Antique Cabinet–A Roadside Rescue

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To really appreciate this before and after, you have to understand just how bad the before was.

roadside cabinet before

My stepdad rescued this antique kitchen cabinet from the side of the road more than six years ago.  It was in really sad shape but underneath the muck and grime, was an awesome antique. My parents kept it for several years but never had the time to fix it up so they passed it on to me.  And then it sat in my basement…and sat…and sat – for three more years.

I decided it was finally time to tackle this beast. This guy had the original hardware, great glass doors, and gorgeous proportions.  But it also had layers and layers of old peeling paint, broken molding, random nails sticking out, and a rotten back.  Not to mention, it must have been in a corner, because one side had never been painted.

old cabinet before collage

This piece was a huge pain to work on.  I removed all the chipping loose paint, sanded everything down, removed the broken moldings and other unnecessary parts, stripped out the ugly shelf paper, and replaced the entire back. And all of that was before I could even begin painting – torture!

But then it was finally time for the fun part.  I knew from the beginning this piece was not going to be a sleek and smooth painted piece. There was no way I was going to be able to strip all the many layers of old paint. Even after all that preparation, this cabinet was still showing its age so I decided to embrace that.

I primed the entire piece with Zinsser oil-based primer.  Then I chose a few bright colors of paint I had on hand and painted various areas of the cabinet, focusing on the edges and rough spots.

old cabinet progress

At this point, it looked a little bit crazytown. But then I followed up with two coats of homemade chalk paint in white.

And finally, I sanded the entire thing, focusing on the edges and rough areas to reveal hints of the color underneath.

white cabinet closed

old cabinet close up

white cabinet open

I tried to really emphasize and celebrate the age of this piece rather than trying to make it look new.  It turned out much more primitive than my usual style, but I think in this case it was the perfect choice.

old cabinet hardware

This was my first experience with homemade chalk paint. I liked the results but I need to experiment some more before I reach any real conclusions. I’m especially interested to see how it works on an unprimed piece.

So what do you think?  Are you a fan of primitives or are you more into a fresh, smooth finish?  Anyone else out there have a furniture project that just felt like torture?

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  1. says

    Wow! I can’t believe how it turned out. When I first saw those colors of paint, I was horrified. Then I couldn’t believe your finished product. It looks great. I like the primitive look.

  2. says

    What a great piece. I sometimes pass on things that look like too much work. Now I will double think on that! I linked to you in my post today. I am still crazy over those floors!
    Thanks for all the inspiration, Pam

  3. says

    What a gorgeous piece. Just found your blog through a Pinterest entry on your floors (which were totally incredibly awesome), and I’m thrilled. You have a wonderful site, full of inspiration and beauty. So glad I followed you. You’re now on my favorites! Thanks for sharing!

  4. says

    Hi Carrie, I’m popping over from Vintage Revivals where you were listed as someone’s favorite blog. I can see why. You have some great projects & your blog is very well organized. I enjoyed my visit. Nice to “meet” you!

    Warmly, Michelle

  5. says

    Hi Carrie, I’m popping over from Vintage Revivals where you were listed as someone’s favorite blog. I can see why. You have some great projects & your blog is very well organized. I enjoyed my visit. Nice to “meet” you!

    Warmly, Michelle

  6. says

    You did a great job and I have to commend you on your determination and hard work!Now I am going to search your blog to see your version of homemade chalk paint. Thanks for sharing your hard work!


  7. says

    That is a gorgeous piece of furniture and I love the way you refinished it. I hope you love it! I have used homemade chalk paint a few times now and I love it.
    Hugs, Cindy

  8. says

    What a neat cabinet! Definitely worthy of all of your efforts and hard work! Nicely done! So glad this piece was rescued and restored! I shudder to think of what would have happened if your dad hadn’t picked it up! I have a vanity awaiting a makeover that I think may become one of those torture pieces….eeek! It may take me a little longer to get to it (procrastination!) but like your piece, it deserves the efforts and I will make the time! Thanks for sharing!
    Best Wishes and Blessings,

  9. Anonymous says

    i have something similar- but paid dearly for it-
    it like yours had been built in so had an unpainted side and was missing trim-
    evidently when built in was right against the wall and had no back- the enterprising person who pulled it away from the wall used an old store sign to make a back- schott lumber i believe-

    john in nc

  10. Anonymous says

    I am looking for exactly something like this! If only I would find it “lost” on the side of the road :) I would gladly spend hours making it look just right. I have a breakfast nook that I am in the process of fixing up and I have a notch that needs filled and “stuff” that needs a home…

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