our family art cabinet

when our neighbor passed away this summer, his sister was clearing out the house and gave us a few pieces of furniture that she didn’t want.  one of them was a chest of drawers that was beautiful and old but the story of a lifetime of effort was written all over it: an intractable water stain (see below) marked the top indicating that an overwatered plant had spent decades in that particular place; holes in the side told of what was perhaps a long-ago towel rod; and four empty, gaping holes in front of every drawer told of happier times when there existed drawer pulls.   I fell in love, of course, right away.  poor little cabinet needed some love and a little d-i-y elbow grease.  how could I say no!?


it was around this same time that I was told by a friend that I absolutely, must-have and could not live without a family art supply closet.  so, I decided that our newly adopted chest of drawers would live in the dining room and store art supplies.  never mind that it was a little sad-looking and belonged in a bedroom or that I have never restored anything wooden in my life.  not a concern.  forge ahead!

we consulted with a neighbor, who used to restore furniture for a living and he gave me a list of supplies that were promptly purchased at the hardware store…fine sandpaper, mineral spirits, polypropylene, rubber gloves, rags and restor-a-finish.

art cabinet with papaeverybody got involved in the project from removing rusty wheels (it was on wheels, ones that didn’t roll, did I neglect to mention that?) to sanding.  I saved the toxic chemical efforts for myself, of course.  we stripped the top, minimally, with the sandpaper and a wipe of mineral spirits.  then, the polypropylene and restore a finish all over to give it back its shine.

my cabinet helper

I never could get rid of the water stain but the rest of the restoration really wasn’t that hard!  of course, it still looked an awful lot like it belonged in a bedroom.  it wasn’t until I stumbled across industrial style drawer pulls from Martha Stewart that it seemed actually possible for it to live in the dining room.   and, sure enough they did the trick.  it is now filled with cotton balls, bottles of glue, paints, clothespins, yarn, modeling clay…you name it.  the bottom drawer holds any and all items that don’t require adult supervision (including our bare books) so they boys can open it and start an art project any time.  it’s a crafty mama’s dream.
family art cabinet

all being told, it wasn’t event that difficult of a project.  even so, I managed to spend most of the time feeling perilously close to a major mess-up.  but, I am pretty sure that is just me.  as for the cabinet, it now has one more story to tell…of its life as an art cabinet!

9 Comments on our family art cabinet

  1. kristen gilmore powell
    January 11, 2013 at 4:48 pm (5 years ago)

    looks so nice!!

    • ahappystitch
      January 12, 2013 at 4:44 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you! It was fun to revive it. But, not exactly fun enough that I would do it again, I don’t think…

  2. Holly u
    January 14, 2013 at 7:21 am (5 years ago)

    That looks fantastic! I would never guess that it had been in such awful shape. Good job!

    • ahappystitch
      January 14, 2013 at 9:29 am (5 years ago)

      As, thank you Holly! It was well-love for sure but with such good bones it wasn’t that hard to make it shine.

  3. Stephinie (gypsyforest)
    January 14, 2013 at 1:16 pm (5 years ago)

    I love it! You’re right, the pulls totally make it look like it belongs in the main living area. Well done! And I know all about water stains…. on cabinets. They tend to pull in stain darker when you refinish too. But that is what gives it character & beauty 🙂 And stories….

    • ahappystitch
      January 14, 2013 at 8:15 pm (5 years ago)

      Oooh, for a minute there I though you were going to have the magic tip for eliminating water stains. Damn. But, yes, back to loving its character and stories. (:

  4. Michele
    January 16, 2013 at 9:51 pm (5 years ago)

    That is a GORGEOUS dresser. You guys did a fabulous job on it. I’m envious admittedly. 🙂

    • ahappystitch
      January 17, 2013 at 9:57 am (5 years ago)

      Thanks so much Michele. Is it wrong that I am flattered that the Queen of Upcycle is envious? It’s a huge compliment and I will take it!


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