Sometimes as a designer I will come across an idea, an inspiration that stops me in my tracks and consumes my thoughts. My mind starts spinning with “where can I put that in my home” and “do I have a budget to make this work”… I begin to explore and research what I’ve found until ultimately either A) I talk myself out of it (my husband will say that this never happens, but it actually does), or B) I find a way to make it happen. Several weeks ago, one such moment of inspiration happened, and it was such a fun project that I wanted to share it with you.
I had recently started working with a new client who wanted custom bedding for four bedrooms in a new home that she was purchasing. She knew her style well, and insisted that Ralph Lauren Alpine Lodge was the design she wanted, and the bedding was to be custom made from the fabrics in this collection. My first step was to sign up for a trade account with Ralph Lauren Home. I have long admired Ralph Lauren’s style, and was excited to have a project with this focus. I logged on to the website and made my way to the homepage for trade members… admiring everything along the way. And then it happened! There on the trade member page was a photo that stopped me in my tracks. A beautiful glass cabinet filled with vintage demijohns.
For those who follow me on Instagram, you probably already know that I am quite fond of vintage demijohns. My mother had found a collection of them sitting next to a dumpster in Germany long before I was born, and she had taken a few, one of which now belongs to me. This bottle from Germany was the beginning of my humble collection, a collection that had never been displayed in the manner that it truly deserved. But now, here it was, the perfect cabinet to display these pieces that meant so much to me. I had the perfect place in my bedroom for it! All I needed to do was replace the old wardrobe/tv cabinet that I had purchased at a Williams-Sonoma corporate sample sale for $150 a decade ago.
I eagerly searched the Ralph Lauren site to find the cabinet… praying it was still available. It was!!! AND… it was $13,000.00! Crap! That wasn’t going to happen. I was at the tail-end of a very long, very expensive renovation of my home. My husband would have a stroke if I bought this cabinet (even with the trade discount). But it was too late, I couldn’t un-see what I had seen. I couldn’t let go of the idea. This started a month-long search for the perfect cabinet. But any cabinet that I found would have big shoes to fill! If I can’t do something right, I would rather not do it. And if I was going to substitute the perfect cabinet for something else, it couldn’t feel like a compromise.
The search yielded a few contenders that were very nice, but still beyond a price that I felt comfortable with. This cabinet was going to need to be elegant, and a bargain. I was getting frustrated and a little sad. One afternoon as I stood in the bedroom on the verge of admitting defeat, I looked at the little Pottery Barn TV cabinet that had served me so well, and a vision began to form. This little mahogany cabinet could work! It could have an entirely new life… a life that would fit my budget! Thus began the project.
The first step was to let go of the concept of making this cabinet look just like the one I had found at Ralph Lauren Home. I had to let my little sample sale find speak to me about its own potential. It had the right foundation… simple lines and understated style (nothing fussy about it), perfect.
Here is what happened next:
1) Hardware removed. 2) Lightly sand cabinet with a fine-grit sandpaper.
Just enough to rough the surface and give the paint something to grab hold of.
3) Clean cabinet with a degreasing spray. 4) Apply primer to the cabinet. Primed! 5) Paint cabinet. For this project I chose Sherwin Williams Caviar. It will take at least two layers depending on color choice. Two coats of SW Caviar. 6) For this cabinet I wanted a time-worn look, so I painted a third layer using chalk paint in carbon. I followed this step immediately by hand-rubbing a final light layer of SW Caviar using a rag (this lets the chalk paint show through in places). 7) To bring in a hint of the warm wood tones that I wanted, I ordered a custom butcher block in white oak.
8) To hide the ugly TV panel in the back, I ordered a custom antiqued mirror and installed it with epoxy.
www.etsy.com: James, Custom Mirror Designs
9) To achieve the wide open glass-front look of the inspiration cabinet, I had custom glass-front doors made. They even followed my painting technique to match the rest of the cabinet.
10) Add my collection of old demijohns.