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gray and cream refinished bar cabinet

Bar - After

For months, something about our living room was nagging me…specifically, the empty corner in between the tv and the loveseat. We stuck an old end table there and attempted to style it, but all it did was call attention to the gaping space and lack of continuity in that area of the room. So we set our sights on this bar cabinet from Pottery Barn. Wine glass and bottle storage? Expandable serving space? Cool distressed finish? Yes please. I was seriously in love.

We were thisclose to ordering it, but doubt creeped in at the last minute. We’d either have to pay an arm and a leg to ship it to Oahu, or work with one of John’s freight forwarders to get it here. And we worried that the dark finish might overwhelm the room with brown (since we already have brown couches, a dark wood coffee table, and an even darker wood trunk that serves as a media stand).

Still, we needed something for the space, and we’d really fallen in love with the idea of a cool bar cabinet that would make a great centerpiece for entertaining. And honestly, the purchase of large bottles of random liquors for my birthday jello shots was the last straw. We needed storage for those bad boys. No half-empty handles of Captain Morgan on my countertops, thank you very much.

So when this bar cabinet popped up on Craigslist for 1/8 the price of the PB version, and just begging for a makeover, we grabbed it.

Bar Before

I loved the plantation-style look of the wicker doors, I loved the steamer-trunk style hardware, and most of all, I loved this:

Bar Before

Expandable AND a built-in ice bucket? Oh snap! I couldn’t resist. John and I enlisted the help of one of our friends with a truck, and we hauled it home (we “paid” our buddy with a delicious carnitas taco lunch, ha). But this thing was in pretty crappy shape. The brass hardware was a mess, it smelled horribly musty, and someone had gone a little nuts with wood filler and forgot to sand afterwards. I had plans to stain the top dark walnut and spray paint the rest a creamy white, to both balance out and complement the browns in our living room. But of course, this piece had other plans for me. Here it is getting a few coats of Rustoleum Heirloom White (notice the top is masked off):

getting painted!

Turns out the top was sporting some kind of laminate coating, super shiny and impossible to sand off. Stain = no go. We briefly considered building a new top (or covering the old one) with plywood and trim, but in the end we decided on a deep warm gray paint finish for the top, to complement our grayish-green living room wall color. I coated the top with Zinsser BIN Primer and painted it with a gorgeous Behr shade, Intellectual.

Gray Top

I loved the look of the gray on its own, but I wanted it to have an aged, multilayered look, so I took a chance with some sandpaper and a few dabs of Minwax stain in Dark Walnut. While I probably should have used a legitimate glaze product to do this, the stain actually worked really well! I sanded the edges of the piece to reveal layers of paint, primer and wood, and then went over the entire top with a rag dipped in stain. I rubbed it in and wiped it down until the gray had a warm, luminous quality. Love the final result!

Bar Top Detail 2

Here’s the whole piece after spray painting, hand painting, distressing, glazing and sealing with Minwax Polycrylic (spray for the doors and brush-on for the rest). The hardware got a good cleaning (all 20 pieces of it, ugh), and 2 coats of Rustoleum Universal Oil-Rubbed Bronze spray paint.

Bar - After

Side note: I gave the inner sections of the top the same gray/glaze treatment as the bar top itself, so when we open it, all the serving surfaces are the same. And I did ALL the gray sections with one little $3 sample jar of Intellectual that I had mixed up at Home Depot!

I topped our new bar with a few books, some mini carnations in a mason jar, and a Robert Lee Morris silver tray that my grandmother gifted me. Oh yeah, and Ignatius. That’s the little red dude. John has had him for years.

Bar - After

The quality of natural light in this corner of the room is terrible, especially at this time of year, hence some color variations in the photos. But the one below is pretty true to life. I love the look of our new bar!

Can’t wait to invite some friends over to gather ’round and grab a cocktail. But God forbid anyone dares put down a coaster-less drink on that brand new finish! :)

Linked up at Funky Junk Interiors, Creating a House of Grace, Home Stories A to Z, Domestically SpeakingDIY by Design, A Beach Cottage, The Shabby Chic Cottage, French Country Cottage, Miss Mustard Seed, The Shabby Nest, Remodelaholic, Tatertots & Jello, Between Naps on the Porch, Southern Hospitality, The DIY Showoff and the Blogger Block Party

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29 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love this! And so good that you could recycle something old yourself instead of spending a fortune on something else. We are working on a drinks cabinet at the moment also, but it’ll be a more retro look. You’ve done an amazing job. :)

    June 13, 2011
  2. What a great transformation ! I love the white and gray combination :)

    June 14, 2011
  3. That came out really awesome. Thanks so much for sharing at my Swing into Spring party.

