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So, a while back, I spotted this cabinet in a little seaside shop.


I was drawn to the casual washed look of the piece and those gorgeous French window fittings. However, the price tag was several thousand dollars, and that wasn’t so appealing. Wasn’t in the budget, either.

But there was a wall in the dining room that really begged for a buffet or other type of furniture that would hold the extra dishes and serving pieces that were still living in boxes in the garage. Nothing looked as if it would work until this piece came along. But, even when it eventually went on sale, the price was prohibitive. I’m not saying it wasn’t worth it, but I’m never fond of paying retail unless I absolutely have to. And, in this case, I had a secret weapon.

I have a uber talented home renovator in my pocket who saw the cabinet and decided that she might take a stab at making one. Just for kicks. So, armed with a copy of the above photo taped to the garage wall, she went to work.

The project started with the bottom piece. It’s a two-piece piece, if you will. A lower cabinet (pictured below) and a top with glass doors.

Cabinet 1 001

The original cabinet is pretty large, but the dimensions, with just a little adjustment, would fit perfectly on the bare wall. The DIY cabinet measures 6 feet wide and just under 8 feet high. It had to be a specific height because there was a large framed piece of art on the wall that was going to live above the cabinet.

Cabinet 1 002

Cabinet 1 003

Cabinet 1 006

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By the way, using a little flat dolly, makes it easy to move the heavy piece around.

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It’s starting to look like a cabinet.

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Getting the finish just right:

A few reasons that the original cabinet caught my eye was the white washed, distressed finish and the antique hardware. Getting the finish right took a little effort. Distressing it wasn’t a big deal, just some careful whacking and well-placed sanding did the job.

But perfecting the color took a couple of tries. It required a dark base that would then be covered with white so that when the white layer was rubbed, the base would peek through, providing a weathered look.

What ended up working beautifully as the base was a brown satin wall paint.

 Cab Brown paint

And to get the weathered finish, flat white paint was mixed with a little Patch-N-Paint light spackle.

cabinet 3 004

Dexter’s pointing it out for you.

cabinet 3 017

The spackle adds a little texture to the paint.

cabinet 3 014

And when you rub the dried paint with steel wool, you’ll get some nice gray streaks left behind from the steel wool as well as the base paint.

cabinet 3 011

The cabinet comes together:

Here’s the frame for the top piece.

cab frame

And the two pieces meeting.

cab k cell

The top gets wrapped with some crown molding, and the tall doors are installed.

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The doors are 4 feet, 9 inches tall, and glass was ordered to fit. The metal brackets keep the corners square.

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One of the many characteristics that caught my eye on the original cabinet was the lamp on the top shelf. The top shelf on the DIY cabinet allowed for a pair of lamps as tall as two feet.

cabinet lamp 001

The shades were sort of a gold color, which wasn’t the look I was going for, so they got sprayed with black paint.

The most difficult part of this project was trying to find the French window fittings. And I didn’t want to spend more on the hardware than what the cabinet would cost. Below you’ll see a shot of the original cabinet with its  amazing French-style sliding hardware.

Cottage Cabinet

OK, we have to depart from the original, where the hardware is concerned, but I’m not unhappy. However, the cabinet remained bare for a month or so.

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Eventually, after searching antique shops in Atlanta and Southern California, the perfect hardware was found. Hallelujah.

en papillote & CAB 006

en papillote & CAB 012

en papillote & CAB 011

They’re made of heavy cast iron and have a nice vintage look. What do you think? Wait until you hear how much or little they cost.

en papillote & CAB 018

Here’s a closer view of the knobs. They’re about 11 inches long and 3 inches at the widest point.

en papillote & CAB 001

And now for the best part. Those knobs cost $4 each. Originally they sell for a whopping $7.99 a piece, but when I saw them, they were on sale for 50 percent off. I found them at Hobby Lobby. Really, I did. I love a deal.

And this gorgeous cabinet ended up costing only several hundred dollars in materials, making it a spectacular deal, indeed.

Here’s a side-by-side view of the original (right) and the DIY (left) before the hardware was found.


And another.

ChezSabine Nov2 017CABINET orig

I’m not suggesting that you run out and make a cabinet, although if you’re so inclined, please do. And, if you’re not, I know someone who can make it for you.

But you can still make some obvious changes to an existing piece with just a few tips from this project.

* Strip and refinish a piece. Painted furniture is in, so live dangerously and go for your favorite color if white is too tame for you.

* Update any piece of furniture by changing out the hardware. This is a quick and easy fix.

* This is my favorite to add a nice punch to a stale china cabinet or bookcase: drill a hole into the shelf as well as one on the back so that you can thread the cord and plug to an outlet. Make sure you have an outlet available first.