Monday, 5 July 2010

DIY China Cabinet

My maternal grandparents would be married 66 years this December. When they were married they received a beautiful set of hand painted china. My mom recently inherited the set when my grandmother moved from her house into a seniors apartment, so I've been able to see it and appreciate it first hand for what it is. My grandparents wedding china carries so much sentimental value for my mother, its the china that she ate any and every special occasion meal on while growing up, it represents her parents and their long and happy marriage. Now that she has it and we get to eat all of our special occasion meals on it, the importance and sentiment of it is even more pronounced. Its a family heirloom, passed down, with meaning, from one generation to the next. 

So, when it came time to register for our wedding gifts, Chris and I were armed and ready with a very specific plan. Some couples register for a ton of stuff, everything from linens, to towels, to spatulas, to crystal glasses. This is not the approach we wanted to take. We already had all the linens and spatulas that we need, we wanted to register with a purpose! We knew we wanted to pick the most special, beautiful china we could find, and hope to pass on our own family traditions and heirlooms one day. We shopped around quite a bit, finding a china pattern that really spoke to us was a challenge! We almost gave up, and then we found this. The Aureus pattern from Villeroy & Boch. So beautiful, so interesting, so colourful and so "us"! It was love at first sight.

After our wedding it quickly became clear that this china was too special to just hide away in a cupboard, we needed a china cabinet! A place to store it where we could see it and appreciate it even when we weren't using it. We began a new search, this time for an affordable cabinet, with the right scale and proportions to fit our dining room. We definitely couldn't afford something expensive and fabulous, so we searched for a second hand piece that we could DIY.

After some searching, we found this:

Wild isn't it!? Fancy, faux-bois inlays, a real feast for the eyes! Once again, we had a plan. We washed, sanded, primed, painted and wallpapered. Now we have this:

I have to admit, I am beyond pleased with the result! It took a lot of elbow grease, but I think it was worth it. For me, the key was finding a piece that wasn't too precious to paint, but was sturdy and had good bones worth investing time and energy into. The cabinet has glass shelves and glass doors, it has a built in plate rail and a light. The doors all open and close smoothly and fluidly, there is no weird sticking or squeaking. Finding a solidly made piece like this is definitely key. 

We wallpapered the back with a textured wallpaper that we then painted blue. My favorite colour and a perfect accent colour to highlight the china. I think that it adds a lot of interest and really makes the piece special and personal.

We removed the knobs and were planning on replacing them with something new and sparkly, but after we had it all set up, we realized that the doors function really well without knobs. They stay closed when they're supposed to, yet are easily gripped on the side and opened. We will likely still install knobs on the bottom cupboards, but for now it works just fine as is. No knobs also keeps the lines simple and I like that.  

The china looks terrific, the entire cabinet functions as a piece of art. On the opposite wall in the dining room we've hung our awesome painting from Sara

This was the first of many DIY projects we've got planned! I just love putting our stamp on our own little slice of paradise!