Would you ever think that these dreary cabinets:
could turn into this?
It just goes to show you that with a little imagination and inspiration, you can turn salvaged materials into something fun, useful and totally unique.
Let me fill you in on the details. As you already know, we completely gutted and remodeled our house from top to bottom. During demo, we made sure to save as many cabinets, doors and random (but potentially useful) things as we could so that we could reuse, recycle or repurpose the salvaged materials instead of just throwing them away. These solid oak upper cabinets from the den were two of the pieces that were able to be saved:
Pretty uninspiring, right? (And please avert your eyes from the disaster that is our garage).
We had two of these babies, so I schemed up a plan to turn these upper cabinets into a single base cabinet unit for my craft room. There were a few steps in these cabinets’ metamorphosis that I’ll fill you in on over the next few days, but first here’s a quick painting tutorial on how the cabinets went from dark and dated to fun and fresh.
This is all you’ll need to get started painting your salvaged cabinets (or any other wood furniture):
~ salvaged cabinets
~ medium grit sandpaper
~ 1 quart oil-based primer, like Kilz
~ 1 quart latex paint, color of your choosing
~ water-based polyurethane, finish of your choosing (I used Minwax’s satin finish)
~ foam roller and paint tray
~ foam brush
~ wood filler
~ screwdriver, pliers and hammer
1. Remove handles and molding. Since I was going to use these upper cabinets as lower cabinets, I removed the crown molding that had been added to the top of the cabinets – it came off easily using the back of a hammer. The handles were also in a funky place for lower cabinets, so I just removed them with a screwdriver. The last step was to remove all of the nails that had been used to secure the cabinets to the wall – they were finishing nails without a head, so they pulled out easily with a pair of pliers.
2. Fill in the holes. Not surprisingly, all of the nails and handles that I removed left behind bunches of unsightly little holes. I just grabbed a tube of wood filler and crammed a bunch of filler into the holes. Don’t worry about being too tidy here because you’ll sand off the excess later on.
3. Get sandy. You’ll want to go to town on your cabinets with medium grit sandpaper to remove any slick finish from the cabinets so that your primer can easily adhere to the surface. This is also when you’ll sand off the excess wood filler for a nice, even finish.
4. Bust out the primer. Oil-based primer is just the ticket for painting wood – it’s super sticky and provides a great base for your paint. Don’t worry that it’s oil-based – latex paint can go over oil-based primer, just not oil-based paint. Funky rule, I know.
While some people swear by brushes, t when I’m applying the primer to wood I like to use a foam roller followed up with a foam brush for any tricky corners or drips. I find that brushes leave behind brush strokes that can drive you crazy, while a foam roller leaves a pretty smooth finish. Here’s what the primer looked like when I tried to use a brush that I had on hand rather than buying a foam roller:
See what I mean? It can look pretty bad without a roller.
But don’t worry about your primer being even and perfect – it won’t be and it doesn’t need to be. All you need to do is make sure to get a little primer on every surface that you’re going to paint so that the paint will stick.
5. Roll on the paint. You’re nearing the finish line at this point! My cabinets took two coats of paint, and in all honesty could probably have used a third coat (sadly, I am lazy and decided to just go with two – still looks pretty good). I chose to paint over the plastic inserts on the cabinet doors because I hated the color but liked the pattern – if I ever grow tired of the inserts, I can just remove them and add fabric, paint them in a cool mosaic pattern, etc.
6. Protect the finish. The last step in this painting project is to slap a few coats of polyurethane on the cabinets to protect the finish from nicks, water rings, or anything else that might hurt the paint. Be sure to smooth out any drips, as they will turn yellow.
See, painting furniture isn’t so hard!! Stay tuned, I’ll be filling you in over the next few days on how to create a countertop for the cabinets with a salvaged door, how to assemble your new cabinetry, and how to customize the countertop with a colorful finish.