The other auction-goers must have been terrified of the awful appearance of this cupboard, despite its solid construction and great proportions, because I bid WAY less for it than the maximum that I had set for myself.
No one appeared to be willing to look past the horrible 70's green antiqued paint job. The cupboard once had some sort of feet, which were long gone, and the glass in the doors was definitely not original. (Notice that beaded detail in the drawer? Remember it, because you will see it again in a minute.)
The first step in the cupboard's transformation was to scrape and sand the surface to get rid of the drips and debris that were in the green paint.
The olive green was a great starting point for my plan of multiple layers of color.
I sanded the whole cupboard with my fine-grit sanding block, then heavily wet-distressed it with a Scotch Brite scrubbing pad ... just like I did to my brother's kitchen cabinets. (Click HERE to see that project, if you missed it or need a reminder.) Always remember that distressing replicates natural wear that a piece would have received over time!
You can see all three colors of paint, and a bit of raw wood, after the door is distressed.
The cupboard needed a bit of patina added to its new paint job. With previous pieces, I have used clear and dark wax to achieve this. One day recently I had a realization ... clear wax becomes part of the finish and is repairable and fairly permanent. Dark wax, however, stays on top of the finish and can be removed. (I'm not careful with my furniture, so I don't want anything that I may have to baby.) To achieve the look on this cupboard, I thinned my custom-mixed chocolate brown chalk paint into a glaze, painted it onto the surface and quickly wiped it off. The effect was perfect!
The beaded detail on the cupboard's drawer provided the perfect clue for me to replace the glass in the doors with beadboard. I cut panels to size, painted them (using Olive for the first coat, since there was no ugly green paint to start with in this case). This photo clearly shows the difference the glaze makes to the paint finish ... the door frame was glazed, the panel wasn't yet.
Replacing the missing feet on the cupboard was easy. I bought four unfinished wood feet at Lowe's, and I went to work painting them to match the finish on the cupboard. ('Olive', then 'Country Grey', then 'Duck Egg'.) I distressed the feet very heavily, since feet on a piece of furniture receive lots of abuse from brooms, mops, vacuum cleaners, shoes, etc.
Painted foot on the right, distressed foot on the left.
Distressed and glazed foot on the left, and clear-waxed foot on the right.
For the hardware, I had the perfect antique knobs stashed away. Why someone had globbed paint onto these beauties is a mystery. It was a simple process to carefully loosen the paint by soaking them in hot water. I picked the loosened paint off with my thumbnail, and polished the brass with 0000 steel wool.
Here is the finished cupboard:
Doesn't look like the same piece, does it? I will always be amazed at the transformation power of a good paint finish.
Shortly after I took the above photo in our dining room, I moved to cupboard to a better spot in our home office. This new location is fairly dark and not so great for quality photography, but I couldn't resist snapping a shot of this little vignette of Alice posing by one of my husband's paintings. (one day I will get around to actually attaching the painting to its new frame and hanging it on the wall ... not today, though.)
I hope the dramatic transformation of this cupboard will inspire you to take another look at those ugly-duckling items the next time you are at an auction or yard sale. As long as the size is right, the proportions are pleasing, and the construction is solid, you can work miracles with a can of paint.