Refinish: Faux Apothecary Cabinet


If you search the internet for an apothecary cabinet to buy, you’re likely going to find brand new pieces starting at $600 and going north of $1000. Needless to say, I was APPALLED at the prices I saw. Especially when it comes to the solid wood options. So, of course I scoured the internet on how I could fake one of these bad boys. I’ll save you the research and let you know that I finally came to the conclusion: Facebook Marketplace dresser + Amazon Apothecary Style Pulls can get you a faux apothecary cabinet for around $150 or less!

Facebook Marketplace is a Treasure Trove

Once I figured out what materials I needed to get going, I started my search for the perfect dresser to refinish for this specific project. I wanted a buffet-style(short and wide) dresser with either a ton of drawers or looked like it had a ton of drawers so I had to do as little work as possible to get the look I was aiming for.

This is what I found about 30 minutes away from my house:

I loved that this piece had the look of a ton of different sized drawers! The accents on the front and the scalloping on the side added some unique character as well. I asked the seller if it was a solid wood piece (so I could stain the top if I wanted to) and she confirmed it was so I loaded up the truck to pick this baby up for $75. She had it listed for $100 and came down on the price so that’s a win in my book!


Sand & Fill

I was really excited about this project so I broke out my sander as soon as I got it home. I recently upgraded to the Rigid Orbital Sander and wow that was a great investment! It runs so smoothly and really makes finishing a project a breeze.

Whenever I sand a project, I start with a low grit and then progress until I get up to a 320 grit for a super smooth finish. I had a ton of thick gray paint to get off so I started with 60 grit, then moved on to 80 grit, 120 grit, 220 grit, and finally 320.

However, if you look closely at my project you will see I have gray paint showing through under the white chalk paint. I did this intentionally by leaving some gray paint on in spots. But, I still went over those parts with the 320 at the end so the finish was uniform. The picture below shows the gray peeking through after I started doing some coats of the white chalk paint on top.

You can also see that I started filling the old pull handle drill holes that were there from the previous owner with wood putty. Once dry, I sanded using the 320 grit sandpaper to make sure my finish was as smooth as possible.


Chalk Paint!

Now that my project was completely smooth from sanding and drawer pulls were filled with wood putty, I went on to paint. You’ll want to blow off any wood dust from sanding with an air compressor (or whatever you have) and then wipe down your project with a damp cloth. Allow to dry completely.

To paint this project, I used white chalk spray paint from Walmart (around $6 per can). I wanted to see how smooth the finish would be and how many coats it would take. So I moved the dresser to an area where I could spray away and I got to work!

I took all of the drawers out and painted the faces first. Chalk paint dries super fast out of a can so I was able to get those well coated pretty quickly. Make sure to give them enough coats to hide the putty underneath the paint. Then I moved on to paint the body of the dresser, making sure to cover all of the angles as well as possible. I had the entire project painted in about 3 hours, but I took time to let dry in between. I’d say I used about 4 or 5 spray paint cans for the entire project.

Antiquing is the best part

Chalk paint dries super smooth but I still wanted to antique this piece for some character so I got my sander back out with the 320 grit pad. I like start off by hitting the corners and edges of the piece with the sander for the color underneath to show through. I keep taking paint away until I’m happy with it. In the picture below you can see the drawer faces on this dresser were perfect for antiquing with the detail they have on them! I made sure to get all sides of the dresser as well to make sure it was uniform later on.


I like to get the flat faces of the drawers and sides last because they stress me out the most to do! If you take it too far (like I usually do) you can always repaint that side and try again until you’re happy. Once I felt like I was done, I used the Matte Top Coat Finishing Spray to protect the project. I made sure to take the drawers out when I sprayed so I got all of the edges that could be hidden by the overlapping of the drawers.

Which brings me to my next and final part of the project.

Drawer Pulls

I knew I would have a hard time finding drawer pulls that fit the apothecary cabinet style if I looked at Home Depot or in Hobby Lobby so I decided to search Amazon and found these perfect pulls and label holders! Plus, they are a great price.

The tricky part was mounting them because you want them to be centered on the drawer and line up well with the others next door. You’ll also notice the top drawers don’t have a pull handle on them, just the labels. I knew that in doing this I would have to use the edge of the drawer to open it functionally, but it was an exception I was willing to make for the look of the dresser. Now that it’s finished, it really isn’t that hard to open the top drawers so it worked out!


Eventually I want to hang some large pictures of our family above the apothecary cabinet because I think it will fit better than the mirror but this works for now!

I hope you enjoyed seeing the transformation of this dresser. Let me know if you have any questions or please share pictures if you refinish your own!


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