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How to upcycle an old cupboard into your own cocktail bar

So many of us are wanting to recycle, reduce and re-use resources, it’s no wonder that upcycling and upfurbishing is such big news right now. It feels good to take an unloved or overlooked piece of furniture and give it new life.

This old oak cupboard had been lurking in an antiques centre for some time. Perhaps too big, too heavy, too much of a statement for most homeowners, but when you see a piece like this it can instantly dictate its own use if you apply a little imagination.

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Solid and sturdy, with a functioning lock to cupboard space beneath it’s safe around home or a workspace. Plus it had a pull out shelf at the front, ideal for creating a little extra workspace for ice and a slice or to mix the perfect serve. There’s even a chunky drawer for bar accessories, hors d’oeurves dishes and coasters.

The super solid top surface had picked up some knocks over the years and showed evidence of a previously attached cabinet, maybe a glass display case or additional top cupboard. A little wood filler and clever hand painting disguised the evidence and created a surface to sand and then apply a stain. The great thing about water based furniture paints is that they are so versatile. In addition to overpainting a tired or dated surface you can simply add water to create a wash to stain an oak top then pep it up with clear or dark wax to revive the lustre of the wood. Good as new. Actually better!

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The body of the piece was painted in a bespoke mix of French Linen and Honfleur by Annie Sloan and I used dark tones to ‘contour blend’ all the amazing details adding to the sense of ‘faded grandeur' of the piece. A cumbersome ecclesiastical find is transformed into a rather handsome gentleman’s gin bar that would look great in a country lodge or boutique air bnb.

The addition of a piece of hand-painted bespoke wall art, created using layered paint given texture with Saltwash and a hand cut stencil really allows you to personalise your space. Next time you’re wandering around your local antiques market or car boot, try and reframe what you see. Can you spot a cocktail cabinet in waiting or desk to restyle as a kitchen bar? Using the same skills and processes you can create a snug little lifestyle corner of your home, all on a shoestring, leaving you plenty of budget to offer a seriously impressive drinks menu!

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Article from Jonathon Marc Mendes

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