There are times when I’m out shopping for antiques and I see a piece and just know.
I know the price has been marked down because it’s stinky and dirty and a drab color and it’s going to be a lot of work to overhaul. I know that I can work a little magic on it and make it an awesome piece. I just know.
And, when I spotted two of these almost identical hardware cabinets, I knew.
They were both marked down dramatically, because of the reasons I mentioned above. They stunk. They really needed to be cleaned and painted. And it was going to be a royal pain in the rear to paint all of those cubbies. BUT, I just couldn’t pass them up. Everyone is looking for pieces with cubbies these days and these had loads of potential.
And loads of cubbies.
I had a few moments of doubt as I worked on the first one, but I pushed through and I feel like it’s one of my most dramatic makeovers.
Can you believe that’s even the same cabinet?!
I started off by removing the clear plastic rubber that was stapled in the doors. I was originally calling it plexiglass, but I realized that was disrespectful to plexiglass as I was pealing it off of the frames.
They were greasy, sticky and my hands were black after pulling them off…trying all the while to touch them as little as possible. Fortunately, they came off easily and I never, ever have to touch them again. They’re folded up in a box at the bottom of a dumpster. Right where they belong.
I then had to peal off all of the paper labels and remove the staples holding them, followed by a good vacuum of the entire piece.
Then, it was time to paint. OD green and battleship gray are not exactly my colors!
I chose to keep the interior gray, because I was only going to paint all of those cubbies once. A color that would require two coats was not even an option. I mixed equal parts MMS Milk Paint Shutter Gray and Trophy and painted all FIVE SIDES of each cubby.
I had paint up to my elbows from that fun endeavor.
Since I didn’t mind painting more than one coat on the exterior, I decided to use Farmhouse White. This piece is a big one and white will take away some of the visual weight.
I made an un-Marian-like decision and painted everything…the hardware included. I felt like the aluminum tags and the brass hardware would stick out too much against the white. Also, the green paint was slopped over them, so I felt like I could justify it.
Here’s the ugly stage. We’ve talked about this stage a lot. It’s when I usually second-guess myself and think I should just put the piece on the curb and never mention it again.
It does look like a bit of a disaster at this point, but the second coat was nice and opaque.
I applied heat with a heat gun to the paint as it dried to cause some crazing. This piece really needed that kind of texture.
And I distressed the edges and hardware to add a sense of age and use. For this particular piece, I used a piece of 100 grit paper that’s soft from lots of use, so it pulls some paint off, but isn’t too “scratchy”. I use a flicking motion across the edges, so it pulls the paint off in chips. I have found this technique creates a more authentic look than just rubbing sand paper up and down the edge.
I knocked the paint off of the edges of the aluminum tags, too, until I liked the look of them.
There wasn’t room in the doors for real glass and that might have been a bit of a hazard, anyway, since the cabinet is slanted, so I opted for chicken wire. I found a roll in our basement from an old HGTV project, so it was convenient as well.
I cut it to size and stapled it to the inside of each door using my pneumatic upholstery staple gun and 3/8″ staples.
I didn’t use bonding agent and I didn’t sand prior to painting, but I wasn’t expecting a lot of chipping. I did get just a little, which I really liked.
The paint is raw, unfinished, at this point, but I may wipe some hemp oil over it just to add a more little protection.
I also added 2″ steel casters to the base of the cabinet. It makes it much easier to move around and I like how it lifts the piece off the ground a bit, making it visually lighter than it is.
This cabinet was so much fun to style and photograph…
It would obviously be an amazing shop display, but it has lots of potential for use in a home as well. Kriste and I thought it would make a great pantry for canned goods, a storage/display piece in a dining or living room, or it would be fantastic in a mudroom for shoes. A pair can be perfectly nested in each cubby.
It was a beast, but it was definitely worth it.
And the part of me that knew told the other part of me that she was right.
Now I have to finish the hardware cabinet’s slightly larger, non-identical twin…
…and this sweet hutch I picked up off craigslist…
Of course, it’s an unfortunate shade of brown at the present, but it has come to the right place…