My husband and I purchased our first home from an elderly couple who planned to downsize from the 2,200-square-foot house in central Indiana, to a one-bedroom apartment in California. I don’t think I need to say it, but they left A LOT of stuff behind. Maybe they thought they were being helpful, or maybe they grossly underestimated the amount of space their money would get them on the west coast.
For example, we pretty much never had to buy light bulbs or Kleenex in the 3.5 years we lived there, thanks to their left-behind stockpile.
Perhaps the best thing they left was a tall wooden cabinet in the garage that probably had 60 little drawers. They used it for organization, but we believe it came from an old hardware store. Or maybe was even used in a library as a card catalog (remember those?!). Whatever the case, it was a pretty neat old piece that was in pretty bad shape.
So naturally we decided to cut it up and use it somewhere in the house. Why spend money on nice things when you can re-purpose someone else’s trash?
Because the sides and top were in such bad shape, we first dismantled the whole cabinet and cut it down to size. We purchased new plywood for the sides and top, and had it cut at Home Depot. Normally they will only make four free cuts, and charge you a small fee beyond that, but sometimes you can find someone to help you out.
Once we reassembled the cabinet, it was my job to sand it down. If you have access to a power sander, I suggest you use one on all major projects. It just makes life a whole lot easier, and saves you arm.
I wanted to keep a lot of the cabinet’s character, so I made sure to leave a little bit of the old paint on the frame and the drawers. Once everything was sanded, I covered the entire piece with a dark brown stain. The old wood/paint took the stain unevenly, while the new plywood soaked it all in. This made the sides and top look black, and the drawers look brown.
Happy accident. We rolled with it.
Each drawer originally had a brass name plate and wooden knobs. I got rid of the knobs and used antique hardware my mother bought on eBay, but I saved the name plates and reattached them to the drawers.
At the time of this project, we needed an entertainment stand. So, we cut out four drawers in the top middle and created a shelf for our cable box, Playstation, and all that jazz. Then, we simply drilled a hole in the back for all the cables. In our new home, the cabinet serves as a buffet in our dining room. It still has the shelf, but it still works.
There was nothing hard about this upcycle, and we even had enough of the cabinet left for my mom to make her own version. The junk never goes far in this family. 😉
We got lucky with this one, since the piece we wanted to upcycle came free (or not, since we did have to buy a whole house to get it). Really, a couple of pieces of plywood, some sandpaper and stain, and we’re looking at maybe $50 + hardware.
Or, you can purchase a similar look from Pottery Barn for a measly $1,500.
Moral of the story? Look at what you already own. You may already have a diamond in the rough just living in your garage! See beyond what it is, and imagine what you can make it. Who needs Pottery Barn, anyway?
Okay, I’m being dramatic. I love Pottery Barn. Don’t stop sending me catalogs, PB!