffing the Wax may remain somewhat tacky though should continue to harden-up over time.

You might be wondering why I clear waxed first. This just provides a necessary buffer, ensuring the underlying paint doesn’t take on too much Dark Wax (as it is essentially a stain). If you do find your piece becoming overly dark, you can use some additional Clear Wax to tone-down the darkness during the buffing process.

Dark waxing was the most time-consuming aspect of this Chalk Paint make-over. Probably because I had never done it before and was experimenting with the finish. I just kept rubbing Dark Wax on and buffing it off, sometimes using Clear Wax to mute things down, until I was happy with the result.

Creating Texture with Paint

And I am thrilled with it!

Rustic Chalk Paint Tutorial | The Painted Hive

I love the idea of using a little step stool like this for a pretty tea and coffee station.

It’s hard to believe this was a BRAND NEW raw pine stool at the beginning of this process and that all this “new” grungy goodness can be attributed to some paint and wax alone!

Distressed Stool After | The Painted Hive

I know this look isn’t for everyone and I myself have felt unsure about “antiqued” items of furniture in the past. There’s lots of potential for them to look just plain dirty and very contrived if not done right (I’ve probably been guilty of the “forced” look myself!). I think this is especially pertinent for new-looking, perfectly painted pieces which are merely dark waxed or antique glazed, almost as an afterthought.

One thing I’ve learned from this project is that the use of painterly texture can be a BIG factor in creating a genuine looking patina. And with this paint it’s so easy to achieve!

All those cracks, brush strokes and dribbles are what really help make this piece look so authentically vintage.

Chalk Paint Texture Close Up

Super-duper close up detail! You can see just how random and interesting the surface is. Although it appears somewhat rough on very close inspection it is actually smooth to the touch.

Although I have gone for a rustic, aged finish using muted neutrals, Chalk Paint can also be used to produce sleek, modern results and is available in 33 gorgeous shades.

Chalk Paint Colours

I’m really looking forward to trying some different colours and using this technique on a larger item of furniture. I think a basic dresser or hutch could be transformed into a totally amazing feature piece.

Turn Something New into Something Old (Realistic Vintage Chalk Paint Effect Tutorial) | The Painted Hive

Remember, the Annie Sloan Made It My Own gallery is open right now! Whether you’re a seasoned Chalk Paint user or, like me, are maybe looking for a good excuse to give it a try, why not get creative then share your amazing work to help inspire others – and maybe win a prize or two in the process!

Chalk Paint Tutorial | The Painted Hive


Click here to find your nearest Annie Sloan stockist.

This post was sponsored by Annie Sloan.

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In Print

I was lucky to be featured in a few publications recently. You might think it’s the kind of thing that would lose its shine after a little while. I guess if you’re someone like Kim Kardashian that’s probably the case though to me it always feels special.

Make It Over Feature

Make It Over (Spring 2015) | DIY Faux Flat File Drawer Cabinet

Press Feature Somerset Home

Somerset Home (Autumn 2015) | Custom Embellished Knobs

Press Feature Window Treatments

Window Treatments with Style (Hannah Stanton) | Easy Faux Rolled Window Valance


I know sharing this kinda stuff on my blog probably comes across as self-indulgent though please don’t feel I’m trying to brag or show-off. It’s merely my way of keeping a record.



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“Leather” Upholstered Mini Drawer Set Hack

At the risk of coming across as someone slightly obsessed with mini drawers, here’s another little drawer hack.

DIY Leather Upholstered Drawer Hack | The Painted Hive

My mum actually picked up this small drawer set for $12 from Kmart a few weeks back.

Mini Card File Drawer Hack - Before

She mentioned she was planning on doing ‘something’ with it, then I kinda stole it so I could do ‘something’ with it instead (don’t worry, she’s usually happy when I steal her stuff – I did give it back).

