How to Easily Revive a Vintage Wardrobe

We took a neglected chifferobe and brought it back to life. Here’s how to easily revive a vintage wardrobe in one afternoon.

There’s something about family pieces that make my heart happy.

Knowing that people who lived years ago touched the same pieces that are in my home brings a nostalgic smile to my face.

This isn’t the first time we had this chest.

When my Trent and I were newlyweds, we were gifted this piece to help furnish our first home.

This belonged to Trent’s great grandparents and needed a new home.

We had it with us for a few years, but when we decided we would throw caution to the wind and head out west to pursue our music, we gave it back to Trent’s parents.

We aren’t sure what happened to it, but it ended up in a storage shed at my in-laws business.

Exposed to the elements and forgotten about, this beautiful wardrobe had started to weather.

The bottom front and insides of the doors started to mildew, which isn’t good for any piece of furniture.

And there was a scratch on one of the doors from one of the drawers.

I wanted to refresh this chifferobe and use it as a focal piece in our renovated sunroom. So I did a little research and found a simple way to bring it back to life! Here’s how to Easily Revive a Vintage Wardrobe in just one afternoon!

All you need for this is Howard’s Restor-a-Finish as well as their Feed-n-Wax and a few soft rags. Make sure you get the Restor-a-Finish in the correct color for your piece of furniture.

First, to control the mildew, I wiped down the chest with a vinegar/dish soap rinse. If your piece is heavily mildewed, this is a great article with tips on how to remove it.

Follow the instructions on the bottle. Apply the Restor-a-Finish to a soft rag and wipe on the wardrobe. Work in small sections, wiping off any excess with another rag.

After 30 minutes, apply the Feed-n-Wax. Using the same method, wipe the wax on with one rag and buff it off with another.

A beautiful finish remains with minimal effort! Just look at the scratch on the door now!

I was able to revive this neglected piece and bring it back to life!

Look at the before and after of the inside.

From moldy and mildewy to fresh and new!

One of my favorite thing about this old wardrobe are the details.

The stenciled medallions and the ornate knobs are just stunning, as well as the wood appliqués.

This piece is not perfect, and it still has chipped veneer and a few scratches. But it’s so much better than it was before.

The bottom of the doors still show the wear and tear from the elements and will most likely need another coat of Feed-n-Wax, but this is a start to love this piece back to life.

If you have a piece that you have neglected, or found a treasure that you need to restore, I hope my tutorial on how to Easily Revive a Vintage Wardrobe helps you out!

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  1. Sigh, you didn’t paint it! Good for you! Just lovely!

  2. Hi Ann! I have never heard of that product, but it sounds like a good one as well! Thanks for taking the time to comment – it means so much!

  3. It was mostly light mildew. I wiped it down with a mixture of vinegar and dish soap. This room gets lots of light, so a combo of sunlight and the ceiling fan helped to ensure it dried out properly.

  4. It was mostly light mildew. I wiped it down with a mixture of vinegar and dish soap. This room gets lots of light, so a combo of sunlight and the ceiling fan helped to ensure it dried out properly.

  5. Absolutely gorgeous! I’m a huge fan of restoring old finishes, rather than covering them with paint. I’ve use Homer Formby Furniture Refinisher, but I’ve never tried this product. I may have to give it a try. Is it similar?

  6. That is gorgeous! I love the Howard’s products. If you don’t mind my asking, how did you removed the mildew?

  7. How did you deal with the mold?

  8. Oh, I would love to see that piece! It sounds amazing with the black chalk paint! So glad you shared this – hopefully someone can gain tips from your comment!

  9. I found a 1929 Brunswick phonograph cabinet on the curb. The 78 phonograph was long gone but the original manufacturer’s sticker was intact and it included the date the piece was made. Someone had removed most of the veneer from the top and the cabinet and legs had water spots on them. Generous coats of Howards Feen n Wax restored the base to almost original condition. I had to use hot towels and a hot iron to remove the rest of the veneer from the top. IThe wood underneath was not stainable so filled the spaces between the boards with wood putty and then painted it with black chalk paint. It’s amazing how beautiful it is considering it was obviously neglected for many years.!

  10. Jen,
    I adore how you restored this beautiful vintage wardrobe!
    This piece looks breathtakingly beautiful in your sunroom!
    Always inspiring!

  11. Perfect timing on your blog about reviving an old chifferobe! I want to “revive” an old sideboard and I don’t want to strip it. I wondered about the Restor-a-finish and how the results would look. I can’t wait to try it on my old sideboard! Thanks for the story!