Refinished Antique Baker’s Cabinet – Reused to Create Custom Kitchen Storage

custom counter with beverage fridge and antique cabinet

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We’ve slowly been bringing our 1970s lake house cottage back to life.  It’s slow moving because we’re doing all the work ourselves, and there’s a lot of it!  Plus, we’re working on a major budget and getting creative on how to update every room in the house with a minimal amount of money.

cottage kitchen in progress

After adding a 3 panel window/door (that my dad had taken out of someone else’s house and decided to keep = FREE!) to our kitchen, we were left with a little corner that was big enough to fit cabinets or some sort of storage area.  I went back and forth between repurposing old cabinet bases and adding a countertop, putting an antique Hoosier cabinet in the space, but I finally decided to add a beverage fridge and repurpose an old baker’s cabinet as a base, with lots of storage.

Antique baking cabinet before

This cabinet was actually sitting in the garage for well over 10 years.  My grandpa had bought it at a garage sale and used it for tool storage.  I’ll admit, I walked by this thing hundreds of time, not seeing it’s potential.  Once I finally decided to pull it out of the corner and take a look, I knew I could bring it back to life.

It’s solid wood, and looks to be handmade.  It’s had quite a few layers of paint on it, but otherwise it was in pretty decent condition.

Because there was no telling how long ago this cabinet was painted, I test it with Lead Paint Instant Check swaps.  Thankfully, it was not lead paint so I sanded it with my orbital sander and 120 grit paper to get off any loose pieces, and to give the new paint something to stick to.

antique baking cabinet with chippy paint

I started by applying some Hemp Oil in a few places on the black cabinet, especially on the edges of the drawers, near the handles, and in some of the places that were already chipping.  Hemp oil acts as a resist for the next layer, so any color that is added on top of it can be sanded away to reveal the other color underneath.

I painted the first layer in Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in French Enamel with the Bonding Agent mixed in.  I knew I wanted a chippy finish, but I’ve found that if I apply milk paint over something that’s already painted, it chips a lot, and then every layer on top chips off in the same places.  Because I wanted to show multiple layers of paint, I wanted this first coat to stick well.

After it dried, I sanded away some of the blue paint in the places where I applied the hemp oil.  I find that if I paint on all the layers and then try to sand, the paint doesn’t come off as well.  By sanding before the next step, I am making sure that the black color shows through, even after more layers of paint.  (You can see some of the black peeking through on the image below.)

how to paint and show multiple layers of paint on furniture

For the next step, I painted Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Tricycle on some parts of the cabinet.

how to paint furniture with multiple layers of paint to show through

Before painting on the next layer, I applied more hemp oil over some of the red and blue paint.  Again, I applied it in the places where I wanted that red, blue, or black to show through the last layer of paint.

distressed dresser with 3 layers of paint

I painted on the final layer which was a custom mix of French Enamel and Artissimo, and then sanded away the places with the hemp oil.  I gave it a coat of Finishing Wax and then put the handles back on.  Here’s how I updated the handles to mimic the look of some Anthropologie knobs.

jute twine wrapped hardware
Update Hardware with Twine
The fridge is clearly stocked… We host guests a lot up at our cottage, so we usually keep it pretty full with a variety of beverages.  After taking the pictures, I wondered it I should have taken all of that out for the picture, but this is what its used for – no sense in staging it differently.
custom beverage center with mini fridge and antique dresser

To install the butcher block countertop, I removed the top of the cabinet, and then installed a wood cleat on the side of the wall.  We screwed into the countertop from the bottom side of the counter, at an angle so the screw went into part of the cabinet and into the top.  It’s attached to the top of the cabinet, but it just rests on the wood cleat.

butcher block countertop with antique cabinet base

You can see that we didn’t bother to move the electrical box on this one, so we had to drill a little hole in the wood cleat and countertop to allow the cord to come up to the outlet.  Not the perfect situation, but it works.

antique bakers cabinet painted refinished

I don’t really know if this was a baker’s cabinet, but because of the large drawer on the bottom, which I’m guessing is the flour drawer, and the pull out wood tray, my best guess is that was its original purpose.

blue and red chippy painted finish

You can see how the hemp oil allows you to see all the different layers of paint.

distressed paint showing multiple layers of color

I know this finish isn’t for everyone, but considering the piece I started with, with some of its uneven parts and chipping areas, I though this type of layered finish would be the best for this piece.

how to get layered paint in different colors on furniture

antique cabinet into custom beverage counter

Interested in seeing more of our cottage?  Head on over to check it out.

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14 thoughts on “Refinished Antique Baker’s Cabinet – Reused to Create Custom Kitchen Storage

  1. Wow, what a great idea! I’m actually looking to do something similar in my dining room. We have a wine cooler that is just sitting in the corner by itself… could really use a buddy. Thanks for the great tutorial! (Visiting from Creative Circle)

  2. I loved this cabinet the minute I saw it, especially the pull out cutting board. Wonderful how you made it beautiful and functional again!

  3. Thanks for the tutorial! This piece looks amazing and I’m going to try it in a cabinet I have. I have a scrap piece of butcher block I have been saving. I have a suggestion if your interested. What if you put the fridge up a bit on feet to level out the top with the cabinet? Just a thought. I can’t wait to see more of your work!!

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