Home » projects » Antique Radio Cabinet: How To Remove The Radio And Paint The Cabinet

Antique Radio Cabinet: How To Remove The Radio And Paint The Cabinet

How to transform an antique radio cabinet into the perfect storage piece by removing the radio and replacing it with shelves. Then, paint the cabinet for a total makeover.

Antique Radio Cabinet

I know ya’ll remember this vintage radio cabinet. It was at a local flea market shop and I passed on it because of the condition and the price. The price was $60 and the cabinet was in terrible condition. I was really torn about passing on it.

Several of you suggested offering less money for the cabinet. The comments were running close to  50/50  leaning slightly toward buying, but at a lower price.

How To Transform An Antique Radio Cabinet Into A Storage Piece

radio cabinet inside look

I went back to the shop and was glad to see the cabinet was still there. It was a mess but it was still calling my name. I was planning to offer $40 for the cabinet. But guess what?? There was a 30% off sign on the vendor’s booth. The sale price of the radio was $42……sold.

missing veneer Petticoat Junktion

There was a lot of missing veneer and the top was a disaster plus the base and legs were falling apart. The JTS and I will have to take the radio out and do a major overhaul if this piece is going to look like anything.

Make any Necessary Repairs to the Radio Cabinet

removing the radio from a vintage cabinet Petticoat Junktion

We hauled the cabinet home and the first thing the JTS (aka Junktion Technical Specialist, aka Hubby) started to work. The first thing he did was remove the base and start gluing the legs and joints back together.

making repairs vintage radio cabinet Petticoat Junktion

The top of the base was coming apart as was the bottom, and the legs were all wobbly. I’m surprised the cabinet didn’t fall over. That’s how bad it was.

glue and clamp a vintage radio cabinet Petticoat Junktion

Hubby used a lot of glue and clamps and straps to hold all of the pieces together. He’s good at this stuff and I have no patience for it. I hate the gluing part because it slows me down. I just want to start painting but can’t always do that right away although sometimes I try.

Remove the Radio from the Cabinet

vintage radio project Petticoat Junktion

Next, we started removing all of the insides. Finding the screws and bolts holding everything in place and figuring out how to proceed was half the battle.

Even though I’ve painted several of the radio cabinets this is the first one I purchased with the radio still inside. Don’t worry, I’m saving the good parts of the radio. Who knows what I might do with them?

radio casing Petticoat Junktion

Removing that shelf was the hardest part. We used crowbars and hammers and took turns working on it. The shelf was tightly wedged into the slots on the walls of the cabinet.

project Petticoat Junktion

I’m surprised we didn’t tear the whole cabinet apart between all the hammering and prying with the crowbars.

vintage radio cabinet project Petticoat Junktion

The never-ending story of removing the radio parts continues. I’m ready to get on with the most important part…..the painting.

attaching furniture base Petticoat Junktion

Once the cabinet was empty and the glue was dry on the base we put the two pieces back together.

Clean the Wood Cabinet

prepping furniture for painting Petticoat Junktion

The cabinet was really really dirty and the clean up has to be done before painting can start. The JTS is awesome. Have you guys noticed that? I should be nicer to him.


The original back was missing so the JTS cut a new back for the piece from a sheet of luan. Then he attached the back using a nail gun.


Seems like the repairs are never-ending. One of the doors was coming apart so out came the wood glue and clamps again. See my feet….I was there….taking photos.

Add Shelves to Antique Radio Cabinet


As you can see the cabinet now has shelves. I didn’t get photos of the JTS cutting the shelves and installing them. Sorry. He put the shelves in before attaching the new back.

furniture repair repurpose transformation Petticoat Junktion

The radio cabinet is actually pretty now compared to what it looked like before. All of the carved details make it beautiful!

vintage radio cabinet amazing transformation Petticoat Junktion

Now it’s time to move on to the painting after a few more repairs….


painting the inside of cabinet

Paint the Inside of the Cabinet

There was a lot of missing and loose veneer. Instead of stripping all the veneer I  glued the loose pieces and didn’t worry about the missing pieces. The areas with the chipped veneer will look great painted and distressed.

