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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Dining Room Dilemma 1: What to do with an Outdated China Cabinet

Zac and KayleighNovember 26, 2012
As my husband and I remodel our house that was remodeled in the 70s, we're trying to make the house more modern, but keep it simple. There is a big china cabinet that may or may not be built in (it touches the ceiling) that makes our 7ft walls look even smaller. One pro: it blocks off the bedroom to create more privacy. Should we take it out completely, sand it and make it look more modern, or leave it as is?
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The wood looks attractive. Is it in good condition? Do the drawers open easily? If yes, then I would keep it. It would look better without the do-dad on top and with new hardward, but I'm afrain that if you remove the trim the wood will be a different color since it wasn't finished. I hate to say it but you best option might be to paint it. I would remove the trim and change the hardware. Then paint it a high gloss in a accent color to make it a feature.
Moroccan Lounge · More Info
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are two examples.
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 10:59AM
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def take the wavy piece off the top first, and exchange new modern hardware. The same stain/finish MAY be underneath. If it is I would keep the wood.
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 11:11AM
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I had a china cabinet similar to this. I got rid of the top portion, removed the lower doors to leave the shelves inside exposed and primed and painted it white. A little bit of wood filler in the holes from the hinges and nobody notices that there used to be doors on it. New hardware and it looks amazing. Make sure to buy the paint designed for cabinets though so the finish will last.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 11:21AM
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Zac and Kayleigh
Thank you! So helpful - great ideas that we wouldn't have thought of. The wood IS in very good condition. Painting it seems like a good option as well as making it the main feature of the room. We will definitely remove the wavy trim and update the hardware.
    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 11:32AM
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definitely paint it...the wood is overpowering the room. To go more modern you could either paper the interior in a bold black and white or other _____ and white pattern and then display white objects against that. or, you could mirror the back to create sparkle in the room. You could also paint the interior a gloss black if that works with your color scheme; that would be rather dramatic. You could add books, perhaps stacked rather than standing upright for a more modern feel. If you really want it to receed, paint it the color of the walls, though in semigloss rather than the eggshell of the walls. Painting it will require some work, sanding, a proper primer, and then the paint; if it comes out and apart and if you can afford it, a good cabinetmaker with a spray booth could put a spray lacquer on it in any finish (eggshell, semigloss, etc), which would give a true furniture feel. It's hard to tell if it's built in from the photos, but if it works in that space then I'd leave it, make it visually receed into the room and enjoy the storage and display opportunities.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 2:07PM
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Paint it.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 2:22PM
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Paint it to blend with your walls. Remove all the contents and shelves and measure the back. Attach some pretty paper to foam board cut to the back's dimensions, then load everything back up again. You'll have a brand new piece of furniture!
1 Like    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 2:25PM
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have a professional paint it white or a cream depending on whether the color on the rest of the walls is cool or warm; change hardware and i would have the counter stained a deeper color than what is on there presently. similar to this - http://www.google.com/imgres?q=white+built+in+with+stained+counter&um=1&hl=en&client=safari&sa=N&tbo=d&rls=en&biw=1200&bih=930&tbm=isch&tbnid=dlSfH4azL95BJM:&imgrefurl=http://pinterest.com/keltaft/kitchen-ideas/&docid=6ly5d6pQNlfOLM&imgurl=http://media-cache-ec3.pinterest.com/upload/89860955034375876_H8nQ6YM7_b.jpg&w=192&h=288&ei=t_yzUKGjHYOB0AGjqYHQCg&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=314&sig=111128645847049265232&page=1&tbnh=151&tbnw=97&start=0&ndsp=36&ved=1t:429,r:17,s:0,i:138&tx=47&ty=102

i really like the look of most of the built in painted and the counter top remaining stained. you could also remove the doors from the bottom and put a decorative mesh or wire or something that you still can't see into but looks different.

if you do go with papering the back, consider a gold. i recently was in a space that had painted white bookshelves with gold papering in the background and all white-papered books and white vases, etc and it looked great!
1 Like    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 3:35PM
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painting it will bring new life to the piece and will look great with your light fixture, is that vintage too ?
the floor is wacky cool, a nice big soft rug would look great on it. have fun with it, just post more pictures as you have it done, we houzzers want to see ya know !
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 4:01PM
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Tenant Proof
Save yourself, time, money and hassle by embracing your authentic 70's china cabinet. This is a great storage piece with a warm wood tone. You might try removing the wavy wood thing at the top otherwise just leave it alone. Anything you do to update it will only make it look dated in a few years anyway. If you paint it you will have ongoing painting maintenance issues as the paint chips or fades. Check out Retro Renovation, a blog that's mission is to embrace the house you have and celebrate the era in which it was built. This is less expensive in the long run, is lots of fun and adds to your properties value as long as the electrical, heating and water systems are up to date. Best of luck to you.
3 Likes    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 4:57PM
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Zac and Kayleigh
If we paint it, any ideas of what color if our walls are Navajo White?


Thank you all, design is very much so NOT our strength in diy - we are so appreciative of all the insights!
    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 6:32PM
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Blue Fox Farm
I would paint it kind of shabby chic, with white/off white paint, sanded off on all the edges. Or, pale green, pale blue, or even a darker color underneath, with white paint on top, sanded to reveal the under coat. Don't sweat it, it's only paint!
1 Like    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 11:21AM
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I just posted someplace else, but simply remove the top window doors to give it a more updated look! Did that to mine and am pleased with the look. Put some modern, decorative baskets there (can easily purchase from TJ Maxx and use for storage). Change up your selves with a only a few photo frames, add books, and other items you have around the house that give it a more modern feel. If that doesn't work, paint the back of the cabinet first before painting the entire cabinet. One step at a time to achieve the look you want for this room.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2015 at 6:32AM
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