apothecary cabinet facelift + some valuable lessons about home decor (and life).

Monday, September 1, 2014

You know when you have an abstract vision of something, a mental image with blurry edges, but you think I'll know it when I see it? That was me with our room. Our whole house, if I'm honest.

Because, at the ripe old age of 33, I'm finally figuring out what my style is, how it translates to our current home (and future homes, I hope); meanwhile casting away those old tenancies to hold back. I held back for a variety of reasons, too many to list individually, but I've been rather amazed at what it is my ideal home actually looks like. (Hint: nothing like I thought it would.) And although the carpet in this house isn't what I'd have chosen, and the walls are a little too white for my taste, I've learned that is possible to make it very much our own.

In this whole process, I have come to realize that I have overlapping tastes in home decor: shabby chic meets rustic farmhouse in the dining room; light, bright and ethereal in the master bedroom and my desk area; modern and sleek with black and white elements in the living room.

You know what? It works! I wish I could go back and give 24-year-old me permission to explore all these different vibes rather than feeling boxed in by the need to just choose one style already!.

If I could sum up this whole process of self-discovery, because that seems to be what your thirties are for, I've decided, it would come down to three words: trust your instincts. If there is one thing I've learned, it's that things fall into place. Sometimes the improbable pieces, seeming so opposite on the surface, can work together quite nicely.

And if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. That zany but oh so charming shabby chic jackalope art I just had to have? It went from room to room trying out various walls until it found it's perfect home in the unlikeliest place: our downstairs half bathroom.

In the event it simply can't be made to work, or we don't love it after all, we return it or sell it. It's okay to admit defeat. (Whaaat?! A revelation, I tell you.) Life is too short to live with things that don't make you happy. The minutia and inconveniences that accompany the day-to-day is something that must be endured; not so for unlovable things.

Fortunately, came to said revelations soon after our move and just in time to find this beauty. I was on the hunt for a shelf or cabinet of some sort to replace a piece we left behind; something to add storage whilst filling an empty wall in our bedroom.

About a week after we moved in, Mario suggested we take an afternoon drive to Aurora, Oregon, a quaint village known for its antique stores. It was just twenty minutes shy of closing time when I spied an awesome apothecary cabinet in the back of a store. It was filled with do dads for sale and looked very much a fixture... but! upon closer inspection lay a price tag.

It's no secret that I carry a deep-seeded love for old apothecary items. Pyrex beakers and flasks, glass-front cabinets... I attribute it to the biologist side of my personality. And so, after forking over a mere $126, it was ours.

Our house was barely unpacked, and there were a million projects that lay ahead of this one on my to-do list, like, for instance, finding my underthings, but this piece inspired me.

I shook the post-move cobwebs from my brain and set to work. I think the rest of the house has this cabinet to thank for for getting me out of a long-standing home-decor rut. 

So, in the end, this is the rather long retelling of how Sarah got her groove back. How she envisioned wallpapering a cabinet with wrapping paper and made it so. (As the great Captain Jean-Luc Picard would say.)

It's also the story of how she dared to place an apothecary cabinet, perhaps better suited elsewhere, in a bedroom and shocked both her and her husband by making it work. Which was the beginning of great things, in hindsight, and the push she needed to change the way she thought of her home, and herself.

(Dramatic, no? You might think it is the portal to Narnia rather than being a mere cabinet. But sometimes the littlest things prompt change, and this project was no exception.)

Green on the inside, white on the outside. A little roughed up and in need of some TLC. But the bones are quite beautiful.
Painting on carpet is risky. In a rental no less. I'm setting a terrible example. But it is about 6' tall and made of solid wood and thick glass, so lugging it back downstairs and out to the garage seemed like a lot of work for a quick paint job. I was careful and our security deposit was left unscathed.
It took three 19.5" x 27" sheets of paper to cover the back. I'll admit, my inner-perfectionist freaked out a few times along the way. Wrinkles! Oh, the wrinkles (see above photo). Fortunately, most faded away once the Mod Podge dried and the rest go unnoticed with the shelves in place. The best method was to work in sections from right to left, smoothing as I went. Also, work quickly. Because I used decorative paper as opposed to wall paper, the Mod Podge made it soft. If I waited too long, it didn't cut well with the knife, instead tearing. I debated using spray adhesive instead, but was unsure about its long-term staying power and how it would grip the uneven areas in the old wood backing.
My husband wisely stayed away during this part of the project.

Now I have place to stow favorite books (or those high on my must-read list), Kiddo's art projects made for me throughout the years, jewelry, and other tchotchkes in need of a place to rest.


Antique apothecary cabinet // $126
Olympic One Interior Latex Paint (eggshell finish) in Babbling Brook //  $15
Paper Source Mint Floral Wrapping paper (3 sheets) // $17.85

Total: $158.85*

(*Note: I already had the Mod Podge, paint brush, and X-Acto knife on hand, so I didn't incur any additional costs with those items. They certainly weren't free, but I didn't count them in the final cost of this project.)

In the end I'm left with a really beautiful, solidly made piece I will probably have forever.

But, perhaps more importantly, I'm left with valuable lessons learned, some added bravery, and a whole lot more courage when it comes to my home.

(Not to mention proof that one can snowball debt and decorate a home with a few items not purchased at Ikea.)

{Linking up with Molly and Carly}

1 comment :

  1. What a fun project! So beautiful!

    God bless,
    XO, Claire


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