Something Painted White

Vintage Apothecary Cabinet from an Outdated 3-drawer Chest

I love apothecary cabinets…

…well actually I love little drawers…LOVE!!! So when the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store wanted to give me a piece of furniture to update…I was on board! This was the first piece I saw when I walked into the store and I knew it would make a fabulous vintage, apothecary cabinet!

Small 3 drawer chest that I received as a gift from Re-Store to do a makeover on.I'll be turning it into a vintage chippy apothecary cabinet.

Top of the chest showing some marks and scratches. Wood is very orangey!

This sweet little dresser was quite banged up

and had a few rings and stains on it, not to mention a couple of wonky drawers, but I could immediately see its potential as a vintage, apothecary cabinet.

Removing the wood knobs from the drawers of the small 3 drawer chest

As soon as I got it home I went to work

cleaning up this little dresser with my Amy Howard Home Clean Slate,  removing the knobs, I sanded the top of it because it had some deep gouges and scratches that I wanted to smooth out.  I knew I would be chalk painting it so sanding wasn’t necessary for that.

Sanding the top of the chest with my Ryobi orbital sander

I had these thin pieces of wood,

I’m not sure what kind they are but they used to be little dividers in the drawers of an old roll-top desk that I have (that no longer has dividers in the drawers).

I cut them into squares and rectangles (the top drawer is slightly different in size from the other two) and then I glued and clamped them onto the drawer fronts.

Measuring the thin wood to be cut into squares that will become false drawer fronts for the apothecary chest!

I used very thin wood that once served to divide the drawers in my old roll top desk into sections, and i cut it into pieces to make faux drawers for my apothecary chest.

After using the miter saw to make the cuts i sanded the edges to remove the splinters.

The edges needed sanding after cutting them.

Clamping the false drawer fronts after they are glued on.

Clamped and waiting for the glue to dry.

I let the glue set for just a bit

while I put 2 coats of Amy Howard at Home One Step Paint in the color Java on the body of the dresser.  I really like the pine with all its knots but this particular piece was just a bit too orange for my liking and I wanted to make sure to cover that up.  Amy Howard at Home is my very favorite chalk paint.  One of the things I love about it is that it DOES NOT NEED to be waxed!

After the Java dried

I applied a coat of AHAH (Amy Howard at Home) Cracked Gesso (for a chippy finish)…followed by Toscana Milk paint in Strasbourg White. This was a step heavy process but I knew what I wanted it to look like so I just kept going.

I apologize for not getting any photos

of the painting portion of this project.  I was knee-deep in this project and completely forgot to take photos.

However, I did document nearly the entire process on my Instagram account @somethingpaintedwhite and you can find it in my highlights titled Apothecary 1 and 2.

I added 1 x 3 around the bottom of the chest to square it off and give it an updated look.

No fancy corners. This photo shows the paint color really well.

I decided to add some trim to the bottom

to cover up the scalloped edge as that didn’t really go with my vision of an old apothecary cabinet in the corner of a small-town hardware store. I added 1 x 3’s around the bottom of the chest to square it off and give it an updated look. I attached them with my brad nailer and a bit of glue. I didn’t take the time to miter cut the edges…(work smarter not harder)!

showing my wen brad nailer and 5/8 inch nails that I used to secure the false fronts to the drawer after the glue dried.

I love my Wen brad nailer and stapler

The Wen 18 gauge brad nailer and stapler

is probably my most favorite power tool!  I use it for everything from upholstering to trimming door frames like I did here! It also worked great for installing shiplap (aka wood flooring) above our bed HERE!

As you can see from the photo below,

I found another thin piece of wood in my scrap pile and cut it to fit right over the swirly little pattern above the top drawer.  I thought this way it will give the illusion of a shallow drawer on top.

false drawers are all on. the top drawer is a bit different in size than the bottom two so the false fronts were cut accordingly to fit.

After adding a base around the bottom I caulked all along the top edges and the corners with paintable caulk.

After painting the trim

on the bottom of the piece, I caulked around the top edge to cover the gap.  Do your best and caulk the rest…as I always say!

Marking where to drill pilot holes for the hardware on the drawer fronts.

Making pilot holes on the false drawer fronts,with my DeWalt drill for the hardware installation.

You can see the chippy look of the layered paint here!

After getting the paint to the chippiness that I liked

it was time to add the hardware.  I love these vintage-looking brass catalog pulls and they’re quite inexpensive on Amazon.

I laid them on the fake drawer fronts and put marks where the screws would go and then drilled little pilot holes.

Completed apothecary chest with hardware and vintage newspaper clippings as labels.

Next, I attached them to the fake drawer fronts

and then cut little labels out of an old newspaper that I found at an antique store.  I love all the little labels!!!

Completed apothecary chest with hardware and vintage newspaper clippings as labels.

How could I not use Piggly Wiggly.

I wish we had grocery stores with such fun names here in the desert southwest. Fry’s and Safeway just don’t have the same charm.  LOL!!!

Completed apothecary chest with hardware and vintage newspaper clippings as labels.

Be real careful when you open the drawer of Baby Chicks, you’ll never catch them all again.  LOL!!!

This cute little vintage chippy apothecary cabinet turned out even better than I imagined. It was quite a process but definitely very worth it!

I love turning outdated furniture into fabulous new pieces with paint and a little TLC!!!

I hope this will inspire you to tackle a project no matter how daunting to get the end result that you desire!


Happy DIY’ing,




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Hi! I'm Cindy....wife, mom, Mimi (aka grandma) and home décor enthusiast. I love thrift stores, flea markets, yard sales and good junk!
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Hi! I'm Cindy...

….wife, mom, Mimi (aka grandma) and home décor enthusiast.

I love thrift stores, flea markets, yard sales and good junk! But I really don’t like spending a lot of money, which you probably figured out by where I like to shop.

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