General Finishes Coastal Blue and Millstone milk paint were used to transform a 1930’s stained china cabinet into a gorgeous designer piece that is sure to be the center of attention in any room.
To paint or not to paint? That’s always a tough question for me.
I love old wood, even when it carries battle scars. Maybe especially when it carries battle scars.
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I love the patina that comes from the oil of your hands, the smoke from a fire place, and time.
I love “seeing” the life it has led and I always wonder whose hands might have touched it over the years.
I wonder if the lady of the house was excited and proud when she got her new china cabinet, or if she was slightly disappointed because she had to settle for a smaller or less grand one.
I wonder if she used it to display her grandmother’s dishes and whatnots just like I display mine, or if she chose to display new dishes because she didn’t like old things.
I wonder how many hands have touched it during the last 80+ years and how many homes it has lived in.
And when it come time to answer that difficult question, to paint or not to paint, I wonder what will do this piece the most justice.
After buying this pretty lady in January, we put her in the living room next to a couple of other projects I had been working on. And over the next several weeks, I walked by this dusty gal a million times a day.
I believe each piece of furniture has its own story to tell if you’re willing to listen. And each time I passed by her, I would catch a glimpse of her story…
And each one of those times I passed her, I would ask myself if I could paint over this pretty wood.
I honestly wasn’t sure if I could.
When it was finally her turn to be made over I decided to clean her up first, inspect the condition of the wood veneer, and then make my decision.
The veneer was dried out, faded, and lifeless, but as you’ve seen in my other posts there are plenty of ways to fix that.
My heart was telling me to restore it, but my head was telling me all of that pretty detail blended in and it should be shining on its own…
The inside of the cabinet was too dark.
That only a few folks would appreciate the beauty I saw in her as she currently was.
That someone else would buy it from me and it would end up painted anyhow.
And if someone was going to paint it, then that someone needed to be me.
So, with a slightly heavy heart, I decided I would give her an artistic makeover to highlight those beautiful details…
When General Finishes graciously offered to supply me with paint for this project, I knew I wanted a bold color for the body, with a creamy beige or off white for the trim.
I didn’t want anything t0o white or light because I thought it would give too much contrast to the body color, which would detract from the overall appearance.
I wanted my colors to work together as a cohesive unit, with each complementing the other. I didn’t want one color to outshine the other. So I chose Coastal Blue, Millstone, and Antique White from General Finishes Milk Paint line of products.
And as usual, I had a grand plan in mind…
The body would be blue, the trim would be Millstone, and Antique White would be used to highlight some of the carved wood detail and the millwork in the upper cabinet doors.
As I started painting the Coastal Blue, I really liked how it made the wood carvings pop. Even though the wood was dried out at the time, the navy blue paint had already worked some magic and had made the wood look richer and more vibrant.
And I started getting excited.
I had just unearthed a a precious gem! I kept painting that blue paint on the body and I kept watching an unbelievable transformation happening right before my eyes. My mind started to wander and I started seeing these details come alive in my imagination.
And I got even more excited about these new possibilities! I couldn’t wait to see the final results!
But painting is a very slow process, so I settled myself back to the task at hand…painting the body blue but my mind kept leaping to the end result.
After a change in plans, I had to decide if Antique White or Millstone would work the best with the Coastal Blue and the original stained wood.
The Millstone was a deeper color than the Antique White and I liked how it worked with the Coastal Blue. It provided a subtle contrast which was exactly what I was looking for. I then started picking out which details I wanted highlighted with paint and which I wanted to stay stained.
I love those highlighted details and how they now stood out instead of blending in like they did before being painted.
All of the painting was done free hand so as you can imagine, it was a lengthy process that lasted for days and days, and at times I wondered if my back would ever be the same again.
I painted all of the details on the bottom cabinet before moving to the top portion. Again, I took my time with deciding what areas should be left with the original stain and what areas should be highlighted with paint.
The very top and interior of the china cabinet received some nice highlights with Millstone. I left the millwork stained in order to balance out the stained wood areas on the bottom portion of the the china cabinet.
When using a design scheme like this, it’s important to balance out all elements used. In this case it was important to balance not only the three elements themselves (Coastal Blue, Millstone, and the stained wood), but also to balance the top portion of the cabinet with the bottom portion so that your eyes wouldn’t be drawn to just one particular area on the china cabinet.
After the painting and touch ups were completed, I carefully used Howard’s Feed-N-Wax on the wood trim to give it a nice luster again.
It was now time to focus on finding the correct hardware to make this little lady shine. I have to say House of Antique Hardware stood way above the rest. I loved the styles they offered and their attention to the smallest detail.
The quality and craftsmanship, of both the knobs and the pulls, are amazing. Each one was hand antiqued and House of Antique Hardware made sure the finish on the pulls and knobs I chose matched perfectly. And to top it all off, they had some of the best customer service I have come across in years. I’m very grateful for having an opportunity to work with them and for the time they took getting the hardware just right.
These knobs look original to they style of the cabinet and I love the ornate details. I believe the hardware truly completed the look I had envisioned.
I had the pleasure of working with an amazing photographer on this project. Didn’t you just love those pictures? To see more of Jessi Ringer’s work, visit her website at 5 Rings Photo.
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