Dear Stella

Dear Stella

Dear Stella,
I have a fairly plain, panelled cabinet (pictures attached) in my lounge which came from an Indonesian furniture supplier years ago. It’s incredibly useful since it holds all my glassware, alcohol and even a stash of books and files. The thing is, it has quite a reddish tone – stained I am sure – which I like less and less as the years go by. I’d love to improve the look: it’s a handsome piece. Do I need to employ an expert, or are there decent DIY products out there? Any rules, tips or warnings?
Helen P. (Joburg)

Dear Stella, November

Dear Helen,

Thanks for your note, dear heart; I have been longing to get my hands on a little DIY project and this sounds like it’s right in my toolbox. (By the way, top tip: why not keep a little lippy, mascara and other makeup bits and bobs in one of your toolbox compartments? A girl’s always got to look her best, but especially when she’s at her workbench, operating a random orbital sander.)

These days, I am terribly handy ‘round the house, but it wasn’t ever thus. I know what it’s like to be in your heels, Helen: full of enthusiasm, but a little unsure of myself. Will the finished product look too home-crafted, not chic enough or, heaven forbid, a complete mess? Remember (and I still remind myself of this): you can always sand the whole thing down again and start with a blank canvas (again).

The pics you’ve enclosed are lovely, but it is difficult to give you truly informed advice without seeing the rest of your décor, and understanding your personal style. So, what I thought I’d do is investigate some options. For these, I’ve leaned heavily on my handy-glam friend Kim Bougaardt. She’s a décor stylist and expert furniture renovator, and has come up with some fabulous thoughts, I must say. Thank you, Kim, for being so terribly generous with your time on this one. #gratitude.

Kim says you can take the easy route and just re-stain your cabinet. But who wants to take the easy route, my darlings? That route lies only bean-bags, liposuction, and tracksuit pants on international flights. Let’s rather look at high-impact change, time to get out the paint pots. There are so many products available dedicated to restoring, upcycling, and adding a personal touch to décor and furniture. Kim is a particular fan of Annie Sloan. So much so, that I often call Kim ‘The Sloan Ranger’. She doesn’t like it, but that’s what friends are for.

The great advantage of Annie Sloan’s stuff is that there’s no initial sanding or stripping needed. How divine is that (particularly if you’ve just had a mani)? There is some preparation required, though. Kim and I touched base with an Annie Sloan representative – Charlene Coetzer – who suggested you start by applying a lacquer. This prevents possible bleed-through by the wood’s tannins. 

Now, to be honest, it’s choosing your paint colours and patterns that’s the most taxing bit in this situation. The Annie Sloan site has some marvelous tips and tricks. But let’s see what Kim has in mind for you, Helen. I have included her notes verbatim.

The wondrous Kim! It’s incredible how a little paint can turn a cupboard into something quite sculptural. That graphite option actually reminds me of one of my ex-mother-in-laws. Sturdy. Grey. Silent. And rather flat-chested. Righty-ho, Helen. I trust you are suitably inspired. As I always say: you don’t need permission to start painting! Carpe penicillus, my dear: ‘seize the paint brush’.

Yours, drizzled in a kaleidoscope of Annie Sloan’s finest.


Contact details: Kim Bougaardt @kimbou007
All images courtesy of Annie Sloan | 

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