transformation: restoration hardware cabinet

Earlier this summer I went out for a walk on my usual loop around our neighbourhood. A neighbour a few streets over was moving and had put a few things out on the lawn: filing cabinets, picture frames, books. But the thing that caught my eye was a dusty, beat-up brown cabinet with a rolling drawer and a door with a magnet closure. I thought it would make a good project, so Adrian brought the car over and we took it home.

Upon closer inspection, I discovered that this cabinet was a discontinued Restoration Hardware product called the Cartwright short bath cabinet:

It was in a sorry state. The previous owner had stuck a “free” sign on top with packing tape, and also used tape to secure the tempered glass shelf inside the cabinet, so it was covered in sticky residue. The veneer was badly worn in a few places. It was also very dirty from having been in their garage for a while.

After taking a closer look at the veneer and doing some experimental sanding, I knew that I would have to paint this cabinet. I started by removing all the hardware, taking out the drawer, and removing the glass door. Then I gave the whole thing a good scrub with Dawn dish soap and used Goo Gone spray to get rid of the tape residue.

I used wood filler to smooth out any big gouges and sanded the entire cabinet with 220 grit sandpaper, then began priming with Zinsser BIN shellac-based primer. This primer is very thin and it’s a pain to work with since it can’t be cleaned up with soap and water, but it’s worth the hassle because it creates a smooth, even surface for painting. I ended up doing three coats to cover up the brown colour. This primer is more cost-effective than furniture paint, so I’d rather do additional coats of primer as needed to help reduce the number of coats of paint later, especially when painting over with a light colour, since these generally tend to require more coats.

Once the primer was dry, I sanded it lightly with 320 grit sandpaper to get rid of any texture leftover from my roller. I filled any gaps between panels with caulk to make everything seamless, then I brushed on my paint. I used Fusion Mineral Paint in the colour Casement, which is a warm white shade. Painting white paint over white primer really makes it feel like you’re not making any progress, but I could really tell the difference after two coats. 

I applied two coats of Varathane Diamond matte wood finish with a Zibra fan brush. I wanted to try out the matte finish to give my project a modern farmhouse aesthetic and I really liked how it turned out.

After the topcoat was dry, I added black bar handles, which meant drilling two level and very precise screw holes. Adrian helped me with this and we got it on the first try, but the process of measuring (and remeasuring) before drilling was very stressful and I’ll definitely be investing in a drilling jig for future projects! I sprayed the door hinges black to match my hardware and rehung the door after everything was dry and ready to go.

The last step was to add some peel-and-stick to cover the bottom of the drawer and the tempered glass shelf, then reinstall these components and take some beautiful pictures of my project. I love the final result and I’m so pleased that I was able to give this dusty cabinet a new life!