Wednesday, February 12, 2014

White Painted Vintage cabinet - Step by step transformation instructions

I adore this little carved cabinet and was so pleased that one of my most loyal and long term blog followers bought it and asked for a custom paint job. She saw it on facebook just after I bought it in it's original state and asked for it to be painted white with a timber top. It was exactly as I would have refinished it myself. Love it when that happens and I get to work with my vision for a piece.

It's an interesting piece and I think it was originally a gramophone cabinet as one side of the timber top lifted up. Someone had gutted the mechanics from it a while ago. The cupboard part also sits on the legs base - you can see in the photo below that it's askew but it sits neatly in. I thought what a great idea to use if transforming an old coffee table in future.

I decided to completely remove the timber top and replace it with a pine board that I bought for around $80 at Bunnings.  Removing the old top was achieved with difficulty as all the old screws had completely rusted in place and even the cordless drill was not removing them. I got the hinged side off easily but the other side I ended up hitting with a hammer from inside to loosed the screws. Sometimes brute force is what it takes.

 I had our local timber yard cut the pine board to size. I used to have a rip saw but they are so dangerous to use and the timber yard is 2 minutes from my house and charges about $1 per cut and are so accurate with dimensions so I sold the rip saw and just go there. Once I got the board home I sanded the top surface and edges with very fine sandpaper so it would adsorb the stain evenly. I then used a tack sloth to remove all the dust. 

I then gave it two coats of Wattyl Master satin in Walnut. I apply the stain with a clean rag rubbing the stain in the direction of the grain and making sure I cover the sawn edges evenly. I also stained the underneath so the lip that hangs over the cabinet was stained.  In the photo below the timber is stained and has one coat of wip on poly.

I then gave the top another coat of wipe on poly, sanding in between coats with fine sandpaper and then gave the top a coat of wax for a beautiful sheen.

To paint the cabinet I removed the handles first then primed two coats with a water based Zinsser. While ASCP does not need primer necessarily I wanted a full coverage on this piece and knew it would need several coats to achieve that. The piece is also mahogany and I thought it would well bleed but the bleeding was minimal. Two coats may as well be primer. Once the primer was dry I gave it three coats of ASCP Pure White then sanded to distress and bring out all those beautiful details.

To secure the new top back on the piece I was going to reconstruct timber batons and screw it back in place but it all got too difficult so I used Liquid Nails. Easy as pie and it's not going anywhere.

It was just lovely to meet Dee and Kevin and their son when they came to pick up the piece. Dee is very creative and just so nice and we've been in contact for years now so it was good to finally chat in person.  Here is the cabinet set up in her house.

Such a pretty shape and for such a great family  - this piece was an honour to work on.

Fiona xx


  1. Oh Fiona, that cabinet is as pretty as any piece of furniture could be! Thanks for much for all the info, the structure of it and how you make your decisions... I've been neglecting my painting lately due to other domestic duties; you've inspired me to get back into my shop and get going again!

    really like your spray of roses with the little leaf-cutter circles out of the leaves - it's like a snapshot of walking in my garden only WITHOUT the 8 feet of snow on top!

  2. Oh thanks so much Fiona for the lovely kind words but the honour is all mine to have a piece of your work means a lot to me.I love art and crafts and always try to find out who made what it is like the history of the piece and I love this cabinet history....cant wait for my next Lilyfield Life piece to grace my house-love dee x

  3. Wow! What a transformation! Beautiful, just beautiful!

  4. Stunning transformation, you have great vision with these old piece . Love your blog

  5. Gorgeous. I like the finish on the new top. I have a dining table I would like to poly and wax, I often use your recommendations for finishing products as am in Australia also. I used Porters on some kitchen cabinets recently, thanks to you, and found it a great product. Would you mind sharing what wipe on poly you use?
    Many thanks, Zo


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