Transformation- Faux Finished Cabinets

This summer, I took on a huge project as a volunteer at the Bible camp where my husband works. They’ve been building a new cabin from mostly donated materials that were salvaged from buildings being renovated and torn down. This meant that we needed to come up with a way to make it all look as though it belonged together. Not an easy thing if materials come from multiple sources.

The lower level of the cabin is an apartment suite for our guest speakers, so it has a sleeping room, private bath, and an open kitchen and living area.

I got to choose the colors for paint, flooring and counter tops and then I worked on the laborious process of taking white cabinets and making them look more in tune with the flavor of the warm pecan and cappuccino colored paints. Today, for Transformation Tuesday, I’ll walk you through the process.

 The counter top picture was not the final one. We used a scrap for sink fitting purposes and the real counter top arrived after I’d completed the painting process.

 The peninsula provided a challenge since the back side would be facing the sitting area.

This pantry is on the wall where the refrigerator would go. It shows the cappuccino color really well.

 This shot of the doors spread out for priming shows the pecan color on the accent wall.
Once I removed all of the hardware, I primed everything with a 123 primer by Zinsser.
I  used a water-based paint, but thinking back, it might have been smart to have chosen to sand the cabinets a little to rough them up and use an oil base primer for a little better guarantee of adhesion. It worked as it was, but I had to be so careful not to scratch them at all until the final protective coat was on. These cabinets were almost more like vinyl coated than painted, so they were pretty shiny when I started out.

After priming, I began the faux finish with the same steps I used in my lamp tables. My goal was to end up with a dark, antique or old world finish. I used the same pecan color on the base coat that I used on the accent wall. Then I used a glaze mixed with a dark brown paint to streak on (with wiping and a brush) over the top. Once the paint and glaze had cured for a week (not necessary but with the humidity I wanted it good and dry), I gave everything three coats of oil based polyurethane. You can use water base poly, but since we already had the oil on hand and I was working with a camp budget, I used that. If you’re going over a lighter color, be aware that oil poly can yellow.

And now for the after pictures…

This is the back that I mentioned that faces the living/sitting area. I kept the white ceramic door knobs for now just because we can’t afford to replace them until I find a deal that fits the camp budget. since the sink and refrigerator are white, the contrast is okay.

The base trim under the cabinets hasn’t been installed yet, but I couldn’t wait to show the finish!

Once the varnish is cured, I like to finish everything with a paste wax from Minwax. It helps take away any tackiness in humidity and if you have any tiny paint bubbles, you can sand with a little super fine grit sandpaper and polish with the wax. Makes it smooth as, well, you know.

 I love it so much that I wish it was my kitchen. I really like the stone look on the laminate counter tops. (Again, imagine that the baseboard fronts are in place along the floor). Speaking of floor, do you like what I asked the flooring guys to do? I asked if they could randomly scatter a lighter tile among the dark ones without a geometric pattern. I like how it turned out.

By making over what was donated and keeping it from a landfill, this was a trash to treasure success. Combining it with new counter tops and flooring, this is a budget friendly makeover you can do it your kitchen too. Just be prepared for investing some time in the layers it takes to get a faux finish right.
My next project is taking some 80’s 2×4 pine furniture that was donated and giving that a similar makeover to the cabinets. That will complete the eat-in area of the kitchen.

I’m linking this post to “Look What I Made Day” at Creations by Kara.Check out other great project ideas on her site.

I’m also linking up to “Best DIY Projects of September” on Beneath My Heart link party. 

Trash to Treasure Decorating
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  1. You can buy paint for ceramics. I used some to redo the ceramic balls on my brass bed. They turned out awsome. Anyway I found the kit at JoAnnes but I bet you could find some at any craft sore. They do have silver and gold–I did a marbled gold and purple look on mine. Anyway thought you might want to do that instead of replace.

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