There is always a risk in buying a piece of furniture with a painted top, or least there is for a refinisher, or at least there is for a refinisher who takes the time to sand, stain, and seal her tops (side eye at the "refinishers" who just paint everything). And so I bought this antique oak cupboard with a bit of trepidation. It was in nice shape other than having a fully shot backboard, the drawers worked perfectly, and the hardware is some of the best I've ever seen, but I did still give the decision pause, what lay beneath all that ugly black oil paint???
And so on Saturday, when it was chilly and unpleasant, I set about sanding away layer after layer after layer of sticky black oil paint. I figured it was a fool's errand at best, surely no one in their right mind would have painted over the solid oak top unless there'd been something very wrong with it! And yet, after two hours of hard work, I was faced with an absolutely flawless solid oak top. In a way I'm a bit grateful to the person who took a paint brush to that top so many decades ago. Had the piece kept its original old varnish it would have been much more susceptible to water damage, but the oil paint essentially encapsulated the top until the day I could come along and bring the wood back to it's rightful glory, and then seal the shit out of it so it will remain so.
I primed the case and then painted it in a custom mixed pale gray called 'Cool Mist'. Though all the woodwork on it is very neat, the hardware makes statement enough, and so I sought to calm the piece down significantly. In person the detail and carving is still very much a present design factor on the piece, just far less garish. I kept the original drawer pulls but removed the dreadfully damaged backboard and put on a new beadboard one, then painted the interior in a bright cheerful blue for a fun pop of color. The cupboard is probably at least a hundred years old, I'd date it to about 1880, but it still looks and works like new, you just can't argue with the quality and durability of solid oak!