craigslist counter

by | Feb 13, 2017 | All Things Home, Antiques, Favorite Finds | 153 comments

Over my years of buying and selling furniture, I have learned to trust my instincts on pieces.  If I’m all a-flutter when I see something, I know I should jump at it.  If it elicits that response in me, it probably will in others, too.

Such was the case with this antique hardware counter I spotted one night as I was browsing craigslist…

It’s 7′ long and I knew it would be a beast, but I couldn’t shake it out of my head, so I e-mailed the seller and asked my dad if we could go pick it up in his truck.

The piece is an antique counter out of an old hardware store in Resisterstown, MD.  The seller knew the owner of the store and offered to take the counter to sell when they were considering throwing it out!  So, it ended up on craigslist and then it ended up with me.

It does have a few cosmetic issues.  It’s missing a proper top and the left side as well.  That side must’ve been against a wall or something, because it just has three boards nailed on the side.

I’m guessing the top had either another cabinet set on it or perhaps some kind of divider?

Anyway, the drawers are all in amazing shape and are on rollers, so they slide in and out well.  They also have great dividers in them of differing sizes…

Now, if it had a left side, I would leave it alone, but since we have to build and install a new side, I am going to paint it.  Yeah, I know.  I’ve thought and thought through this one.  One thing I might try first is stripping one drawer front to see how the oak looks.  Then, I would just paint the body of the piece and leave the drawers wood.

But then, I have to think through the top.  I would absolutely love a piece of white marble and that might be the route I go, but a piece of butcher block from Ikea would be much more economical.  And then the butcher block wouldn’t work with the stripped oak drawer.  And the wood drawers, painted body, and all of that hardware might just be too much going on.

Hmmm…  so, I need to make a decision.

Just to start, we removed all of the hardware and I’ll mull it over a bit more…

What would you do if this were your piece?


  1. Sandi Smith

    I love this piece! I could see a marble top, keep the drawers the dark wood and paint the outsides of the cabinet a dark charcoal gray.

  2. Joan

    HI Marian!
    I have a sideboard chest/lots of hardware, in whitewashed wood finish…the top of mine is also white washed wood, metal trim all around….and dark hardware!
    WOW, you definitely found a very gorgeous piece! and since you asked what we would do !…
    I would definitely keep it in the ‘white’ family like mine, with all the hardware back on! In my opinion never too much hardware!!!!! All that beautiful contrast and metal with your milk paint !!!!!…I know it will be beautiful no matter what you do,… here’s a photo of what I thought would be pretty…if you want to see mine,
    and see what I mean… <3 All the Best ! ! ! <3 Happy Valentine's Day Hugggs !

  3. Kathy

    Marian, You have SOOOOO much interest on this piece that I wonder if you might test reselling it either “as is,” customer ordered paint finish, or your own to one of the many who are interested? I mean, you could save hauling such a big piece to Luckett’s (to someone who is willing to pick it up) and maybe make more $ by doing it that way. If it didn’t sell, you have plenty of time before Luckett’s. Something to think about?

  4. Tomasina

    My vote is to not paint. For the top I see green slate. Find a free pool table on the craiger’s and voila instant charm. The drawer handles are they copper?

  5. Vicki

    Don’t paint it! I am ok with the top,since you want my opinion. But if you must replace a zinc top that has been given patina is a smashing look. The sides..well ok then paint the side only! You will change the “Story’ of this amazing find! Frankly the best result is sell it to me and then you won’t have to deal with it!

  6. Gma

    I wouldn’t paint it and I’d use soapstone. Marble is heavy you might have to reinforce under your house with all the weight. If your keeping all you have to do is keep it pushed into the left corner of the room. No one will, well everyone will know now after you told us all.

  7. Tammy

    This piece is too gorgeous to paint. I would clean it up, figure out a way to fix the side with some antique wood. Then, I would add a metal top this this piece to add to its rustic charm. This piece is a crafter’s dream for a craftroom.