Although there was nothing majorly wrong with it, it was just kinda meh, had a few splits and chips and didn’t really suit her style, so I wanted to completely transform it. That said, I also wanted the project to be super quick and simple because I know, that for my readers, fast and easy make-overs are among the most appealing.

So, as is the case with most of my under-takings, pondering took precedence over progress!

The finger pulls posed the biggest problem. I needed to come up with a simple solution for concealing them.

Unlike my previous Ikea Moppe hack, I couldn’t simply reverse the drawers as the rears were shorter than the fronts…

Drawer Proportions

I figured the finger pulls could either be filled or covered in some way, and after toying with a few very different ideas, settled on covering them with some form of upholstery.

Though using what kind of fabric?

Something natural and neutral. Maybe linen or burlap? Then, out of nowhere, it suddenly came to me. What about leather? That could look cool!

The only issue was the clearance around the drawers. There was seriously little more than a hair’s width in some places.

I wanted to wrap each drawer for that ‘proper’ upholstered finish, though there really wasn’t enough of a gap to accommodate something thick like leather, especially at the corners. The drawers simply wouldn’t close properly anymore.

I considered attaching the leather to the face only then trimming the edges in some way (maybe with brass studs) though given the small scale of the drawers I decided I really did want to try fully wrapping them.

So, I started searching for thinner alternatives to real leather and eventually came across some really great contact paper. Hmmm, that could work!

Well, let the project commence.

You will need…



DIY Leather Covered Drawers Hack

1 Mini drawer set.

As touched on above, I stole this one from my mum though she originally bought it from Kmart for just $12 (I think they still have them in stock).

Mini drawer sets are pretty common and can be found in lots of places. Ikea sells a few. You can also have a search online and check out craft/office/decor/dollar stores.

2 Paint.

I used chalkboard paint because I wanted something neutral and I love the distressed graphite appearance it takes on once seasoned (coated with chalk then rubbed back). Of course, you can choose any type of paint in any colour you like. Spray paint would have been handy though I just used regular canned paint because that’s what I had.

3 Card.

This is merely to cover the finger pull holes to avoid any possible dipping of the contact paper at that point. I simply cut up a cereal box. Anything thin and rigid will work. If your drawers don’t have finger pulls then of course you don’t need to worry about using any card.

4 Padding.

You can use anything slightly squishy which will give the “leather” a padded appearance. I used wadding (batting) because I already had some on hand though I actually think something a bit denser, like foam or felt sheet (even a kitchen sponge!) could work better.

5 “Leather”.

As mentioned above, to ensure I could wrap my drawers I used contact paper in place of real leather. You could use real leather if your item permits. You could also try wallpaper (I found some amazing wallpapers which were available to buy in generous sample sizes for super cheap!). My contact paper was $10 for one meter and I found it here. It has a slight texture and I think it looks really authentic.

6 Handles.

I was lucky to have some left-over brass label holder pulls from my previous Ikea drawer hack. They were around $3 each from eBay. Label holder pulls are pretty easy to find nowadays and are much more affordable than they used to be. eBay and Etsy are two good sources. Of course, you can use any handles you like. I think a flat label holder with a separate knob would also be cute as would something rustic, like hand-made rope pulls.

The process…


DIY Leather Drawer Hack

1 Paint the drawer set carcass.

As mentioned above, I used chalkboard paint though you could use anything you like (I’m loving the idea of gloss navy!). Spray paint would be easiest though I used tinned paint because I already had some on hand. I didn’t need to do any prep as my drawer set carcass was already smooth and super dry. Depending on your item you may need to sand it and/or apply a primer first.

Seasoning the Chalkboard Paint

Once my paint was completely dry I seasoned it (coated it with white chalk then rubbed it off again) to create a distressed, imperfect, graphite appearance.


