Grandpa’s Cabinet Restoration Surprise


I found this old cabinet in our back shed that we had received from my Grandfather when he had moved to a smaller house. We kept garden tools and other bits and pieces in it. When I started getting interested in old pieces of furniture, I thought I’d pull it out of the shed and give it a new lease of life.
NOTE:  To see my youtube video of this project, click HERE.

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I began by removing all the hardware and then removing this piece of old cracked linoleum that had been placed on top somewhere along it’s life journey. I was pleasantly surprised to find a nice timber top underneath.

Poppas cabinet 004 It revealed a few old coffee cup stains and pencil markings which only added to its character and charm.

Then began the tedious task of stripping back the paint. I started using paint stripper which was messy and not getting me very far. Then my genius husband suggested I use his heat gun to melt the paint and scrape back.

Always remember to work with a mask and rubber gloves especially when working with old paint which may contain lead.

In the lifetime of this cupboard, 3 or 4 layers of various shades of paint had been used. Yellow, then a darker pink, then a light shade of green before finding the original undercoat.

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 Looking closely, I discovered a floral motif that had been hidden under the top few paint layers. Probably on the original green layer, placed carefully by the cabinet’s creator.

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And below: finally a workable surface to sand and paint on… (I know some of you would think this looks adorable just like this right?)

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 AFTER: The finished look. I painted the insets Dulux Antique White and the trims in Dulux New Hope green (just loved that name since this tired old cupboard needed some new hope). Varnished the top with a walnut stain/varnish.

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 This was before the door knobs went on, but it just needed a picture right here.

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Then guess what happened. I was cleaning the insides of the cabinet when I reached inside up the top and found a latch. I slid it across and up popped the middle top section! Wow, wish I’d known that BEFORE I varnished, but never mind. It was still an exciting surprise which made me curious as to what the cupboards original purpose was…

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 After consulting with relatives I found out that my dad’s family used to take this camping with them as a kitchen cupboard – there were 10 kids plus Nanna and Poppa – back in the 1950’s. Yep, hauled it up on their trailer with the big canvas tent and other camp paraphernalia and headed to Kingscliffe, NSW for a family holiday. But before that, one uncle remembers removing the metal casing insert from the top section of the cupboard, as it used to be an ice-chest. They’d fill the top with ice and it would keep the top section chilled. Pretty nifty, hey?

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 And here’s the finished look after adding some ceramic kitchen cabinet knobs I found at IKEA of all places. They just seemed to suit. I also decided that the hinges looked a bit dodgy painted over like I’d done, so I removed them completely, scrubbed them and they came up like polished brass! Good decision. Then I went for a shabby finish and sanded some of the edges as the doors were a bit stiff and removed some paint while trying to close them.

I was pretty happy with the final result and excited that I’d found a bit of family history.

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 And here’s a video version of the above restoration project. Enjoy!

We are authorised retailers for Fusion Mineral Paint and Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint in Australia. This blog post may contain affiliate links.

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  • Reply
    Kathy Ancheta
    June 7, 2012 at 1:51 am

    Well, I believe you found a very valuable piece of furiture! Most are just not in existence anymore. And you make it look so easy to restre. My big project is a Hoosier cabinet from the 40’s that I need to carefully work on. So, I will be following your work closely. Thank you for posting.

  • Reply
    June 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Thank you Kathy. It was a big job! Your cabinet sounds lovely.

  • Reply
    June 23, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    You did a great job! Love your post.

  • Reply
    lola davis
    October 4, 2013 at 5:21 am

    Thanks for sharing! This page was very informative and I enjoyed it. cabinet restoration company Weymouth MA

  • Reply
    Where to Find Funky Furniture – Top Ten Places to Find Restorable Pieces | I Restore Stuff
    July 27, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    […] 9) In your own back yard! Sometimes we have pieces of furniture right under our nose that can be given a makeover to up-cycle into a fantastic piece to suite your living space. When I first started restoring I found an old cupboard in our garden shed that belonged to my grandfather many years ago. I was surprised at how well it transformed from a greasy tool cupboard to a gorgeous little cabinet that now takes pride of place in our home. You can find out more about that piece and the surprise I found while restoring it HERE. […]

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