Friday, August 17, 2012

Inexpensive DIY: Cabinet

I've long been a fan of giving old items a new lease on life with a new purpose.  Some of that is because I like to tinker, and a lot of that is from living in a fixer-upper for many years when money was tight.  I never counted the hours and hours my husband and I spent updating our first house - scraping paint drips and spatters off of wood floors, stripping wallpaper, and repainting every room and ceiling in that house (and most of this one now too).  We also turned our attention to our assortment of "post-college/early married" furniture.  Over the years I've repainted any number of old shelf units and bookcases, repainted a dresser and chest of drawers, renewed the finish on an oak tabletop, gave new color to badly dated kitchen cabinets, repainted a picnic table (twice now, actually - the same old one), repainted my favorite porch rocker, repaired furniture, reinforced and repainted my aquarium tank base, and reupholstered a piano bench and a bed headboard.  It's good to reuse older items, both to save money and to recycle.  But it's also satisfying to give an old item a fresh start with a bit of creativity.

Over the past couple weeks I've been working on a beat-up old glass-front curio cabinet.  I picked it up at a Salvation Army store for $25.  We need something to put our daughter's bearded lizard habitat on in her bedroom.  (She's getting the beardie in a couple weeks, and we want to have everything ready ahead of time.) Part of the deal with her getting the lizard was a complete cleaning out and rearrangement of her room.  We're almost done with it (hooray!), and getting the cabinet in there was one of the last steps in the process.  The cabinet is made of solid wood, and the sides and top had a "foil" wood finish.  The top was badly damaged - heaven only knows what had been kept on top of it to beat it up that badly.  It looks like it spent some time in a garage.  Here's the "before" photo:

I removed all of the hardware and took the doors off, and set the glass aside in a safe place.  My husband sanded down the top using coarse-grit sandpaper.  Then he gave it a smoother finish with a finer sanding sponge.  I also used the sanding sponge on the sides and doors, to rough up the surface so it would accept paint better.  I used wood putty to fill in the worst of the dings and scratches; I'm not a fan of the "fake distressed" look.  This will never look like a brand new piece of furniture, so perfection wasn't the goal - just a uniform, clean appearance.

When we had it patched and sanded to our satisfaction, I painted the cabinet, using some interior satin paint left over from another project.  The color is a very, very pale buff, just barely a warm "white" if you look closely.  Today I reassembled the cabinet, and Safety Guy helped me carry it up to the Princess's room.  Here's the "after" shot:

We'll cut a piece of wood for an interior shelf soon.  But the cabinet is essentially done, and I think it looks pretty good.  Total cost of this project:  less than $30.