Mini Card File Drawer Hack

2 Attach card to the drawer faces.

This is simply to cover the finger pull holes, mainly to avoid the possibility of the contact paper sagging at that point. I simply cut some rectangles from a cereal box and attached them with double sided tape (you could use glue). I covered the entire drawer front, rather than just the finger pull areas, to ensure I created one nice even plain. I was just a bit concerned that any card edges might be discernible through the wadding and contact paper.


Leather Drawers

3 Drill pilot hardware holes.

It’s important to drill your pilot hardware holes before attaching any kind of material which may get caught up in the drill bit. Simply line up your hardware as desired, mark the nail or screw points then drill yours pilot holes as required. Depending on the density of your drawers, pilot holes may not be necessary though I always find it easier to use them. It just saves a bit of effort trying to bash your nails through or drive your screws into solid wood, not to mention the possibility of breaking something! Just make sure your drill bit is one or two sizes smaller than your nail or screw to ensure they will hold firmly.


Upholstered Drawers DIY

4 Attach padding to the drawer fronts.

As mentioned above, you can use anything slightly squishy. I used standard wadding (batting) because I already had some on hand. As with the card, I simply cut rectangles to fit my drawer fronts and attached them with double sided tape. I was careful to ensure they were slightly smaller than the drawer face so that no excess wadding was pushed over the drawer edges once the contact paper was stretched on.


Leather Upholstered Mini Drawer Hack

5 Attach “leather” to the drawer fronts.

This was the fiddliest part though it was still super easy.

You can see the texture in the contact paper really well in the above pic (oh, and don’t worry about the little white corner – it’s just the side of the protruding top and isn’t visible once the drawers are in place).

How to Contact Cover a Drawer

5A As mentioned earlier, I used contact paper in place of real leather because I needed something very thin. As you can see in the above pic, I actually bought two different papers because I couldn’t decide! I really love both of them though decided against the more obviously distressed one as I felt the scale of the grain was a little too large and distinct for my little drawers (I’ll use it for a future project). I found the contact really great. It has a subtle texture which adds to its realism and it was easy to work with because it didn’t adhere to itself. I found it here.

5B I cut a nice even rectangle of contact paper which was around 3cm (1″) larger than my drawer face all around.

5C I then removed the backing paper and pressed it onto the wadding, smoothing and stretching it slightly before creating subtle indents at each corner point by gently pressing the contact down with my finger.

5D I used these indents as my markers to cut diagonally across the corners of the contact, as near to the indent as possible (this just removes any excess contact paper and makes for neater corners which are easier to fold). I did this whilst the contact was on top of the drawer (rather than measure and pre-cut the corners) for better accuracy as it’s almost impossible to gauge how the volume of the padding will effect the position of the contact paper. It’s also hard to know just how much stretch your contact has until you remove the backing.

Just be careful not to cut too much off your corners. You don’t want to leave any of the underlying drawer exposed once you wrap the contact around.

5E Next I smoothed down the contact paper and, stretching it slightly to ensure a nice tight finish, attached it to the drawer, pressing firmly to adhere well. I started with the drawer sides.

5F With the sides adhered, I folded in the tiny corners and tightly wrapped the base and top.

You may find your corners need a little tweaking. Contact paper is generally somewhat malleable so can be smoothed into place to some extent however if need be you can remove any unsightly excess with a sharp craft knife. You can also touch up any exposed areas with a similarly coloured marker.


DIY Leather Upholstered Drawers

6 Attach hardware.

Poke a pin through the pilot holes you already created – from inside the drawer right through to the front. Using the new pin holes as a guide, line up your hardware on top of the drawer and drive your nails or screws through. Secure your handles as tightly as needed and desired, nestling them into the padding to create a subtle cushioned appearance.

Just go easy if you are using screws to attach your hardware as their thread can get caught up in the padding, particularly if you used something fibrous (like wadding).

To finish, insert some cute labels. I totally cheated and made mine digitally. I used a high resolution aged paper texture and the lovely free font Notera (of course, you can simply tea-stain some paper and hand-write the text). Mum is going to use the little drawers to corral all the crap that builds-up in her kitchen nook so I categorised each drawer as requested by her.

