, , , , , , , , , ,

OXYMORON, you say?  No way!  Antiqued furniture, when finished with fresh colors and contemporary hardware, can be pretty chic.  And I’m not just talking about the shabby variety.  I want to tell you about some sleek antiquing that I recently did as part of the renovation of my in-laws’ basement.  As I mentioned here, our color palette was inspired by this rug we found at HomeGoods.  We are also incorporating Moorish details, using wrought iron and other materials, to give the space a Moroccan flair. 

This renovation was facilitated by a broken water heater that saturated the carpet in the already finished basement.  Since the carpet needed to be removed, my mother-in-law decided that it was the perfect time to do a top to bottom transformation of the basement.  A key element for the space will be a bar, the storage for which will be built into these cabinets pictured below.  Although replacing the cabinets was the original plan, I suggested giving them a facelift instead since they are in good condition.

The cabinets were installed when the basement was originally finished in the early 90s.

Based on some of the other elements we have going on up in here (or, I guess, down in there), I thought that a black and teal distressed finish on the cabinet doors would add an interesting detail to the space.  We chose Lincoln Cottage Black by Valspar, which is a charcoal-like soft black, for the base and Caribbean Holiday by Olympic, a sophisticated teal with beautiful depth, to serve as the accent color.  The process was pretty simple.  Here’s what I used:

  • Hand sander (like this one from Home Depot)
  • Steel wire brush
  • Screwdriver (for removing and installing hardware)
  • 60 grit sandpaper for hand sander
  • 60 grit rubber sanding block
  • 1 quart of Lincoln Cottage Black paint in eggshell finish
  • 1 quart of Caribbean Holiday paint in semi-gloss finish
  • Howard Feed-N-Wax wood preserver (from Home Depot)
  • fine steel wool
  • wiping cloths for applying paint and wax
  • new hardware

This project had four main phases, which I’ll explain in detail below.

QUICK TIP:  My true first step whenever I tackle a project like this is to remove the doors and drawers from the cabinet base and take off all the hardware and hinges.  I carefully bundle together each hinge and its corresponding screws with a piece of blue painter’s tape so I don’t lose anything during the course of the project.  Once everything is bundled up I put it all in a plastic freezer bag so it’s all in one place.

STEP ONE: Sanding  After cleaning the cabinet and drawer fronts with soapy water, I used my hand sander with 60 grit sandpaper to take the shiny finish off the wood.  As I mentioned here, it is really important to sand a piece in order to get the paint to stick to it.  Then I took my steel wire brush and combed it across the surface of each piece to open up the wood grain.  When doing this step, which is optional but really helps the wood to absorb the paint, make sure you brush with the wood grain.

STEP TWO:  Base Coat I applied the black paint using one of my wiping cloths.  Since I wanted the finish to look antiqued/weathered/distressed/aged or whatever else you want to call it, I opted to use the cloth to apply the paint because it allows you to get the paint down into the wood grain.  Using a paintbrush for the base coat will work, but I like the control the wiping cloth gives for a project like this.  I dipped the cloth into the paint can and then rubbed the paint over the surface of each cabinet.  This will give you interesting streaks, which can be more or less pronounced depending on how much paint you use.  As you can see in picture 2 above, I applied the black paint so that the wood was still showing through in certain spots.

STEP THREE: Top Coat  After the black paint dried completely, I repeated Step Two using the teal paint.  This time, however, I only let each cabinet dry for a minute or so before going back over the teal paint with my fine steel wool as if I were vigorously sanding the piece.  You really need to use some elbow grease on this step, which will remove a majority of the paint.  In picture 3 above, the left side is how the teal paint looked as soon as it was applied.  The left side of picture 4 is how the teal paint looked after I took the steel wool to it.  As you can see, rubbing the steel wool over the still-wet paint gives the piece a lime wash style finish.

STEP FOUR: Distressing and Waxing  After the teal paint dried I used my rubber sanding block to distress the raised edges of the cabinets and drawers.  This adds dimension to each piece and gives the project a true weathered look.  Sand as much as you like to achieve your desired effect.  If you want to add some more age to your project, a method that a lot of people use is beating their piece with a metal chain to dent and distress it.  I prefer not to go all Christian Grey on my projects and instead use the PG-13 version that only uses sanding.  Once I was happy with how distressed each piece looked, I applied a quick coat of Howard Feed-N-Wax using the instructions on the back of the bottle.  As you can see in picture 4 above, this brings out the depth of the wood grain and gives the finish a little shine.

Here’s the Before & After.  How’d I do?

While my cabinet and drawer faces were drying I painted the facade of the cabinet base with the black paint.  I decided to skip the antiquing process on this part of the cabinet so that the doors and drawers would pop against the solid back background.  Also, rather than buying new hinges, I spray painted the original hinges with semi-gloss black Rustoleum spray paint.  I think it’s a pain to pick out new hinges so I always try to make use of the original ones.  In this case I had to spray paint them because they were brass and wouldn’t look right with the final project.

Once everything was nice and dry I screwed in the new hardware and put the doors and drawers back in place.  Remember, unless you’re drilling new holes in your piece, when picking out new hardware at the store take the old stuff with you to make sure you buy the right size.  There is usually a little chart in the hardware area that you can use to see what size you need.

In this tight shot you can see how the wood accepted the paint.  This color combination gives a sleek look to a paint treatment that you typically see with cottage or farmhouse style.  Once the whole room comes together, these cabinets will compliment the contemporary Moroccan flair of the space.  Come back soon to see what’s in store for the shelving above these sleek antiqued cabinets.  I’ll give you a hint, it involves beautiful live edge walnut:

What does everyone think?  Will you be tackling an antiquing project now that I showed you how sleek it can look?  Do you have a piece that you’d love to distress, but don’t know what color to use?  Drop me a line!