Specialty Paint Finishes on Cabinets

When it comes to decorative painting, a lot of what I do is focused on making a bespoke centerpiece out of something that otherwise can look “standard” and blend in with the background.  This was definitely the case with two recent projects that made cabinetry the hero of the room!

 The first example is a small wet-bar nook in a beautifully renovated kitchen in Dover, MA.  Most of the kitchen is light and airy, and the designer wanted the cabinets of the wet bar to stand apart - playing the role of a custom piece of furniture.  To create a contrast with the clean design of the rest of the space, we wanted more drama and texture for this piece and settled on using black with a hand-rubbed look. 

 The cabinets were custom-made, so I had the benefit of working with unfinished wood.  To create this finish, I used watered-down black chalk paint that acts like a stain by sinking into the wood, but still has more opacity than a stain to give variation in the amount of grain that shows through the finish. After the paint dried, I lightly sanded the surface to accentuate the hand-rubbed look and to keep the finish smooth.  With this complete, I was on to the top coat.  To make sure my finish was durable but not too shiny, I opted for 3 coats of a matte-finish polyurethane, which topped off the look beautifully!  In describing the end result, my client exclaimed: “it looks like it came straight out of an old English manor!”

wet bar.jpg

The second example is the vanity in a renovated bathroom in Brookline.  Similar to the kitchen in Dover, the bathroom has a very clean, modern look – this time with white tiles on the walls and gray octagonal tiles on the floor.  To add “pop” to the room, the designer wanted the vanity to be the jewel of the room, planning it in a saturated teal color with a specialty finish. 

 For the finish, the goal was to create a subtle variation to look like an aged patina.  We wanted to give the piece some depth and interest – but avoid making it look too busy or fussy.  To accomplish this look, I started by painting the piece in the base teal color using cabinet paint to insure durability.  After 2 coats of the paint, I then buffed the finish with fine steel wool to make it was a little less shiny and to create more of a deep luster.  With this done, I then applied a darker color of watered-down teal cabinet paint with a foam brush to allow the water to create variation without obvious brush strokes.  When this was dry, I then re-applied a second coat - this time with more water -  creating more subtlety and depth in the “patina”.  In the end, we accomplished out goal – as the homeowner sees the vanity as the highlight of her new space!

vaity 1.jpg