Restored vintage cabinet

You can’t get a better bargain than totally free, right?

When our friend Linda told me that she had a vintage cabinet in her basement that she wanted to get rid of, of course, I wanted to hear more. Apparently, it was left by the former owner of her home and had been in the basement for many, many, many years. When I was finally able to get over there to take a look at her, I was smitten.

Look how pretty!

But clearly the poor dear was in need of some tlc.

What the heck happened here?

Talk about split ends…

I let her sit around in our garage for a while because I wasn’t quite sure where to put her – there were so many possibilities. My first inclination was to make a shabby chic bathroom vanity. I could fix the top, drop in a sink and almost leave her as is. But when we moved into our new house, there really wasn’t a good bathroom fit for her, so I decided she could set up shop in the living room.

A coat of creamy white paint, a little antiquing, and some pretty, textural cabinet pulls and she would be sitting pretty…

So here’s what we did:

First, a bit of sanding. Not a whole lot, because I just like to get to the fun stuff, like primer. (Wooo hooo! Primer!) I basically just sanded where ever paint was flaking off.

The top was is bad shape, and no amount of sanding would have solved the problem. (Well, maybe it would have, but who has that kind of time?) So we got a piece of plywood cut to size at Home Depot and covered that sucka right up.

Those helpers sure are good looking. It’s a lucky lady who gets to hang out with them every day!

There we go. Much better!

And now, on the primer. Actually, this time it was paint and primer all in one. I like Behr. Sometimes in projects like these (especially on dark wood or things with a wood stain), the underneath layer can bleed through. This has not happened to me with Behr paint + primer. Knock on wood (-en furniture).

I wanted this cabinet to be a creamy white. Guess what color they have. “Creamy White.” It was exactly right. Imagine that.

So with my trusty paint roller and handy-dandy brushes, I had the first coat done in 20 minutes. Just look at the transformation already. It is at this point when the creative juices really start flowing. You can totally see all that she could be.

Ooops. Looks like I forgot some spots. Or, I kept getting plumbers butt every time I bent down to paint a lower section. Wonderful #1 kept making fun of me. So I had to stop.

I decided to leave the inside of the cabinet as is. I had been thinking of covering the inside in a pretty wallpaper pattern, so I left that option open. Plus I liked the fun pop of color when you open it and see the blue doors.

After two coats were done and dry, I started the antiquing process. I Googled my ass off trying to find the best (and easiest) technique. Turns out, it’s not all that hard. You grab yourself some type of sanding implement, a wood stain, and cheese cloth, and you’re good to go. Watch this!

1. Use your sanding implement – sandpaper or sanding block – to sand edges or surfaces where you want the wood or previous color to come through the top coat. Sand those areas until you are happy with the look.

See all those areas where the blue is showing? That’s where I sanded.

More sanded areas. As you can see, on the door molding I sanded clear down to the original wood. Some of the tutorials I read advised using a candle to apply wax over areas where you want color to show through *before* you paint the piece. That way the paint does not adhere to those areas. As I did not read these tutorials before I painted, I skipped that step. Ahem. But I think the way I did it turned out just as I would have wanted anyway. So, no harm done.

After your have sanded the crap out of areas you want to be “antiqued,” you move on to the wood stain step. I was terrified of this step because it involves rubbing a dark stain color all over my pretty newly painted surface. Ack! But I had to trust the goddesses of craft blogging who do this all the time, much better than I, and Just Do It.

So I just did it.

2. Select a medium to dark stain color. I choose a Minwax shade called “Early American.” You’re going to basically “stain on, stain off” here, in a fairly swift manner. I don’t have pictures of this step, but all you do is take a bit of stain on your cheesecloth (wear rubber gloves!), and with one hand, rub it on an area that you’d like to look aged. With your other hand, rub it off. That’s it!

I was shocked and delighted at how easy it was to achieve the look I wanted. I did it over the entire piece and it gave it a perfect “mellowed by age” look. I love, love, love it.

Close up of “tea staining.” No actual tea was harmed in the taking of this picture.

Now that the piece was pretty, she needed the adornment of some fabulous knobs on the doors. I had purchase some pretty oil-rubbed bronze looking ones at Lowes, but they just weren’t good enough for her. I wanted more texture and something a bit different, so I decided to play with wrapping the knobs in twine. And except for the multiple hot glue gun burns I received in the process, I’m so glad I tried this.

Here is the basic equation:

Twine + knob

+ hot glue gun (- giant ice coffee)

Wrap n Roll.

x (wrapping and gluing)

Glue as you go. Be careful! That stuff is hot. For reals.

Snip off the end to size and glue it down in the center.

= nice knobs (that’s what he said).

Knobby goodness.

All told, this makeover took about two days, cost about $50 dollars, and inflicted minimal glue gun burns. And the results look like a million bucks! (Or at least $500, no?)

Dontcha just love her?

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