Antique Brass Label Holders | The Painted Hive

This little drawer set now has a very ‘campaign-esque’ feel. I actually searched hard for some little brass corners and ‘T’ plates though couldn’t find anything small enough I really loved (well, I did find some really cute corners in the US though the shipping was crazy high). I even had a go at creating my own though I wasn’t satisfied that they looked “proper” enough so decided against using them.

DIY Leather Upholstered Drawer Hack | The Painted Hive

I’m not sure if the photos do it justice (I’m also not sure if those wooden hands are creepy or not?).

It has a decidedly masculine edge though the overall neutrality means it’s still super versatile. I’m loving the rich “leather” teamed with the distressed chalkboard paint and the nod to refinement the brass hardware imparts.

DIY "Leather" Chalkboard Drawers | The Painted Hive

In other news, I was lucky to recently acquire a new camera lens and am still working out how the heck to use it (#camerasconfuseme). I had some fun playing around with the aperture capabilities by taking some artistic shots of my vintage props.

Vintage Camera Photography

I adore antique books and old cameras!

Anyhoo, here are some before and afters…

DIY Leather Upholstered Mini Dresser Hack | The Painted Hive

Before and After - DIY Leather Upholstered Mini Dresser Hack | The Painted Hive

Quite a contrast!

I really had no idea how these little drawers were going to turn out. I think I’m pleasantly surprised!

DIY Leather Upholstered Drawer Hack | The Painted Hive

I’m now also really excited about the possibility of upholstering something bigger using leather. Maybe a dresser or even some cabinet doors!



PS Thanks so much if you’re one of the lovely people who has so far placed a bid on my Honeycomb Armoire to help raise funds for charity. The auction still has five days to go so be sure to hop on over and bid. I’ll love you forever!



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The Re-Love Project Auction is Live!

I’m super excited to announce that my Honeycomb Armoire is finally up for grabs!

Honeycomb Parquetry Armoire



Yup, from now up until July 17 anyone can bid for a chance to take this lovingly refurbished one-of-a-kind baby home!

Remember, all proceeds from the sale go directly to charity and bidding begins at just 99 cents! On top of that Feast Watson are offering free national shipping. Yes, people, FREE!

If ever there was a time to snaffle-up that special piece for your home, THIS IS IT!

Please hop on over and place a bid. Not only will you be supporting a great cause and giving yourself the chance to win, you just might save me from looking like a bid-less loser (you will also help ensure all these exclamation marks and shouty capitals I keep using are doing their job!).

In addition to my up-cycled wardrobe, there are seven more fabtabulous pieces being offered by the other amazing designers involved so be sure to click here and check them all out!

C’mon peeps! Let’s make this thing awesome!



PS Thank you all so much for the beautiful response I have so far received for my piece. I stepped outside my comfort zone with this project and was feeling a little nervous about the whole thing. Your gracious support has been incredibly uplifting and is deeply appreciated.

PPS Oh, and please share this around with your family, friends and even colleagues (you know how much everyone loves irrelevant group office emails)! If perhaps it’s not the item for you, I’m sure you must know someone who would love to have this special piece grace their home :)


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Re-Love Project…before and after

Laminate Armoire Transformed with DIY Wood "Tiling" | The Painted Hive

I’m so excited to finally share this!

If you’re not new here, you’re probably aware of my involvement in the Re-Love Project and what it’s all about. For those of you who don’t know, in short it’s a Feast Watson campaign in collaboration with Salvos Stores which sees eight design personalities “re-love” a neglected item of furniture with the resulting pieces being auctioned for charity. Pretty cool, huh? You can read my first post about it here and learn more on the Feast Watson website here.

It’s such a wonderful campaign, and is bigger and better than ever this year, which I’m thrilled to be involved with alongside some pretty impressive peeps!

