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watchmaker’s cabinet

I have a thing for unusual cabinets. Especially ones with lots of drawers. Two of my all-time favorite refinishing projects are my card catalog and surveyor’s cabinet makeovers.

I shared this watchmaker’s cabinet with you a while back and was waiting for some inspiration and cooperative weather, preferably to occur on the same day. 😉 Yesterday was that day.

My plan of attack for this piece was to get rid of the heavy varnish and refinish the wood. I also needed to replace the pulls, which did not fit the vibe of this piece. At. all.

So I began sanding, hoping there was some gorgeous wood under all that varnish. No such luck.

Refinishing the ugly wood was pointless. You know the old saying “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear?”  EXACTLY. Painting it was my only option at this point.

I had really hoped to restore the original beauty of the piece and now the drawers were my only hope. I sanded them down and happily discovered gorgeousness underneath.

So my new plan involved painting the “frame” of the piece and refinishing the drawers. Ahem…all 18 of them. 🙂

The drawers were refinished in Briwax dark brown followed by clear wax. I drilled holes for the new brass pulls (I’ve never chosen brass hardware in my life, but I think these just “fit”) and re-attached the brass card frames. I printed numbers onto ledger paper to go into the card frames.

For the frame of the cabinet, I chose Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Graphite (very dark grey) because I thought the contrast with the wood drawers could be really beautiful.

I literally held my breath as I painted. Hoping that it would look as good in reality as it did in my mind!

Okay, enough blathering….on to the reveal.

Can I just say that if this chubby forty three year old body could do backflips I would totally be doin’ em???

I’m so incredibly happy with how this turned out!

BTW, if anyone is interested in the 17 original pulls (one broke) just leave me a comment. First one to ask gets them! (Lower 48 only, please).

Linking up here:
Savvy Southern StyleMod Vintage LifeThe DIY Show Offthree boysFurniture Feature FridaysChic on a Shoestring DecoratingFunky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

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121 Comments Post a comment
  1. Awesome job! Would love the pulls but are you sure you want to part with them all? Maybe keep some or all? You did such a great job! Love, Me http://www.youaretalkingtoomuch.com
    (a chubby 40 something girl in the south)

    October 25, 2011
  2. maggie #

    I love those old pulls! I’d be glad to take them off your hands. 🙂 Gorgeous cabinet!

    October 25, 2011
    • Maggie, thanks. I haven’t heard from Rebecca yet. If I don’t, I’ll split them between you and Kathie!

      October 26, 2011
  3. Ooh, I’ll do a trade with you! I’ll be happy to send you any of your choice of my reversible Pashmina shawls in exchange for the pulls! 🙂 at http://www.theproudpeacock.com Btw, what a happy accident that u had to paint it. Gorgeous!

    xo Kathie

    October 25, 2011
    • Sorry, Kathie. Still waiting on Rebecca’s email address. If I don’t hear from her, maybe I could split them up between you and Maggie (#2 and 3).

      October 26, 2011
  4. Once again you have created a beauty from a beast 😉

    October 25, 2011
    • Thanks, Cheryl. You always leave the nicest comments. I really appreciate them!

      October 26, 2011
  5. I think it turned out fabulous! What a great find. I too love anything that can do double duty, look beautiful and be functional. Love all those drawers!

    October 25, 2011
  6. i’m gushing, i’m gaga, i’m green with envy.

    W.O.W.

    amy

    October 25, 2011
  7. Wow, it is just stunning! I love it. And 2 of my very favorite makeovers of yours are also the card catalog and surveyors cabinet! And now I will add this one to the list. I too love all the different drawers and uniqueness of those 3 pieces. You have the BEST finds AND taste!

    October 25, 2011
  8. ReaderWoman #

    I’d love to have the pulls if none of the others end up getting them – or if they only want SOME of them! 🙂
    a fifty-something once-upon-a-time southerner living in CA!

    October 25, 2011
  9. AWWW–Someone beat me to it!! Looks awesome!

    October 25, 2011
  10. Mel #

    Oh, it’s beautiful! The two finishes worked out perfectly. The new pulls look great. You are so generous of your talents and now you are giving away the old pulls too. I’m sure the winner will put them to good use.

    October 25, 2011
  11. Love…as usual! I am totally your biggest fan! 🙂

    October 25, 2011
  12. absolutely gorgeous. you did good!
    i agree that those old pulls didn’t work…too ornate and victorian for the piece.
    wherever do you find these wonderful pieces of furniture?!
    i too love lots of drawers. and great idea for printing on ledger paper…love it.

