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Monday, April 16, 2007

Cabinet re-do

How to make your cheap plywood cabinets look like expensive exotic, Brazilian wood. 

This is a super satisfying and quick project that takes more balls than talent.  It might seem scary to paint something so prominent that hangs on a wall.. but why not?  It's only paint.. and you can always paint over it.  
These cabinets are in a rental kitchen, where the cabinets were cheap and nothing special.  These were unfinished and really needing some style. Style on the cheap. 
Start with a clean surface and tack cloth for any bits.  Next paint on a primer, I love Zissner which you can get at Lowes or any good paint store.  
Next begin painting your cabinet a warm rich jacobean stain or paint.  Paint the whole cabinet, let dry for a bit but not completely.  
Next using acrylic accent paint, yes those small squeeze bottles you get at the craft store.. you don't need much.  If your cabinet is deep brown.. you will want a burgandy, black and a copper for the look here. That's it. 
Here's the learning curve... Start painting the inside of the cabinet door 1st.  Here you will get the feel for it and see what it takes to make it work.  This is a project that you have to just take a step and do it.. all about feel. Inside will give you practice without being the face and needs to be done anyway for this to be believable.  Now I painted the edge of the cabinet shell but only painted the inside with a solid colour, no need to waste paint or time there.  I mean, they are usually filled anyway. 
Using a sponge brush with paint strokes vertical, to mimick the grain in wood... brush up and down with the black.  Next use a towel and wipe off a bit or shall I say into a bit.  Which is really what you are doing here.  You are blending to create a smudging of paint layer that looks like brazilian wood. Next add a little copper paint with restrain.. smudging into the black.  You do not want to see metallic, but what you do want to see is some warmth or glow.  Which is what will happen here, when you use restraint.  If it doesn't look right, rub it mostly off and layer again.  
Don't be afraid.  Stand back and look.. the main thing is to keep the strokes vertical and looking like wood.  

You can see on the plywood cabinet that is above the range that you need to take the brush stroke right off the edge. (photo below)   

After all is said and done, you can either seal with a polyurethane.  I prefer a satin finish.  The walls in this space were done using the same paint.. It was a small galley kitchen with hardle any wall space, so it was not much of an expense.  The paint used was an oyster metallic and gold.  It really achieves a Tuscan-warm look with a bit of luxe.  You can't really see that in these photos.. and it's not finished here.  But in the end and in person the shimmer is so warm and looks really expensive.  Nice finish for a crappy rental kitchen.  

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