Antiqueing Kitchen Cabinets and Creating Wood Icing Designs

4 Materials
3 Months

I antiqued my kitchen cabinets in 2017, but didn't like the way they turned out. The results were too dark, and had a yellow tint from using polyurethane coating. I should have researched and used a non-yellowing variety, you know what they say about hindsight. I decided to repaint this year as many remodeling projects are done. It is a slow project, as I'm doing small sections at a time and not trying to take on the whole kitchen at once like I did the last time.

I started working on my "redo" in Jan. 2020. I worked on it a section at a time, when it was raining or cold, and my outdoor activities were limited. I used our extra bedroom as a work shop, after putting old sheets on the furniture to protect it from dust and paint. I decided to add a wood icing type of embellishment of flowers on the top row cabinet doors, and purchased a stencil just for this. I also wanted to add a hidden trash can cubby where the kitchen counter had a 'desk' area built in. Prior to this, we had to enter the pantry for recycle and leftover/food source trash cans. I compost the veggie leftovers, but use a can for leftovers that don't go in my trash compactor or garbage disposal. I started on the trash can cubby first. After experimenting with a version of a slide out with 2 cans in a frame, and also with tilt out versions, I settled on 2 individual pull out cans. I still have some trim components around the trash cubby to completely finish and paint. I am currently working on the laundry end of the kitchen where the large appliance storage area cabinets are located, but the cabinets in the main kitchen area are complete.

Wood icing using Wallboard Joint compound

I purchased a stencil with flowers which I intended to use for the cabinets. Tape the stencil down with blue frog painting tape, and using a putty knife, put a thin layer of joint compound on the stencil. Carefully lift the stencil up and the design stays in place. Once the joint compound dries, you lightly sand the raised edges caused by the putty knife, then paint the cabinet door. This protects the joint compound from dissolving. If you look at the photo, you can see the lines the putty knife left in the design.

Wood icing prior to sanding

This was the design on the already antiqued doors. You can see the raised edges on the pattern that needs to be sanded down.

Painting doors with sanded wood icing design dried

After sanding the doors, drawers and cabinet frames to prep the wood and the old finish to accept the paint, I rolled and brushed on 2 coats of the interior eggshell paint.

Kitchen desk cubby transformed to trash can cubby

This was the desk cubby I needed to transform to hold 2 trashcans, and trim to match the rest of the cabinets. One of the challenging issues was this area under the drawer was anything but square and level. I was so lucky that I had moved cabinets from the pantry out to the garage! When we first remodeled the kitchen, I turned the butler's pantry into a closed pantry with a barn door. I removed the cabinets to make room for my freezer, putting the bottom cabinets in the garage and the top cabinets over my washer and dryer. I used the 2 doors that matched the kitchen to create the hidden trash cubby. The doors are miter cut design, and I couldn't find a custom cabinet maker that still uses miter cuts in Columbia.

Trash can cubby creation

I literally tried 2 other options before settling on roll out cans. I tried mounting drawer slides so the door would be one solid unit and slide out behind the 2 doors for use. Since the area was not square, I could not get the drawer slides to work. So I tried 2 different tilting door designs. Again, I kept running into issues with the floor and interior not being squared or level (40 yr old home). I finally resigned to install 2 roll out cans, one on each side. This photo is before the center trim piece was added. I had already cut and framed a square of 2x4s to use as a slide out drawer from the top for 2 cans to pop into, so I moved those under the cans to raise the cans up above the kick board . Then I lined up both cans directly behind where the doors would open. This worked perfectly. Only thing left was to cut the center and left trim piece and install for the doors with matching hinges and new handles, plus the center trim piece that the doors rest against.

trash cubby complete

This is the "almost" finalized corner. I antiqued each drawer and door much lighter than the original paint job. You can see how dark the first job I did 3 years ago with the cabinets in the background, to the right. That isn't lighting! It was literally the same color paint, but the antiquing was much darker and the poly turned it a yellow tint.

remove and sand doors and drawers

I used a small hand held orbital sander for the flat surfaces, then used coarse grit by hand to prep the surface of the mitered edges for paint. I had to rough up the poly coat, and sanded both sides of the door. After painting, I only used antiquing glaze on the outside. I used the same antiquing glaze from Lowes as I did before, BUT this time I used a wet cloth to remove the antiqueing glaze to the level I wanted. The first time I used dry cloth as directed on the antiquing instructions.

Doors painted and installed

I put the doors back up but they still didn't provide the effect I was looking for on the raised design of the flowers, although the antiquing did help to define them. I decided to paint the designs with acrylic paint to make it pop even more.

Cabinet view of before and after

You can see how dark and yellow the cabinets were under the counter, as compared to the newly painted and antiqued upper cabinets. Much happier with the results!

Wood icing close up painted with acrylics

I took 3 colors of acrylic paint, white, gold metallic and gold to paint the flowers white, the center of the flowers were gold metallic, and the stems a golden brown. I used the same green on the kitchen walls to do the green of the flower bud base and nubs on the stems.

Cabinets completed

I painted all of the upper cabinet flowers the same, with the acrylic paint.

cabinets completed after

The entire look brightens up the kitchen immensely! Much lighter, making the cabinets and copper penny backsplash stand out even more.

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Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

3 of 16 questions
  • Susie Susie on May 05, 2020

    Have you thought about lightening the backsplash to a different lighter color?? It might enhance the total look??

  • Gail Gail on Mar 08, 2021

    List the order in which the steps are done, please.

  • Mary Fox Mary Fox on Mar 09, 2021

    What to usr behind a range that has no backdrop


Join the conversation

2 of 93 comments
  • DOLORES DOLORES on Mar 08, 2021

    You did a beautiful job. It looks great. I do not have the patience to do this but wish I could..

  • Helen Helen on Mar 08, 2021

    Gorgeous final work!