Wednesday, February 22, 2012

numbered cabinet tutorial...

It has been a crazy week around here! My sister had an unexpected major surgery on Monday, so I have been at the University of Wisconsin hospital with her the last few days. Needless to say, I am behind on everything, as the whole turn of events kinda threw me off...but I am home today, trying to get back into the swing of things. 

While I was waiting in the hospital all that time I was trying to go through my inbox and get caught up on emails. I still have 4,876 to go. And no, that is not an exaggerated number, I really have 4,876 there patiently waiting for me. Yikes!

One subject that kept popping up in my inbox was about the numbered cabinet I painted as a project for Heather's Homebound E-Zine a few months ago. Since so many of you asked, I thought I would revisit the project, as it seems many of you want more details and info about what I used and how I did it. we go. 

Let's start with the 'after' photo, shall we? 

I {LOVE} this cabinet soooo much! I found it sitting next to a dumpster on one of my weekly "cruise the old industrial plants around my city to see what they are trashing trips".  This one was at a building that was a printing company for almost 100 years. 

It now resides here, in my home office, and sits right next to my desk to hold all my supplies. Everything from a phone book to post-it notes are neatly arranged and organized. I like things out of sight, but easily accessible. 

This is what the cabinet looked like before. Now, the last time I showed this you were all wondering why I didn't keep the original paint. Well, had you seen it in person or if I had remembered to take a "before" shot of the whole piece, you would understand. Because it was in a working print factory the bottom of the cabinet was splashed with dark blue ink...all. over. it. 

It looked ugly and dirty, not cool and chippy like we all love. No worries, I choose my painted pieces wisely, I never paint over {good} chippy paint.

These are the supplies I used:

-leftover BM paint in my favorite shade of gray...Gray Owl
-a nicely worn sanding sponge
- a sample of a darker gray paint I already had on hand
- silicone number stamps (purchased at Michaels and I LOVE them!)
- a 1 1/2" Purdy brush and an artists paint brush

I first gave the drawers a light sanding to try and remove some of that old splattered ink and clean up the finish. I couldn't believe I had found old numbers below the layers of paint! So cute, but they didn't come out this well of every drawer, that is why I decided to duplicate them. 

Once the drawers were sanded, I gave them a "gray wash" over the entire surface. I cut my Gray Owl paint with water to about a 50/50 mixture. That put it on nice and light so that the original finish could still show through a bit...

I know most of you will find this next technique to be a little unconventional, but I have found it to work well for me, and I use it all the time. It's one of my personal 'painting secrets' that I have just found over the years. 

When I am doing a piece like this that has an original paint finish that I want to retain the character of, I take sanding sponge to the surface when it is still slightly wet. Use an old sanding sponge that is quite soft. It is perfect for removing most of the paint wash but leaves behind the perfect amount just where you need it so the piece comes out looking like it still has the original, old paint finish...but it is just a little refreshed!

I cannot stress enough that this only works if you are using a paint 'wash', meaning you have cut your paint with water. If you try to do this with straight paint, you will have a mess on your hands. A rag does not seem to work the same for me either, it has to be the sanding sponge. 

Once it was dry...I dug out my favorite $5 silicone stamps from Michaels. I cannot tell you how much I love these! They are removable from the clear block, you can use them over and over, let your paint dry on them when you get distracted with something else like I do...then just wash them in the sink and they are brand new again. Best. stamps. ever. And for $5?? Love it. 

These gave me 2" numbers on my cabinet, so are a good size! 

I brushed on my paint, but you could dip it, too. I tried both, and liked the worn and inconsistent look the brush gave the best. 

The clear block makes it so easy to find your spot...then just press it down firmly...

and viola!! A perfectly vintage looking number!

I didn't want them to look to 'perfect'...just a little worn with a hand painted quality. 

I finished the piece off with a light coat of wax, lined each drawer with a vintage map...and she was ready for her new life!

Painting a piece that I want to maintain the feel of the original finish on is so different than how I paint a "normal" piece of furniture...but I love the result! This one was an easy project, I finished the whole thing in about 2 hours. 

And to answer a lot of your emails asking if I am selling it...well...not right now, but I do change my mind so you never know! 10 minutes from now, I may give a totally different answer! {smile...} But if I do, I will mention it in a post before I bring it to one of my shows, I promise!

Ok, I am off to take a zillion photos for Etsy today. If white ironstone is your thing, you may want to check my shop tonight...I have embraced the act that my collection it out of control, so will be selling around 25 pieces. {someone hold me, I can't believe I just said that!} I also have some old drawers, books, wire baskets...all kinds of goodies I found recently! 


