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  • Writer's pictureZach

Furniture Fix: Painting an Old Glass Curio Cabinet Display Case

I have always loved glass display cases for storing and showing off my antiques and collectibles. In the old out, we built in shelves to our basement so I had plenty of space to display, but here, my man cave has a ways to go. So shortly after we moved in, I starting searching for glass display cases online and prices were just too high. The shipping alone would have been crazy. IKEA had several I liked in my price range, but they wouldn’t ship at the time. I also couldn’t find very many that were that tall. Obviously, in today’s online shipping world it’s still not easy to move heavy glass.

The Joys of Used Furniture Shopping

So I started looking for used curio or display cabinets online and found a number of them. The ones in good shape still were priced fairly high. The older oak looking ones were more reasonable so I decided I could try painting one. Kiersten found one on Facebook that I liked that was 80 inches tall, 50 inches wide, and had a depth of 15 inches. It had the original purchase price tag on it for $1,200. It was listed for $300 because a cat had scratched up the wood. We offered a lower price and worked out a deal for $250. The seller said to bring help for lifting and lots of blankets (to protect the glass).

wood curio case
Marketplace Posting Photo

It was only 15 inches deep, so I though how heavy could it be? Plus all the shelves were glass and I would take them out when we moved to make sure we didn’t break them. Luckily my wife's uncle (yes, the same one who helped me create my man cave store room) let me borrow his truck which and I was able to talk my two brother-in-laws into helping as well. And man am I glad I did.

You never know what you're going to get into with Facebook Marketplace so when we went to the seller's house, we pulled into a three-story apartment complex. I went inside to pay and figure out the easiest way to move it to the truck, hoping it wasn’t on the third floor. Yup, it was on the third floor.

A nice lady answered the door and right away questioned if I had help. This curio was a TANK and it was taller than the door. I went out and apologized to the guys and we started bringing down the glass shelves. We struggled getting it out of the apartment, but with lots of heavy lifting we made it to the truck. We filled it with blankets and pillows, tied it down, and headed to my house. Luckily we made it to my basement in one piece and I assured the guys that we would never move it again.

Rehabilitating the Old Furniture Piece

Cat scratches aside, the thing was pretty dated looking and you know how Kiersten feels about a lot of wood tones in the house. So, I decided to sand and paint it. Here's what I did to make it look brand new:

Step 1: Sand

The first step was to sand down all the wood. I took off the front hardware pieces. The wood had lots of scratches and it sanded down easily.

Step 2: Clean

I cleaned it with a little soapy water on a rag and wiped it down.

Step 3: Tape

Next, was the worst part. I used blue painters’ tape and carefully taped around all the glass. This took FOREVER.

Step 4: Paint

Once I finished taping, it was time to paint. If you haven’t noticed the preferred color choice in this house is white. We went with a white color called Swiss Coffee from Behr for the official color. (If momma's happy everyone’s happy.) I put two heavy coats on. My wife found a new brush that was high quality and worked really good for cracks and indents. I used a small brush for the details.

Swiss Coffee Paint Color by Behr

Step 5: Touch-up and Clean Glass

Finally, I took off the blue tape and did a few touch ups on spots missed. I used a brand-new sharp razor blade and carefully scraped off the paint I got on the glass. I carefully cleaned everything with Windex and a towel. It was finished.

I do wonder, could I have just carefully painted it and scraped off the paint at the end?

Now on to my favorite part, displaying my sports collectibles! Gonna probably need another shelf...

Antique Sports Collectibles Glass Display Furniture Shelf

Antique Sports Collectibles Glass Display Furniture Shelf

Antique Sports Collectibles Glass Display Furniture Shelf


Need a furniture fix? Here's what we used:

*DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

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we're kiersten and zach

Follow along with us each week as we work to make the very 2000s home we bought during the middle of a pandemic more “us.” We’ll share everything from quick fixes to more permanent changes, along with projects you can do in your own home. Zach will also share all his lawn and garden advice as he starts over on the yard.


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