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Bathroom Cabinet Nail Polish Makeover

I'm teaming up with a few talented friends to share some recent projects we've been working on all involving thrifted, found, and repurposed items! This is such a creative group and I very much enjoyed seeing how they transformed their finds into things that can be used and enjoyed again. Be sure to check out their projects at the bottom of this post!

I spotted this little $12 cabinet in a thrift shop about six months ago. It didn't really go with my decor and I wasn't sure where I would put it, but something about it stuck out to me and I brought it home. There were several times I almost painted it or thought I'd figured out what to do with it, but then I'd start to doubt and it would go back into storage. Then I started redecorating my bathroom.

Our bathroom came with beachy, aqua walls, a small, art-deco style mirror, and a standard, white cabinet. It wasn't a bad bathroom, but it wasn't my style. I found a beautiful, yellow shower curtain that became my inspiration for the space. My decor style is usually pretty neutral, but I knew I wanted to go a little bolder with this space. I chose a vibrant, dark peacock blue for the walls and swapped the mirror for a larger, gold one with a more vintage style.

I originally planned to leave the white cabinet or maybe paint it, but once I hung the new mirror, it was clear both pieces couldn't stay. Together they took up the entire wall and made the bathroom feel small and cramped. The cabinet had to go, but I still wanted some element of storage in the space. This bathroom has a lovely pedestal sink which doesn't provide much in the way of storage. I immediately thought back to the little green cabinet. The colors were all wrong, but that's an easy enough thing to change, right?

I started by removing the hardware and paining the cabinet the same color as the bathroom wall (Sailor's Coat by PPG Paints). I feel like this little cabinet is quite the statement item, but I wanted my shower curtain to remain the star of the show so I needed to tone this piece down a little, yet show off its beauty at the same time. Matching the cabinet's color to the wall also helped hide its small size and awkward positioning on the wall. (I had to choose between centering it above the toilet or centering it between the shower and mirror.) I added a little Gold Leaf Rub 'n Buff here and there to help the cabinet stand out just a little from the wall and tie in the vintage look going on in the rest of the room.

The magnolia mosaic proved a little more difficult to change. It looked dingy and dull next to the new blue and gold. I thought about redoing it with different tile or maybe covering it up with wood or fabric. Then I got the idea to just paint over the tiles. Regular paint would most likely look a little flat and scratch or peel over time especially given the humidity of a room like a bathroom. To recreate the same look and finish as the original tiles, my paint would need to coat well, dry hard and shiny, and be resistant to chipping, peeling, and moisture. And, of course, I'd need the perfect colors. Lucky for me, I have an extensive nail polish collection that would work as the perfect paint for this project!

Nail polish is a lacquer so it's made to stand up against lots of use and would give me that shiny finish I was looking for. I would also be able to easily match my polish colors to some of the tones in my shower curtain. For this cabinet, I used a couple different white polishes (I ran out half way through and had to grab another) and a pretty yellow from Essie called "don't hate, curate".

You could absolutely just use the polish brush or a small paint brush to apply the polish, but it does dry very fast so I found it best to use a metal nail art dotting tool like the one pictured. I decided to keep the magnolia design so I carefully painted around that. On the tiles with magnolias, I added a few drops of polish to my tile or to my nail art tool and spread it out, drawing around the flowers. On tiles that I was painting over completely, it was easiest to pour a little polish in the middle of my tile and push it to the outer edges with my tool.

A Few Tips:

  • I made sure to close up my polish bottle between tiles so it wouldn't dry out while I was working.

  • Applying one thick, even coat worked better than applying two thinner coats because it gave me a smoother texture in the end.

  • I worked in a very organized pattern so I didn't have to worry about smudging wet tiles.

  • When I did smudge a tile, I had to go over the entire tile with a new coat of polish or it would dry with an obvious, uneven texture.

  • If I got any polish on my cabinet or my grout, a little nail polish remover on a q-tip worked to get it off. I did have to touch up the blue paint on my cabinet if I used remover on it.

I let my cabinet dry overnight so the thick polish would form a totally hard shell and then it was ready to hang! We gave up a little storage space switching from the white cabinet to this, but I think the look was worth it. The hooks on the bottom are pretty tiny so I may replace them with a shelf in the future to add more usable space for us.

The small bathroom feels much more open and the limited storage space has encouraged us to keep the room uncluttered and only store what we really need day to day like toothbrushes, deodorant, etc. as opposed to bottles upon bottles of lotions, soaps, and more.

This bathroom has completely evolved from a subtle, coastal vibe to a bold and glamorous space. I'm loving the new look and I'm so glad I picked up that little $12 cabinet while thrifting.

If you enjoyed reading about this thrift flip, check out what my friends have been working on below!


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