Sunday, January 20, 2013

Kitchen Cart Intensive Care

This post, like so many others, starts with Bart's Barn, and me having a postage stamp sized house. My house has 14.2 square feet of counter space built into it.  For someone who is actually handier in the kitchen than in the tool shed, this is not sufficient. So I have supplemented over the years with cutting boards spanning the sink, microwave carts with no microwave, and eventually a beautiful 1920's era sideboard. All of which are currently cluttered with mail, boxes of microwave popcorn, kitchen aid mixers, bottles of wine, knife blocks, and various trappings of cookery. I yearn for great expanses of counter space for chopping and baking and what not. So when I was mining Bart's Barn for drawers to turn into shadow boxes and I happened upon an old sad kitchen cart, well I just had to have it (no matter that there was no way it was going to fit in my car.) I wrestled it home and got the hardware off.

It cost me $40. First order of business was that butcher block top.  I sanded it down to get out the worst of the knife scars, and applied liberal amounts mineral oil. (This can be found at your local drugstore near the laxatives. Don't ask me why.) After a ten minute wait and a brief wipe down, it sprung back to life in a way I had scarcely hoped for. 
Look at it shine!

Now this kitchen cart baffled me.  It was very sound construction, but the materials were pretty crappy stuff. 3/4 inch plywood and particle board made up most of the structure.  The handles for the doors were a nice copper, but you could hardly notice against the rough surface of raw plywood. Some of the cut ends of the plywood hadn't even been sanded. So, I decided to paint the whole thing. I started by sanding everything that hadn't been sanded.  I mixed some of my blue paint leftover from the pot lid holder with some darker blue to get a denim color. Since I had mixed the paint, I didn't want to run out halfway through the project, as I'd never match the color. Normal people would turn to primer for this much raw wood.  I didn't have any primer.  What I did have was a hideous gallon of oops paint my mom had bought.  It was roughly the shade of my skin, and she swears it looked good in the store.  So I slapped a coat of that on everything to soak into all the raw wood and spare me 3-5 coats of blue paint.

I promise I'm not going to leave it this color.

Then everything got a coat of blue. When it was time to put the hardware back on, I decided those copper handles were filthy and needed a cleaning... with science!  When you were a kid did you ever clean a penny with vinegar and baking soda?  No?  Ok, you need to go watch some Bill Nye. Pennies are made of copper so I figured it would work just as well on my copper handles.

For Science!

While I was at it, I chopped off the feet of the cabinet, and added a piece of plywood to the base, to screw some industrial type castors onto. The castors that came with the piece were the kind you pop into some kind of hole drilled into the feet of your piece.  Basically what this means is any time you lift your cart, your castors come out and roll away.  No bueno.  My new castors are screwed in tight and aren't going anywhere, plus two of them lock for keeping my cart in place when needs be. I didn't take pictures of the process, but it's really pretty self explanatory. Next I turned my attention to the interior. The shelves got shelf paper.  BTW, contact paper doesn't stick too well to particle board.  If anyone has any tips on making it stay better, let me know. I put it in place and weighed it down with books overnight. That helped some.  

The next little tidbit comes from Pretty Handy Girl. I wanted to not see the support braces in the back of my cabinet, so I made false backs out of fabric and foam board.  This is cool for the backs of open cabinets.  Step one, measure your cabinet backs carefully. 

Step 2, cut a sheet of foam board to fit the space.  I used an exacto knife on my handy butcher block cutting board. 

Step 3, cut your fabric 2-3 inches bigger than your foam board.  I picked this orangey yellow solid, since my shelf paper is a kind of busy print. 

Step 4, use packing tape to stretch the fabric tight and sort of "upholster" the foam board. 

Step 5, push the foam board carefully into the space you measured it for.  Ta-da!

And now for the big reveal!  Somehow, magically, my cart came out to be EXACTLY counter height. So cool!

My total cost was just under $100. For a little perspective this similarly sized butcher block cart with open shelves is more than three times that.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Kitchen Drawer Shadow Boxes

Handy Mandy!  Where have you been?  I've missed you so much last August!
I know, my fellow DIY friend, I have been MIA.  But you know what happens in August?  School. And I am not just a super hero when it comes to slapping a coat of paint on junk and turning it into something totally cool. I am also a super hero who teaches children how to read, write and do 'rithmatic. So I don't have time for a lot of handying around the house in the fall. But I'm back!  And I have a tale to tell.

It all started with me getting a circular saw for Christmas.  (Thanks Santa!) It's green and beautiful, and I couldn't wait to cut stuff up. So I carried it out to my garage, so it could have a place of honor on my work bench.  And this is what I saw.

So I decided to clean up the space a little. First order of business was to hang that mirror that had been waiting patiently since last summer for a place in my back bathroom, and then I thought I'd throw up some shelves for all my paint. So I went to Ace Hardware for some D brackets for the mirror, and while I was out I picked up some remnants from JoAnne's, and then I went to Bart's Barn.  Well, you know how it is with me and Bart's Barn.  Sure I found parts for my shelves.

Total cost $7
And sure I hung me some shelves. 

But I didn't stop there and you know it. I wandered around looking at what they had.  When I got to the cabinet section I noticed that there weren't very many cabinets to be had, but there was a whole mountain of drawers and doors.  Someone had probably gotten their cabinets refaced and abandoned all the doors and drawers that were original to the skeleton. They were like pound puppies or orphans or something.  I couldn't just leave them there. So I picked out a few and brought them home with me. 

They need me!

I took off the hardware and put it in a ziplock baggie with it's screws so I could find them again.

And then it was a matter of sanding, painting, drying and reattaching the hardware.  And I put some contact paper in the drawer to make it pretty. 

Now these aren't going to hold anything particularly heavy, so I threw on some D rings, and strung them together with picture wire. 

Oh come on now.  You know how to do this part.  Hole in the wall, molly bolt in the hole, screw in the molly bolt (not all the way) and hang your new shelves!  


Aren't they so Martha Stewart?  No?  Good. This is turning into the bathroom that the kitchen built.