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IKEA studio organization 14

After building a dry bar in the studio to store items you would normally find in a break room or desk drawer, I was still in need of closed storage for craft and DIY supplies, basic tools, fabric samples and paint swatches. Essentially, I needed a freestanding closet. I spent a few weeks searching Craigslist for large armoires. I was looking for something solid and sturdy with clean lines and a cheap price tag that I could tweak with paint and new hardware.

armoire tweak 1

Enter this beast. I scored it for $100. It’s difficult to visualize the scale in photos, but, believe me, it’s BIG. And heavy. When Steve and I unloaded it, Mabrey promptly claimed it as her “room.” She fits inside easily. Tiny house living? Kidding.

armoire tweak 2

In its previous life the armoire was used as an entertainment cabinet, but the solid wood construction, cavernous interior and adjustable shelving made it a perfect candidate for storage, too.

armoire tweak 3

The wood finish wasn’t all that bad but in the context of the space (there were so many different wood tones in the studio already) I knew I would like it better painted. I imagined it as a tall, dark and handsome cabinet. So I removed the hardware, doors and shelves, scuffed the surface with a medium grit sanding block, wiped it clean and gave it a few coats of Valspar Reserve latex primer + paint color-matched to Sherwin-Williams tricorn black. (We used this paint color on the front door of our previous home. It’s moody with blue undertones.) I used a 6″ foam roller and angled trim brush to apply the paint. I opted not to paint the adjustable shelves because I figured they would get scratched up anyway. Plus, I really like when warm wood and dark paint play together.

armoire tweak 4

I reassembled everything and replaced the original scroll-like knobs with these sexy leather pulls. I probably could have DIY’d something similar with a belt, but I’m so glad I splurged on the pre-made version. The pulls are thick and robust and I really like the simple stainless steel hardware. The honey leather looks so rich and dreamy against the black paint. I did have to trim the length of the included screws for a proper fit but that was the only real work involved. It’s pretty much guaranteed that anything I would’ve whipped up would have been waaaaaaaay subpar compared to these.

armoire tweak 6

As you can see, I left the brass hinges as is. Mixing metal finishes is okay! Even on the same piece of furniture! The paint is semi-gloss which makes it easy to wipe down and ideal for furniture.

I’ll be sharing photos of the armoire’s interior in an organization post later this week. In the meantime, let’s talk more about Mr. Tall, Dark & Handsome. I would gladly put him in my house if I had room. Have I mentioned how sexy those leather pulls are? They remind me of this kitchen.

People! There are so many entertainment armoires out there waiting to be repurposed. As flat screen TVs become more and more mainstream and boxy tube TVs fall by the wayside, large secondhand media cabinets like this one are in high supply. Instead of using them to hide media components, I could totally see them housing toys, books, craft/office supplies and clothing in nurseries, playrooms, craft rooms, offices, dens, family rooms and bedrooms. Get creative with interior organization: hanging rods for clothes, baskets for toys/diapers, labeled clear plastic bins for craft supplies, a pull-out shelf for a printer or laptop, etc. The possibilities are endless. #savetheentertainmentarmoire

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

61 Comments

12.January.2016

Love it! The color is really nice and the pulls look amazing! Happy to see your studio is coming along, I like what I spy and I can’t wait to see the reveal!

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12.January.2016

OHHH! I like this! I find there’s an abundant array of armoires on CL, but never one with clean lines like this guy. Great find.

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replied on January 13th, 2016

I lucked out with this one! So many have intricate carvings in the woodwork.

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12.January.2016

Do you or Steve drive a big van? How did you get “the beast” home?
That’s the problem I have with buying furniture from Craigslist or yard sales. My small car can’t hold anything besides groceries and a yoga mat.
I love the dark color with the leather. It creates a masculine vibe that I’m always attracted to.

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replied on January 13th, 2016

Steve still drives the same truck he was driving when I met him 18 years ago. It’s a little Ford Ranger and the armoire barely fit in the bed! We’ve also borrowed my dad’s trailer in the past to haul large items. You’re right, moving “the beast” was the most difficult part of the process.

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12.January.2016

Gorgeous. We repurposed a media cabinet as a baking pantry in our kitchen.

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replied on January 12th, 2016

Such a great idea! I love the look of legit furniture pieces in the kitchen.

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12.January.2016

I am in love with this piece! Dark tones and warm wood together are magic. The perfect pallet to keep things casual and cozy. Beautiful job!

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12.January.2016

That looks great! Love the paint color and those leather pulls are AMAZING! Thanks for the ideas!

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12.January.2016

Hey Dana! I’m fairly new to your blog. What are you using the studio space for? It looks great! Love your home too!

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replied on January 12th, 2016

Lots of things, really…design work, photography, creating blog content and I’d like to share the space with other creatives…but it all comes down to just having a place to stretch my creative muscles. There is a very supportive community of makers and small business owners at the warehouse. It’s a great atmosphere.

