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How to upcycle a bedside cabinet

Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Difficulty: Beginner

Upcycling a dated bedroom cabinet is a simple project that can give your bedroom a clean, fresh, modern look. Here's our step-by-step guide.


Step 1

Thoroughly clean all surfaces with sugar soap solution or sugar soap wipes. Pay particular attention to any corners or areas where dust and debris might have built up.


Remove all drawer handles (there's a nut or screw inside the drawer front that secures them). If you’re going to sand and paint the inside of your cabinet, remove the drawer runners too.


1.4 Original cabinet.jpg1.1 Cleaning surfaces with sugar soap.png  1.2 Removing hardware from drawers.png  1.3 Hardware removed.png  1.4 Removing drawer runners.png


Step 2

Sand the existing paint or varnish off your cabinet with a random orbital sander. Start with an 80-grit sanding sheet to remove the bulk of the coating and change to 120-grit for finishing.


For corners and hard-to-reach areas use a sanding block and sandpaper to remove the material by hand. Use a sanding sponge and sandpaper for curved surfaces.


2.1 Sanding coating off top.png  2.2 Hand sanding corners.png

Step 3

Fill in any holes or dents with a wood filler in a suitable colour. Use a scraper to push the filler into the holes, leaving the filler only slightly proud of the surrounding surface. You can also fill the holes in the drawer fronts made for the previous handles.


If there is significant damage (such as that on the lower portion of this cabinet) use Builders Bog. It is much stronger than wood filler and can be readily sanded back to re-create a corner.


3.1 Putty for filling holes.png  3.2 Filling holes with putty.png  3.3 Top holes filled with putty.png  3.4  Cabinet holes filled with putty.png  3.5 Significant damage to cabinet.png  3.6 Damage filled will Builders Bog.png  3.7 Drawer front holes filled with putty.png

Step 4

Use your 120-grit sandpaper and sanding block to remove any excess filler from the repaired areas. Sand those areas back until they're flush with the surrounding surface and smooth to the touch.


Give the unit one final sand with 240-grit sandpaper to remove excess filler, scratches and rough edges.


4.1 Putty sanded back smooth.png  4.2 Damaged area sanded back.png

Step 5

Mark out the location for your new handles on your drawer front. Make sure your marks are centred on the drawer fronts and in the correct positions before drilling your new mounting holes.


5.2 Marking out location for new handles.png  5.3 Drilling holes for new handles.png

Step 6

It’s essential to use a primer on previously varnished timber. Dulux Precision Maximum Adhesion Primer is perfect.


Paint all the exposed surfaces except the top, which we'll be leaving unpainted. Use a paintbrush to cut in around the corners and edges, then use a roller for the flat surfaces.


Wait for the primer to dry according to instructions before applying two top coats of your desired colour. Wait for the second top coat to dry before installing your new handles onto the drawers. You can then re-install the drawer runners.


6.1 Applying primer.png  6.2 Primer applied to cabinet.png  6.3 Cabinet painted.png  6.4 Handles installed.png


Step 7

Now it’s time to coat the top with a clear varnish, which will protect the timber from staining and wear.


To keep the varnish off your new paintwork, take your drop sheet and wrap it around the cover the lower portion of your cabinet. Secure the drop sheet with painter's tape.


Using your clear varnish spray, apply two even coats to the top of your cabinet. Make sure to wait for the prescribed amount of time between coats.


Once your varnish has dried you can remove your drop sheet and enjoy your newly upcycled cabinet.


7.1 Taping up cabinet.png  7.2 Applying cleacoat to top.png  7.3 Clearcoat applied.png  7.4 Comparison of old versus new.png  7.5 Finished project.png


  • 1L Dulux Precision Maximum Adhesion Primer
  • 1L water-based enamel paint
  • Clear varnish spray
  • Wood filler (if repairing damage)
  • Sugar soap or sugar soap wipes
  • Sandpaper 80, 120 and 240-grit
  • Sander sheets, 80, 120 and 240-grit
  • Drawer handles
  • Drop sheet
  • Painter’s tape.


  • Random orbital sander
  • Sanding block (and sanding sponge for curved surfaces)
  • Drill driver
  • Phillips head screwdriver or Phillips head bit for drill driver
  • Scraper
  • Paint roller and tray
  • Paint brush.



1.4 Original cabinet.jpg

1.1 Cleaning surfaces with sugar soap.png

1.2 Removing hardware from drawers.png

1.3 Hardware removed.png

1.4 Removing drawer runners.png

2.1 Sanding coating off top.png

2.2 Hand sanding corners.png

3.1 Putty for filling holes.png

3.2 Filling holes with putty.png

3.3 Top holes filled with putty.png

3.4  Cabinet holes filled with putty.png

3.5 Significant damage to cabinet.png

3.6 Damage filled will Builders Bog.png

3.7 Drawer front holes filled with putty.png

4.1 Putty sanded back smooth.png

4.2 Damaged area sanded back.png

5.2 Marking out location for new handles.png

5.3 Drilling holes for new handles.png

6.1 Applying primer.png

6.2 Primer applied to cabinet.png

6.3 Cabinet painted.png

7.1 Taping up cabinet.png

7.2 Applying cleacoat to top.png

7.3 Clearcoat applied.png

7.4 Comparison of old versus new.png

7.5 Finished project.png


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