Monday, January 4, 2010

Remade in under $50

This cabinet was left for trash in the courtyard of my apartment building in New York City. As you have learned from my previous posts, I hate to see anything discarded, especially when it takes so little time—and money—to make it new and useful again. Since I felt the cabinet would be great for kitchen storage opening up both cabinet and counter space, I wanted the finished piece to be cheery and practical. In just three steps I was able to transform this discard into a keeper.

Step one: The wood stain finish on the inside of the cabinet was in pretty good shape, but the exterior was well worn. I decided to use a brightly colored floral oilcloth (purchasing two yards at Denver Fabrics for $12.90 plus shipping) to recover the doors and a complementary yellow paint to refinish the outside of the cabinet. After a good hour at The Home Depot I settled on Behr's "Chickadee" #350B-7 Semi-Gloss Enamel (1 Quart for $12.98). I applied a primer and then several coats of paint, lightly sanding between applications.

Step two: One of the door panels was missing the screws that held it to the door frame so I could see how easy it would be to recover the panels and re-assemble to the frames. Since the frames were in good shape and would only be visible when the cabinet was open, I left them in their original stain finish. I stapled the oilcloth covering to the panel, pulling it taught as I worked the stapler.

Two things to consider: You want to make the corners tight, square and flat. To do so, you will need to cut away some of the material and then tuck and fold so that you have a clean finished corner (see above left). Think of how you make a hospital corner when putting sheets on the bed. The second thing to consider is the pattern repeat. I finished one panel and then placed it on top of the remaining oil cloth material. By inserting the second panel adjacent to, but underneath the oilcloth (see above right), I was able to move the panels until I had the perfect pattern alignment.

Step three: The final step was re-attaching the wood frames to the back of the door panels and re-installing hinges. I also opted to get new door pulls and opted for wood ones that I painted to match the outside cabinet. (Twenty-four screws and two unfinished wood knobs totaling $10.96 plus tax.) The finished project is shown below: fresh, fun and functional—all for less than $50.


  1. She's a beaut! but, honestly, Larry, I never would have pegged you for an oilcloth guy.

  2. Very cheery! Wonder what the rest of your kitchen looks like...