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A while back, while driving to an appointment, I noticed that someone had left two unwanted pieces of furniture out on the curb.
One piece was a cute older dresser that I knew I could bring back to life with the right paint treatment.
I didn’t pay much attention to the other piece. I didn’t really know what it was other than a plain and ugly old cabinet.
I texted my husband, Chris, asking if he could bring the truck and pick up the dresser. Then I scurried off to my appointment.
Later I saw a text from Chris saying that he had picked up both pieces.
From Music to Spirits
The ugly cabinet was a mid century stereo cabinet. Chris wanted to convert it to a liquor cabinet.
I was a little skeptical. Was this piece really worth the trouble?
At least the legs were unique.
Finding the Look
To me, the wood didn’t look like anything special. I assumed it was either cheap wood or a cheap veneer over some sort of plywood. I have seen some fun transformations of mid century furniture using paint, and I thought that paint was the perfect option for this piece.
But a little sanding revealed that the cabinet was actually solid mahogany. So there would be no paint going on here. Chris loves the look of quality wood.
Bringing the Original Beauty Back
The first thing Chris did was remove the flimsy pegboard back.
He used an orbital sander with 40-grit sandpaper to strip off the original finish – and decades of gunk. Then he used 120-grit sandpaper to bring out the grain.
He repaired the dings and gouges in the wood using Wunderfil Walnut Wood Filler. He let that dry and then sanded it.
Then, using a rag, he applied Daly’s #288 Analine Dye. Over that, also using a rag, he applied a layer of Daly’s dark mahogany wood stain. He left the stain on for only 15 seconds and then wiped it off.
Finally, he applied thee coats of General Finishes Oil & Urethane in Satin using a Verathane applicator for oil-based finishes. (The applicator is really for finishing wood floors, and it’s larger than Chris needed. So he just cut it into smaller pieces and made sure he vacuumed away any lint before using it.)
Using 400-grit sandpaper, he hand sanded between each coat.
Now the cabinet was gorgeous, but one thing was still bothering Chris: The hinged lid to the turntable compartment. It was made up of two pieces of heavy mahogany that were joined together only by glue. And with all the sanding, the glued seam was starting to separate.
So he separated the two pieces and re-joined them using wood dowels and fresh glue. He set the seam to dry using these huge clamps.
Now the seam is stronger and barely noticeable.
A New Back
Since the cabinet is already very heavy, he used lightweight but durable tempered hardboard for the back.
What was once the turntable compartment is now a great place to store bottles and ice buckets.
One of my favorite features of this piece is the long brass hinge in this compartment.
Chris removed one interior shelf to make room for a wine rack.
So with a few refinements, an obsolete piece of furniture was transformed into something useful.
From this . . .
And the piece is still true to its original form, although I can’t help wondering if it even looked this good when it was brand new.
I underestimated this little stereo cabinet.
Lessons learned: Before I dismiss an old piece of furniture, I will take a closer look, and I won’t assume anything.
So what about the dresser I found on the curb with this cabinet? It’s still in the basement awaiting my attention.
This post is for entertainment only and is not a tutorial.
- Wunderfil Walnut Wood Filler
- Daly’s #288 Analine Dye
- Daly’s dark mahogany wood stain
- General Finishes Oil & Urethane in Satin
- Verathane applicator for oil-based finishes
Outfitting a liquor cabinet can be as fun and affordable as you want to make it.
The copper cocktail mugs are high on my wish list.
- Curve Bamboo Cocktail Tray
- Price: $34.85
- Moscow Mule: Copper Cocktail Mug
- Price: $16.14
- Raye Crystal Cocktail Tumbler Set
- Price: $16.99
- COCKTAIL MARTINI SET/6
- Price: $39.99
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- A Tropical Makeover for an Old Cookie Sheet
- Arts and Crafts Dining Chairs Get a Wild Makeover
- A Mid Century Modern Chair Revamp