Upcycled China Cabinet – Unwanted to Amazing!

I've got a good one to show you today!

We're always thinking of ways to turn cast offs into something desirable, aren't we? Garage sale finds, Goodwill castoffs, hand-me-downs, Aunt Clara's dusty old china cabinet...

A while ago we bought this china cabinet at an estate sale. We paid $97. It's an Ethan Allen, so I knew it had good bones and it reminded me of my mother. LOL For some reason I acquaint Ethan Allen with my mom. No idea why. Maybe because it's from her era.


Here is DH strapping everything down we go that day. It was the last day of the estate sale, so I got this china cabinet CHEAP. I got a couple of other things too. I felt like I had won the jackpot.

China Cabinet

This thing was sitting in the living room of the house of someone who had gone on, and the kids were selling off her possessions. I took it home, split it up and made the bottom a buffet and the top just recently made into a display cabinet. The top sat in the garage for a LONG time until I had a chance to get to it. I used Country Chic products to paint it. It was on that buffet that I learned how to glaze and topcoat.

I have to say, it drove me nuts trying to figure out how to glaze and add poly properly, without it drying too fast and creating streaks. The struggle was real. Now it's a no-brainer because I nailed down the technique and have a fabulous set of products that makes it so much easier.

I updated the hardware with D. Lawless Hardware, painted and stenciled, and sold it for $500. It took a while to sell, but I knew it was worth the $ and the right person would come along. She did and was thrilled.

D. Lawless Hardware for a China Cabinet Turned Buffet {Love My DIy Home}
China Cabinet turned Buffet {Love My DIY Home}
China Cabinet turned Buffet {Love My DIY Home}
China Cabinet turned Buffet {Love My DIY Home}
China Cabinet turned Buffet {Love My DIY Home}

Let's talk about the top being recycled into a display cabinet.

Clean, change, add, repair, sand, clean again. Then paint, stain & protect. Assemble. Photograph. List. Sell.

For the Body:

  • DH took off some of the wood parts that dated it and added wood for a base.
  • The body was painted with Benjamin Moore Advance in the purest white I could find, right from the factory, not tinted. I had gotten the BMoore paint from my daughter who used only a little bit of the paint from a gallon and it was the bright white that I love.

For the top and drawers:

  • I stained the top and drawer fronts with General Finishes Java Gel.
  • Retique It's Polyacrylic protect the Java Gel stain on the top and drawers.

For the legs:

  • Legs from a table were cut down and added to give it height.
  • Java Gel was used to match the top and drawers.
  • I used an oil based wipe on polyurethane to protect the legs because I didn't want to wait 72 hours to put a water-based poly over the oil-based Java Gel. I wanted it out of my workshop area so I could finish another project.

I did miss using chalk paint, though. I like the coverage and smooth application of chalk paint. Benjamin More is good for the fact I didn't have to add a topcoat. But it took so many coats to get good coverage. I think I did 5 coats. No, I didn't prime first, I just cleaned, repaired and sanded. So yes, priming would have cut down on how many coats. But 5? I persevered and got it done. You do what ya gotta do. I wanted a pristine, clean look for this one.

Here are some photos from DH on how he upcycled the top into the project piece I wanted. The legs gave him a run for his money because first he had to get them off the support board which was a challenge and then he had to cut them so they were completely level. The surface kept chipping, so he had to repair them after he cut them and then strip them due to the drips in the original finish.

Finding the exact center and then drilling the hole to receive the screw that would eventually attach them wasn't a picnic either. I know I wouldn't have done so well if I'd had to do it.

The top was cut to size and routered to give it a nice edge.

China Cab bookshelf top

So, if the bottom part that was made into a buffet sold for $500, and I'm able to sell this display cabinet for what I'm hoping, $375, then that's a huge profit of $778, off something that was outdated and no longer found to be valuable.

This is why we do what we do. We:

  • Rescue a quality and solid piece and make it usable again
  • Create art that will be enjoyed for years to come, while enjoying the creativity process
  • Make $$ off our efforts to support our family, doing what we love and meeting a need of another
  • It's fun!

Can every other type of job or business say that?

Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life.

Ready to see the end result of upcycling the top?

Display Cabinet FB
Display Cabinet FB angled
Display Cabinet CU bottom2
Display Cabinet CU2
Display Cabinet CU feet
Display Cabinet CU bottom

Do you ever want to keep the pieces you redesign? I do. EVERY.SINGLE.ONE. If I lived in a mansion, I might even consider it.

Blood sweat and tears go into these pieces. People have no idea how much work goes into a properly redesigned piece. Do I price my stuff high? Sure I do. I only turn out quality pieces that can't be found in a retail store. My pieces outshine most pieces in consignment shops, retail stores. How can I say that? I've seen the pieces for sale and most are either mass produced or paint slappers got ahold of a piece and spent little time redesigning it.

I have to shake my head sometimes when I look closely at some pieces for sale in shops. I'm not sorry if that feels boastful. I'm not a snob. Oh wait. Maybe I am a furniture snob! I only appreciate pieces that are creative, solid, well done and beautiful - ART.

We do art.

We should shoot for being the best at what we do and price accordingly.

One of a kind furniture isn't cheap and I don't sell my work short. Sorry not sorry. I get top dollar or I keep it till I find someone who knows what is quality.

My goal is to create pieces that will last 100 years.

And I teach others how to do the same in FB groups and my paid membership, Furniture Flipping Blueprint. FFB is for those who feel the same way I do about turning out quality pieces, or at least want to learn how to do so. It opens for enrollment 2-3x/year and will be open April 20-24. Come join us if you want to be a PRO furniture artist: ValFrania.com/invite. This is a special price this time around. Don't pass it up - no guarantees FFB will stay that price for long.


Come join us, and thanks for visiting LMDH,

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