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How to Refresh Your China Cabinet



Many of us may hear the words 'china cabinet' and think back to our grandparents' home, where an older cabinet was filled with porcelain dishes reserved for essential family gatherings or holiday meals.

Traditionally, china cabinets, once known as curio cabinets, were perfect for placing your best dishes or collections on display. However, their popularity for holding plates dropped as many homeowners dealt with limited space and newer, more modern designs. But like any trend, be it fashion or furniture, china cabinets and antique furniture are returning and becoming more popular than ever, as many homeowners are finding new and creative ways to repurpose furniture functionality.

Whether you've got a family heirloom china cabinet or are looking to add one to a modern home, let us inspire you to refresh yours for an always stylish, elegant piece of furniture.


What Is a China Cabinet?

If you're unsure or are unfamiliar with this classic piece of furniture, a china cabinet (sometimes mistakenly referred to as a china hutch) is used to display and hold fine china plates, dishes, glasses, or crystal glasses. While some may mistake a china cabinet for a china hutch, the two are slightly different. A china cabinet refers to a cabinet with several display shelves and glass panels. China cabinets are also one-piece units.

A china hutch is a multi-purpose two-piece, where one piece contains the cabinets that are usually a display case and sits upon the second piece, eithera bottom half of drawers or more cabinets.


Ideas on How to Refresh Your China Cabinet

Suppose your family heirloom china cabinet no longer fits with a room's décor, or perhaps you're thinking of redecorating and want to refresh the look. How can you do so without replacing your china cabinet?

At Laurel Crown, our experts have a few ideas on how to elevate the style of any china cabinet and alternative uses to this brilliant, sophisticated storage solution.



You may be surprised to learn that the items needed to refresh the appearance of your china cabinet are right there inside your home. Before shopping for new pieces, look around at what you already have. You can always recycle or repurpose an item if you can't find what you're looking for. Once you find the pieces that truly speak to you, try envisioning how you want the cabinet to look before starting. Try a quick sketch on a piece of paper to help you visualize how you want each piece arranged.

Once you have an idea, here are a few other ideas for refreshing a china cabinet's style with items from your home.

• Use pieces that have different textures to create interest and a focal point. A display with uniform materials can often make a one-dimensional aspect: pair glass, ceramics, rattan, and even stoneware to provide depth.

• Add items of different heights for much-needed contrast. Stack plates or layer mugs, and use books as risers.

• Ensure that your items have complementary colors for a cohesive, purposeful look. For instance, if your china cabinet is from dark wood or stained dark, choose neutral colors like amber, white, green, or brown to pair with the dark color of the cabinet.

• Avoid a cluttered impression by ensuring each piece has breathing room. Should you find yourself with many beautiful tableware pieces you'd like to display, consider rotating pieces you show every few months.

• Don't forget to include items that have deep personal meaning to you and your family. Adding sentimental items makes your home, décor, and china cabinet unique.


Add a Pattern

Thanks to technology and innovations, there are now many excellent kinds of contact paper created with gorgeous patterns and designs. While you may recognize contact paper is ideal for changing the look of a rental property without painting and losing a deposit, contact paper is also excellent for furniture. Contact paper is a great way of redecorating or adding an exciting pop of color to a china cabinet; the options are endless.

Use and place contact paper on wood, but remember that not all contact paper is created equal. Since wood is porous, there is a high chance that the adhesive used on the paper will stick to the wood of your china cabinet. If your cabinet is an antique family heirloom, we strongly advise that you consider that removal will be difficult and may lower the value of an antique.



If it's a high-quality antique that you may wish to resell or hand down to your family later, note that painting does dimmish the value of an antique. Otherwise, when it comes to painting your china cabinet to refresh it, that is a decision of its value important to you. If your china cabinet is an authentic antique and in fantastic shape, consider ways to refresh it that do not involve painting or refinishing. Another consideration is what materials your china cabinet has. Gorgeous, exotic wood such as mahogany, cherry, or satinwood is rare and notoriously challenging to refinish without damaging the wood.

However, if your china cabinet is oak or pine, you're most likely safe to paint it. Additionally, if the china cabinet is in poor condition and does not seem to be a high-value antique, a paint job could increase its value and change the entire appearance of your cabinet. In this case, it's safe to begin planning how to paint it.

Once you are sure you are not sitting on a hidden gem of an antique, the following steps to consider are:

• Choosing the right paint. There are many options available to you for refinishing a china cabinet, such as chalk paint that gives texture, or perhaps you could lacquer the piece to give it a brilliant shine.

• Don't rush or skip on preparation. Excellent preparation is critical to repaint your china cabinet and making it look as fantastic as you imagine. You will want to thoroughly dust, clean, sand, and dry your china cabinet before beginning to paint, and ensure you have enough coats for full coverage and any sealants or topcoats needed.

If you aren't sure you wish to repaint and hold the china cabinet's value, a restoration or a refinish will be a better investment for a beloved antique. Many top antique dealers refinish midcentury finds to define the original wood better and show off its natural, beautiful grain.
Many choices available to you will breathe new life into your favorite china cabinet, refreshing it for a new look or better suit the décor already present in your home. We hope we have inspired you to revitalize and renew a precious piece of furniture for you to enjoy in your home for years to come.

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