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(Mis) Adventures in Painting – Rusty & Distressed Painted Cabinet Makeover

Updated: Aug 25



What started out as a great idea became an adventure. But I’ve learned a lot by making mistakes in life. Sometimes you gotta keep on truckin’ till you get it right!


Back story: I picked up this old record cabinet for my husband. My idea was to use the "Abandoned" decoupage paper by Decoupage Queen, distress the paint, then make it look old & rusty.





Easy right? That's when I realized the path isn't always a straight line.




Step #1 Clean & Prime


Let's get the easy part out the way. The first & most crucial step is to clean before you paint, so your paint adheres properly.


I used Dixie Belle’s White Lightning which is a TSB-Based cleaner that removes dirt & oil. Then wipe with water & clean rag to remove any residue.


It STILL smelled inside, so it needed a stain-blocking primer.


I applied 2 thin coats of Dixie Belle’s “Boss” Primer, then waited 24 hours for it to dry.


Step #2 Painting


My plan was to layer a few colors and distress it. I thought I wanted Vintage Duck Egg as my base.


UNTIL I applied the decoupage paper.




Step #3 Apply Decoupage Paper


I used the “Abandoned” Decoupage Paper by Decoupage Queen, which I split in half to center on the two doors.


I applied it with Satin Clear Coat as a medium and a Thingamajig- Squeegee Tool for smoothing it out. That was the easy part!


After letting it dry for a whole day, I worked on shading with paint to blend the edges of the paper.


(Here’s a video of how I did it)





Step #4,5,6 The Paint Colors


I decided to try Kudzu, so I applied 2 coats and let it dry.





What was in my head & what came out were 2 different things. You ever have that? It's ok, that's how we make progress!


I went back & forth layering Rebel Yellow, Dixie Belle Blue & Barn Red.


For over a week I tried different colors on this cabinet, until that aha-moment. (This is where I need to thank my closest friends for the support cause I was going crazy!)


I finally settled on Rebel Yellow as my main color, then distress the paint to pull the other colors through. BAM! Loved it!




Step #7 Adding Rust & Patina on Chalk Mineral Paint


This part is super easy! I randomly applied the rust using Dixie Belle’s Iron Patina Paint with the Blue Patina Spray. After it dried for 24 hours, I heavily distressed everywhere with 220 grit sandpaper.



Step #8,9,10 What about the top you ask?


Originally, I was going to stain the top. So, I sanded it down with my Surf Prep Electric Ray 3x4 and then decided to paint instead!


I start painting, adding more & more colors. Well, that didn't work out, but it did get some frustration out.


So, I did a wash of color to tone it down. Nope! Still not right.




I pulled out my phone, consulted 3 of my artist friends, listened to their feedback & kept trying different things till I figured it out. Thank goodness its only paint. LOL!


Finally, I decided to make the top look like Metal with some rusty paint popping out.


You can make anything look like metal using Patina Paint by Dixie Belle, which comes in Iron, Copper, and Bronze.


I applied 2 coats of the Iron, going around the rust to leave some colors peeking out. Just like an old rusty truck in sitting in a field.





The hardware was already rusty and perfect for the look of this piece, so I just cleaned them up a little.


I sealed with Dixie Belle’s Flat Clear Coat to keep the matte look and protect the paint.


This cabinet came a long way, and in the end, I’m in love with it! Plus, it’s 100% husband approved, and matches what he loves most: Rusty paint & old trucks.





We carry all the materials used for this project in our shop & website at Vintage Finders Warehouse. (Except that particular print of decoupage paper)


Click on each item to learn more. Thank you for supporting our small business, and be sure to visit us if you’re in Florida!


Materials used:


White Lightning

Boss Primer in White

Thingamajig Squeegee Tool


Dixie Belle Chalk Mineral Paint in the following colors:

Vintage Duck Egg

KWhat started out as a great idea became an But I’ve learned a lot by making mistakes in life. Sometimes you gotta keep on truckin’ till y oaud vgeentt uirte just right!

Rebel Yellow

Dixie Belle Blue

Barn Red

Iron Patina Paint

Blue Patina Spray

“Abandoned” by Decoupage Queen

Flat Clear Coat (We don't carry this print, but do have a large selection of decoupage paper)

Decoupage Paper

Flat Clear Coat

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