Anyhoo, as revealed in my previous post about the project, I started with this basic melamine wardrobe which I picked up for $50…

Feast Watson Re-Love Project Before

Rather than take on a sympathetic restoration, I wanted to challenge myself to completely re-imagine something very ubiquitous in the hope of inspiring others to think a bit sideways. I’m sure many of you guys have an item like this languishing away in a dark corner somewhere. Or maybe you’ve frequently passed up similar pieces in charity stores or at garage sales. They do come across as rather potential-less.

Well, despite a few hiccups along the way, numerous vision adaptations and those customary moments of self-doubt (I really didn’t think I was going to pull this one off!), things actually worked out in the end and I’m stoked with the result! I think – I’ve been staring at if for too long now.

The mid-century modern mood of this piece is a departure from my usual farmhouse-y style which made for a slightly ambitious, yet fun, creative challenge. I’m under no illusion this is a piece for everyone though am hopeful the basic principle of the make-over sparks a few ideas. The possibilities are almost endless!

So, here’s how the whole thing went down…



I know this goes without saying, though to begin with I gave everything a really good clean, took off the doors, pulled out the drawers and removed all the hardware.

Note: I failed to do this, though before removing the doors it would have been beneficial to measure the gap between them and the gap where they meet the drawers. This just would have saved me some guesswork whilst I was attaching the hexagons in terms of allowing for any negative space. Also, it’s a good idea to mark the doors as left and right. My doors were identical though sometimes they have individual quirks and need to be hung a particular way.


Sides, Base & Top

To give the hexagons a nice frame of sorts I decided to add a new over-hanging top and base (I was also going to add side cladding though decided against it in the end).

First I needed to lose the ugly toe-kick. This can either be filled or removed entirely. For ease I opted to simply cut mine off using our plunge track saw (you could also use a jigsaw or circular saw).

Cutting Off the Toe Kick

To create the new base and top, I cut two identical panels from basic ply sheet (if you don’t have the right tools, or if you’re not confident with cutting timber, you could have it trimmed to size at the hardware store). Next I sanded them thoroughly, finishing with fine grit paper for a nice smooth finish, then sprayed them black (Dulux Duramax in Flat Black).

Mid Century Modern Wardrobe Makeover

For the wardrobe sides, I first counter-sunk the visible screws and filled the holes.

Counter-Sinking the Screw Heads

I then sanded down the sides thoroughly using an orbital palm sander and heavy grit paper.

Sanding Melamine

Melamine is slick and shiny so thorough sanding is required to ensure any topical application adheres well. I also noticed that using coarse paper created a subtle texture which, once painted, gave the melamine the look of timber! I taped off the wardrobe as necessary to avoid over-spray then painted the sides black to match the top and base.

Spray Painting Laminate

To attach the new top to the wardrobe I first smothered the panel with liquid nails, clamped it in place as best I could, drilled some small pilot holes then screwed it down from the inside of the wardrobe.

Before attaching the base to the wardrobe, the new feet (see below) were connected first. The wardrobe was then lifted on top and maneuvered into position. Once again I then drilled some pilot holes and screwed the base on from inside the wardrobe. To give the base added strength extra long screws were also drilled through each foot.

Attaching a New Top and Base to Furniture

Note: I originally planned to use white paint to create a modern Scandi look (which is super popular at the moment) though something about it just didn’t gel. Black simply worked better with the rich wood tones, tying-in beautifully with the darker hexagons and creating a more resolved finish. I was also tempted by the idea of navy blue, which I think could have looked really beautiful, though for the sake of the charity auction I wanted to keep things neutral to appeal to more buyers.



Now, I will admit, we went kinda fancy with our feet. Saying that, it wasn’t difficult, it just wasn’t the fastest and easiest option. I know many of you probably don’t want the hassle of making your own feet (which is understandable – I fought the idea for a few weeks!). As an alternative you can buy quite reasonably priced ready to attach ones. If you would like to have a go at making your own, like I mentioned, it’s really not that hard and is super affordable – plus you can create something completely custom!