    October 25, 2011
    • Thank you, Judi. I find my pieces all over. Craigslist, garage sales, thrift stores, estate sales, and antiques shops. There are great pieces out there just waiting for some tlc!

      October 26, 2011
  13. I just love it. You always find the greatest stuff! Personally, I think the old pulls would have looked good but the new ones are great too.

    October 25, 2011
    • Thanks, Cindy. Yeah, the old ones would have worked but they didn’t fit my “vision.” 😉

      October 26, 2011
  14. you seriously find the COOLEST pieces!!!!! love it!

    October 25, 2011
  15. Pam #

    Absolutely beautiful! Great work!

    Pam

    October 25, 2011
  16. STUNNING !!!! i absolutely love this … you transformed it into a real beauty….you do find the most delightful pieces ! i am sooooooooooooooooooo jealous..

    joanne

    October 25, 2011
  17. Gay McClure Love #

    Would love to have the old pulls. This is one of the most incredibly beautiful transformations that I have ever seen. Wish I could be your apprentice and learn how to make things as gorgeous as you seem to do.

    October 25, 2011
    • That is so nice! Hmmm….an apprentice. Imagine how much I could get done then!!! 🙂

      October 26, 2011
  18. I’m so jealous! I want this for my studio in progress. I love this look and you did an incredible job transforming it.

    October 25, 2011
    • Thanks, Betsy. When I get tired of it, I’ll give you a call! 😉

      October 26, 2011
  19. Rachel #

    I have been reading your blog for a while now but never thought to comment before, 🙂 (silly me) . You truly inspire me, you have such talent and love that you bring these beautiful pieces back to life. I have a unique piece I am wanting to give some life to but have no idea where to turn. Maybe I could get some advice from you?

    October 25, 2011
  20. That is TO gorgeous!! Absolutely love it…and I think the paint is awesome!

    October 25, 2011
  21. You are my hero. That is all. No. Wait. That’s not all because I have to say how much I love seeing the things you do. You really have a great style and it’s a true joy to see what you come up with. I’m going to have to keep my eye open for some funky cabinets of my own.

    October 25, 2011
  22. Oh. my. heavenly days! I love love love it! You find the most amazing stuff!

    October 25, 2011
  23. Pamela #

    Beautiful! Very creative with the graphite and stained drawer fronts. The new drawer pulls just brought it to Perfection!

    October 25, 2011
  24. This turned out gorgeous, well done!!!

    October 26, 2011
  25. This cabinet came out awesome. I loved the pulls, so congrats to the early bird on that one!

    October 26, 2011
  26. I knew when I saw this on one of the link parties (sorry, I don’t remember which one), that it had to be yours…the numerous drawers gave it away. Of course, I love this…and you did an awesome job on it. I would have never thought to paint the frame and refinish the drawers, very clever! Thanks so much for sharing!

    October 26, 2011
  27. Wow, what a gorgeous piece!

    October 26, 2011
  28. cndesigns #

    This IS gorgeous! And I’m so happy to see that you chose to keep it with a more pristine look rather than distressing it! There are some pieces that deserve to have a more refined look of elegance…and this one now has it!

    October 26, 2011
  29. Patricia doggett #

    LOVE IT! Absolutely beautiful!!! All of your fall decor is breath taking, thanks for sharing. Pat

    October 26, 2011
  30. Love it – I have a thing for cabinets with small drawers too!

    October 26, 2011
  31. Kim #

    Love it, love it, love it. You always do the best job.

    October 26, 2011
  32. Deborah Oakley #

    Aaaamazing makeover! Beautiful job Susan…I love it!

    October 26, 2011
  33. What a wonderful transformation! I love how you just rolled with it when the wood didn’t turn out as you hoped and still ended up with a beautiful piece. I have been toying with using some of the graphite chalk paint, so I am happy to see how gorgeous it looks on your piece.

    October 26, 2011
  34. Oh my gosh how do you FIND this stuff? This is amazing!

    October 26, 2011
    • Thank you Sarah! Usually on Craigslist but this one I found at an antiques shop.

      October 26, 2011
  35. This piece ROCKS!!!!
    Tina

    October 26, 2011
  36. LB #

    What a gorgeous makeover! Love the way it turned out! 🙂

    October 26, 2011
  37. Kirsten #

    That is awesome. I’m so jealous of all your strange cabinet finds! I can’t decide which I like better though! I love the surveyors cabinet, but this one is so great too!

    October 26, 2011
  38. Carla G #

    Love this one so much….the new hardware look great. So if you just want to toss the old hardware this way let me know. I think they have an interesting look!

    October 26, 2011
  39. Man, this is an awesome piece! What a great find! I love the “after”. bravo!

