Medicine Cabinet Makeover

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been wanting to make some changes to my bathroom for awhile now, and I finally got a start on my first project last weekend when I made over my medicine cabinet.

This cabinet is one of the things I dislike most about my bathroom; I think the cabinet could be original to our 1920s home, the wood is dented and heavily covered in paint and the brackets are rusted – it was old and ugly and was begging for a makeover. From afar it doesn’t seem too bad, but let’s take a closer look…


One thing that bothered me about the cabinet was the visible outline of the previous knob, which was larger and a different shape; it appears the knob was removed, and the wood was simply painted over.


It was the same for the hinges; you can see that the previous hinges were larger and square, and the current hinges were painted but not primed, and so they rusted from the high humidity in the bathroom.


There were also dents at the top of the medicine cabinet, my guess is that these were from the previous light fixture.


And here’s a look inside, white and boring, with two simple shelves…


If you looked closer at the shelves though, you could see that they were poorly cut and the ends were unfinished and unpainted.


The first thing I did was remove the door and shelves. Both were sanded and re-covered in two coats of bright white paint in an easy-to-wipe finish.

As for the cabinet, I initially wanted to strip all the paint from it, but after testing a patch along the base with my non-toxic stripping gel, I realized that the cabinet must have been previously painted with an oil-based paint, which requires heat or more toxic chemical strippers to be removed.

Since many older oil-based paints contain lead, I decided stripping the paint wasn’t worth the effort, and instead I filled in the worst of the dents with wood filler and spackling.



Thankfully, the hinges and screws wiped clean after covering them with a heavy coat of gel stripper and letting them sit overnight. I then sprayed them with a thin coat of Rustoleum primer and a coat of white spray paint.


After the cabinet was sanded, wiped clean and dried, I primed the wood and painted on two thin coats of the same white paint I used on the door. Then I started putting the cabinet back together.

Here’s a closer look at the door knob…you can no longer see the outline of the previous knob!


The two dents at the top of the cabinet are no longer visible…


And the hinges are rust-free and the outline from the previous brackets is gone!


To jazz up the inside, I covered the back wall of the cabinet with some gold printed shelf/drawer liner that I already owned. I like the added color and texture it brings to the cabinet and it makes me smile every time I open the door.


Here’s a close-up of a sanded and painted shelf, it looks so much better than before!


And finally, a view inside the medicine cabinet. Even though this project didn’t go exactly as I’d expected, and it’s still covered in many layers of paint, it looks so much better than it did a week ago, and I’m very happy with the finished result! I no longer scowl at the cabinet every time I walk into the bathroom. 🙂

(Note: I didn’t make any changes to the backside of the door, which I previously covered with chalkboard paint. I like to use this space to write holiday messages, draw doodles and keep countdowns for our vacations).


I still have a few more projects to tackle on my mini to-do list for the bathroom, but I’m happy with how this first one turned out and am feeling inspired to tackle the rest!

Bathroom to-do list:

  • Add some additional color to the room
  • Update the slatted cabinet door for a more updated look
  • Update the cruddy old medicine cabinet and vanity
  • Revive the painted/rusted hardware
  • Brainstorm ways to organize and add more storage to the cabinet

3 thoughts on “Medicine Cabinet Makeover

  1. Pingback: Slats Be Gone | Isn't It Sweet

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  3. Pingback: Bathroom Makeover (Before and After) | Isn't It Sweet

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