Studio McGee’s interior design has continued to be a source of inspiration for me. One of the many items from their furniture brand McGee & Co. that I swoon over is the Guthrie Cabinet. Its curved top, black trims and overall design make it irresistibly attractive.
After searching on Facebook Marketplace for 2 years, a second-hand glass cabinet listed at $300 came out of nowhere. I almost jumped off my chair when I saw it. It looked just like the cabinet of my DREAMS. When the seller accepted my offer of $150, I couldn’t believe my luck. I almost decided to get it during a major snow storm. (Well, I’m not that crazy. But I did persuade my husband to rent a truck and drive more than an hour with me to bring it home.)
In this blog post, I will share how I refinished this rare find and turned it into something that looked like a million bucks! The steps are similar to the IKEA hack I did in this post. But the best part about this particular project is I was able to achieve a super smooth finish, with only brush and roller. Read on to find out more.
|Skill Level||Material Cost||Time|
|Beginner||Around $200 (tools and cabinet itself not included)||18 hours|
- Drop Cloth
- 220 Grit Sandpaper (3M Maroon Sanding Pad 2 Pack )
- Tack Cloth
- Primer (Clear Shellac Spray or Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3)
- Paint (GF Milk Paint in Lamp Black 1 Pint )
- New Backing (4×8 Beadboard Panel)
- Wood Stain (GF Gel Stain American Oak 1/2 Pint)
- New Shelves (3/4″ White Oak Plywood)
- Topcoat (GF High Performance Flat 1 Pint)
- Edge Banding
Here is a flowchart on all the basic steps. Download the image for future reference.
Step 1. Disassemble
The first thing I did with this project was to remove the back. I was so excited to get started, I decided to tackle this all by myself. Big mistake.
There were actually two separate mirrors secured to the cabinet with screws and staples. When I took off the cardboard back, the bottom piece had no support and shattered into shape pieces. YIKES!
Then manually yanked out some really stubborn staples.
I was extremely careful with the other pieces of glass after the shattered mirror accident. If I broke another one, I feared it’d be the most short-lived DIY ever. The good news was the glass was held to the cabinet with removeable rubber. It was a breeze to remove the glass at least.
Tip: Lowe’s sells replacement glass and can cut the glass for you real cheap.
Step 2. Paint
With all the parts removed, I did a light sanding with my go-to sanding pad. It took an entire hour. The cabinet is humongous.
My original plan was to spray paint the exterior black. For whatever reason (probably because I didn’t add enough paint to the cup or seal it properly), I couldn’t make the spray gun work consistently. I didn’t want to risk it and went back to good old brush and roller.
Nervous if I’d get brush strokes or orange peel texture.
Moment of truth. The finish turned out AHHHMAZING. It went on so smooth with my roller. There was no visible texture at all. It was my first time using this milk paint. And I was SOLD!
Highly recommend this high density foam roller. It didn’t shed like the Mohair roller I used to use, and gave a texture-free finish. Don’t forget to sand between coats to remove imperfections. It takes more time. But trust me, it’s worth it.
Step 3. Upgrade the back and shelving (optional)
Time to bring out the big guns. I used a circular saw to cut this 4×8 beadboard to size, and a jig saw to cut the curved top. Note that this step is completely optional. If you don’t use power tools, you can cover up the back with wallpaper or paint.
Did the same to the 3/4″ white oak boards. I got these in the size of 2 feet by 4 feet from Home Depot for $33 each. They make exactly four 37″ wide shelves for the cabinet.
Tip: use painter’s tape to prevent tearout. (Article from FineWoodworking)
Phew! It felt great to get all the pieces ready. I stained the shelves in General Finishes’s Gel Stain American Oak. It matched perfectly with the existing wood finish. Woohoo! For the beadboard, I used Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace. I also added edge banding to the edge of the plywood shelves and painted it in Sherwin William’s Tricorn Black. Any pure black or white paint of 8 oz. sample size should work. You don’t really need a lot of paint for this step.
Step 4. Seal
Based on past experience, I knew topcoat was critical in protecting the finish. So I added three coats of General Finish’s High Performance topcoat (flat). Again with brush and roller.
Tip: Combine a small amount of the milk paint with water-based topcoat to make a tinted mix. This helps the clear topcoat blend in with the black paint, which tend to look streaky after applying topcoat.
The milk paint takes 21 days to fully cure. Of course, I had no chill, and decorated the shelves right away.
Simply gorgeous! I LOVE the arch, the sleek black frame, the white beadboard, and these wood shelves. It brought elegance and charm to my otherwise dull entryway.
One last thing. Try these keywords in search, if you’re looking for one to flip:
- Curio Cabinet
- Display Cabinet
- Glass Bookcase
- You can also add in words such as “curved”, “arched”, “round” or “bowed” to be narrow down the search.
Philip Reinisch Company was one of the makers of this type of curio cabinets. Mine was made in Wisconsin. If you don’t find one right away, don’t give up. It’s probably out there somewhere. Better yet, wait for the build plan that I will try to figure out. I think we can build this from scratch for about the same cost.
Check out how others flipped this arched cabinet:
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