    You could even get oak planks to do both ends of this piece to match up.

    Metal verses marble for the top would be cost effecient and beautiful.

  8. Kimberly

    Well, I’m with the DO NOT PAINT IT! camp LOL! I’m also with don’t remove the patina camp, too (if there is one, I didn’t read all the responses). I don’t know how you’d go about cleaning it without removing the patina, but I’d find a way. I’d make a new side for it, and even if it took me many tries, I’d attempt to match the stain as closely as possible and just *leave it be*. As for the top, yeah, I’d do marble, or soapstone, possibly zinc if stone ended up being too costly.

    Interested to see how this one turns out, but definitely have the patience to wait if it means you will give restoration of this beauty a try!

  9. Leah

    Please don’t paint it!! It originally had a display case on top with glass sliding doors. This can be brought back and I think you are on the right track with a stone top. As far as the unfinished wnd goes it is too hard to match that patina. So instead crate a utilitarian wnd for it. Get some metal antique/vintage wall mount magazine or file holders that will compliment the hardware. Cover up that wnd with them and you are set! No paint!

  10. Lisa

    Top: real Blackboard Slate.
    Missing End: stained to match the rest after you’ve cleaned it up to your satisfaction.
    You are allowed to have a statement piece that doesn’t state “MMS Paints”.

  11. Lisa

    I would paint it. I agree it would be far more likely to sell. What about a wrapped stainless, zinc, or copper top? Would make a fantastic kitchen island.

  12. m

    Please don’t paint it. I don’t think you will have a problem selling it with original patina. You can match the side with stain and even if it isn’t 100% perfect, I’m sure the new owner will love it for its imperfections.

  13. Shilah

    Don’t paint it!!!!! A talented wood worker could make a left side for you and it would look original. If we lived nearby each other, my brilliant cabinet maker husband could do the job, but , alas, we are several states away.

  14. Judy

    Wow …what a great piece…what about having a metal counter…for an industrial spin?

  15. Debbie

    I would PAINT it. An awesome piece and would be beautiful painted. Hard surface seems cold to me for such a warm looking jewel! I would put wood on top and paint it too. Just the basics and put the gorgeous hardware back on it!! ❤❤❤

  16. Patti McCarthy

    PLEASE don’t paint it! I usually am all for it, but this piece just says NO! I would also do a zinc top or a few slats of painted wood (like you’d see on a painters work table) to give it some character. I think marble would look nice, but too new and shiny for this. Just my opinion. Above all, don’t paint it pretty please! And keep us updated!

  17. Caro

    This is fun to see – I have a very similar piece in my basement, complete with a damaged side where it was ripped from wherever it was installed. It was here when we moved in, so I have no idea where it came from but I’m pretty sure it had some kind of commercial use.

    I’ll be interested to see how yours turns out.

  18. Terry

    What an amazing find, I’d leave the piece as is……a piece of antiquity. I love the idea is soapstone on top…..keep it simple. It will make a real statement in any room!

  19. Pamela

    WOW! So many comments how will you get thru them all!? If it were mine, I would try a waterfall effect encasing the sides and top in the same material, something light because I like high contrast. I’d only clean up and possibly sand the existing front. It would be modern/industrial/antique. But truth be told I’d have to HIRE someone to do all that because I don’t do furniture anymore. Too old. ? that is one FIIIIINE piece of furniture!

  20. Ruth

    MMSMP is perfect for painting a “faux marble” top. I’ve done it many times and people are amazed that it is not real marble. I’m working on a how to video for that!

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, I was thinking about that! Your faux marble pieces are amazing. Let me know when that tutorial is live. 🙂

  21. Jackie

    I absolutely would not paint such a stunning piece of cabinetry. Clean it up and oil it and add a soapstone counter which would lend itself to the style of the cabinet. I t is just beautiful!!

