I came across this lovely piece of furniture about 1 month ago. This glass cabinet was in such an unremarkable state when I found it, that at first I did not even consider putting work into it.

This is what I came across. The two pieces looked rather boring and bulky and weren’t  even stored together. The top part was in the air-raid shelter at my grandparents house and the bottom part has been in use by my dad for his cloths at work.

However, my mum remembered that she used to have them together and that’s where I became curious and could imagine it in my own living room.

I’ve made a deal with my dad to trade the old bulky thing with a kind-of-new IKEA drawer and three days later, I organised a car and picked up my living-room-bar-and-storage-to-be.

I had three different ideas on how to restore the thing.

  • beige option (inspired by the following pin)

  • grey option (inspired by the following pin)

  • style as the original but refreshed

For now, I chose option 3 because it was important to me to keep the character of the furniture alive (my mum had it in her living room as she was a young women, some 35 years ago). Also I figured once the sanding and varnishing of the wood is done, it will be an easy and quick thing to still try either option 1 or 2 by painting them in a cool grey or lovely beige.

Things you have to consider when going for option 3:

  • You will have to sand the whole piece of furniture thoroughly. Depending on how delicate the wooden details are this can be a massive amount of work, that I would not sign up for.
  • Consider investing into a sanding machine. You can get good value options at your DIY market for about 50$.
  • You will have to do the sanding outside! The fine dust production is immense and you definitely should wear a mask and (if working with a machine) ear protection.

If you have the chance of working outside, I btw did mine on my tiny balcony …


… I moved the white drawer inside though, clear that area of all that is in a radius of about 5-10 meters. It will get real dusty, trust me!

Before you plug in that sanding machine and start creating clouds remove all parts from the furniture such as doors or knobs. Furthermore, remember to cover all glass parts from scratches with tape (two layers and you still have to make sure not to touch is because the tape will not hold). Store all the lose parts in a bag and keep it safe. There is nothing more annoying than losing a screw and not being able to reassemble your all fresh furniture.

So we start with the sanding. Make sure you have a set of grain sizes ready to use with your machine. I had three different grain sizes but did not care to have an all smooth finish because I don’t mind the rustic look. You start with the biggest grain size (smallest number on the sanding sheet – mine was about 100) and sand all the surfaces. Then take the next smaller sheet and do the same with that grain size. And so on until you have reached the desired smoothness and more importantly (!) the previous staining is gone. In the end, you will  see the natural colour of the wood which, in my case, was the pale yellow of coniferous wood.

In a next step you will use a brush and damp cloth to remove all dust from your sanded furniture.

When the furniture has dried completely it is time to apply the varnish.

I chose a water based varnish from the local DIY market for about 10$ (250 ml) in a warm walnut tree colour. 250 ml was enough for one layer of varnish. Buy a varnish brush (one wide one for large surfaces and a slimmer one for delicate details). And make sure you have old newspaper of better even a plastic sheet at hand to cover the surface you work on (in my case the hallway in my apartment). I expected the varnish to be more like a paint but it was far from it. It was like water. So when you are crossing the room with your varnish soaked brush make sure you are not dripping all over your floor (I just got a piece of kitchen towel to make sure any drippings will land on that rather than the wooden floor). Further, make sure your strokes are gentle and when you come towards a corner or edge slow down your speed since otherwise the varnish will go anywhere. Another useful tip is that when you apply the varnish, make sure you do it quick and don’t let all the stain soak into one spot which it will very quickly. Best is to try out how the varnish feels on a spot of the furniture that isnt visible or at least less visible. For me it was easiest to turn whichever surface i was working on into a flat position and then apply the varnish and quickly brush over it in flowing strokes. Also make sure not to change directions of brush strokes or going from an up and down to a circle movement halfway covering the furniture. It is likely that you will see this difference in different patterns of varnish.

After varnishing the wood you can chose weather you want to apply more coats or seal the surface with some product. I didn’t apply another coat because I didn’t want the cabinet to get any darker than it already was with one layer of varnish. Furthermore, I didn’t seal it with wax or clear paint because I have a feeling that in the near future I might wanna paint over it again and leaving the surface unsealed will make this easier.

In the very end you just need to put some pretty knobs. I’ve had these for ages now and I think they look lovely on this dark wood.

I love how it turned out! I keep all our whisky and other minds of liquors in the cabinet and in the lower part I keep place mats for the table, candles and all sorts of things I use when entertaining guests at home.





If you have any questions at all or need some tipps on your specific piece of furniture feel free to ask in the comment section. I am happy to help with your projects.

Posted by:noëlle

9 replies on “The Glass Cabinet

  1. I love the way this turned out! I’m thrilled you kept the original styling without painting it. I have a washstand that has been passed down to me for a few generations. It’s my favourite item, yet I’m not sure how to show off its character. I think it needs a little refurbishing to shine like yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! In the past I always found it hard to decide NOT to paint over wood. I painted everything white or in some colour. These days I think the furniture loses a lot of character like that. And the different woods have grown on me. I am fascinated by their different colours and properties.
      Anyway, as for your washstand. Definitely give it a try! During my project I’ve learnt that wood is a very forgiving material. For example, while I was sanding, I’d be worried that there would be some pattern if i didn’t keep my movements even. But I continued working while calming myself with the thought that I could just re-sand it 😛 and in the end everything turned out just the way I wanted. Also with the varnish itself the working process it quite easy and forgiving. It’s more like a gentle coating process rather then a covering it up using some acrylic paint.
      I’ll keep reading your posts and look out for the washstand! I am curious about how you will refurbish it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I made a post about it! I’m going to get some sandpaper to refinish it this weekend. The only part that bugs me about it is the surface. Everything else looks fine on it. Still kicking myself for spilling tea and leaving my cast iron tea pot on it. Lesson learned.


    1. You are more than welcome! That’s what my blog is here for. I am happy to hear it inspired you.
      I just saw that the post of your washstand. It’s already online! I really hope I can catch up soon on all the work you have been doing. You are so quick and I really want to read all of it. They look awesome 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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