We hunted for a china cabinet for two years and yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds. It is an unfortunate truth that our china – a not particularly fine 1920s half-set purchased from a vintage shop in the Midwest for a song – sat in a box, untouched, since before we even moved into this house.
Not that it mattered greatly: we also had no dining table or chairs. Our dining room served as a workshop for small projects or a storage area of sorts for much of that time. Meanwhile, I scoured Craigslist every other week or so for a china cabinet that would work with the farmhouse dining table we had yet to build without making the room look like a farmhouse. This detail on its own knocked at least half of what Craigslist had to offer out of the running. The other half was knocked out by price, distance, or general ugliness as these things are wont to be.
Finally, many scrolls and far too many almosts later, I came across a 1920s piece whose curved lines and details kept it from being too farmhouse or modern. It was affordable, nearby, and its wood had already been sanded down to its natural state so that half the work – arguably the more tedious portion – was already done.
The only thing wrong with it was that its wood was in such pristine condition that I felt a little terrible knowing I was going to paint it. A natural wood just didn’t work with our dining table and navy walls – it’d have been too dark, too traditional. Still, it was tempting. Not tempting enough, but tempting.
Things you’ll need:
– sandpaper (1500 grit)
– white paint (Sherwin Williams Pure White)
– orange/peach paint (Sherwin Williams Sundried Terra)
– painter’s tape
– paint roller
Tips & Steps:
1. Even though our hutch was already sanded down, we went over it with a fine-grit sandpaper (1500) to smooth out the edges.
2. Wipe the entire thing down with a damp cloth – or several – until you can clearly see the wood under the dust.
3. Remove the glass if possible so you can maneuver inside the cabinet in order to get to the corners. It also makes it easier to clean the glass.
4. Tape off whichever section you want to paint second. We chose to do the inside first since there were a lot of nooks that it could’ve seeped outside (and it did).
5. Use a roller and brush for the inside if it’s as tight as ours.
6. Let it dry for two days before you put the glass back in and tape off the inside. You’ll still want to do the door’s edges in the outside color so use newspaper and tape to block off the space.
7. Pay particular attention to the type of wood – ours is mahogany – because darker woods will need a primer if you choose to paint the cabinet white. Even if your paint of choice has a primer in it, you’ll want a special primer that covers wood knots. If you skip it, it’s very likely your white paint will appear pink. Apply the primer with a brush and roller.
8. Use a paint sprayer on the outside of the cabinet. It’ll ensure a smooth coat – or several coats. (A post on paint sprayer usage will be coming shortly.)
9. Once the paint is dry, go over the entire piece with polycrylic. We used polycrylic because polyurethane and its ilk tends to leave a yellow tint to white paint. Many choose to use wax (and milk-paint, for that matter) because it is durable and leaves a smooth finish, but my impatience at re-applying wax in the future means it isn’t the best choice for our home.
The process of using two paint colors on a china cabinet considerably lengthens the timeframe from start to finish, but it’s worth it. Our china is finally out of its box and our cabinet now serves as the bright counterpoint to our dark walls and table that I expected it to be.
– M. Ray Hall