Transform an Ikea Wall Cabinet with a Crackle Finish!

Hubs and I are supplement users so when our local pharmacy started a twice a year anniversary sale, we wanted to take advantage of the huge price savings. Unfortunately we didn’t have anywhere to store a 6-month supply of supplements until the next sale! Enter Ikea!

I initially thought we’d find a vintage wall cabinet that we could makeover, but one day while perusing Ikea’s ‘Now or Never’ sale online, I spotted the clearance of Godmorgon wall cabinets. Funnily enough, when hubs got to the warehouse to order and pick it up, the price was more expensive than advertised but he had printed out the ad so Ikea honoured it. The next day back on the website, I noticed that they hiked the price back up 🙂 Great storage score for us; it only cost us $49!

However, the finish was less than ideal; the white stained oak effect is probably why the cabinets were being cleared.

Not a problem: we decided to update the finish with paint! If you didn’t know that you could paint right over Ikea cabinets, all you need to do is sand lightly then prime with a really good product that will stick to anything! We use a primer called Stix. As a professional painter, this is the one Hubs recommends and uses for all our projects where adhesion is important.

There remained the decision of where to put this fairly large cabinet. It didn’t make sense to mount it in the bathroom because a) we didn’t have the space, b) we didn’t want the supplements exposed to steam.

Since we take our supplements during meal time and wanted the cabinet close at hand, we decided to mount it right in our dining room. The side wall, right beside our buffet was a perfect spot.

Originally we planned to prime the cabinet then paint it the same colour as the walls in our dining room so it would blend right in. Hubs found what he thought was our spare can of paint and took the pieces outside to paint them. Once they were dry, he brought them back inside: he accidentally used the wrong colour! He had grabbed an old paint colour we used in our hall – which has since been repainted). Yuck – It was just as ugly as the original cabinet finish!

Below on the left you can see a sample of Hillsborough Beige; the cabinet should have been painted the lighter Muslin colour shown on the right.

Instead of painting over it again with the correct colour, I had an epiphany when we went looking for the right paint and found a very old can of crackle finish: why not keep the base colour as-is, then use crackle in between the first and second coats to show the contrast between the two colours? It turned out to be one of those ‘happy accidents’!

Unfortunately, the Behr Crackle we found (shown below) is no longer being made but we had enough left for this small project and I thought it would be worth a shot. The can was so old that I wasn’t even sure if the crackle would still be good. Before using it on the actual cabinet, I tried it out on a sample piece of MDF first – just in case.

To start, I primed the MDF with Stix Primer since that’s what we’d be using on the cabinet door if the crackle worked. Once dry, I applied a basecoat of the Hillsborough Beige on top of that (shown on the right):

On top of the Hillsborough Beige, I applied the Crackle medium and let it dry for the specified amount of time.

After applying a coat of Muslin paint over the dried crackle, I got these big beautiful cracks! I was so excited that it worked!

However, when hubs went to test it on the side pieces of the Ikea cabinet, it barely cracked. After a bit of research, we discovered three things to ensure big cracks:

  1. The top coat of paint has to be rolled on fairly thick;
  2. Only roll the paint once in each area (i.e. don’t go back over the paint once it’s applied); and
  3. Subsequent areas of paint should all be rolled in the same direction.

With these three things in mind, the crackle worked like a charm. Here’s how the finish on the door looked before…..

…and here’s a closeup of how the actual door turned out. I just LOVE the huge cracks!

Once all the pieces were topcoated with a clear finish and dry, it was time for assembly. We gathered all the parts, instructions and pieces together and worked on the floor.

As you can see, we didn’t bother to paint the inside of the cabinet; it just would have been a waste of material and we didn’t have enough crackle anyway.

We started by assembling one of the sides with the two ends lining up the slots to receive the backer board.

When we slipped the backer board in, I realized that I preferred the grey colour to be facing the inside of the cabinet instead….

… so we flipped it around and reinserted it because I didn’t want to see too much of the fake oak grain when I opened the door.

That’s better!

We brought the cabinet upstairs to the living room, marked our measurements on the wall with green tape and ensured the marks were level.

Don’t forget when you’re marking the wall that the mounting holes are several inches down from the top of the cabinet. We decided to centre the cabinet vertically with the artwork.

We didn’t have any studs behind our marks so we used these heavy duty E-Z Ancor plugs to hold the screws.

You don’t even need a drill; they just screw right into the wall with a hand screw driver.

We pressed the tip of the anchor on our marks first, which left a small starter hole then removed the green tape and proceeded to screw in the plugs..

After installing the body of the cabinet and covering the mounting brackets, we added the hinges onto the door…

…and hung the door on the cabinet.

You can compare the grey backing against the very first picture in this post: I like that it is much brighter and will show the contents better! We added the shelf pins and glass shelves and loaded in our supplements.

Faux finishes may come and go – and maybe it is currently out of favour – but now crackle has a purposeful spot in our home. I love how this crackle cabinet looks in our dining room! I’m not sure if the pictures convey it as well as seeing it in person, but the cabinet is pretty shallow so it almost looks like a piece of artwork hanging on the wall!

We already had the paint and crackle medium on hand so for under $50 we got a lot of bang for the buck!

We hope you enjoyed this Ikea update. If so, please pin and share!

Painting the Ikea cabinet really got my wheels turning and I’m thinking about painting this other Ikea cabinet in our bathroom (we won’t duplicate the crackle finish though). Don’t be surprised if you see it in an upcoming post.

For more paint inspiration, check out our latest roadside rescue; this waterfall dresser:

We’re also getting into experimenting with milk paint; one of the most eco-friendly paints!! If you’re interested in a beginner project, check out our Milk Painted Shelf. We’re planning on many more milk paint projects in the near future.

There are also other Ikea makeovers on our site including this Stenstorp kitchen cart:

And our guide to cleaning a slipcovered Ikea sofa:

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4 thoughts on “Transform an Ikea Wall Cabinet with a Crackle Finish!

  1. Those crackles are just perfectly huge and look stunning Sara. Don’t you just love watching them form so randomly and you’re right, it does look like a work of art

    • Thanks so much Michelle! And you’re right too: I do love to watch those cracks form!!! That’s why I didn’t bother filming the process – it’s too much fun to watch what happens because it is so random 🙂

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