It doesn’t seem to matter how much storage I have, I always seem to be looking for more! And over the years I have collected a lot of armoires to help out with some of these storage issues. They do provide a lot of storage that is easy to get to.
The problem that I have is that they last for a long time…and the style of my rooms never stays the same for that long. So I have to come up with ways to make the armoire “fit” with whatever style I’m currently working with.
This usually involves some type of DIY project…in this case, using some paint and “upholstery” techniques to add a little pizzazz to an old armoire. Caution: If you are someone who can’t bring yourself to paint wood furniture…avert your eyes…this post is not for you 🙂
Click Next to see the armoire that I started with for this project.
The Original Armoire
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This is the armoire that I started with. It is quite large (big enough to hold a whole bunch of outdoor patio cushions). It sits right inside the patio doors that lead out to my deck…which makes it very convenient for putting the cushions out on the outdoor furniture. The patio doors also happen to be in the dining area of my room.
This is where the problem comes in. The armoire has a bit of a rustic feel to it, which used to go quite well with my dining room furniture when it was done in more of a country style. But then I redecorated my dining room with a more contemporary look. And now this armoire really doesn’t fit in very well with the decor.
So I had to come up with a way to makeover the armoire that would make it look like it “belonged”. For me, makeovers always begin with some inspiration.
Click Next to see the inspiration for my DIY upholstered armoire makeover.
I really didn’t want the armoire to be the center of attention in the room (so no bright colors), but I did want it to look a little more dressed up than the original.
I happen to love the upholstered backdrop with the “crystal” upholstery buttons. And I really wanted to be able to incorporate that look.
So I decided to “upholster” the armoire…okay, not the whole armoire. I decided to paint it a similar color to the background of the dining room backsplash. And then use the fabric with crystal nail-heads to upholster the panels on the front.
Click Next to get a sneak peek at the finished product.
A Sneak Peek At The Finished Look
Here’s what the final product looks like. I think it achieved exactly what I was looking for…a more dressed up version of a functional storage piece, that blends right in with the rest of the decor!
Click Next to see how to recreate the Upholstered Armoire look, and learn a trick for how to get those upholstery tacks to be evenly spaced.
Step 1: Sand, Prime and Paint
The first step to painting any wood furniture is to prepare the surface so that the paint will stick.
1. Lightly sand the wood to take the outer finish off.
2. Wash the sawdust and any other dirt off the wood.
3. To make the painting easier, tape the hinges so that they do not
4. Prime the wood with a primer (like Zinsser) that will block stains from soaking through the paint.
5. Apply 2 – 3 coats of the regular paint. I like to use semi-gloss latex paint for furniture like this which doesn’t get knocked around too much. The semi-gloss finish is easy to clean, and latex paint is easy to work with. Make sure the paint is applied in the right temperature and moisture content (which should be on the can), and that you let it try completely between coats. If you get impatient and start re-coating too soon, you may end up with a tacky surface that always seem to be sticky.
Step 2: Cut the Fabric
If you can, remove the doors from the armoire. Everything in this process is much easier if you can lay the doors down while you are doing it!
In my case, the doors had panels already built in, so all I had to do was measure the panels that were already there.
If you don’t have panels on the doors, you can make your own by creating a “frame” from thin molding and attaching it to the front of each of the doors.
Once you know the size of your panels, you will need to cut pieces of fabric to fit. If your fabric has an obvious pattern (like mine does), try to have the pattern match on an panels that are beside each other. Each pattern should be about an inch wider and longer than the panel size.
I like to use a quilting cutting mat and rotary cutter for this task. It makes the fabric measuring and cutting really easy!
If you have fabric that frays at the edges (like mine), you might want to use a sewing machine or serger to zig-zag stitch around the edges of each piece of fabric. This will help keep the fraying to a minimum.
Step 3: Install the Fabric
1 To install the fabric, start by folding over the edge about a 1/2″ at the top (with the cut side in so that you can’t see it).
2. Then use a stapler to staple the fabric to the inside of the panel at the top, starting in the middle and working your way out to both edges. Stop before you get right to the edge.
3. Pull the fabric straight down to the bottom of the panel, making sure that it is pulled tight. Also make sure that the fabric pattern is going straight down so that you have it centered correctly at the top and bottom.
4. Fold the fabric under at the bottom, making sure that the folded edge meets the inside edge of the panel.
5. Staple along the bottom edge from the middle out to both sides (but don’t staple the edge yet.
6. Repeat the process with both sides, making sure to pull the fabric tight across the panel.
7. If you have staples that are not fully embedded into the door, use a wood block and a hammer to nail them in (the wood block helps prevent the paint getting chipped).
Step 4: Apply Upholstery Nails Around The Panels
1. Apply upholstery nails around the edge of the fabric panel. To keep the upholstery nails evenly spaced all the way around your panels, it helps to make a jig. You can find the step by step instructions on how to do this in our post on installing nail head trim. Otherwise, you can use the rubber mallet to hammer the nails in manually (but take my word for it…it’s very hard to get them to go in straight this way!)
2. Add the nail head trim around the edges of all of the fabric panels.
Step 5: Add Some Pretty Door Pulls
My original armoire came with some wood door knobs that were functional but not very pretty.
I replaced them with some crystal door pulls that finish off the project!
The Finished Project
Here is the finished armoire.
It goes perfectly with the dining room decor and I love the little bit of sparkle!
And it’s a fairly simple project that made the armoire look completely different!
Have comments or questions on our DIY Upholstered Armoire Makeover? Tell us in the section below.
This post was originally published on December 21, 2015 but was updated with new content on January 12, 2020.