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12.January.2016

GORGEOUS. SUBLIME. INSPIRING. I’m on craigslist right now!

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replied on January 12th, 2016

Haha!

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I love how your tall, dark, and handsome turned out! He’s a keeper for sure. Fun to get a little glimpse of your studio in the background too!:-)

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12.January.2016

Simply Brilliant. Already scouring craigslist and in less than 2 minutes found 2 really good options. Thank you!!

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replied on January 12th, 2016

Save the armoires! Haha.

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13.January.2016

Hi me again, I couldn’t stay away! You didn’t mention sanding or priming it, did you literally jump straight into painting it? Did you seal it after? If you didn’t, would you mind following up in a few months or a year to see how it’s holding up?

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replied on January 14th, 2016

I did scuff up the surface with a medium grit sanding block before painting. (I’ve edited the post to include that step. Oops!) Typically, I don’t seal painted surfaces but opt for a high quality, durable paint instead. If scratches appear (they will happen, that’s life), for me it’s much easier to touch them up without a poly topcoat. I will keep you posted on how the armoire is holding up several months from now!

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replied on January 14th, 2016

I’m looking forward to hearing about how it holds up!

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13.January.2016

A fancy schmancy looking piece for about $200 – Nailed it!

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13.January.2016

This is brilliant! I don’t even need an armoire, but you have me looking at Craigslist! It’s amazing how a new coat of paint and some modern pulls can elevate what can be a very dated piece of furniture if left original. Can’t wait to see the rest of the studio!

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13.January.2016

Do you use polyurethane on things when you paint/stain them or just leave them without?

Thanks!

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replied on January 14th, 2016

It really depends on the piece, its function and what look I’m going for. I almost never go over a painted piece with poly and instead use a durable primer + paint. (Forgoing the poly also makes it a cinch to touch up painted pieces quickly.) The few things I have sealed with a poly are stained wood pieces that need to be able to stand up to moisture and/or easily wiped down. For instance, the DIY wood countertop we built in the laundry nook is sealed with a poly so I can throw wet clothes or towels on top if necessary. I also poly’d the plywood top of the DIY fauxdenza in the dining room / mudroom so it can serve as a buffet or bar. The walnut top of our kitchen island is sealed with Waterlox (highly recommended!) so we don’t have to use coasters or worry about spills. The reclaimed open shelving in the kitchen is sealed with a matte poly so sweaty dishes/glasses coming right out of the dishwasher won’t hurt them and grease splatters can be wiped up. In contrast, the DIY wood shelves in our living room are stained but not sealed since there’s really no risk of them getting wet. Typically, I prefer the look of a matte or satin poly over a high gloss. Hope that helps!

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13.January.2016

Beautiful! My husband and I converted a $50 craigslist TV armoire into toy storage last year. We removed the top doors and built shelves. I rotate my toddler’s toys, so I love that I can store a ton behind the bottom doors, and the top shelves are out of reach. Can’t wait to see more of your studio projects!

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replied on January 14th, 2016

Such a great idea to remove the doors in favor of open shelving!

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13.January.2016

I’m the furniture donation coordinator for a non-profit that runs a used furniture store in the Chicagoland area and most non-profits – in our area – no longer accept entertainment centers for donation (which is a shame but they don’t sell for the most part). I tell donors to list them for free on Craigslist and freecycle.org – so that’s another possible resource for folks to check out (unless it’s just a local thing? If so, I’m sorry!).

I LOVE how yours turned out, Dana. Well done!

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replied on January 14th, 2016

Thanks for the info, Susan!

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13.January.2016

Such a great idea! Just searched Craigslist and can’t believe how many are out there! Love your coat hooks too. I’m looking for something similar in my mudroom. Where are yours from?

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replied on January 14th, 2016

More on those hook racks soon! They were a super simple DIY.

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13.January.2016

I am loving your studio! In the background of one the pictures there is a board with coat hooks, where are the hook s from? Maybe I should just be patient and wait, you’ll likely post your sources :)

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replied on January 14th, 2016

It’s coming… ;)

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13.January.2016

Amazing what paint and glorious pulls can do. Thanks for the great ideas.
Question on using the roller to paint the cabinet–did you use a special kind of roller? I seem to have no luck whatsoever in keeping the bumpy roller marks from showing. Then I go over it all with a brush and have brush streaks. Is it my painting technique or lack thereof or the materials I’m using?

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replied on January 14th, 2016

Any 6″ foam roller will do. I used a small (2″), angled trim brush to get in tight corners and recessed details of the cabinet. To avoid roller marks, avoid getting too much paint on the roller. I use a paint tray and make sure paint is loaded evenly on the roller. It’s always best to do 2-3 light coats vs. 1-2 heavy coats. (Although it takes some extra patience and time.) Also, I do think a quality paint will yield better results. For things that will see a lot of wear (furniture, baseboards, doors. etc.), I really like the Valspar Reserve (Lowe’s, ACE) and Clark + Kensington (ACE) lines. I like to use Benjamin Moore and Clark + Kensington for walls.

