Antique Radio Cabinet Makeover

How to give an antique radio cabinet a simple makeover without painting it. And I must confess, for a hot minute I considered it, but thankfully was talked off the paintbrush grip.

You see, we have a saying in our house; if you stay still long enough, you'll get painted. Thankfully it didn't because this radio cabinet has been in my family for several generations. I would have had huge regrets had I painted it because of its sentimental value.

A simple antique radio cabinet makeover with rejuvenated wood exterior and updated interior with a fresh pop of color.

Updated Radio Cabinet

It was once a radio in my maternal great-grandmother's home and was later converted into a display cabinet with shelves for my grandmother's home.

I discovered the glass on the doors had been replaced at one time because I found shards embedded in the crevices inside. Confirmed by my mother who was reminded that one of her siblings broke the glass when they were kids.

My mother eventually inherited the antique radio cabinet and pictured below is a photo of me standing in front of it when I was four years old.

Me standing in front of the radio cabinet at four years old.

This is what the radio cabinet looked like when it was passed down to me. The wood was dry and worn in some areas and the shelves were badly scratched and stained.

An antique radio cabinet with dark stained wood finish before getting a makeover.

Sadly I was unsuccessful in my extensive online search to find an image of what the cabinet would have originally looked like with the radio. Which led me to assume that our antique radio cabinet with ball feet is not very common.

After completing our dining room makeover, the radio cabinet was looking rather tired and in need of a facelift. Thankfully I resisted the urge to paint it white to match our dining room furniture. But the interior felt too dark and dreary and needed to be lightened with a pop of color to go with the new look of the room.

Here is the updated radio cabinet after the makeover revitalizing the original wood. Wouldn't you agree that it looks so much better with the shelves painted white and the pop of color? But that green isn't painted! More about that later.

Antique radio cabinet after makeover with revitalized wood exterior, DIY etched glass doors, white painted shelves, and pop of color on interchangeable decoupage back.

Now that the shelves are painted a fresh white, everything displayed on them showcases beautifully.

Like the rose plate with the count your garden by the flowers and never by the leaves that fall verse. Given to me by my Nana (former owner of the cabinet) on my 16th birthday and it has huge sentimental value.

Perhaps I should have had it hanging where it was more visible all these years as a daily reminder. Because this ole gal is guilty of counting too many fallen leaves.

Antique radio cabinet makeover with white painted shelves and updated with a pop of color on the back of the shelves.

A lot happened in this simple furniture makeover but everything was so quick and easy. We'll begin with how easy it was to revitalize the wood, how easy it was to etch the glass, and a trick for adding an interchangeable pop of color on the back without paint. So let's get started!

What You'll Need For The Makeover

For this radio cabinet update, I'm using hemp furniture oil and antiquing wax from the Miss Mustard Seed's line.

This post contains affiliate links so you can see what products I used or recommend for this project. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from any qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Supply List

Hemp Furniture Oil (alternative)
Antiquing Wax (brown)
Chip Brush
Lint-Free Rag
Warm White Chalk Paint
Foam Core Sheets
Craft Knife
Scrapbook Paper
Wallpaper Paste or Mod Podge
Painter's Tape
Glass Etching Cream (alternative)
Green Ceramic Furniture Knob (alternatives)

Radio Cabinet Exterior Makeover

Some of the wood on the radio cabinet exterior, especially the ball feet and the top were looking worse for wear. To revitalize the wood I used hemp furniture oil and antiquing wax.

Rejuvenating The Wood

First, with an inexpensive chip brush, I brushed hemp oil over the entire cabinet. I let it soak in for about 30 minutes and wiped the excess with a lint-free rag. With the same rag, I lightly buffed the revitalized wood to a matte finish.

In the areas where the stain was really worn or scratched, I applied brown antiquing wax with a lint-free rag and it brought back the color beautifully. Again lightly buffing it to a matte finish and wow, what a difference!

Antique radio cabinet wood ball feet revitalized with hemp furniture oil.

The following day I went back and lightly buffed it again to remove any excess hemp oil that rose to the surface. Hemp furniture oil and antiquing wax take 30 days to cure and it will feel slightly tacky while it cures.

Antique radio cabinet with lovely scalloped edge on the top revitalized with hemp furniture oil.

DIY Etched Glass Door

The cabinet looked so much better already but I found the glass on the doors to be rather plain. Daring to be brave I decided to give etching glass a try. With painter's tape and Martha Stewart Glass Etching Cream, I added a simple border around the perimeter of the glass.