  1. Amazing and beautiful!!!:-))))

  2. I hope your sister is recovering well. The cabinet is beautiful, and I completely get it about it's availability. I change my mind all the time about what I'm selling, and not selling. My interior changes constantly.

  3. Oh my gosh girl, I love that cabinet. That is awesome!! I just joined as a follower and hope you will do the same for me. My NEW blog is all about farm life, decorating, cooking, animals, and much more.

  4. I love this piece, what a fabulous find and I loved reading your "painting techniques" great!!!

  5. I am crazy about this shelf! What a great find! Thanks for sharing the tutorial!

  6. oh my, hubby is gone tonight, so I may find myself in your Etsy shop! :) Love the tutorial- I would have never guessed you used a stamp!!! I am so used to always stenciling, I may have to seek out those ones at Michael's. It really is a beautiful piece- I'm crazy for anything graphic looking. ;)

  7. oh how i love this sell it to me when you are done with it...;)
    great tutorial on your process!

  8. I pinned this because I love it, and according to the re-pins others are finding it. (I don't understand that part of Pinterest, I just use it so I can find the stuff I like!).


  9. I love your cabinet! You know, if you get tired of it, you can bring it with you next week! And, I am going to be stalking your etsy today!!


  10. Totally Impressed !!! You did an amazing job...Not to mention you found it...That has happened to me a few times but not with an item like that...If you haven't checked out my blog yet I invite you to do so . Blessings Lori

  11. wonderful cabinet and technique.
    I am wondering though, how did you keep the ink from showing through the wash?

    thanks and blessings
    barbara jean

  12. I really like this cabinet and appreciated your information of the "how to."

  13. I love that piece! I would love to find something like that sitting out for the trash!!
    Great tutorial - thanks so much:)

  14. Gorgeous piece..Hope your sister is doing well..

  15. Thank you so much for sharing how you did this piece. You make it look so easy! Hope your sister is recovering nicely. Enjoy your trip to Nashville. We stopped in Michelle's shop last Saturday on our way south. Her shop is adorable and she is a sweetie!

  16. Hellooooo Mary...
    That CaBineT is just **The BeSt**...
    What a Find!!! You did a FaBuLouS Freshening!*!*!
    Jeanine Burkhardt

  17. Hello from a former "Rockford girl"! Love the cabinet with "just enough" new paint! xo, Kimberly

  18. Hi mary,hope your sister is feeling better.i just love this cabinet and so pleased your keeping it,for now anyway.have a great weekend catching up.sandy xx

  19. Hi mary,hope your sister is feeling better.i just love this cabinet and so pleased your keeping it,for now anyway.have a great weekend catching up.sandy xx

  20. Hi mary,hope your sister is feeling better.i just love this cabinet and so pleased your keeping it,for now anyway.have a great weekend catching up.sandy xx

  21. OMG Mary can I just say how much I love this piece! Stunning, thank for the tutorial, I have those blocks and could actually do this :)
    Praying for your sister.

  22. The BEST FIND EVER and truly a labor of love! LOVE how it turned out.

  23. This is such a great piece....SO envious!!

  24. I just love this look, Mary! And I'll be using your tip on the sanding sponge with my next project for sure! Gotta get me a bunch of those neat number stencils, too! :)

    xoxo laurie

  25. This is such a beautiful piece.I saw your feature on Kristen's blog. I can see why she featured it :) Hope your sister gets well!


  26. Love this! I tried to find the #rd stencils at Michaels and they said I would need the UPC # to track to find a store that carried them. Would you happen to have that? Would gratefully appreciate:)


    1. Hi Donna!

      I hope you see my comment back to you! Your note to me was left as "Anonymous" and I don't have an email address to reply to! Please let me know where to send the info and I will be happy to pass it along!


  27. I too am trying to find the stencil info to purchase for a wedding project! If you could please pass along the info I would so appreciate it. I love how your cabinet turned out. Hope your sister is getting better and better by the minute!
    Leigh Ann

  28. Hi, Susan from "Maple and Magnolia said we should come by and see your cabinet. What a great way to refinish it! So glad she sent me over.

  29. Stopping by from The Handmade Home to see your beautiful dresser. I wish I found things like that on the streets in my little town! It is beautiful and your painting and the numbers make it so make it so much nicer, too. Thanks for sharing the tutorial.

  30. Are those stencils or stamps? Could not tell from the photos and directions.

  31. I somehow missed this orignal post - ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS PIECE!!

  32. Love this cabinet! Just saw it on RoadKill Rescue. Believe it or not, I saw this back when you first did it, but for some reason I didn't subscribe. A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking about how I had seen a blog on using the clear stamps, but I could not remember where. Never thought I'd find it this way!

  33. This is such a distinctive piece, and I love that you went with simple numbers and a paint wash! To me, simple means classic! Bravo!