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replied on January 14th, 2016

Thanks so much!

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This looks awesome! I have a similar armoire waiting for its day in the garage! Will definitely be referring back!

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13.January.2016

Great use of the leather straps. The black finish lets the piece blend in with the background but the leather straps stand out just enough to say look at me. Very nice!

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13.January.2016

Brilliant! Please tell me about that coat rack to the left?! Thank you!!!

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replied on January 14th, 2016

Coming soon!

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13.January.2016

This is beautiful and I have been looking to do a project like this. What stops me is the painting part…specifically, where to start. Did you sand the armoire first? Or was painting with the Valspar latex primer all you needed before painting with the Sherwin Williams paint?

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replied on January 14th, 2016

I scuffed up the surface of the wood a little with a medium grit sanding block and wiped it clean before painting. Thanks for asking! I’ve updated the post to include that step as well.

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14.January.2016

I LOVE the leather pulls and black color you went with

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14.January.2016

I love your style! I never would have thought a boring old armoire could look so good :) I actually have a non-related question – where did you get the wood stand and ceramic planter in the first picture? I have a corner in my living room that would be perfect for!

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replied on January 15th, 2016

Modernica! It normally lives outside our front door (at home) but in the winter I have to bring it in so it doesn’t crack from frost.

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15.January.2016

Great storage spaces! I love how neatly they are organized. and I love IKEA, they are always on my top go-to list of stores when it comes my home improvement projects.

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16.January.2016

Save the armoires! We converted a beauty but beastly hand-me-down to an complete office. Works awesome! I love being able to close it all up and enjoy the prettiness that is the outside.

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17.January.2016

I have the same armoire (painted it white several yrs back). In my upper interior doors I used metal. Each piece (2) of galvanized were custom cut to fit perfectly inside each door. I installed it with spray adhesive. I love industrial design, so I know that the best place to go is our local HVAC contractor who has the metal and cutting table/tools. It’s extremely inexpensive, and I use cute magnets to post with. I also have large custom cut metal screwed to my son’s wall for artwork. Just thought I’d share this with you, as it’s abgreat altetnative to cork and thumbtacks.

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replied on January 19th, 2016

Such an awesome idea! Thanks for sharing.

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18.January.2016

Hi Dana,
Can you please tell me where the beautiful stripey pot in the middle on top of your armoire came from. I wants!

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replied on January 19th, 2016

Eek! It was a leftover from a magazine photo shoot last year. (Better Homes & Gardens shot our house last year for an upcoming feature.) I’m afraid I don’t know the exact source. So sorry!

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18.January.2016

Beautiful space! Can you share where the planter is from?

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replied on January 19th, 2016

Modernica!

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19.January.2016

Where-oh-where did you get that fabulous planter holder? Thanks :)

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replied on January 19th, 2016

It’s from Modernica! It usually lives just outside our front door but in the winter I bring it in so it doesn’t freeze and crack…although I might have to keep it in the studio now :/

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replied on February 16th, 2016

What kind of plant is in the planter?

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replied on February 19th, 2016

I’m not sure. It was leftover from a photo shoot. (BH&G will be featuring our home in an upcoming issue!) So sorry! But I love it.

07.February.2016

I repurposed our 20 year old pine armoire to a linen closet when we downsized from our large 4 bedroom home to a 2 bedroom condo. I’ve yet to change the finish on it but it will happen!

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07.February.2016

I love it! We use an armoire in our music room. It holds violins and a basket for each child with their piano and violin music. It was a TV cabinet in it’s past life too.

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replied on February 10th, 2016

Great idea for music room! I never considered that. Thanks for sharing.

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21.February.2016

As a resutlt of you featuring my sister’s Ohio IKEA kitchen, I have discovered and fallen in love with your blog! I found an armoire on Craigslist with a simlar design. What are the dimensions of yours? The one I found is 64″ high and 34″ wide. Is yours similar to that?

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replied on June 1st, 2016

I found one that’s six feet tall. How tall is yours, Dana?

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28.February.2016

Oh gosh, am I the only person left in the world who wants to use an armoire for my TV? I love the idea of a tall, handsome piece of furniture in my Living/Family room to hide the TV away in when it’s not in use. I wanted to buy an antique or score a great deal on CL or elsewhere, but couldn’t find one I liked that had doors that would fold back out of the way when open. So, I finally found one at Ballard’s, the ‘Slim Chadwick Media Armoire’. I think it is one of the last new ones out there! So I guess it’s true, there’s not a demand for them anymore, but I’m happy. Don’t have to look at the electronics unless I want to, and now have all the extra storage too.

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