To get a perfectly straight border, I ran a strip of painter's tape along the edge of the glass. Then I ran another strip of painter's tape beside it, being careful not to overlap the tape. Then I removed the first strip of tape.

It's important you do this step in a well-ventilated area and wear protective gloves. With the small brush that came with the etching cream, I applied a generous even coat along the edge of the glass. After 15 minutes I used a spray bottle to rinse the etching cream, carefully catching the drips with a rag away from the etched surfaces.

The etching wasn't as noticeable as I had hoped so I repeated the process again and was much happier with the results.

DIY etched glass border on antique radio cabinet door.

Replacing The Knob

When I inherited the radio cabinet I replaced the original brass knob with a glass one. Now that the cabinet has that pretty pop of green, I replaced it again with a green ceramic knob that I had in my stash.

A new green vintage-style ceramic furniture knob on the antique radio cabinet door.

Radio Cabinet Interior Makeover

As I mentioned earlier, the stationary shelves inside the cabinet were very scratched and stained. Plus the dark color didn't offer a nice contrast for whatever was displayed so they got a fresh coat of warm white chalk paint that I had on hand.

But first I lightly sanded the shelves with 150-grit sandpaper to give the paint some bite. Then they were painted with three coats of paint to cover the dark wood. I didn't bother filling the scratches because I like how they tell a timeworn story.

Painting the shelves a warm white on the antique radio cabinet interior makeover.

Instead of protecting the shelves with clear wax or polyacrylic top coat like I normally do, I used hemp furniture oil. Yes, you can use hemp furniture oil as a topcoat on porous milk or chalk-painted surfaces, or even stain like I did on the MCM cedar chest makeover.

It's important that you wait 24-48 hours for the paint to dry before applying a hemp oil topcoat. I applied it with a brush much the same way as I did on the cabinet exterior, waiting 30 minutes before wiping it with a lint-free rag.

Interchangeable Pop Of Color

Once the shelves were completely dry I added a pop of color to the back of the radio cabinet interior. The problem is that the shelves on my antique radio cabinet are stationary, making it a challenge to paint the back of the shelves. So instead I made panels that pop onto the back just like the fabric panels on the antique oak bookcase makeover.

The panels are made with foam core and pretty green scrapbook paper that I found at Michaels. When I tire of the color, I can simply flip the panels over to display a pretty patterned paper if I like, or a combination of both. They could also be interchanged for the seasons - so many possibilities!

First I cut the foam core sheet to fit behind each shelf with a straight edge and sharp craft knife. Then I used wallpaper paste (Mod Podge also works), to decoupage pretty green scrapbook paper. I'm still looking for the perfect vintage-style patterned paper to decoupage on the other side of the foam core.

Decoupage Tip

Slip your hand inside a plastic sandwich bag and rub it over the paper to remove any air bubbles.

I made sure the decoupage paper was completely dry before sliding it inside the back of the radio cabinet.

Updated radio cabinet with revitalized wood using hemp furniture oil.

I'm really pleased with the radio cabinet update. I love how it revitalized the beauty of the stained wood while updating the look with a fresh pop of color on the inside.

Thanks for stopping by the Interior Frugalista today! I hope you were inspired by this antique radio cabinet makeover.

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How to update an antique radio cabinet with a simple makeover that rejuvenates the original wood exterior and updates the interior with interchangeable decoupage panels with a pop of color. #furnituremakeover #radiocabinetmakeover #decoupagefurniture

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  1. Your radio cabinet came out fantastic. What a beautiful piece of furniture!
    Meagan-Decorative Inspirations

    1. Thank you so much Meagan! I'm honored to have inherited this piece and cherish it very much.

  2. It turned out beautifully! I love that pretty knob that you really ties it all together!

    1. Thank you very much! I love changing out the vintage/antique decor displayed inside for the seasons now that everything pops.

  3. What a fabulous makeover! Loved the etched glass effect!

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you so much Frances! In hindsight, I'm so glad that I didn't paint the exterior.

  5. I'm so glad you didn't paint your beautiful cabinet. Your redo is just lovely! I love the idea of interchangable colors for the back wall. I love finding rolls of wallpaper at Goodwill for backing, shelf lining, etc. to add a bit of color.

    1. Thank you very much, Kathy! I love that you shop Goodwill for potential shelf backing and lining like me. Why pay full price when you can get beautiful choices for far less $$ and you're saving it from ending up in the landfill. Happy shopping and thanks for popping over for a visit!


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