The top had no veneer at all and big gouges in the wood. The JTS filled the worst parts with wood filler. Now the cabinet was finally ready to paint. I used Off-White Beyond Paint on the shelves and interior walls.

loose veneer glued and clamped Petticoat Junktion

I didn’t notice the loose and gaping veneer pieces on the front of the doors until I was painting the inside of the cabinet. I used wood glue and clamps to take care of the worst areas.

Frogtape paint project Petticoat JUnktion

Use Painter’s Tape Where Needed

Before painting the outside of the cabinet I used FrogTape to protect the white paint inside. Didn’t want gray on the white. My first plan was to paint the doors white and the rest of the piece gray.

Paint The Cabinet

The paint I chose for the makeover is Benjamin Moore and the color is Gray, yes it’s simply called Gray. It’s a beautiful color and the paint covers well.

furniture paint project in progress Petticoat Junktion

I used FrogTape around the outer edges of the doors too to keep from getting white paint on the gray paint. I painted the doors with off-white Beyond Paint like the inside.

white paint dry brush technique Petticoat Junktion

Next, I dry-brushed off-white paint onto the gray. All it takes is a dab of paint for dry brushing.

dry brush technique Petticoat Junktion

I dipped the brush bristles into the paint and then wiped most of the paint off the brush with a paper towel. Then I ran the brush over the raised details. This is how you dry brush paint onto anything.

hand sanding paint Petticoat Junktion

Once all the paint was dry I distressed the whole cabinet by hand using 100-grit sandpaper.

gray painted radio cabinet (2)

This is what the radio cabinet looked like after all the painting and the distressing. I kept looking at the piece and kept having doubts about the look. I showed the above photo to Sara at the shop and she said the white looked like a tombstone. That did it for me.

vintage radio cabinet makeover with shelves

So, I started painting again.

vintage radio cabinet makeover with shelves and paint 14

I painted the gray color over the white and then painted gray over some of the dry-brushed white areas because there was too much white. Then I distressed the whole cabinet again.

Decorative Calender Shelf Liner Recycle Idea Petticoat Junktion project

When I was trying to decide on the paper for the interior I noticed how the white paint on the front edges of the shelves popped out at me. So I painted the edges gray then I covered the shelves with an old calendar. You can use anything as shelf paper.

The cabinet now has a lot of storage space for everything from linens to dishes or leave the cabinet doors open and display a few of your favorite things.


vintage radio cabinet makeover with shelves and paint 12
How to replace a radio in a vintage radio cabinet with shelves and paint the cabinet

That’s the whole story, Ladies and Gentlemen. What do you think of the finished look?

vintage radio cabinet makeover with shelves and paint 13

Sometimes my first plan, second plan, and sometimes third plans don’t work. So, let me tell you……. when working on a project don’t hesitate to change plans if you don’t like what’s happening or if you come up with a better idea! As always thanks for being here, Kathy

Author: Kathy Owen
Kathy Owen is the founder of the home decor blog Petticoat Junktion where she shares tutorials on painting furniture and upcycling thrifty finds into unique home décor. Her DIY projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Kathy’s newest website is HappyHomeDIY.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I love this!!! So beautiful! I have something similar that I plan to work on and will definitely use your tips!!

  2. Wow, what a project, Kathy! And I do think you should be reee-al nice to the JTS! You are SO lucky to have him with all his expertise working with you. I do like the way the cabinet turned out but, as Sandra said, I think the calendar shelf paper is really out of character with the rest of the piece. Something more toned down or traditional-looking would be better I think. All in all, the piece is beautiful and a great storage piece. Will you keep it, do you think?

  3. Turned out great! Glad you hung on to the radio parts. I’ve been on the hunt for old radio knobs for a specific radio, and I can tell you, they go for a good price. Check Etsy. You have matching ones and you should be able to sell them and pay for your cabinet!!

  4. I really like the exterior and all the work you did with it now that it’s all gray. But the calendar “shelf paper”, I think, detracts from the piece. Think maybe a whitewash tinted slightly with gray for the shelves? Thanks, Sandra

  5. I was skeptical About the missing veneer on the doors But I love how it turned out I would buy for myself Definitely like the doors painted the gray better I love your paint technique

  6. Turned out great!! Sometimes my hubby helps with a project too! Glad you painted the doors, I agree with Sara, it did kinda look like a tombstone!! Looks awesome now