China Cabinet Makeover Using Amy Howard One Step Enamel Paint

china cabinet makeover before and after

I recently used enamel paint, specifically Amy Howard One Step Paint and the results were mind-blowingly good. I don’t know if I can ever go back to any other paint!

It was so fast and easy – like no sanding, no stripping, and no priming kind of easy!

This antique wooden cabinet was in rough shape and desperately needed a makeover. Due to its condition, I wanted extra durable paint to hide the imperfections.

This China cabinet makeover turned out far beyond my expectations. In this post, I’m sharing exactly how to use enamel paint so you can have these stunning results!


Contents of this post:

China Cabinet Makeover Using Amy Howard One Step Enamel Paint

china cabinet paint green with wood shelves and wallpaper backing

I call this China cabinet “barn boy” because I scored him from a barn sale for $40. The woman hosting the sale was a hoarder who kept all of her stuff in a massive two-story barn. Unfortunately, she needed to get rid of everything because the owner sold the barn, and a developer planned to turn the space into condos (sad on so many levels…). 

The condition of this piece was not good, but I saw the potential. It had great bones, and something about it said, please take me home. So I did! I was proud of myself because I got this bad boy into the back of my tiny SUV all on my own.

Ok, back to the condition of this china cabinet. From years of sitting in the damp barn, it had a particularly funny smell, a thick layer of dirt, and bits of it were falling apart, especially from the one side and back.

Despite all this, Amy Howard One Step Enamel Paint and Wax transformed Barn Boy into a complete stud. Here’s how I did it.

Step 1: Prep

For this china cabinet makeover, I started with the usual cleaning. I used Krud Kutter degreaser; as you can see, this stuff works great! And this cabinet was quite nasty, yikes!

krud kutter degreaser
rag showing dirty from cleaning antique china cabinet

Step 2: Apply Enamel Paint

It’s quite wild that the next step is applying the enamel paint! No sanding, no priming, just straight to the good stuff! 

can of amy howard one step paint

Using a regular paintbrush, I applied Amy Howard One Step paint using the same technique I use when painting wood furniture.

You’ll notice this paint goes on thicker, and that’s because of the enamel. Don’t freak out over brush strokes, either. I found that as long as you use thin layers, these settle and look smooth as butter once everything dries.

Step 3: Apply a Second Coat

I applied a second coat after the first dried. But notice that I did NOT sand between coats. This process is different than other painted furniture makeovers. 

To give you can idea of how thick/thin I applied the enamel pain, here is what this cabinet top looked like before and after one coat:

wood top before painting with enamel paint
painted cabinet after one coat of enamel paint

Once this dried, I moved on to the wood shelves and added a peel-and-stick wallpaper decorative backing. 

Refinishing China Cabinet Wood Shelves

These wood shelves were such a diamond in the rough. I originally considered painting them, but wow, I am so glad I didn’t! Just look at these gorgeous wood tones:

china cabinet makeover with natural wood shelves and decorative wallpaper back

Step 1: Sanding

I sanded these with my random orbital sander using 80 grit and was shocked with what I found. The wood grain on these shelves is some of the best I’ve come across! 

I then went back and gave these a quick hand sanding using 120 grit, followed by 220 grit. This extra step is what gives these a super smooth finish. 

wood shelves before and after sanding

I used to skip progressing through the sandpaper grits, but after I tried it, the difference was very noticeable and worth the little extra time. Check out this post on how to sand wood for tips and tricks to get the smoothest finish without sanding swirls.

Step 2: Apply Wax

amy howard light antique wax

After sanding, I removed all the sanding dust using a tack cloth. Then, the magic continued by applying Amy Howard Wax. 

Using a clean old cloth, I scooped a small amount and rubbed it into the wood surface. I used a small circular motion and rubbed in the wax completely, covering the entire surface. It only took one application of wax.

applying amy howard wax to wood shelves

I allowed this to dry; essentially, by the time I finished applying the wax, it dried, and that’s it! Here is what the shelves looked like before and after wax:

wood shelves before wax
wood shelves without and with wax
wood shelves with wax

And finally, this china cabinet makeover is in the home stretch; the last thing I did was create a decorative backing using leftover peel and stick wallpaper.

Using Peel and Stick Wallpaper on Furniture

china cabinet makeover painted with green enamel paint natural wood shelves and peel and stick wallpaper

Apply a New Backing

The original backing of this antique cabinet was a disaster. Not only was it incredibly thin, but it was dried out, warped from years of sitting in that old barn. I picked up a thin sheet of plywood from Home Depot and used my circular saw to cut it to size. 

