Keep a classic piece of furniture in the family! Learn how to makeover a mid century modern china cabinet with just a few materials.
This project has been in the works for months. I believe I started on it in October of last year. And what I thought would be an easy job quickly spiraled into a disaster. But we shall take it from the top. This is the story of a mid-century modern china cabinet that has been in my family since the 1960’s. I know because I was there.
I had to give this china cabinet a makeover not because I wanted to but because I had to!
Disclosure: I was compensated for doing this post with product. However, all the opinions stated here are my own. I only use products I love and would recommend to my viewers.
Materials Needed To Update This Mid Century Modern China Cabinet
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- Hope’s 100% Pure Tung Oil, Moisture Resistant Wood Finish for All Fine Woods, Furniture and Antiques
- DecoArt Americana Decor Wood Reclaim 16oz
- DecoArt ADC-01 Americana Chalky Finish Paint in Everlasting
- Mod Podge Waterbase Sealer, Glue and Finish in Matte Finish
- DecoArt Varnish in Ultra Matte
We had this beautiful piece from the time I was a little girl and we had first moved to the USA. I remember looking at it as a kid, and being very indifferent to it! But as I got older and married I came to appreciate those smooth clean lines. It came with heavy glass sliding doors too.
So when I came back to New York this past fall it was definitely on my list of things to upcycle. I wanted to keep the beautiful wood tones and just add a bit of shine to it.
The How To:
I started by applying Tung oil to the whole piece. Using a clean rag I just rubbed it on, waited an hour and wiped it off – twice.
Once you open the bottom doors, there is a utensil drawer and I found the manufacturer, Holman furniture from Pittsburg Texas. I looked all over the internet but couldn’t find another piece like this. Hmmm…
Lucky for me I have a knowledgeable friend Ann Marie of the blog Iris Abbey told me that was a ” family-owned business, believed to be founded by Danish immigrants, Holman Manufacturing existed from the early 1900’s to sometime in the 1990’s. They sold their furniture to higher-end department stores.” This got me to thinking about the value of the piece.
Here we see the inside. Excuse the dust. The utensil drawer goes on the upper left hand side. I rubbed it down with Tung oil and was so proud of myself! But I speak too soon!
Till I came to this. It is the bottom left hand side and as you can see the veneer was damaged and peeling. I tried to nail down the pieces but that was not working at all!
In fact more and more pieces came off.
I was heartbroken to say the least.
And so I let it sit there for the better part of three months not knowing what to do and feeling disheartened. I looked all over the internet and found a great post on how to save it from The Navage Patch. But unfortunately my skills are not as good as Greg’s so I opted to try another method.
I used a wood reclaim to even out the side of the cabinet as best as I could. This took about five coats of the product. I think wood filler would probably work too.
And then of course I couldn’t leave it like that so I had to paint it to hide the unevenness of the side.
But still wanting to preserve as much of the wood as I could, I painted just the sides and the top. I used Americana Chalky type paint in Everlasting, which is my go to color – basically a white.
I mean it was bad enough I was painting the sides, but I certainly wasn’t going to paint the front with it’s lovely walnut grain patterns.
As for the top half? I did something really strange to it. Because I use the china cabinet to store things and not as a display I needed to hide my mess. And believe me I have a lot more stuff than in this photo. My daughter is a baker and you would not believe the gadgets that exist for bakers. But as I said before, the sliding doors were made of glass. I thought of adding fabric but there was no place to hang it.
My solution was to use book pages and decoupage them onto the glass. This way I could hide all my stuff and have a nice neutral look for the doors. I used Mod Podge to glue the book pages onto the glass.
I also made the tough decision to paint the sides of the mid century modern china cabinet and top as well so it would look like a unified piece.
After painting it with the chalky finish paint, I finished it off with Ultra Matte Varnish. I did about 3 coats in a few hours. And you’re supposed to let it cure for a while, but I put the upper part on the bottom cabinet because I couldn’t stand my messy dining room any more. The matte is really matte, no shine at all. And it kept my white color white, no yellowing!
Mind you, this wall all done in one day after the initial procrastination period of three months.
And here it is finished and looking a lot better than before.
I think if you didn’t know the full story you might get mad at me for painting it but now that you know I’m sure you understand and forgive me! “wink”
Although I was reluctant to paint it I find that it makes a world of difference to the room. The dining room has no windows at all hence these bad pics you are seeing.
I’ve managed to preserve enough of the wood so you can see the walnut grain.
A close up of the decoupage which was done on the inside of the glass to allow me to have access to the glass handles in order to pull the doors.
It took me a very long time to finish this mid century modern modern china cabinet project but not because it was a labor intensive job. It was my indecisiveness at what I should do with this lovely piece. In the end, I feel that I was able to preserve the integrity of the piece while at the same time hiding it’s imperfections with the paint. And as a bonus it really helps to make the room look larger now with the white paint.
This is the same room which previously housed these bookcases.
In the end I was happy to be able to save this cabinet from my childhood days, even if I didn’t appreciate it back then. It would have been horrible if it had ended up in the basement. I still have a few years till I get that good – or maybe I never will, but at least I know my limitations.
If you like mid century modern china cabinet and other modern furniture make sure to go and visit Iris Abbey. Their blog is a wealth of information on these sorts of pieces.
Now that this mid century modern china cabinet has been saved from the basement I can honestly say that all that procrastination on my part was worth it. I desperately needed a cabinet to store all the baking stuff and this was the best solution for it. What do you think?