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Antique Bathroom Vanity
Diamond in the Rough
Sometimes you just happen to stumble upon a piece of furniture and you realize that there’s something inside just waiting to come out. Maybe you find it in buried under a stack of books at a garage sale, hiding in the corner of a thrift store, or perhaps it’s been gathering dust in your attic all these years. You see it, and suddenly, all kinds of possibilities emerge. Of course, that initial rush of excitement is quickly tempered by a dose of reality: it will take a little work. Or, in this case, a lot of work.

At Painting123, we believe that it’s more fun to recreate than to recycle. When we found this traditional-style vanity at a garage sale, we knew it was tailor made for a project. It was the perfect piece to combine a classic look in a modern design scheme – in this case, a modern bath with contemporary fixtures and accents. While it was structurally sound, it was not in good shape cosmetically – old, peeling paint, scratches, a few dings and cracks, and underneath it all, some water damage.

Since we were going to spray paint this piece, we took it into an open garage for proper ventilation. We started by removing the old hardware and removing the mirror from the cabinet. We sanded the entire piece with a medium-grit sandpaper to remove the old paint and smooth out rough surface areas. We then feather-sanded the remaining bits of paint with a fine-grit sandpaper. After sanding, we washed the entire surface with water and a mild detergent, rinsed it thoroughly and let it dry.

The cabinet had several small cracks and surface blemishes, which needed to be filled in order to present a smooth surface for accepting paint. First, we used a fine wire brush to clean out the cracks, blew out any residual dust, and lightly dampened the surface. Then, we filled these areas with wood filler putty, applying the putty with a finger and, in a few instances, a small putty knife. After letting the entire piece dry, we feather-sanded the filled areas with fine-grit sandpaper, washed it again and let it dry completely.

When the piece was dry, we sprayed on a coat of dark matte finish Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover 2x Primer. We used a dark primer because we were using a black topcoat. In this case, priming was absolutely necessary; not only to provide a uniform, surface, but to seal water stains from bleeding through and to prevent tannin bleed from the wood.

Once the primer was dry, we were ready to paint. We sprayed on an initial coat consisting of two light coats of Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover 2x Semi-Gloss Black on the cabinet, using a steady back-and-forth motion. We applied a second coat within one hour. (Note: If you apply a second coat, do so either within one hour or after 24 hours.) We did the same with the mirror frame, after first taping off the edges and covering the mirror with newspaper. We removed the tape while the paint was still tacky. After waiting 24 hours for the piece to dry completely, we put the mirror back on, and installed some new drawer pulls we had found that matched the room décor.

Preparation is always the most crucial stage of any project, and because of the condition of this “diamond-in-the-rough,” it took more meticulous attention. But in the end, we discovered that even the most neglected piece has inherent beauty, just waiting for someone with a little bit of vision, a little patience, and a love of creating something new.

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