I started by working out the general shape I wanted then cutting four identical feet from cheap framing pine (commonly known as 2×4) using our drop saw.

DIY Mid Century Furniture Feet

I then cut some lengths of pine to form a connecting frame (two long lengths for the front and rear, and two shorter lengths for the sides). Next I biscuit joined (if you don’t have a biscuit joiner you could screw and dowel) the feet to the long lengths of pine (sorry, I didn’t get a pic of this though you can imagine the two longer lengths of pine with feet at either end – refer to the below pic of the finished frame for a visual) and clamped them in place.

Biscuit Joining Feet

Once set, they were then biscuit joined to the shorter lengths of pine to form the complete frame.

DIY Custom Mid Century Modern Furniture Feet

Once set, I gave the entire thing a really good sand before staining it (Feast Watson Prooftint in Oak) and sealing it (three coats of Feast Watson Scandinavian Oil).

Staining the Base

It was then attached to the new base panel with glue and screws before being connected to the wardrobe (see above).

Note: This wardrobe is HEAVY and it was really important that the new feet were structurally capable, especially given they are angled so have outward force. I was tempted to forgo the joinery step and simply glue and screw everything directly to the base though this wouldn’t have provided the bracing strength needed. For a more lightweight item of furniture you could get away with it though.



My initial inspiration for this project came from a hexagonal garden screen I saw in a hardware store one day. Don’t ask me how I went from metal fretwork screen to timber mosaic wardrobe though it somehow set the wheels in motion.

Of course, this process is essentially parquetry which is a century old technique. I like to think of it more as wood tiling – at least that’s how it felt – and the design possibilities are almost endless!

Note: I did play around with some other shapes and patterns though decided to stick with my original hexagonal design because based on some research I did apparently it’s quite unique (parquetry-wise) and is also bang on trend at the moment. I’d like to experiment with different patterns and more rustic tones in the future.

I wanted this to be an appealing DIY. The type of project that really inspires others to have a go. I figured that hand-cutting a gazillion little shapes wasn’t that appealing so I went about sourcing some ready-made ones (you could fabricate your own from sheets of ply or veneer – especially if your design is quite simple). I assumed that affordable wooden shapes would be easy to find…ah, not so much. These things are pricey! After loads of research my only option was buying in bulk from China. Fortunately, I actually needed a bulk amount. I obtained 2mm thick x 80mm wide raw ply hexagons from this Alibaba seller at 12 cents a piece – bargain. I ordered 500 and used around 350. I found this seller really great to deal with and they can create custom shapes at custom sizes. Ah, the possibilities! I already have another idea brewing!

From the beginning my vision for the cladding was a multi-toned mosaic in warm honey tones, reflecting the honeycomb nature of the pattern (by sheer co-incidence it ties in nicely with my blog theme too!). I only used two different stains (Feast Watson Prooftint in Golden Teak and Feast Watson Prooftint in Oak) along with a colour reducer (Feast Watson Prooftint Colour Reducer) yet I created numerous shades by mixing different quantities together and applying either generously or sparingly. I hand-stained each hexagon, dipping my brush from colour to colour and coating each shape to achieve random tones. It sounds very tedious though was surprisingly quick and quite therapeutic!

Staining the Hexagons

Once all of my hexagons were stained it was time to get “tiling”! I started with a wardrobe door. First I drew a rough grid on the door (just to provide a general guide) then after some careful contemplation I began gluing the hexagons down. I started center bottom and after some trial and error, worked out the best method was to brush some glue on the rear of a hexagon, stick it down then move on to the next one. Clamping is crucial as the thin ply warps due to the moisture in the glue. My system was to complete a small portion, clamp it, work on the next section whilst the glue set (around 20 minutes) then move the clamp up. For greater efficiency, I clamped two areas at a time, using two narrow planks of wood and four clamps (two clamps per plank). This allowed me to work continuously until the door was complete!

