Refurbish a Vintage Bread Box

Refurbish a vintage bread box into a modern accent for any room in your home.

The Spruce / Jami Delia

If you pick up a bread box at a thrift store or garage sale that's seen better days or is just not your style, why not refurbish it?

Bread boxes can be used for more than just storing bread; you can use them to store bills, keys, and medications so they are out of sight in your kitchen, office, or any other living area.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Paint or foam brush (if using a jar or can paint)
  • Putty knife


  • Sandpaper and/or liquid sandpaper/deglosser
  • Primer (spray or jar/can)
  • Paint (spray or jar/can)
  • Wood putty
  • Drop cloth



Before you begin cleaning and refurbishing the bread box, set up your work area in a well-ventilated area, such as a patio, porch, or open garage. Lay down a drop cloth, such as an old sheet, plastic garbage bags, or a tarp. Don't use newspapers for this project since painted edges may stick to the paper and create a mess.

  1. Clean the Bread Box

    Before you begin refurbishing the bread box, take it apart and clean it thoroughly. To take the bread box apart, look for the screws that are holding it together. Ours has two screws on each side of the door and three holding each of the knobs in place (one per knob). If your bread box has a top drawer for storage, also remove it and set it aside.

    Be sure to thoroughly clean all pieces to remove any dirt, grime, and odors and wipe the inside and outside of the bread box with a gentle cleaning solution or damp cloth.

    If there is a musty smell or any other odor inside or on the box components, gently wipe the inside and outside with a solution of water and vinegar. Let all pieces of the bread box dry completely before you continue. This may take a few hours. If it is nice and sunny outside, set the pieces on a clean surface to dry.


    If the knobs or any other hardware on the bread box are made of metal and need cleaning, place the pieces in a bowl with a solution of vinegar and water to remove grime.

  2. Remove Decals (Optional)

    Our breadbox was covered in decals. If yours has a similar issue, here's how to remove them:

    1. Pour about a cap full of rubbing alcohol onto a cloth rag.
    2. Place the wet part of the rag on top of the decal for about 30 seconds.
    3. Rub the decal with both the dry and wet parts of the rag in a small circular motion until the decal starts to come off.
    4. Repeat until each decal is removed.

    Depending on the decal and how long it's been on the wood, it may take a couple of minutes to remove each one. Try to remove as much of the decal as possible. If some of the decal remains, that is okay. The remainder of the decal will come off when you sand the bread box and/or will be covered up with primer and paint.

    After you remove all of the decals, give the wood some time to dry. It may be a little soft from the alcohol.

  3. Repair Wood Damage

    If your bread box has any damage, such as a crack in the wood or a chunk missing from an end, apply wood putty/filler to the damaged areas with a putty knife.

    Let the wood putty/filler completely dry. This can take up to 24 hours, so plan accordingly.


  4. Sand the Bread Box

    Sand all wooden pieces of the bread box with high-grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface and remove any old shellac or gloss. This is an important step to help the primer and paint adhere to the wood.

    Use liquid sandpaper/deglosser to prep any difficult edges or grooves. For example, our bread box has many grooves on the door, as well as difficult-to-sand edges on knobs. We applied a liquid sandpaper/deglosser to these areas with a rag.

  5. Prime the Bread Box

    Apply multiple thin coats of primer to all pieces of the bread box before painting.

    If you're painting the bread box a light color, such as yellow, white, or tan, apply a white primer. If you're painting the bread box a dark color, such as brown, black, or navy, apply a gray primer.

    You can use either a spray or jar primer. The choice is yours. No matter which type of primer you use, apply the coats very thinly to prevent any runs. This will require time and patience.

    If using jar primer, use either a foam brush or a regular paintbrush to paint on the primer; you may need to use a small paintbrush if your bread box has a lot of detailed etching or grooves.

    If you notice any runs or the surface appears rough (usually happens when using spray paint) after the primer has dried, gently sand the area with very high-grit sandpaper. This will help smooth the surface before painting.

    After the entire bread box is primed and all pieces are completely dry (it no longer feels tacky or soft to the touch), it's time to paint.

  6. Paint the Bread Box

    Pick out the color and kind of paint you want to use to paint your bread box. Remember, if you're going to store uncovered bread in the bread box, be sure to use a non-toxic paint that is safe to use around food.

    Apply multiple thin coats of paint. Be sure to let each coat thoroughly dry before applying the next one to prevent running and longer dry times.

    After the entire bread box is painted and you no longer see the primer or the original wood, let it dry overnight. It's important to let the paint completely dry before putting the bread box back together because, if the paint is still tacky, the drawer and/or door may stick together and/or ruin the paint.


    If you live in a humid climate, you may want to bring the bread box indoors to dry overnight. Excess moisture or dew in the air can cause the paint to become sticky and take longer to dry.

    When all painted parts are dry, put the bread box back together.

    Cleaning bread box parts
    The Spruce / Jami Delia
    Remove decals
    The Spruce / Jami Delia
    Sanding the bread box
    The Spruce / Jami Delia
    Prime the Bread Box
    The Spruce / Jami Delia
    Paint the Bread Box
    The Spruce / Jami Delia