October 2017, armed with 2 PB&Js, Vitamin Water, and Gatorade I freed this hand-crafted, almost 100 year old built-in from the wall it was encased in. It was one of the many vintage/cool elements that vandals left relatively untouched that made me fall instantly in love with this house. I knew before the house was mine it would have a relocated home in my kitchen and today marked the day her restoration was complete.
Picking up where I left off with moving her back to the kitchen I completed restoring the doors. The two smaller doors at the top were a simple clean with Murphy Oil Soap water to remove the dust, followed by denatured alcohol, outside only with alcohol. Once dried I applied Howard’s Feed and Wax. Like the bottom door, I decided to sand the glass doors, apply the Zar’s Early American stain, followed by the Howard’s.
Most of the door hinges were rusted, so over a year ago, I cleaned them up by soaking them in vinegar. I sprayed them liberally with WD40 and placed them in labeled plastic bags waiting for this moment.
The drawers were missing from the beginning. When I picked up my bathroom vanity from Homestead Furniture I noticed shelves of drawer boxes, so I asked if this was something I could purchase from them. The answer was yes, so when I returned home I took measurements and ordered them. I already had the plan for the drawer fronts in my mind. The original closet shelves in the attic space were in the same stain/patina as the cabinet. I just had to cut to size four fronts on my table saw. The sharp edge from the saw I did not think was fitting of a 100-year old cabinet, so I used my palm sander to round over the edges. I applied the Zar stain to the edges and sides due to the fresh cut and again applied the Howard’s.
To attach the fronts to the drawer boxes I drilled counter-sink #8 holes in each corner of the drawer boxes, applied wood glue, and screwed 1”, #8 screws through the boxes and into the fronts. The bottom drawer is the only drawer I did not glue as I that drawer may get altered in the future. It is also the only drawer to get drawer slides. I did have to alter the drawer box to accommodate the slide, but my JobMax tool made easy work of that.
The top three drawers I am operating the way they were built, sliding on the wood frame, although I did add Nylo-Tape to make the slide smoother and to stop further deepening the wear groove. To stop the drawers from being pulled completely out I added plastic drawer stops, both found at Rockler Woodworking.
The bottom drawer got special treatment because it now my hidden dog feeder. I saw this idea on many of the HGTV/DIY shows. I thought it was an awesome idea. I never measured my dogs, assuming the bottom drawer was low enough. The height of the drawer box I based off their current bowls. It is almost too high for them, so I bought new shallower bowls and even though I had the scrap piece of plywood, I purchased a 2’x2’ piece of thinner wood to lower it more. They took to the new meal location with ease and already stand in front of the drawer when they know its time to eat.
The final touch to the drawers were some vintage pulls I found on Ebay. I searched vintage/antique built-ins on the Internet and all seemed to have cup pulls. The wear pattern on these I thought was fitting. They didn’t come with screws, but I found antique copper specialty screws at Lowes. The Phillips head is the only thing that speaks modern.
The shelves were covered in red gingham contact paper. It was filthy and not fully in tack on all the shelves. The idea popped in my head to look for blue gingham contact paper on Amazon and I found it. My motto is Ask Google, Shop Amazon. I will say it was hard to work with, very difficult to separate the peel off paper. Luckily one roll was enough as I bought it December 2018. Blue is no longer available. I applied it to all the shelves and the top of the dog’s pull out tray. The bottom stationary shelf I didn’t try to remove the remaining old adhesive and the new did not go on smooth. For the three adjustable shelves I took a damp dish towel and applied heat from my iron. The old peeled off in relative ease.
With all the doors, drawers, and shelves installed, all that was left was the counter top. The original was just a piece of thin metal covered with contact paper. I knew when I freed her I wanted to put on a piece of soapstone. Nicole Curtis used soapstone in one of her renovation and I it was so cool. Over a year ago I found a remnant piece at Ohio Valley Solid Surface. I paid for it in full, less than $300, and they have stored it in their yard until I was ready for it.
I picked up a scrap piece because I knew I would need to notch the cabinet in order for it to fit. I wanted to put stain on the cut areas and have the space completely ready, so all they’d need to do was slide the top in place.
The same men that delivered my kitchen and master bath counters brought the soapstone. Their first task was remeasuring the cabinet. They determined that more needed to be shaved off before bringing it into the house. After shaving it off they cleaned it with alcohol. That was the first time I saw the huge veins, beautiful, I was giddy with joy.
They carried it into the house, but had to remove a bit more wood from my notch before it would completely slide in. Once in they applied the first of what will be many coats of mineral oil. From what I’ve read it will take 5-6 coats before it stays dark. The edge of the stone is beveled. I was pleasantly surprised to see that as I assumed it would be rounded like the other counter. However Emily, my sales person, had in her notes that we discussed a beveled edge would be more fitting given the age of the cabinet. That was a conversation I did not remember, but glad she did.
It’s absolutely beautiful, everything exactly as I envisioned.