Attaching Hexagon Parquetry

I then repeated the process with the other door and the drawers.

Note: Prior to attaching any hexagons, it was imperative to first work out where they would join in the middle, where they would meet at the base (with the drawers) and what type of over-hang there would be at the sides and top. This didn’t need to be super precise (I eventually just had to go for it because my brain starting hurting and Christmas was coming!) though it was beneficial to get a good idea of how they would “fit” to avoid the need for any unsightly slivers or obvious mis-matching.

Due to the nature of the hexagonal pattern, there is quite a bit of over-hang. I experimented with two methods of dealing with this; 1) gluing full hexagons on then trimming away any excess with a jigsaw, and 2) pre-cutting the hexagons to fit using my Moto-Saw. I found both methods to be effective though they each had their pros and cons. Using full hexagons was best for areas where only a small portion required trimming off, though I did find that even with careful cutting the jigsaw vibrations caused some minor chipping. Pre-cutting was best when only a small portion of the hexagon was required, though I did need to ensure there was still a minor over-hang which could be sanded flush. If I had to choose just one method, I would go with pre-cutting. It sounds laborious, though it wasn’t that bad plus I was able to use the off-cuts I created as I worked.

Trimming the Hexagons

Once the doors and drawers were completely clad and any over-hang was roughly trimmed, I used a sanding block to sand all of the edges flush (you could use a powered sander).

Sanding the Hexagons

I was concerned this would be difficult and that the hexagons wouldn’t appear straight (one of the reasons I chose not to do this on a tabletop), though the thin ply is incredibly soft and easy to sand so it was actually really simple to achieve perfect lines (tabletop here I come!).

To finish, I sealed the hexagons (around six coats of Feast Watson Scandinavian Oil).

Sealing the Hexagons

This not only provided a beautiful natural lustre though also worked to meld the hexagons by filling any minor gaps. It’s kinda like the grout of this weird wood tiling world…kinda.


Finishing Touches

To complete the overall look, I added a glamorous pop of gold to the rear of the doors with some spray paint (Dulux Duramax Bright Finish in Gold) and replaced the existing hanging rod with a brass one (see pic below) to co-ordinate.

Gold Spray

I also used some black craft paint to finish the visible sides of the doors and drawers along with the front-facing edge of the wardrobe frame (to tie-in with the body of the wardrobe).

Painting the Edges

The handles gave me grief! From the beginning I envisioned simple brass bar pulls though I couldn’t find them anywhere in Australia! And I looked EVERYWHERE! I couldn’t even find what I wanted within my budget on eBay, Alibaba, AliExpress, IndiaMart, Etsy and numerous other international sites. Having handles dipped was going to be way too pricey so I almost resigned myself to buying some chrome ones and spray painting them (a solution I wasn’t thrilled with given this item would be on-sold and the chance of the paint chipping was high). As a last resort I decided to turn to the US. I knew they would have the handles I was after (you guys have everything :-) though from past experience I wasn’t confident about the affordability of shipping. Fortunately, I happened to come across an online store which was not only willing to ship cheaply via USPS though also had the handles on sale – yay! If you’re interested I found them here ($8 each on sale). I initially wanted longer ones in blingy polished brass though am really happy with the look of these.

Brass Bar Handles | The Painted Hive

Originally, the doors were out of alignment. I was a bit concerned that when I re-hung them I wouldn’t be able to get them level. Thankfully, the recessed hinges are adjustable so I could square them up perfectly. This is something to keep in mind when looking at second-hand furniture. Mis-aligned doors can be off-putting though if the hinges are adjustable they probably just need a bit of tweaking.

Aaaaaaand, that’s how you turn a melamine piece of furniture on its head!

