by Jennifer Borrego June 12, 2017

I LOVE sharing a little DIY info with all my friends that enjoy a great furniture makeover.  I try to share some tips on my processes for those who want them & lots of photos for those who just love home decor. It's amazing how often I learn something from friends who casually share a tip assuming I already knew. Something new everyday, right?! At the bottom of this post you will find links with some great tips and tutorials from my Crafty Furniture Friends. Click their links, give them a visit and let us all know what you think.

*All posts may contain affiliate links to products that were used directly on our projects. You can view our policy here.

A few years ago I discovered my passion for turning vintage furniture into unique pieces of art. I learned very quickly that just painting something white was not the most satisfying for me. It also didn't seem to be what my client's were looking for from me. {win-win} When I visit a gallery or purchase art for my home it is normally the more abstract pieces that I am drawn to. I like recognizable form that is left to a little interpretation. Lately that is were my furniture has been taking me. 

Jacobean Hutch Before

I found this rather large Jacobean style hutch for sale. It was being sold by a painter and shop owner (which always makes me wary...Why would they offload this piece?) It was priced a little higher than I like to go for similar pieces...but I had already made up my mind as I made the drive with my kiddos in tow. I immediately loved all of the detail! It did however have a heavy layer of urethane shellac that was failing in some areas. This top coat had done an amazing job of keeping the piece looking great. But, once it starts to crackle or peel it is not something you can just paint over and expect your paint to adhere to. Always remember that your paint can only perform as well as the surface you apply it to!! I really cannot stress this enough. With chalk style paints you do not have to sand wood that is in good condition. You can just give it a good cleaning and get to work. However if the base is already painted, or has a finish that is compromised remember that is what your new paint coats are sticking to. 

Peeling Varnish

Part of me knows it may have been a better idea to pass this piece up with the amount of work that it would take (did take) to remove the old layers of shellac. But, I had already mentally adopted the monster and now was committed to getting her ready.

We got her all loaded up and headed back to the studio. There would be no sneaking this one by the Mister! It was much heavier than I could try to get off my truck alone. Unloaded and center stage in the garage, I tried to reason through every way of avoiding the stripping... but it had to be done. IF you have to strip a piece because you are like me and cannot say no...then do yourself a favor and use a SoyGel based stripper. You can find the one I used here.  While I prefer to not need to strip old finishes, I am grateful to have some product help attacking this beast! Even with the SoyGel I use chemical resistant rubber gloves and safety goggles. The gel is thick and will cling to even the vertical sides. Brush on the SoyGel and wait the amount of time your label suggests (I did about 5-8 minutes) Next use a plastic scraper to scrape the broken down urethane off. I kept a random metal paint tray near by to scrape my nasty urethane muck onto. 

 . before


The straight, flat sides are not too hard to get the finish scraped off of, the real challenge is in the detailed nooks, crannies, and carvings. for those I scraped what I could and then used a nylon brush and a fine 0000 steel wool. I alternately brush scrubbed the gunk out of these grooves. This became a labor of love or a need to triumph over the enemy. I will admit to stretching this process over a few weeks. All of those interesting details meant that I had a lot of work ahead of me!



Once all was removed I gave the hutch a good cleaning with my 50/50 vinegar and water solution followed by a good wipe down with clear water. Finally I let it dry before painting. 

This piece is big, that can be intimidating. You have to balance whether it is best to go with a neutral "safe" color (I say "safe" lightly, for me bold color sells faster than neutrals) with such a bold piece you may attract a more artistic person who is excited to have an art piece to build into their space. I wavered. I started out being drawn to teal color, but with a little apprehension...


I chose our Slate Grey, it has a blue undertone and is gorgeous. I got a good first coat on the top half and then just felt unfulfilled so, I grabbed a few more colors. Cyan, Tanner Brown, Copper Opulence, and a little later I even grabbed Miner Blue.

My palette, slate, cyan, tanner, bronze opulence

I got a little lost in the project layering Kristi Kuehl Pure Home Paints in Cyan & Tanner intermittently & then using the Bronze Opulence to highlight. I am not sure you can see much grey in the piece anymore. Slate makes a great base primer color either way. I would pause and come back to the piece assessing what else I wanted to add in.

cyan over slate

This was my first pass at Cyan over Slate.

 Tanner blended into Cyan

Small amounts of Tanner Brown were added in over the Cyan. This had an unexpected effect of turning Cyan a little more green. I liked it! In order to get the brown stronger on additional streaks I used a dryer brush.

I kept alternating layers of Cyan & Tanner with a few swipes of Bronze Opulence.

I had come across a video on YouTube of an artist using a spray bottle as an applicator, I loved the weird drippy look in his work and thought it could be interesting here. This is where Miner Blue came in. Miner is a mix of a navy blue and a teal green, it is just a delicious color & it was a perfect compliment to my current palette! I was not sure how to mix it from spraying so I put some water in a sprayer (I got my bottles at the dollar store, get extras for multiple colors) and began testing...I am a terrible scientist and have no idea what ratio I ended up with. I just kept testing the mix on a piece of cardboard until I had a good color & a consistency that was able to flow through the nozzle.

Sprayed on Miner Blue

I was a little nervous as I pulled the trigger my loaded spray bottle pointed at my piece. (just remind yourself when painting, there is nothing a little sandpaper can't fix. OR  in most cases a little more paint!)  I was so excited with how this was coming along. The spritz of Miner Blue was already looking beautiful & the darker bolder blue was just what the piece needed to push this project from pretty to OH WOW I NEED THIS!! I loved the drips, but I did choose to tame most of them with a quick dragging pass of my brush after they had time to dry a little. This created more of streaking than dripping. This process was so much fun I felt like a kid in art class. Trying new things can be scary but the results can also be so rewarding! AND remember it is only paint!

Close up of door with blended layers and sprayed on blue

When I was at peace with the layers of paint I used Kristi Kuehl Pure Home Glaze in Sable to blend & deepen the colors a little further. Perfection!

Pure Home Paints Sable Glaze

I did return a few times in different lighting and add a spray until I felt it was perfect.

close up of blended finish

Can you see how the spray helped the blue highlight without being so heavy? You can also use a very damp brush, but the sprayer helped me keep it loose and fun.

Confession. I had to go to 3 stores to find orange flowers after my friend suggested I add them in my photos with the teal piece. (One of those tips that I was ready to learn) 


Such a fun project! This hutch is available for purchase here. I hope you love it as much as I do and that you remember to follow your intuition and to step our of your comfort zone to try new things whether during a DIY project or buying a statement piece for your home. 

Don't leave yet! Take a minute to check out what my talented Crafty Furniture Friends have been up to this month! Follow each link to see their amazing afters!



1. Lynn Fern: CeCe Caldwell's Grand Prairie Sage Dining Room Set

2. The Purple Hydrangea: Creating A Layered Finish Using Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint 

3. That Sweet Tea Life: How to Turn an Old Dry Sink into a New Dry Bar!

4. Whimsy and Wood: 

5. Just The Woods: How to Stop Bleed Through Without Using Primer

6. Thirty Eight Street: How To Beautify Your Furniture Using A Paint Color Wash


Jennifer Borrego
Jennifer Borrego


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