    June 14, 2011
  4. Cassie #

    You have a blog about your island life?! I love it! And you and John are seriously talented in your furniture-refinishing addiction! I need more details on your rental. I see a vacation to Hawaii in my future! I’ve never been!

    June 14, 2011
    • Cassie! YES, come out to Hawaii!!! Our vacation rental is a 2-bedroom that adjoins our house. We’re just outside Honolulu on a hill – super lush and green. The full listing is at http://www.vrbo.com/360967 and you can check out the amenities, etc, right here on our site. Let me know when you want to visit…you will LOVE Hawaii!

      June 14, 2011
  5. Love the gray and white combo! You did a great job!

    I found you through A Beach Cottage – what a fun blog you have. I have never been to Oahu, but we spent this past Christmas in Maui and it was amazing! We definitely plan to come back and do some island hopping! I will definitely be following along so I can live vicariously through your island life! :)

    June 14, 2011
    • Maui is my favorite island! Christmas must have been amazing there!

      June 18, 2011
  6. Love this transformation! You did an amazing job!!!
    -emily
    nestnestignested.blogspot

    June 14, 2011
  7. Love the colour combo of this piece. You did an amazing job. Thanks for adding your link to BC Good Life Wednesdays.

    June 15, 2011
  8. Eek! This is B.E.A.Utiful. Such a nice job. Don’t you love happy finds like that? I’m so glad you commented on YoungHouseLove’s patio so I could accidently find you! :)

    I refinished a super odd but fantastically useful storage piece from a thrift store and couldn’t be happier with it. Once I load it up with stuff, I’ll do one more update.
    http://www.greenhornliving.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/break-out-the-champagne-cabinets-are-in

    My husband and I honeymooned on Waikiki Beach two years ago. We had big tourist plans but after multiple man-o-war stings at Kailua Beach on our third day, we never made it out of the southeast corner lol. We still had a fabulous time and can’t wait to go back and see more!

    June 16, 2011
    • Just clicked over to your site and saw your thrifted pieces…LOVE! Such a bummer about the men-o-war in Kailua…I love that part of the island! Hopefully you’ll get to come back soon and explore!

      June 18, 2011
  9. Ava #

    Love that colour “intellectual” Great job , it looks beautiful xx

    June 16, 2011
  10. EXCELLENT job!! I have a thrifted buffet I painted black over 10 yrs ago I’m itching to redo! This may be just the inspiration I needed! Thanks for sharing! Looks fab!! xo

    :D Lynda

    June 16, 2011
  11. Wow…Your bar looks great! Check out the bar I made out of an old dresser at http://artsyvava.blogspot.com/2011/05/rebirth.html

    June 16, 2011
    • Just clicked through to check out yours…SO NICE! Love the mirrored shelves and the wine glass rack.

      June 18, 2011
  12. What a job! Good for you.

    June 17, 2011
  13. Ooh this turned out GORGEOUS. My husband would die for one this cool!! I love how it turned out and the colors you chose! :)

    June 17, 2011
  14. THat is gorgeous! You did a fantastic job! When we built our house I knew exactly where our bar was going….we never did it! :( Then we had kiddos and our “bar” turned into a play room! BUMMER!

    June 17, 2011
  15. This looks fantastic!! What a beautiful transformation!!

    June 17, 2011
  16. Fantastic transformation. Love that it folds out and has a built in ice bucket. Party time!!!
    Kylie

    June 17, 2011
  17. What a fabulous find! Love the colors.
    ~Pam

    June 18, 2011
  18. Thanks for all the sweet comments! I’m loving our new bar. We’ve been doing more dinner parties than normal, just so we can show it off. :)

    June 18, 2011
  19. What a charming new bar you have!! Oh love the fold out side feature and love the color. Thanks for sharing at FNF :)

    June 18, 2011
  20. This is so great! I love it more than the PB version- it seems perfect for the island lifestyle. Here’s wishing you many fun (and coastered) parties!

    June 18, 2011
  21. You did a wonderful job! Would love to see the rest of the room too :) Fabulous makeover and excellent way to improvise by converting an old piece into a scrumptiously fabulous stunner! Visiting from Met Monday, we’re neighbors ~ diane at home sweet homemade

    June 20, 2011
  22. WOWZA..great project and it looks radically different. Thanks for sharing at the Blog party. Loving all the inspiration I am seeing.

    June 20, 2011
  23. I have looked (drooled) over that PB piece myself but now that I’ve seen yours, I like it even better! Love that gray/white combination. The ice bucket is such a bonus, too. Happy entertaining!

    June 20, 2011
  24. I’m a new follower from the blog party…I love what you did with the cabinet…I have a few pieces I would love to finish that are laminate…You have given me hope…

    Would love for you to stop by and say “hi” when you can….

    June 29, 2011
  25. Absolutely awesome!

    August 28, 2011

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