Dated Dry Sink Cabinet Gets a Makeover!

Vintage dry sink cabinet

Well I'm not sure if this is technically a dry sink, but that's what first came to my mind when I saw it. It could be called a server, buffet, or cabinet. I think it is from the 1960's or 1970's, and it is made of solid wood. Of course there were a few issues that needed to be addressed. My husband thought it was dated looking and wasn't as excited about it as I was. But I knew it could be fabulous!



Before / During

I do a quick evaluation when I purchase from the thrift store and then do a more thorough inspection after I bring it home. Luckily there weren't any surprises with this project. The dry sink was in mostly good condition. The problem areas were:
  • Surface scratches and a few gouges
  • One of the louver slats on the door was detached from the pull 
  • One missing door knob
  • Scratched & dry wood on interior
Evaluate damage of thrift store furniture
Evaluate damage of thrift store furniture
I decided to sand the scratches on the top of the cabinet and work the scratches on the base into my design. Gotta love "rustic-style"! I stained the top with Prairie Wheat followed by a light coat of Antique Walnut.
An orbital sander will quickly remove the damaged finish
An orbital sander will quickly remove the damaged finish

I needed to find two small knobs for the doors, and I also wanted to replace the bat-wing drawer pulls with something new. I found the drawer pulls and a pair of small knobs at Hobby Lobby, however, they were not a matched set. Nevertheless, the color is similar and since they're not right next to each other, I think it worked out just fine,

Replacement door knobs
Replacement door knobs from Hobby Lobby
But the hinges were a brass color with an aged patina and I didn't want three different metals on one cabinet, so I painted the hinges in Graphite, sealed with clear wax, then applied a bit of dark wax followed by some gold rub-n-buff to tie it into the color scheme of the door knobs. I used my fingers to apply the gold. I applied more than I needed and then dipped a lint free cloth in a tiny bit of wax to remove some of the gold until I achieved the look I wanted.
Hinges painted in Graphite with gold Rub-n-Buff
Hinges painted in Graphite with gold Rub-n-Buff
My initial plan was to replace the louvers with pie safe tins, and it would have looked so darn cute! But alas the door openings were not standard size for the pie safe tins, and a custom order was out of my budget. So I decided to paint the louvers and just let the one slat remain detached from the center guide. I did evaluate to see if I could re-attach it to the guide, but it would have been tricky and I risked breaking more of the louvers.
Paint large areas with a 2-inch brush and tight spaces with a small brush
Paint large areas with a 2-inch brush and tight spaces with a small brush
The final step was to re-condition the interior of the cabinet. I used Restore-A-Finish which helps condition the dry wood and minimizes the scratches. The photo shows the results after one application. I added a second application (just wipe it on with a shop towel) and then finished it with Feed-n-Wax (beeswax & orange oil conditioner).

Reconditioning the wood with Restore-A-Finish
Reconditioning the wood

After

My initial inclination was to paint the cabinet in a blue tone, but I thought the style would work better as a neutral. I painted the cabinet with two coats of Old Ochre. I sealed the paint with soft clear wax.

After. Dry Sink Painted in Old Ochre Chalk Paint
After: Painted in Old Ochre

I decided not to seal the stained wood top. I think it will age nicely over the years.

Stained wood top
Stained wood top

And here's a collage of the 3 different hardware styles and colors. Overall I think they work very nicely together.

Three hardware styles coordinated together
Three hardware styles coordinated together
The loose louver slat really doesn't affect the function of the door. And I think the louvers are more decorative than functional.

Louvered door
Louvered door
The interior wood shelves are now conditioned and look gorgeous.

Reconditioned wood interior
Reconditioned wood interior
The two drawers offer lots of additional storage for odds and ends. I reconditioned the drawers, too.
Dry sink with 2 drawers
Dry sink with 2 drawers
I distressed the paint with sandpaper to play up its vintage character.

Distressing paint plays up the vintage character
Distressing paint plays up the vintage character
I think the dry sink cabinet is a versatile piece of furniture. It would work well in an entry way, as a liquor cabinet, or as a buffet or server in either a dining room or kitchen. It could also be easily converted to a cabinet for a bathroom sink. I need to put it in my booth so I can clear out some furniture projects from my house for the holidays. But if it doesn't sell then I will use it for sure in my family room!

Vintage dry sink before and after.
Vintage dry sink before and after.
Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today! If you'd like to receive alerts of new projects then fill in the "follow by email" button at the top right of the screen, or you can connect with me on Facebook . I'll include the list of supplies I used in case you would like to achieve a similar look for your project.

Supply List

  • Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan (Old Ochre on the base and Graphite on the hinges) and wax (clear and dark). Click on the link to find where you can by her products from local stockists. Some stockists also ship via online orders! If you live near a stockist I encourage you to visit in-person to get advice and inspiration. If you prefer to order online I have used and recommend either Fleurish Home or The Purple Painted Lady.
  • Orbital sander and variety pack of sand paper (60, 80, 100, 150, 200-grit). The sander is an investment, but it makes quick work of the job and many times eliminates the need for messy chemical strippers. You can find it for $50 or less and if you work on a lot of projects it's worth it. An alternative is to try to save the finish with Restore-A-Finish or remove it with CitriStrip
  • General Finishes Gel Stains Prairie Wheat and Antique Walnut
  • Rub-n-Buff I purchased a sample set a couple of years ago and use it frequently on my projects. The tubes are also sold individually.
  • Restore-A-Finish (I use this frequently and it saves many vintage pieces! However, I find it doesn't work on lacquered type finishes).
  • Feed & Wax (for drawer interiors)
  • Flexible sanding pad These come in a box of 20, but I cut them in half so I get 40! One box will last for a very long time as they are re-usable. The pads also come in a superfine finish for even smoother results. If you don't work on a lot of projects, then just use plain old sandpaper. I prefer the 3-M brand.
  • 220-grit sand paper for heavier distressing.
  • Tack cloths for quick removal of sanding dust!
  • Lint free shop rags (for removing excess wax). These can also be used to buff the wax. Or use old t-shirts.
  • Various brushes: 2-inch, small flat brush & large wax brush.
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