  22. Charry beck

    I would not paint the wood and I would use homed Carrara marble on the top. If you get a piece of pre fab marble it would be about 300.00 here in California.
    The more it gets used the better it looks.

  23. Junitta Shockley

    Oh please don’the paint! It is gorgeous! I don’t usually comment either but this is absolutely perfect!!!
    I trust as creative as you are you will come up with something for that one side…
    And marble will be perfect ! 🙂

  24. Sojourner

    I love painted furniture, but I love this piece as is. Since you already have buyers for it,
    it seems a no-brainer not to lug it to Luckett’s! I don’t think an imperfectly matched side
    would be a problem for an old piece like this. A stone top makes sense if you keep it for
    yourself. For selling it, a metal top, or a wooden one, which could be stained and oiled,
    or painted black and sealed. They sell copper veneer in rolls which others have used to
    cover table tops.

  25. Carolee

    My first comment on this blog. Bring out its’ full potential, marble top and all. This piece is crying out to be the star of the show! I live in Iowa and would drive to Pennsylvania to purchase this when finished.

  26. Maggie

    I think it would be a crime to paint that! I imagine you’ll find that the drawers and hardware will be beautiful when they’re cleaned up.
    I would first clean or strip it and then think about top material. Zinc, marble, soapstone would all be fine! You may even fine some more oak you could use to replace the top.

  27. maureen

    I read about half of the comments and did not see that anyone suggested doing a faux marble. I am have attached a link to my faux granite that I painted on my formica counter in the pantry. ) I do not have a blog-although I spent 2 days on this project to enter it in a contest…I am totally tech challenged) It would be a very economical solution to the top for this cabinet, and unless you touch it, you cannot tell that it is not the real thing. Looking forward to seeing your finished piece.

  28. Karen

    What a find! If it weren’t missing the left side I would suggest leaving it wood and putting on either a zinc or marble top. However, the new wood on the left side would be very difficult to match the worn and weathered wood of the rest of it. I would either paint it a light gray or white wash it. The butcher block top from Ikea is an economical choice and would look good on a painted piece. Whatever you decide I am confident it will be lovely!

  29. Colleen

    I have a piece very similar. It has dividers in the drawers just like yours. The gal that owned it before me had a wonderful shop and she used it for display. She had a top built for it that spans the length of it and has 2 shelves. It’s a really great piece.

  30. Frieda Steenkamp

    This piece is STUNNING! I would add a piece of wood to the top, to both sides and the bottom to this piece – one piece per side. Then ONLY paint those pieces that I add on. I would leave the original piece as it currently is, it would stand out in the centre of all the add on pieces that is painted. To finish it off I would add castor wheels on it. This will make this piece a centre piece stood out and it will be a showcase! If I lived in the USA I would have bought this piece from you. ENJOY the journey.

  31. Cassie

    I forgot it has to be painted, I think a dark color would be beautiful. Curio or a navy maybe?

  32. Cassie

    *If it has to be*… I didn’t forget lol.

  33. Libby

    It looks like an old printing storage cabinet. I noticed the stain on some drawers is darker which is telling for printing. The ink has set and probably won’t lighten even with cleaning. It might look interesting painted a soft distressed gray with the black iron pulls. White marble would be gorgeous depending on where it is used. Great piece in a large room. Painting it makes repair of side simpler.

  34. Denise

    Hi Marian! I adore this cabinet so much. What a find!! To add my two cents to the many comments already left here, I would say, how about sanding it and bleaching the wood? The lines are pretty simple- so I think it would be a fairly easy process. I did it to a sofa table, and loved the results. I agree with some earlier comments that a metal top would look amazing on this. Your comments won’t let me leave the link to my project, but you can search it on my site as Farmhouse bleached wood sofa table.
    Sort of like the French white oak trend 🙂 Good luck- can’t wait to see the finished piece!

  35. Angie Zubrin

    If it were mine I’d hire you to paint it….. Whatever you do turns out incredibly beautiful.


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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