I have a lot of things in our home that have been passed down to me from my grandparents…I love them all.  One in particular is this Sears Silvertone Stereo Radio Phonograph.  It’s a radio and stereo in one and I remember my grandmother opening the top lid and playing the radio while we cleaned house.  Back then I thought it was just the coolest thing ever!!  Now, however, it’s really showing its age :).   So, after about 10 years of putting if off, mostly out of fear of ruining it, I finally decided to be brave enough to refinish it.  It’s been living in my home art studio without any real function other than looking cute…in it’s sad, memory lane sort of way.  I can honestly say that I didn’t really have a plan when I called my husband to help me move it into the middle of the room.  But I’m spontaneous when it comes to my diy.  The mood strikes and I just go with it.  And really, once you get started, you realize it wasn’t that crazy difficult.


Step 1: Clean it up!

This step is important for a few reasons.  One, the interior of the cabinet really needed a good dusting.  It’s amazing how much dust collected inside a closed compartment.  I dusted, vacuumed, and wiped down.  Now at this point, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with the actual stereo portion of this.  Should I take it out?  Remove the record player, speakers, radio, etc?  Not having an answer, my husband and I decided to see if it still worked.  He plugged it in and I turned the dial, Voila!  It still works.  Now, the sound quality isn’t the best but that can be rectified.  As of now, however, I decided to move forward with my makeover while leaving everything intact.

Step 2: Out with the old

I had to remove the speaker covers on the front of the cabinet.  The fabric was original so it was faded and really worn thin after 70 years so it had to go.  I gently pried the fabric covered panels out and removed the fabric and dozens of tiny staples.  This proved difficult because that fabric had been glued onto the panels.  I had to tear it off as best I could but some of it wouldn’t budge.  I figured this would be ok since I’d be recovering them anyway.  But you can see what used to be a nice damask now looks like old burlap.  Last thing was to remove the old handles.  I decided to refinish these instead of replacing to keep as much of the original look as possible.



Step 3: Sanding & Priming

This is my least favorite part of refinishing but it’s a necessary one. My main goal here was to get rid of the topcoat which had a definite shine to it. This took a while. But, it’s worth it. You don’t want your paint to scratch off or peel. Once everything was sanded and wiped down to remove dust, I primed. I pretty much prime everything with KILZ so we always have at least a gallon ready to go. I took a 3 inch chip brush and started with the spindles, working my way over the sides, front, and finally the top. I kept the lid open for this so it wouldn’t get stuck. You could definitely remove the lid to paint but it opened wide enough that I could reach every portion of it. I let the first coat dry for about 2 hours before going over every inch with a finishing sand paper. A slightly damp towel took care of any dust before I applied my second and last primer coat.

Time: 4 hours

Step 4: Color Baby!!!

I know that step 3 would take me a good amount of time…just enough time, in fact, to decide on color. I could have refinished this and brought it back to it’s original vintage glory…but I’m working on lightening up my studio so I thought, might as well start here. Being an artist, I always have spare paint laying around. Colors I’ve mixed for special projects but didn’t use all of, etc. So I found a few that I mixed together to make a nice ‘whisper blue’. It’s a soft blue with a little grey and orange mixed into it so it isn’t so bright. I decided to only paint the faux drawers and the solid panels.

I left the spindles, trim, and top for my second color, which ended up being a creamy white. Something else I had hidden away in the garage. I painted this while I waited for the blue to dry. You can see I didn’t mask anything off. I prefer to cut in with my brush or move to a smaller artists brush if needed. I waited about an hour for everything to dry, then applied a second coat to both colors.

Tip: When mixing paint colors, add it’s compliment to lessen the brightness/saturation of a color. Start with a little at a time and mix fully. You can always add more. If you add too much too quickly you’ll end up with grey. Here are the compliments if you don’t know them Blue/Orange. Red/Green. Yellow/Purple.

Step 5: The Details

I looked long and hard for the right fabric for the speaker panels. I had something in mind but really couldn’t find it.  So, I compromised with an off white with dark grey bird and butterfly pattern that really fits in with my subtle bird theme (bird accents on my table and ceiling fixture).  Wanting to tie in some other colors in the room, I decided to paint a little color in to the pattern.  I don’t have fabric paint and I didn’t want to purchase any for the tiny amount I wanted to do here so I decided to try my Bianya markers.  I chose a soft pink for the butterfly and a teal blue that I just barely touched on the hydrangea.  They worked surprisingly well and because I’m probably not going to have to wash the fabric, It’s a great solution.


After painting, I used a spray adhesive on the speaker panels and wrapped the fabric around before popping back into place.

On the old handles, I used some Rub & Buff in Antique gold. This couldn’t have been easier.  I used a small artist brush and brushed it on all 3 handles, then buffed them lightly with a paper towel.  Super quick and simple with a great effect.

On a whim, I dabbed some of that same antique gold over the head and breast of my birds.  I love this effect on the fabric and it ties in so beautifully with the handles. Last step was to really let everything dry overnight. I didn’t want to run the risk of damaging any of the paint by not letting it cure completely.



So here’s the final result. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. The subtle pink of the butterfly ties into my magenta chair and the off white really brightens up the space. Now it’s time to paint those walls and really add some light!!