Mid-Century Modern Laminate Wardrobe Makeover | The Painted Hive

DIY Hexagon Armoire Interior with a Pop of Gold | The Painted Hive

I love all the random grain directions. I’m also really happy with the way the sprinkle of both extra light and dark hexagons gives the pattern added definition. That was my plan though I had no idea it was actually going to work!

DIY Hexagon Parquetry Wardrobe | The Painted Hive

Melamine Wardrobe Makeover using Hexagon Parquetry | The Painted Hive

Melamine Wardrobe Makeover using Hexagon Parquetry | The Painted Hive

All up this project cost me around $200. I know that’s not super cheap though I also happen to know that this exact wardrobe, in its before state, retails for $300 new! So, for $300 you can have a generic wardrobe from the furniture store OR for $200 you can pick up a second-hand one and – with some elbow grease and imagination – have something completely unique.

Laminate Wardrobe Hack | The Painted Hive

I think I know which one I prefer.

The photos really don’t do this baby justice. On the day I did the shoot it was really dark and gloomy so getting a nice bright shot was tricky.

Here are the before and afters…

DIY Parquetry Laminate Armoire | The Painted Hive

DIY Hexagon Armoire Makeover | The Painted Hive


I hope you guys like it! That said, I do know what some of you are probably thinking; “Why bother doing all that with a cheap ugly flat pack?”. Allow me to explain…

I wanted this to be a BIG transformation. Sure, I could have started with a nice timber piece, though my thinking was, why completely transform something that’s already nice? Nice things don’t need complete overhauls, they just need a little love. Also, nice timber pieces aren’t that plentiful or affordable. Sure, you might get lucky though I know for a fact that cheap ugly flat packs are EVERYWHERE and I was on a tight budget and dead-line for this project. I think using something ubiquitous makes this project much more “real” and replicable. The wardobe is strong and sturdy and isn’t about to fall apart.

I also know that some of you are probably thinking; “For that amount of work why not just build the wardrobe from scratch?”. Again, allow me to explain…

Essentially, this was a glue and screw project. I’m good at those. It’s also the type of cosmetic DIY which I think most inspires my readers. If I built the wardrobe from scratch, I still would have had to “tile” it. Constructing it just would have cost a lot more money and taken a lot more time, not to mention stress (joinery isn’t my strong suit). On top of that, of course the whole idea behind this campaign is to demonstrate how old furniture can be re-loved. As a massive bonus I also got to save it from land-fill – yay!

I’m happy to admit I did go to extra lengths to create something special here as this piece will be auctioned off for charity. Not only did it have to look proper, it actually had to be proper (I don’t want the legs breaking off in two months time!). As far as furniture make-overs go, this was a somewhat involved one, though nothing about it was difficult. The hardest aspect was actually all the figuring out, sourcing and troubleshooting due to the fact I was totally making things up as I went along! Hopefully my tutorial can save you some of the ‘figuring out’ though if found some of my processes a bit full-on, feel free to compromise away. I have mentioned simpler alternatives where possible. You don’t need to go to the same extreme to create an amazing parquet piece that you can feel proud of.

If anything, through this project I simply hope to encourage others to cock their head further, skew their lip harder and look that little bit longer at that seemingly “beyond help” piece of furniture. With a little ingenuity and some elbow grease you can affordably transform almost anything into something truly awesome!


Remember, along with the pieces of the other awesome designers involved with this campaign (be sure to check out their amazing before and afters here), this unique wardrobe is being sold for charity, so if you love it (or know someone else who would) be sure to stay tuned! The eBay auctions kick-off on July 8 and Ill be sure to post again once they go live. In addition, I’m excited to let you know that Feast Watson will be covering shipping costs Australia wide! How awesome is that? Of course, if you’re located outside Australia you are more than welcome to arrange your own freight.

C’mon guys, let’s share this around socially and work up some hype for the Salvos!

DY Hexagon Parquetry Armoire Tutorial | The Painted Hive



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