Transform your old Armoire into a Home Office

Armorie Reborn As An Office

Many of us have that big, outdated and sadly unfashionable or no longer desirable solid wood armoire that was the “it” thing in the late 80’s and early 90″s (and if you don’t they are EASILY obtainable at any second hand store for next to nothing). While its original purpose was as an Entertainment Unit (back in the days of the gargantuan TVs 3 feet deep), it is time to recreate and revitalize these relics, and what could be more useful than a self contained and wonderfully organized home office. Your old Armoires are perfect for keeping your work organized and away from the “little fingers” of children and eliminating clutter from your home.  This self contained Home Office is a Godsend for small spaces and condos where every square inch is precious and many of us don’t have the luxury of a designated Study.

While we need to reinterpret the interior of the Armoire and reconfigure it for a computer monitor, pullout keyboard, fax machine, shelves and drawer; the exterior also needs a complete makeover. The majority of these units have a boxy design with a dated wood finish in a vile orange pine or bleached oak. A quick trip to your local hardware shop will provide a plethora of carved details that can easily be glued on to the exterior, such as a carved appliqué for over the doors, carved wood rope mouldings for around the inset in the doors, a chunky crown moulding to cap off the top and of course, beautiful new chunky dark hardware. Then it is time to give the exterior a dramatic distressed finish perfect for both traditional and modern decors. The paint technique is actually very easy (believe it or not).

First paint the exterior in a deep rich umber latex paint, once this has completely dried coat the exterior with a thick crackle medium and then top coat it in a lighter tan or rich cream tone (latex paint). The finished exterior has the effect of a family heirloom perfect for any décor and all of these materials are available at your local paint store.

While the exterior is classic and elegant, the interior is to be finished very modern, inspiring and of course, sexy! Paint the interior a dramatic gloss black, Sky Blue or Chinese Red. Then transform it so that it can be act as a home office with a counter and pull out tray added (available at local hardware stores). Add a dry erase board to the back and frame it with simple wood moulding. Then add chrome shelves for storage and chrome mesh trays to the inside of the doors. Let your imagination go wild on the interior. Make the interior as inspiring, sexy, glamourous and as wonderful as you are, don’t forget that the goal of this project is to motivate and inspire you to work, write and create.

Make sure when beginning the interior to cut the appropriate holes in the bottom of the Armoire for your computer, fax and other electronic equipment, and if the budget allows, opt for a new flat screen monitor and hang it on a cross bar for the right depth for you. Your newly transformed “old” armoire will become the perfect home for your computer, fax and all business materials in order to keep your work organized and your home clutter free.

Distressing Tools and Materials

o Satin, acrylic basecoat paint

o Satin, acrylic topcoat paint

o Crackle Medium

o Satin, interior clear protector (optional)

o Fine grit sandpaper

o 2″ nylon/polyester paintbrushes

o Cotton cloths


1. Apply basecoat color to surface, using 2″ brush.

2. Allow basecoat to dry a minimum of four hours.

3. Using a wide brush apply the Crackle Medium. The heavier or thicker you apply the more dramatic the finish will appear.

4. Apply topcoat color to the entire piece of furniture.

5. Allow topcoat to dry a minimum of 24 hours.

6. Using fine grit sandpaper, sand lightly with the grain of the wood, thus removing the topcoat in some areas and revealing the basecoat even further on raised edges.

7. For a realistic worn look, sand areas such as knobs, handles and table tops more heavily.

8. Clean the surface and use as is. For better protection of the finish, apply a satin interior clear protector.

Once complete it works beautifully positioned either in a guest room, in your living room or in a dining room.  make sure to splurge for a beautiful BUT comfortable chair that will work both as the office chair but also a lounge or occassional chair in your home…Always think multifunctional. 

Try it and send me your photos.

Robin De Groot