    October 26, 2011
  40. Joi #

    Wow…great job! That was A LOT of sanding. Just beautiful as usual, Susan…..

    October 27, 2011
  41. Thanks, Joi! 🙂

    October 27, 2011
  42. wow! and wow! and so lovely!!!

    Smiles,
    The Joyful Thrifter

    October 27, 2011
  43. I L-O-V-E this!!!! I will be featuring this on my blog tomorrow! Stop by and grab a button if you’d like!

    October 27, 2011
  44. This is beautiful!! & I might cry because I want it so bad!! haha

    xx Liz

    October 27, 2011
  45. I came out great!!! You did a fabulous job!!
    ~Angela
    unexpectedelegance.com

    October 27, 2011
  46. I agree with everyone else…you find the best things!!

    October 27, 2011
    • Thanks, Marian. If we ever move to PA, I can be your personal shopper! 😉

      October 27, 2011
  47. This is a lovely restoration. I can see why everyone wants the handles! I don’t suppose you’re going into the reproduction handle business, are you? I’d buy a couple!!

    October 28, 2011
  48. You always find such great pieces and the is no exception. It’s gorgeous!
    I would be so delighted if you would link to Potpourri Friday (in progress)!

    October 28, 2011
  49. Dana #

    Gorgeous! I have to ask – HOW do you find such AMAZING cabinets?! Definitely sharing this one on Facebook!

    Dana @ craftedniche.wordpress.com

    October 28, 2011
    • Dana, usually on craigslist but this time at an antique shop. Thanks for the nice comment!

      October 28, 2011
  50. Wow! What a great piece. And you did a beautiful job! This is my first visit over from Miss Mustard Seed. I’ll be back. 🙂

    October 28, 2011
  51. Amazing pieces of furniture and marvelous job done on all three of them. -Brenda-

    October 28, 2011
  52. Hi! I’m stopping back by to say thank your for linking to Potpourri Friday! It was nice to see you link up again.

    October 28, 2011
  53. I love the contrast of the refinished wood with the chalk paint. It turned out great. How long did it take you to refinish 18 drawers?

    October 28, 2011
    • Milla, hours and hours! 🙂 The rest of the piece was a breeze. Drilling new holes for the new hardware and sanding took a LONG time! Thanks for stopping by!

      October 28, 2011
  54. You can let your breath out, the whole thing turned out beautiful! Laura Cottage and Broome

    October 28, 2011
  55. What a great find, you made it shine!!!! And the way you staged it is gorgeous!

    October 28, 2011
  56. Another amazing find and another beautiful transformation. You have the patience of the gods to sand all of those drawers! It looks amazing!
    David

    October 28, 2011
    • Thanks, David. Ironically enough, I don’t have a patient bone in my body. I just really like sanding! Does that make me weird? 😉

      October 29, 2011
  57. Another fabulous piece you have found and refurbished. Just beautiful.

    October 29, 2011
  58. GASP!! I’m in love! It looks SO fantastic! When I saw the before picture my thought was, “Oh no, it’s already so beautiful, please don’t tell me she’s going to paint it white and distress it.” I was nervous to see what you did with it, but in the end it looks amazing and much better than the before. Great job!

    October 29, 2011
  59. wow i am blown away at this transformation it is so gorgeous i love it. i would love a cabinet like this to make over. i also love your clock above it in the picture. thanks for sharing xx

    October 29, 2011
    • Thanks so much, Aimee. Aimee is my middle name! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

      October 29, 2011
  60. Beautiful! Maybe I missed it (two screaming kids at my feet) but how are you using this piece?

    October 29, 2011
    • Thank you, Stacy. It’s in my studio…18 drawers of supply storage! 🙂

      October 29, 2011
  61. Ah I just adore old cabinets like these and I followed the links to your other ones as well. So awesome!!!! I’m jealous of all your treasure hunting. I live internationally now and I don’t have all my fav stores anymore!!!
    xoxo
    Cat
    aka
    BudgetBlonde

    November 2, 2011
  62. I love the cabinet I love anything with many drawers, great job.

    November 2, 2011
  63. So seriously!! DROOLWORTHY. I think it was so fortunate that the sides were ugly cause painting the outside the grey gives it an update that is so fresh while maintaining the piece. and the brass… the brass?? I LOVE IT. never would have thought I would say that but MAN, the brass is the bombb!!! I have two card catalogs that I might just copy you EXACTLY!! Of course I will link 😉
    awesome job!!

    November 3, 2011
  64. What a beautiful piece! You did a wonderful job restoring it. (I’m off to look at some of your other projects…)

    November 4, 2011

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