Ugly Oak from ’83

HAPPY NEW YEAR! – Bring on new projects.

The new house looked exactly as it did in 1983 when they built it. Everything is oak, everything. The family who lived here before us, lived here for 20 years and did not upgrade anything. One area that sorely needed upgrading is the bathrooms. I have already completely redone the powder room on the main level because, let’s face it, that is the one that everyone will see and use when they visit. We have two full bathrooms on the second floor however and they have identical vanities with builder grade oak cabinets, white(ish) sinks, and not quite matching counters. They also have oak 5 bulb light fixtures, and oak 3 mirror medicine cabinets. Those may be another post. (FYI – I hope not to offend anyone who likes oak, it’s just that none of mine looks very good and is quite worn and dated).

For this brief post, I just want to document painting the vanity cabinet in the master bathroom. It is a band-aid really as we hope to redesign the space someday. I just couldn’t take the oak anymore. This only took a few hours and then overnight to dry completely. ┬áHere is how it looked before painting.

Before painting. Worn oak.

Before painting. Worn oak.

Here is a better picture of the ugly.

Here is a better picture of the ugly.

It is really simple to paint these cabinets. I chose a dark red color but any color will work. First remove the doors and sand down all the surfaces lightly with 180 grit sanding block or paper. Wipe everything down with a damp cloth after to get the sanding dust off. Then I used a 2″ bristle brush but any brush size will do. You don’t need a wide brush because you want to get into the corners pretty easily.

Contrast between old and new color.

Contrast between old and new color.

I applied two coats to all surfaces and I chose to paint both front and back of each door. I did not paint the inside of the cabinet. Once you have finished and let the paint dry 24 hours, you can attach the doors. Now is a great time to change out any hardware if you like. I chose not to but I did sand the hinges to brighten them without showing all the brass.

Hinges with old grime and tarnish.

Hinges with old grime and tarnish.

Vanity After.

Vanity After.

Hinges after being sanded with the same sanding block.

Hinges after being sanded with the same sanding block.

This is the paint I chose in satin finish. I barely used much of the quart.

This is the paint I chose in satin finish. I barely used much of the quart.

Refinished Cabinet

My husband’s parents generously gave us some old furniture they no longer needed after their move to the beach. (I wish I could move to the beach.) One piece was an old cabinet. It has one drawer and two doors underneath. It was in need of refinishing and looked pretty worn. (see before photo) I asked first to make sure my Mother-In-Law had no objections. Better to know that ahead of time.

Before

Before

This project evolved many times. At first I planned to just sand it down and refinish it with a dark color. Then I was going to paint the whole thing red. After that I was going to paint the cabinet red but refinish the top to show the wood grain. Each step changed my mind. After sanding the whole cabinet, I could see that the grain was really nice and it would not show if I painted it. I chose a walnut stain color. It was at this point that I decided to put a design on the top. There was a stain that would not come out in the shape of a circle and I thought that would make a great flower center. And so it began.Durring Durring

I ended up using an ebony stain for the shading. With stain, the longer you leave it on, the darker the color will be so you have to judge how long to wait before wiping off the stain. This part takes the longest because you have to keep adding stain until you get the design where you want it. I used small paint brushes for the flowers so that I could control how much stain went in certain areas. Using a clean cloth, I just wiped off the stain in an outward direction from the inner parts of each petal. In order to keep the light original wood color, I had to coat the entire top with clear polyurethane after the design was complete. The whole project took 2 days, over the weekend.

After some new knobs and stain on the rest of the cabinet (after a good sanding), the finished cabinet looked amazing. Fortunately my Mother-In-Law thought so as well.

After Cabinet

After Cabinet

 

After Top

After Top

The poly really brought out the nice wood grain and now the piece is a beautiful addition to our family room.