I think this chifferobe dates back to the early 1900's. Possibly the 1920's or 1930's era. Based on the design I believe it would have been termed a "gentlemen's chifferobe". With the advent of larger homes with more storage space the chifferobe seems to have gone out of style. But let me tell you if I find one in a thrift store you better believe I will be all over it.

Here's an advertisement for a chifferobe from 1912. It has a very similar design as my project.

1912 Advertisement of a chifferobe.


I did my best to act non-nonchalant when I spotted this one. I even took out my tape measure and got the dimensions and tried to look thoughtful. But really there was no question that I was going to buy it. I'm not sure if I fooled any of the other shoppers since I was doing a happy dance. This was a solo shopping trip so I didn't have anyone to talk me out of the purchase, i.e. "Are you sure? It needs a lot of repairs."

There were previous repairs made to re-attach the legs with new bolts. One of the drawer pulls was broken. A couple of the drawers were breaking. Both the large and small cupboard bottoms were warped and needed replacement. There was no key but that didn't matter because someone had filled in the strike plate areas with bondo.

On a positive note it still had the wooden wheels! That is until two of the wheels broke after we got them home. Sigh! I'll need to order replacements.


The first order of business was to find replacement hardware. There were two knobs on the cupboard doors.

And five drawer pulls. One of the pulls was broken, but I'll save the others for another project.

Isn't this sweet with the little hearts around the ring? The best thing is that I painted a night table for the same client which has the same drawer pull.

And here's what I chose for the replacement. I wanted to give the chifferobe a slightly more feminine feel without going to girly. So I choose the glass knobs for the cupboard doors and a little more ornate pull for the drawers. Overall the pulls with the back plate are larger in scale than the original pulls, but my plan is to balance the scale with paint color.

One of many drawer repairs.

Cupboard bottoms were warped and needed replacing.

My husband made new bottoms for the cupboards. It was glorious weather for working outdoors.

 The color scheme I choose for this project was Country Grey for the exterior and Old White for the interior. I knew painting the interior was going to be a lot of work, but I really wanted to lighten it up. So I applied 3 coats of primer (yes it took three) and then applied a coat of shellac before applying the paint.


The look I was going for was a worn farmhouse style. There was probably a bit too much light coming in my entryway when I shot the photos, but hopefully you can see the contrast between the Country Grey and Old White. I applied a very subtle wash of Old White over the Country Grey in some areas as well as light distressing in select places. I did not distress the interior.

Gentlemen's Chifferobe refinished in Country Grey & Old White (ASCP)

 Light distressing on the edges.

A worn and aged finish with light distressing.

The top and cupboard panels are painted in Old White. The rest of the exterior is painted in Country Grey.
Old White on the top, exterior panels, and interior cupboards and drawers.
The finish I started with wasn't completely smooth, so I decided to work with it. I did sand the paint to a smooth finish, but left some of the brush strokes in areas which you can see in some of the photos. I know some people are afraid of brush strokes, but I prefer to embrace them. After all this is a hand painted piece.

Sample of the imperfect finish.
I love this on vintage furniture!

New replacement knobs for the cupboard doors.

The knobs I selected were chosen to give
a slightly more feminine feel to the piece.

New drawer pulls for the 5 drawers -- plenty of extra storage!

The drawer pulls are little more ornate and larger
than the originals, but the scale still works.

The pull itself is painted in Country Grey with hints of Old White. I dry brushed the back plate with Country Grey followed by a light dry brush of Old White.

The paint treatment on the pulls was
 chosen to give a very subtle contrast.

Fresh and clean on the inside!
The interior was a tough job, but I think it was worth it.

Extra room for hanging coats or clothing.

Can you see the rod for hanging clothes? 

Even more storage in the small cupboard area.

Who doesn't need more storage?

No worries about the missing key -- I had a replacement. The lock on the small cupboard works just fine, but as I mentioned the strike plate on the large cupboard was filled in with bondo. I didn't want to attempt to chisel that out because I was worried it would damage the frame.

Yeeee-ha! The key fits!

I painted the interior of the drawers in Old White.

Clean and fresh finish on the drawer interiors.

Here's a shot of the chifferobe paired with the antique rocking chair that was also painted in Country Grey.

They are both of bygone eras although they weren't necessarily part of a set. But I like the way the paint colors coordinate the pieces together.

Thanks for stopping by. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my client likes the chifferobe (she's only seen photos)!

Before and After


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