Stepback Cupboard

Stepback cupboards have a top section which is set back from the bottom.  They are a popular design which dates back centuries.  The cupboard that I painted was primitive in design and handmade.  The stain which was opaque was dried out and peeling away in most places.  This is what it looked like on Etsy where I purchased it from a local business called  In the Raw Vintage.

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I had to do a lot of sanding to get rid of that peeling stain.


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I painted the cupboard in Annie Sloan Country Grey and added Old White dry brushing to give it texture.  The inside was painted in a Provence mix.

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This is a closer view of the dry brushing.  Country Grey is a perfect colour for a rustic piece like this.  It is a neutral “greige”and the type of colour you see on old furniture.  I don’t think the handles and knobs were original but they are old brass.  I painted them with  both colours and added copper gilding.  Now they look like verdigris.


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The painted version is definitely an upgrade over the original which was not usable in its peeling state.

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Arts and Crafts Style Desk

The Arts and Crafts movement took place between the 1880’s and 1920’s.  It emphasized traditional artisan techniques and craftsmanship and was a reaction to mass produced furnishings.  William Morris, who is seen as the father of this movement in England, believed that things should be functional as well as beautiful, and made from local materials.  Gustav Stickley is associated with the movement in the US and his influence can still be seen in furniture and the popular craftsman style bungalows that are all over North America.

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This oak desk is in the Arts and Crafts style; it is also known as a library table or a Stickley desk.  It is solid oak, is very plain except for the small backboard and has shelves on the side.  Most of the Stickley desks have arched slats in the front rather than the solid piece that this one has.  I don’t think this desk is an antique but it is old and very well made.  I stripped the top and used an oxidizing mixture on it because I wanted a weathered, rustic look.  You can read about how to oxidize wood here. It turned out to be a good decision because after many sandings, I could not remove all the scratches and discolorations.oak desk 3

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Oxidizing reacts with the tannins in the wood and turns them black or grey like you see on wood that has been exposed to the elements.  I painted the base in Annie Sloan’s Emperor’s Silk which is a bright red that goes well with the rustic look. I applied dark wax as well because it adds depth and texture.  I am not a dark wax fan except for this type of look and on dark colours.

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The knobs are old wood ones that I had lying around.  I also painted the inside of the drawers after spending 2 hours removing the adhesive from contact paper.  I tried Goo Gone but it didn’t work and eventually I used cooking oil, a scraper and dish soap to remove the oil.

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Making Broken Beautiful | No. 28