Sunday, February 24, 2013

Completely FREE Kitchen Cabinet Makeover

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Oh, we've been so busy here at The Hardscrabble Home and I can't wait to show you what we have been working on!

There is a bank of cabinets on one wall of our house.  This particular section is not used for food prep.  So, one day I was looking at it and thought why not change it, make it look more custom.  

Here it was just a few months ago...

Now, three years ago my friend Katalin and I painted the kitchen cabinets.  They had been oak.  Actually, the front of them had been oak, the sides were covered with some paper that looks like oak.  (Read: NOT OAK.At that time we added beadboard to the ends of the cabinets, then painted the whole thing black, sanded it for an aged worn look, then applied a stain over the whole thing.  We swapped out the circa 1990 knobs and pulls with new ones bought on Ebay.  It turned out beautifully. 

Here's the before picture from that project.  Don't judge me too harshly with was over 20 years ago.  
Fast forward to last week. I'm eyeing that cabinet and the makeover idea was born.  I remembered that I had two 100 year old cabinets in the garage that I had last used when my friend Julie and I had a shop...named....The Hardscrabble Home, of courseI miss that little shop. 

The cabinets had seen better days.  They were missing their glass doors.  One of the cabinets was missing it's bottom doors, too.  I chose to use that one in this makeover.  My goal was to reuse the wood from this cabinet to make my formerly stock cabinets look custom. 

My handsome carpenter (Read: Husband) was more than willing to help me with this undertaking.  I promised to do the demoHe would do the sawing.  I would do the application of the beadboard.  He would install the counter top.  He would putty.  I would sand and stain.  Fair deal!  We work well together.  

Remember, this project didn't cost us a single penny.  We are repurposing and using what we have on hand.  Love that!

We dragged the cabinet outside and set to work, hoping to not get caught in the rain last weekend.  I snapped this pic as it was laying on its side.  That explains the screwdriver on the side of the cabinet, it's not a magic one, it's a regular screwdriver. 
Oops, I'm jumping ahead.  The demo.  That tile was harder to get off than I thought.  I went to work on it with a hammer, a wonder bar, and a flat screwdriver.  I was sore for two days afterward
Back to work on the old cupboard.

Dear husband measured and cut the beadboard to size.
Then I carried them inside and laid them out.  There were variations in the finish so we wanted to lay them out and pick the best boards to use.  This was just a few days after Valentine's Day and you can see a little glimpse of the roses I received from my honey.  They are still looking good today, ten days later.  Amazing.   Remember last year's vase I used to make a candle centerpiece at a cost of ZERO.  Here's that little project, lest you forget.  Valentine's Vase to Candle Centerpiece
Whenever a project is done at home, as is customary with our family, we write a message to the future owners of our house.  Our house has quite a history to it.  It once was used as a speak easy during prohibition.  We like to add our chapter to its history by leaving our story within its walls.  Here you can see part of the message on the wall as I am figuring out what way I want the boards to go up.  In this case, the message pretty much just says that we took an old 100 year old cabinet, used the wood from it for this project and the date.
I applied the beadboard with construction adhesive that we had on hand.

Then my better half cut down the side of the cabinet to make the counter top.  Here it is, waiting to be puttied, sanded and for the trim (also coming from that cabinet) to be installed. 
For the next few days I was busy adding more putty and sanding it.  Then the weekend arrived and we tag-teamed it again.  Love of my life applied the trim he had saved from the old cupboard.  Then he puttied it some more and we left it to dry overnight.

Our final day on it...well, it didn't go as planned.  The putty would not take stain.  Then we tried a different wood filler we had on hand.  That stuff was horrible.  We ended up sanding it all back down to the old putty.  I was determined not to let that putty win.  I grabbed some paint from my stash and a brush.  I went to work blending in that putty.  By the time I was finished you couldn't even see it.  Which is what you want, right?  After that, I added my stain to it.  I was going to use a mahogany gel stain but it turned out much too red.  The beadboard and wood has a red tint to it, but the mahogany did not match it.  I then turned to my aged oak gel stain.  That was it.  It matched perfectly.  I completed the counter top and it is beautiful.   

We had thought about adding a corbel to the left side under the upper cabinet.  We even cut the top of the cabinet off to use that piece as the corbel.  It was the perfect shape already.  It looked terrible.  So, we scrapped that idea.  

Want to see the finished product?
 ...and her close-up.
  Isn't she pretty??  See the different variations in the color?  The old cabinet had belonged to my stepdad Kevin's aunt.  It had been in her house.  Kevin ended up with it.  Then when we bought my mom and Kevin's house from them, the cabinet stayed behind.  I like that it has a history to it.   Kevin would have loved this projectHe was a wonderful furniture maker.  He would be proud of us.

Here is the before and after view.
We love it!  It definitely doesn't look stock anymore!  It's so much fun to work on projects like this together.   I come up with the ideas and my handsome carpenter has the know how.   Teamwork.  

We hope that we have inspired you with this project and that you can find a new use for an old object like we did.     Pin It


  1. Beautiful job! Looks so much warmer and richer now. Love it. Thanks for sharing Stephanie!!

  2. Looks just super! It's more coordinating with the flooring and the curtains now.

  3. It looks great, and I love it that you write messages to the future owners. I think that should be a rule - on furniture as well!


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