The older we get, the more important it is to try to maintain health. My husband and I benefit greatly from taking supplements but the bottles clutter the table where they're used in the dining room. There had to be a better way to organize our supplements and declutter the table (you'll see the embarrassing before picture later in this Instructable).
My crazy idea was to put a medicine cabinet right on the wall beside the buffet in our formal dining room. Since we take our supplements during mealtime, it made sense to keep them close at hand. You wouldn’t think that a medicine cabinet - in the dining room of all places - would turn out to be a sleek storage solution, but I think we managed to pull it off.
The original plan was to find a vintage wall cabinet that we could makeover, but one day while perusing Ikea’s ‘Now or Never’ sale online, I spotted a clearance of Godmorgon wall cabinets. It was a great storage score at half the original price, however the finish was less than ideal. The unappealing white stained oak effect is probably why the cabinets were being cleared.
Not a problem: we decided to update the finish with paint! If you didn’t know that you could paint right over a melamine finish, this Instructable will explain how.
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Step 1: Materials and Prep
- Ikea Godmorgon Cabinet. The cabinet is still available, but in different colours than the discontinued one we purchased.
- Paint (we used leftover latex wall paint)
- Primer (we used Stix Insl-X)
- Crackle Medium
- Paint roller (lint free)
- Fine grit sandpaper
- Anchor plugs (if needed)
Varathane Diamond Wood Finish, Water Based, Satin
Sand the OUTSIDE surfaces of the cabinet lightly with fine sandpaper (we didn't paint the inside so you don't need to sand there). You just want to give the surface some tooth, not scratch it. Remove the dust (Hubs lightly mists a cotton cloth with water and wipes the surfaces clean).
Then prime with a really good product that will stick to anything! We use a primer called Stix Insl-X (3rd pic). As a professional painter, this is the one Hubs recommends and uses for all our projects where adhesion is important.
Step 2: A Happy Accident
Originally after priming the cabinet, we were going to paint it the same colour as the walls in our dining room so it would blend right in.
Hubs found what he thought was our spare can of paint and took the pieces outside to paint them. Once they were dry, he brought them back inside. He had accidentally grabbed an old paint colour no longer used in our house. It was the wrong colour and just as ugly as the original cabinet finish!
In the comparison photo above you can see a sample of Hillsborough Beige on the left; the cabinet should have been painted the lighter Muslin colour shown on the right. Quite a difference.
When we went looking for the right paint, I had an epiphany when we also found a very old can of crackle finish: why not keep the base colour as-is, then use crackle in between the first and second coats to show the contrast between the two colours? It turned out to be one of those ‘happy accidents’! Had the right colour been used, I guess we would have called it a day and there would be no Instructable!
The can of crackle medium was so old that I wasn’t even sure if it would still work. As a matter of fact, the particular brand is no longer being made, but we had enough left for this small project so decided it would be worth a shot. Before using it on the actual cabinet, I tried it out on a piece of MDF first – just in case.
Step 3: Test Sample
It's a good idea to practice on another board first before painting your actual project; crackle paint can be finicky and it's best to get a feel for it.
I grabbed some raw pieces of MDF and primed it with the Stix Insl-X primer, then a coat of Hillsborough Beige to duplicate what was already on the cabinet.
On top of the Hillsborough Beige, I applied the crackle medium and let it dry for the specified amount of time.
After applying a coat of Muslin paint over the dried crackle, I got the big beautiful cracks you see in the last picture! I was pretty stoked that it worked!
However, when Hubs went to test it on the side pieces of the Ikea cabinet, it barely cracked. After a bit more practice and research, we discovered three things to ensure a good result:
- The top coat of paint has to be rolled on fairly thick;
- Only roll the paint once in each area (i.e. don’t go back over the paint once it’s applied); and
- Subsequent areas of paint should all be rolled in the same direction.
With these three things in mind, Hubs went ahead and applied the crackle and top coat of paint to the door. The crackle created large cracks just as I had hoped! The last two pictures show the original finish on the door and a closeup of how the crackle turned out. I just LOVE huge cracks!
To seal in all your hard work, topcoat with a few coats of Varathane and let dry according to the directions on the can. Then it's time for assembly.
Step 4: Assemble
We gathered all the parts, instructions and pieces together and worked on the floor.
As you can see, we didn’t bother to paint the inside of the cabinet because the finish on the interior is perfectly fine. It just would have been a waste of time and material. We didn’t have enough crackle medium anyway.
We started by assembling one of the sides with the two ends lining up the slots to receive the backer board.
When we slipped the backer board in, I realized that I preferred the grey colour to be facing the inside of the cabinet instead so we flipped it around and reinserted it. I didn’t want to see too much of the fake oak grain when I opened the door; it looks much better (last 3 pictures)!
Step 5: Hang the Cabinet
The side wall, right beside our buffet was the perfect spot to hang the cabinet. We brought the cabinet upstairs to the dining room, marked our measurements on the wall with green tape and ensured the marks were level.
Don’t forget when you’re marking the wall that the mounting holes are several inches down from the top of the cabinet. We decided to centre the cabinet vertically with the artwork on the adjacent wall.
We didn’t have any studs behind our marks so we used heavy duty E-Z Ancor plugs to hold the screws (see 3rd picture). You don’t even need a drill; they just screw right into the wall with a hand screw driver.
We pressed the tip of the anchor on our marks first, which left a small starter hole then removed the green tape and proceeded to screw in the plugs.
Step 6: Hang the Door
After installing the body of the cabinet and covering the mounting brackets with the supplied pieces, we added the hinges onto the door and hung the door on the cabinet.
Step 7: Before and After
The last step was to add the shelf pins and glass shelves then load in our supplements. In the first picture, you can see the backer board behind the supplements. I'm glad we flipped it around: it's more appealing than the fake oak and shows the contents better! Once you close the door, the cabinet blends right in with the decor.
The 3rd picture shows an embarrassing before of how cluttered our dining room used to be. With the supplements already cluttering the table, it became a dumping ground instead of the place we eat our meals at every day. The supplements are now organized neatly behind closed storage, drastically improving the form and function of the dining room.
Step 8: Ikea Cabinet Transformed by Crackle Finish!
Faux finishes may come and go – but the crackle finish now has a purposeful spot in our home. You could follow the same steps we used to improve the look of any storage cabinet in your home!
I love how this crackle cabinet looks in our dining room! I’m not sure if the pictures convey it as well as seeing it in person, but the cabinet is pretty shallow so looks more like a piece of artwork hanging on the wall than a medicine cabinet hiding away our supplements!
Since we already had the paint and crackle medium on hand, we got a lot of bang for the buck by transforming an Ikea cabinet!
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