Using Peel and Stick Wallpaper

I wanted something fun for this makeover. I love two tones and patterns, and as I was brainstorming ideas, I remembered I had leftover peel-and-stick wallpaper that would perfectly match this cabinet.

Then, working on my garage floor, I began by cutting three wallpaper strips to the length of the backing, leaving a bit of overhang on every side. I needed three strips because the back of this cabinet was wider than the wallpaper. 

Before removing the backing and sticking it onto the back, I did a trial run to try and find the best layout to ensure the pattern lined up well and without any weird transitions. It took a few tries, and if you look closely, you can see it, but if I let these tiny details bother me, I would never finish a project.

china cabinet makeover in progress showing wallpaper backing trial
peel and stick wallpaper to cabinet back

Once I was happy with the layout of the wallpaper design, I worked from the top down, slowly removing the back as I worked. Don’t remove the whole backing at one time!! Pull it off as you work your way down.

I used a credit card to smooth out the surface as I worked. The key is to go slowly and work in small sections. And frequently check that things are straight because it’s easy to start going crooked. 

After applying the first sheet, I moved on and did the same thing to the other two. Leave the excess for now.

Attach and Trim

inside of a china cabinet with peel and stick wallpaper back

I then attached the back to the cabinet, using screws, and with the wallpaper facing in. Once this was secure, I took a razor blade and trimmed the excess wallpaper from around the edges. 

Enamel Painted China Cabinet Makeover Before and After

I love a good before and after so here is this China Cabinet Makeover from start to finish, with a few in progress pics.

All of the information on what paint color and wax type used is at the end of this post in the FAQ section, so keep reading!

antique china cabinet
antique china cabinet before
china cabinet makeover after
china cabinet after side view
china cabinet paint green with wood shelves and wallpaper backing
wood top before painting with enamel paint
enamel painted top
wood shelves before sanding
china cabinet makeover in progress
china cabinet makeover with natural wood shelves and decorative wallpaper back
amy howard light antique wax
supplies for china cabinet makeover with enamel paint and wax
inside of a china cabinet with peel and stick wallpaper back
china cabinet makeover painted with green enamel paint natural wood shelves and peel and stick wallpaper

Painting Furniture with Enamel Paint FAQ

What Amy Howard paint color is this?

Lou Lou! I will say the final color is way different than what my computer screen looked like. It’s a little more “fun” than moody, but I’m still happy with the results.

enamel paint information amy howard lou lou color

What type of paint is Amy Howard One Step Miracle paint? 

This is a water-based enamel paint.

Did you prime before apply enamel paint?

No priming is needed. I, too, was skeptical, but this enamel paint truly lived up to its claim of being a one-step paint.

Should I sand before apply enamel paint?

No sanding is needed if you’re using Amy Howard One Step paint! I know, it’s hard to believe. But I tested it myself and can tell you the finish is spectacular – I have zero concerns about adherence or chipping of this product without sanding or priming first.

Does enamel painted furniture need a topcoat?

Nope! Another benefit of this one-step paint is that no additional topcoat is needed because of the enamel. The finish feels thicker than regular paint, like a protective armor, yet it’s smooth to the touch, if that makes sense. Once you try it, you’ll understand!

Is enamel paint hard to work with?

Amy Howard’s One Step Paint is the furthest thing from hard to work with. Now, the consistency of the enamel paint is thicker, but it goes on like butter. Then you consider that no sanding, priming, or topcoat is needed; that makes this the easiest furniture makeover paint ever!

Does enamel paint leave brush strokes?

While applying the enamel paint, I was worried about brush strokes. But, once it dries, these disappear. That is as long as you’re using it in a thin coat. 

What kind of wax did you use on the wood shelves?

This product is Amy Howard Light Wax. Isn’t it beautiful?!

Peel and Stick Wallpaper Details

This gorgeous decorative wallpaper is Magnolia Home Olive Branch design, which I linked for you! The roll is large and plenty enough for two furniture makeover projects.

magnolia home olive branch peel and stick wallpaper
china cabinet makeover with natural wood shelves and decorative wallpaper back

Refinishing Furniture Next Steps

Pin This Post

Use one (or all) of these images and Pin this to your Pinterest board because you’ll want to reference it later!

china cabinet painted with green enamel paint
china cabinet makeover before and after
china cabinet makeover showing before the enamel paint can and after

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furniture flipping // diy projects // home renovations // modern farmhouse decorating ideas