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!

23 comments:

  1. that cabinet turned out beautifully!! I cringed a little when I saw the before photo, but you would never know that it was the beginning the beautiful finished product that you ended up with!! You did an incredible job.

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  2. This is incredible Tan! You did such a good job. I love the blue wallpapered interior. It looks so nice with your lovely china.

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  3. It's just perfect - love it!

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  4. No wonder I like your yarns...you have "vision". The cabinet is lovely. I liked the wood version until I saw what you did with it. Just gorgeous.

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  5. You are right - it absolutely is a piece of functional, BEAUTIFUL art - great job!!

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  6. Popping in from YHL - Love the transformation china cabinet! And what a great story and tradition you will be continuing on for your future family!

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  7. Found you by way of YHL's blog. I love what you did with that cabinet. How many hours did it take from start to finish?

    I find it so sweet that you are sentimental about your grandparents. Congratulations on your new marriage!

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  8. Beautiful job! It is amazing what a pop of color and some white paint can do!

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  9. you have given me the courage to paint furniture. it seemed so scary before!

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  10. Tanis, I LOVE your "new" hutch! It's absolutely stunning! The blue textured background is amazing! What a fantastic job you did! Hopping over from YHL. :)

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  11. Wow Tanis... You have so much talent. Looking at the before picture, I would never think it could look as good as now.
    And, it feels and looks like you guys! AMAZING

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  12. Popped in from YHL...... absolutely love it! I am sincerely regretting sending my very similar china cabinet to the thrift store a few months ago when I moved into my new home. I didn't think it would match the modern decor but how sad am I now to see that with a bit of hard work, an outdated cabinet can match any decor!!! Congrats on an amazing job and LOVE the china set!

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  13. Hopped over from Young House Love. This looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing it with us!

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  14. Found you from Young House Love...the china cabinet looks wonderful! Can you tell me how you sanded in some of the nooks and crannies that were on the detailed portions of the cabinet? We inherited my husband's ancient bedroom furniture for our guest bedroom, and I would love love love to paint it white, but everyone keeps telling me I'm crazy and it's not possible because there is too much detail. I'd love to know if you had a special trick or if you just went for it!

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  15. Popped over from YHL. I think everyone else has already said everything I was thinking. I'm not a blue fan yet I think that particular shade on the textured wallpaper is quite lovely.

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  16. Wow! Absolutely beautiful cabinet and china! I found your blog link on Young House Love and went on to read a few more of your posts. You fiber work is beautiful. I also noticed you have a painting by Sara Caracristi. I love her work too. I have a gallery in Winnipeg so I'm always looking at artists & artwork online. Thanks for sharing!

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  17. My in-laws have offer us their china cabinet and I wasn't sure if I wanted it or not, but yours turned out so amazing... I'll have to see if they're still willing to part with it now... :o)

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  18. I saw your cabinet over at YHL and I had to come over to your site to see more. You guys did a wonderful job. I really love the finished look and the wallpaper is just devine. Great job and inspiration. I will have to come back again soon to see what you are up to.
    thanks for sharing!
    Erika

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  19. I came from YHL and I'm so glad I did! Not only is your china cabinet an amazing transformation, but you picked such beautiful china. Bravo!

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  20. tanis: i’m so tickled! i found your site via YHL while hunting online for advice on painting the interior of our china cabinet. one of my considerations was whether to use my favorite eggshell blue since our cabinet will house our VILLEROY & BOCH AUREUS CHINA! i absolutely loved hearing your story, and we registered for it with a very similar mindset. kudos on such a fabulous undertaking and gorgeous result! and many thanks: this is JUST what a needed to see, and it's fun to know that someone else out there is delighting in their aureus china *and* cabinet too!

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  21. OH my!! That is soooo inspiring! I love it. I got a cabinet from a friend of my Sis's but she doesn't want me to do this. I'm going to have to show her how beautiful yours is.

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