a Swedish spoon carved cupboard.

Nnk (my number one Craigslist spotter) spotted the ad for this spoon carved cupboard and sent it to me recently.

I can never pass up a good spoon carved piece.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, spoon carving is a style of wood carving that looks scooped out like the bowl of a spoon.  It is not carved with a really sharp spoon (which is what I always thought when I was a kid).  I’ve always considered this a Swedish style, probably because my own spoon carved washstand was passed down from the Swedish side of my family.

I haven’t been able to find any references to spoon carving being associated with Sweden online.  If you google Swedish spoon carving you get information on carving actual wooden spoons.

Well, regardless, I’m calling this a Swedish spoon carved cupboard.

It has some really interesting drawers.  Let me see if I can properly explain how they work.  There is an isosceles trapezoid shaped piece of wood that is attached to the underside of the top of the cupboard.

There is a matching notch cut out of the back ‘side’ of the drawer.

As the drawer slides into the cupboard, it basically hangs from this trapezoid piece of wood.  This is the only thing holding the drawer up in the back.  There are no glides or runners that the drawer rests on underneath it.  In the case of this cupboard, the bottom edges of that piece of wood that the drawer hangs from were totally worn down from use over time, which meant the drawer would fall off of it in the back once pushed in.

Luckily I have the ever resourceful Ken the handyman neighbor on my team.  He cut a new piece of wood for the drawer to hang from and attached it to the underside of the top.

Problem solved.

Then I started with stripping the top, sanding and cleaning the bottom, and then painting a base coat of color.  I wanted to cover up all of that orange toned wood, so I painted two coats of Homestead House milk paint in a color called Cartier.  It’s a very subtle grey-green color.

Once I had two coats of Cartier on, I decided I’d like to see several layers of color to really make this piece feel like it has been painted several times over the years.  So I added just a few swabs of a little bit of the Blue Alligator that I had left over from the headboard shelf from last week.

When you are adding layers of base colors that you will eventually cover up with your final color, it’s OK to not paint the whole thing.  However if one of your colors is really dark and the other is really light, that contrast may be hard to cover with your final color thus requiring more coats.

After my undercoats of paint dried I discovered that I had quite a lot of spots where the paint was lifting (chipping).  I really didn’t want to see so much of that orange stain.  So I decided to try something.  I added a coat of Miss Mustard Seed Tough Coat Sealer next.  That sort of sealed the chippy-ness in place rather than allowing the paint to all flake off.

Next I added some Homestead House Beeswax Finish in spots where I wanted my final color to chip to reveal the layers of color underneath, and then I painted on two coats of Homestead House milk paint in Raw Silk.

Raw Silk is a white with a grey undertone, or a very, very pale grey, depending on how you want to look at it.  It changes depending on the lighting and what is around it.

By the way, the Tough Coat Sealer trick worked perfectly.  I have very few spots where I can see chipping right down to the original wood color.  And in fact the only chipping I have in my final coat of Raw Silk is where I put the beeswax.

Usually when I paint a spoon carved piece I like to highlight the spoon carving by painting it with a lighter color, but this time I didn’t do that.  I felt like the carving on this piece was pretty busy and maybe didn’t need to be highlighted.

I left the top of the cupboard natural with just a coat of custom mixed grey wax (a mix of Homestead House black & white waxes).

This is a very rustic piece of furniture.  In fact, it’s the perfect piece to feature after our discussion on Monday regarding the problem with perfection!  For those of you who love a piece that shows its age, this one is right up your alley.  It has obviously been around for a long time and previous owners have taken turns patching it up.  There are several charming repair spots that I left as is, like these pieces of wood that are nailed, and in one case even bolted into place to shore up the door.

Ken did do a little work on the hinges of the doors so that they open and close properly, but otherwise he left them as is.

And I left the inside of the cupboard alone as well even though the shelves are rather crooked.  I find those details charming, and based on the comments on Monday’s post I’d say many of you do as well!

I suspect this piece may have originally had a hutch that sat on top, don’t you?  I don’t normally see cupboards like this on their own.  Perhaps at some point the top wasn’t salvageable anymore and someone discarded it and just kept the bottom.

I can picture this piece providing great storage in a laundry room or a bathroom.  Or fill it with board games in the family room.  It would fit right in on a three season porch too.

Where would you use it?

P.S.  This piece is for sale, be sure to check my ‘available for local sale’ tab if interested.

20 thoughts on “a Swedish spoon carved cupboard.

  1. Beautiful and authentic. I would really love the chance to work more with milk paint. I absolutely love the finish. And the color combo is fab. Somebody is going to get this piece and cherish it forever. I don’t blame them! XO Susie from The Chelsea Project

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    1. Thanks Susie! I do love working with milk paint. It can be temperamental and sometimes it can be difficult to really control the outcome, but if you are looking for a chippy, vintage, worn, authentic-looking finish, milk paint can’t be beat!

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  2. “Isosceles trapezoid”. Someone paid attention in geometry. I love the layers and imperfections. Perfect pieces remind me of reproductions. The repairs show history and care taken. I can see this storing mixing bowls and baking items too, so many uses. Really beautiful job Linda.

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    1. That geometry term was lying dormant and covered with dust somewhere in the very furthest reaches of my brain. I had to really work to dig that one out 😉 I love that idea of using it to store baking supplies, it would be perfect for that!

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  3. I would agree this was probably the base to a hutch. The detail on it is really pretty. I like the colors you used. I agree with you and Meggan; this would be a perfect baking station. Put your mixer on top and supplies in the bottom. I think too bc it’s so large, if you are fortunate to have a large laundry room, this would be excellent storage there as well and you could fold your clothes on the top. Great piece. I actually like the looks of the back with all the repairs.

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    1. Ken always shakes his head when he sees repairs like these. He would have chosen to dismantle the doors and re-glue all of the joints. But I find they add a lot of character to the piece!

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    1. It may appear as though this cupboard has a nice original finish in the ‘before’ photo, but that can often be misleading in photos. The finish on this cupboard was pretty ratty looking in person. Especially the top which was very stained and water marked. I am all for keeping pieces unpainted when they have a beautiful original patina though. I often pass on purchasing pieces that I see listed on Craigslist if they look like they have an original finish that is still in good condition because, much like you, I don’t think they should be painted. And of course, if one has the patience to strip and refinish a piece like this, that would have been a great option here as well.

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  4. Love the color choices and the fact that you left it just a little bit wo my…nit enough to tamr away from the functionality, but enough to lea e a character stamp behind. Hope this goes to a good home!

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  5. I have a reproduction spoon-carved dresser. I have been considering painting it. I also have Cartier and Raw Silk Milk
    Paint …my bedroom is going to look amazing. Thanks for
    the inspiration!

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  6. Quandie, I love what you do with your pieces. I have used Milk paint before from a Mpls. paint dealer and I liked it . I’ve lately ben using Fusion paint. I have a dresser from the 30’s that I’ve been wanting to paint for years but can’t decide on what paint will get me closest to the original green. I think the Cartier is what I’m looking for. Type Writer is perfect for a small round table I’ll be applying a white stenciled Dahlia on top. The blue I can use on a kitchen chair. Thanks for sharing your expertise, it has been very helpful in my painting endevors. DD

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  7. This is a beautiful piece. Love all the layers. Just curious, is “spoon carved” different from Eastlake? I often see similar dressers described as Eastlake – although the leaves seem to be a little smaller.

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    1. I would say that this cupboard would probably qualify as Eastlake style, but not all Eastlake style pieces have spoon carving. So let’s call it an Eastlake style cupboard with spoon carving 😉 Maybe?

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