Antiquity Made New

Some of you might have seen a piece of yellow furniture sticking out behind our newly adopted dining table.

Gus helps set-up the table.

Gus helps set-up the table.

“What is it,” you ask?  It’s THIS beauty!

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“No, seriously, Laura… What is that?”  Well, for starters, it used to be a worn-down Vintage Record Cabinet, seen in this old post:


After falling in love with this baby on craigslist back in May, I snagged it for $20 and stashed it in the sun room, where it sat collecting dust for close to a month.  When Mike went on his boys-only fishing trip to Canada, I jumped at the opportunity to revamp this ugly duckling into the yellow swan you spotted above.

Since I knew that the rehab would create dust and there’d be a ton of paint fumes, I kept everything contained in the sun room, and made the dogs hang out alone in the house, much to their chagrin.  In order to “protect” the AstroTurf flooring, which I hate but the landlords apparently love, I laid down a cardboard box.

The first step was what I called “de-roughing.”  (Note from Laura: at this point, I wasn’t affected by any paint fumes, so I was clearly just being weird and making up words all on my own.)  Basically, the sides and the top were a little too rough for my liking.  The finish had been worn away, there was some pitting, some kind of strange hole carved into the top, and there were various nails sticking out in places where they needn’t be.  I knew that all of these would make for less-than-ideal painting conditions, so they needed to be addressed ASAP.  I filled the tiny pit in with a tiny bit of caulk and actually used an old fork to remove the nails (they were too small to extract with the hammer, and I couldn’t find the rest of Mike’s tools).

Starting with medium grain sandpaper and working up to fine, I used lots of elbow grease anywhere it felt like it needed it.  The way that I judged this was incredibly unscientific, but highly effective… I merely ran my fingers over every surface, nook, and cranny, and sanded any bits that stuck out or felt rough.  This resulted in a mottled look that was actually smooth to the touch (see the first picture above).  I finished the sanding up by lightly rubbing the fine sandpaper over the whole shebang, since I wanted the primer to have something to stick to.  There was so much brown dust from the sanding, so I used some eco-friendly cleaner and an old sock to wipe up the furniture.

Next, I removed the one door knob (the second knob had fallen off and gotten lost at some point),  unscrewed only the hinges from the main cabinet (leaving them still on the doors), and laid the doors down on a separate hunk of cardboard.

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Confession #1: I had planned to do the same sanding job on these, since you can see in the above photo that the wood stain had a slight sheen to it.  But I completely forgot.  Oops.  

Confession #2: At this point, I still wasn’t 100% sure which color I was going to paint everything.  I already have quite a stock of different colors, so I lined them all up and narrowed it down to two: a mustard-y yellow, and a dark teal.  And then (duh!) it hit me: both of them!  But before I could create my two-toned masterpiece, I needed to prime the area.

I hate the added task of priming… but I love how it makes the paint look so much more polished.  The good thing about primer application is that you can slap it on easily without much effort, and it dries relatively quickly.  I applied two thin and even coats of primer with my short-handled brush, leaving only about 20 minutes of dry time in between.  Everything looked a little crazy after the first coat…

…but after the second coat, we were good to go!

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As soon as the second coat was safe to touch, I began applying the color.  I wanted the entire outside (including the doors) to be mustard, while the inside would be dark teal.  Having a dark color on the inside allowed for some degree of forgiveness, since it’s more difficult to detect any painting imperfections, smudges, or drips.  However, the outside needed to be perfect.  And that’s exactly the thought I had as I looked around and couldn’t find any roller covers.  Crap.

I could have gone to the store, but I knew that would waste a half hour of valuable painting time, and I wanted to get one coat done before I headed off to work.  So I decided to just be very very careful in my application.

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As you can see from the above photo, the brush does leave visible strokes, which I ended up LOVING.  I thought they added a nice antique-y touch of character to the already vintage frame.  And not grabbing a roller cover saved me time and money.  Score!

At this point, I headed off to work, leaving my first coat to dry.

When I returned several hours later, everything was dry and ready for the second coat.  I applied the yellow paint using the same slow, meticulous strokes with my short-handled brush.  After two coats, the outside was completely done.  Perfect looking!  But the inside teal was uneven, and the primer still shone through in spots.  So I added a third coat, which did the trick!

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I used the exact same method on the doors, although they took a little longer.  The process involved two coats of primer and two coats of yellow paint on each side.  Eight coats total.  I decided to paint the hinges as well to make them a little less visible.  And what about the lack of door sanding?  Were the doors ruined because I forgot to sand them down?  Nope.  In fact, they look perfect.  No different from the main cabinet.  In retrospect, I probably could have gotten away with only sanding the rough parts.  For your own projects, just use your best judgment.

I let all components air out in the sun room overnight before I screwed on two silver knobs I had left over from the bathroom, put the doors back in place and moved the cabinet inside.  For the moment, it only has one $14.99 wire terrarium on top, which holds three little plants.  I purchased the terrarium at a store in Fairlawn, OH called Tuesday Morning.

I love staring at the cabinet so much that I still haven’t figured out what should go inside.  It is just the most wonderful little piece of furniture I have ever owned, even though it doesn’t technically have a function at the moment.  Whether opened or closed, it adds such a fun pop of color to the dining room, and makes me happy every time I see it.  At some point, I might want to add a shiny varnish on the outside to protect it from scratches and water spots, but for now it is absolutely incredible just the way it is!  This little lady is incredibly happy with the results.


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