An Old Stereo Cabinet is Transformed

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using these links.

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?

Mid Century Furniture Restoration: Cabinet before restoration

At least the legs were unique.

Mid Century Furniture Restoration: the legs

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.

Mid Century Furniture Restoration: The back of the cabinet

Mid Century Furniture Restoration: removing the back of the cabinet

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.

Damage Control

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.

Mid Century Furniture Restoration: Clamps for repairing turntable top

Now the seam is stronger and barely noticeable.

Mid Century Furniture Restoration: repaired turntable top
Can you find the glued seam in this photo?

A New Back

Since the cabinet is already very heavy, he used lightweight but durable tempered hardboard for the  back.

Mid Century Furniture Restoration: New Hardboard Back

Happy Hour!

What was once the turntable compartment is now a great place to store bottles and ice buckets.

Mid Century Furniture Restoration: Interior of turntable compartment

One of my favorite features of this piece is the long brass hinge in this compartment.

Mid Century Furniture Restoration: Turntable compartment hinge

Chris removed one interior shelf to make room for a wine rack.

Wine rack

So with a few refinements, an obsolete piece of furniture was transformed into something useful.

From this . . .

Mahogany stereo cabinet before

To this.

Mid Century Furniture Restoration: Mahogany cabinet after

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.

Mid Century Furniture Restoration: Mahogany cabinet after, doors open


Mid Century Furniture Restoration: cabinet from side

Mid Century Furniture Restoration
It’s five o’clock somewhere!

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.


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.

 You might also enjoy:


Linking up with:

12 Replies to “An Old Stereo Cabinet is Transformed”

  1. I love this idea! I took an old radio stand of my great grandpa’s and converted it into our kitchen island. Cabinets like this one provide such a unique opportunity to be really creative. Great job!

    1. Thanks Sharon. Yes, now I’m glad he didn’t listen to me when I urged him to paint it. You’re right, it really was a labor of love to refinish that piece. It took him a fair bit of time. Thanks for hosting Vintage Charm!

  2. I love that transformation! I know many people like to paint old pieces but sometimes I get sad when I see the beautiful old wood get a coat of paint. I love the look of wood when it’s been spruced up. What a great piece you found and btw, I love that old hammered aluminum ice bucket!

    1. Thanks Rheta, I’m glad you stopped by. My husband would agree with you 100% – he think’s its a crime to paint over beautiful old wood. The hammered aluminum ice bucket is something he inherited from his folks. We love it!

  3. Wonderful job of restoration! I love when I see curbside finds shining again!

    Thanks for sharing with us at Sweet Inspiration party. Have a wonderful week!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.