Montpelier Armoire DIY

Michelle escaped from the kitchen and is doing a DIY post today!

Anyone who knows me knows that I can almost never leave well enough alone. Last year I (we) took on the project of updating the interior of the 20+ year old house we live in. Not an HGTV over-the-top remodel. Just the basics…the expensive stuff…new kitchen, two bathrooms, stone floors, new carpet, and a little paint. What a beautiful mess! The only room that I left alone, besides the pool bath, closets and laundry was the master bedroom. Why? Because I was so over construction and just didn’t care. Nobody was really invited in there anyway. Not to mention, I ran out of money – surprise!

This year I discovered that I was spending a whole lot of time hiding from my newly–teenaged son and his friends in my enclave call the Master Bedroom – and I didn’t like the room. Now, I have always loved two bedroom styles – either white-on-white, or deep red like a French Quarter bordello. The last master was white with light woods, so was this one. Mainly because we just moved our stuff in and lived with it. Like the construction, I’m over it. When I decided I needed a distraction from some other grief in my world which I had no control over (BTW that is a living nightmare for a control freak!), the master bedroom was the closest and most deserving victim. Jon was happy that it only really involved paint and elbow grease. Not a sledgehammer and sawz-all ! I put dinner in a crockpot and went to work fluttering about making plans and changes. First on my list was the plan.

I love all things Restoration Hardware (and Pottery Barn, and Ikea- now there’s an odd mix). Ahhhh, but I can’t always afford them. I’ve got a budget here that even the ‘Design-On-A-Dime’ people would laugh at. However, in my planning I discovered that I already have may things that can be drafted into service. I can imitate and recreate it in my own version. I’ll show you the rest of the room as the process evolves, but for now I’ll show you the mock-montpellier armoire. The armoire I speak of is in the catalog listed for a mere $3495 (+s/h). Gorgeous, but OUCH.
Montpelier Armoire DIY
The High Priced Model
The beleaguered old armoire we have our TV in sits there as I drool over the printout of the catalog page showing it’s high-maintenance cousin, frightened of being tossed to the Salvation Army. It was bought years ago as a floor sample leftover from Rooms to Go for a few hundred dollars. Needless to say, it doesn’t owe us a thing. As a flea market picker, I’ve had my share of old furniture to refinish. Normally they’re decent unloved pieces that are real wood – this isn’t. The trim and doors are pine and the sides are formica covered particle board. Yes, you get what you pay for. This is a refinishers nightmare. You can’t strip it or even sand it…how do you cover it? Ugh. Oh, no I’m not giving up – I’ve got an idea. These days house paint comes in a fancy ‘ultra with built in primer’ and yes, it sticks. I wasn’t worried because the sides won’t really be seen and the piece doesn’t get much actual use. Most of it’s dings and scrapes came from the store and the abuse it took in wrestling it from one house to the other. (I really should’ve gotten that on tape) All that just adds character that the $3500 version hasn’t got. Let me walk you through what I’ve done.


Step 1: Take a blurry ‘before’ photo. Wipe down the entire cabinet with a little Murphys Oil Soap. Pull off the doors and knobs. Go and find some new ones in an antique pewter that you like. I found mine on Amazon for $2.67 each.
Montpelier Armoire DIY
Step 1
Step 2: Gather your weapons – since I know the primer coat will be seen, I used a flat in an inky dark blue color called Poppyseed.  Two little samples and I have some leftover. Flat black all purpose paint from Rust-o-leum. Flat paint won’t clog your sanding block as much.  Spray paint in dark steel (closest to pewter) for the hinges. A semi-gloss coating to end it. A sanding block (easier on the hands) and chip brushes. Chip brushes are a distressers BFF !
Montpelier Armoire
Step 2
Step 3: Tape off the inside at about 3/4″ in. Unless you’re painting it too – I opted not. Give the cabinet a coat of latex ultra house paint. Here it is in it’s dark chalky blue. Very streaked painting with the chip brushes – perfect.
Montpelier Armoire
Step 3
Step 4: Give it all a coat of the black flat paint. Again with the streaked finish.
Montpelier Armoire
Step 4
Step 5: Here’s a door drying.
Montpelier Armoire
Step 5
Step 6:  Note the little pock mark separation. That’s what happens when the varnish, hand oils and paint combinations fight. After it’s slightly set, go over the spot with a wet-edge brush and smooth it out. It’ll continue to dry and not pool again.
Montpelier Armoire
Step 6
Step 7: Now it’s got it’s black coat ready for scuffing.
Montpelier Armoire
Step 7

Step 8: Take the doors outside and scuff with the sanding block. Only scuff the wood parts in a way that age would do. DO NOT USE A POWER SANDER. Or else it’ll look like a cheap job. Remember, you can always go forward with some more distressing later – but not back.

Montpelier Armoire
Step 8
Step 9: Spray paint those hinges. The knob is the one to match – pretty close. The cup pulls are from the bedside tables – but that’s another blog.
Montpelier Armoire
Step 9
Step 10: Here are the doors nicely scuffed. Notice the blue tint coming thru. That gives it a bit of depth. The chalky look will disappear with the clear coat.
Montpelier Armoire
Step 10
Step 11: Let it really dry well and there you have it. Not a bad remake. I’ll be in Tampa hopefully soon and stop in to see the real thing at Resto. I may come back and distress it a bit more and that’s fine.  This job cost me 2 – days, and under $40 and that includes new knobs and I added in for paint that I really had on hand (but you may not).
Montpelier Armoire
Step 11
Stay tuned for the whole room redo to come.


Wow!  That looks great Michelle!  I always liked that armoire and now it’s even better!  Can’t wait to see the rest of the room!

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