How to Style a China Cabinet

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I bought a vintage faux bamboo china cabinet a few years ago and I finally got around to painting it shortly before we moved to our new house in 2022.  Today I wanted to share the transformation, and show how I’ve styled this vintage china cabinet in our townhouse dining room.

DIY Faux Bamboo China Cabinet Makeover

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How to Paint Furniture

I purchased the faux bamboo china cabinet at an antique mall in Beaufort, South Carolina and while I loved the bones of it I knew it would look better with a fresh coat of paint.  The brown was pretty-and I love nice brown furniture- but it had a weird faux finish to it and I wasn’t crazy about the art on the lower cabinets.  I decided to paint it Benjamin Moore Grenada Green and now it provides a fun pop of color that goes nicely with our living room wallpaper.  Please note that I try to edit my photos so that things look like they do in real life- but capturing a true color is tricky and the lighting has a big impact on how it looks.  Be sure to sample your paint colors before you commit to something you see online!

Here is what the china cabinet looked like before (while it resided in my parents’ house before being moved from SC to VA):

This is what the china  cabinet looked like during the makeover process:

First, I completely disassembled the china cabinet and removed the glass and hardware.  I sanded it well and then wiped it down with tack cloth, and then I primed it with Kilz All Purpose Primer using my Wagner paint sprayer (I have an old version but this looks similar).  Then I added 2 coats of Benjamin Moore Grenada Green in Semi-Gloss, using my paint sprayer.  I polished up the brass hardware with Bar Keeper’s Friend.  For more details on making over furniture you can find all of my paint tips in this blog post I wrote a couple years ago.

How to Style a China Cabinet

We are short on storage space in our kitchen, so this china cabinet has to be practical (and hold a lot of stuff), while also being pretty.  I keep our daily use items- such as water glasses, plates, bowls, and coffee mugs- at arm’s reach in our kitchen cabinets.  The more utilitarian/less frequently used things are up high in the top kitchen cabinets.  I chose to display our prettier and frequently used secondary items inside the china cabinet.

Our nice drinkware is on the top shelf of the china cabinet, so that they are on display and are easy to grab when we need them.  The blue Estelle Colored Glass wine glasses were a Christmas gift from Tom.  (Target and Amazon have some more affordable colored wine glass options.)  The crystal water goblets were thrifted, and the starry hand blown stemless champagne flutes and ice bucket are from Half Past Seven (gifted).

The dishes have all been thrifted or found second hand over the years, except for the Bordallo Pinheiro cabbage plates, which were a wedding present.  Dillard’s has some similar cabbage plates that are a bit cheaper, at $36 for a set of 2.  I propped up a few plates on the little ledge at the back of the cabinet to add some visual interest and display some of my collection.  They are displayed in a pattern to keep it organized-looking.  The rattan chargers are an old Homegoods find, though Crate and Barrel has similar ones.  I keep the serving pieces on the lower tier since they are larger and visually heavier.  The seagrass wrapped serving bowls are great for serving fresh salads to a crowd.  The cake stand is from Target and we use it for homemade (aka boxed mix) birthday cakes!

I have a large collection of ginger jars, so I added a few to the top.  I also have two trailing plants at the top, and they enjoy the morning sun that they receive in this spot.  Inside the lower cabinet I store Christmas items and party supplies, as well as our extra sets of flatware.

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Katie Vail
Katie Vail

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