CRAFTS: Chalk Paint and Wax Salvaged Cabinet Make Over


I’ve lived in the city of Chicago for years, and I am not ashamed to say I am a dumpster diver. I am very selective of what will pull me out of my car in an alley to pull some treasure out of someone’s garbage or back gate, but if you have a good eye and are fast, you can find some great furniture for nothing!

Case in point:
My neighbor has been slowly cleaning out her house to move, and I had been eyeing her back gate for antique, well-worn furniture that I could make over for weeks. My patience rewarded me one day when I saw a worn out, scratched up cabinet. But the “bones” were strong and the cabinet door needed some simple woodworking repair to make right. I totally wanted to grab it. I was with my teen daughter, taking her to school, and I know she would have been mortified if I jumped out and threw it in my trunk. So I said to myself, if it is still there when I get back home, it’ll be kismet. I’ll grab it. You have to move fast in the city. You are fighting with other crafters, not to mention the metal scavengers with their ramshackle pickups that troll the alleys for stuff. They are fast. Once one of the members of my staff was spray painting a metal cabinet downtown for our office makeover in the alley behind our building. The guy painting it ran upstairs to get something-just for a minute. By the time he ran back down he saw the cabinet on the move on the back of someone’s scavenger truck, with the spray can still on top. REALLY!

So when I came back home from school drop off and the cabinet was still there, I grabbed it. I had been looking for a replacement for our end table that we bought cheaply at Target, with a lot of water damage on top. This was going to be perfect, and once I painted it the Tuscan red I was using as accents in the living room, it was going to be fantastic.

Some wood glue, chalk paint, elbow grease and furniture wax later, VOILA. Hubby loved it. We use the cabinet to store books, notebooks, and magazines. I think it used to hold vinyl records. I kept the vintage hardware on it, but feel free to look for new hardware to spruce up your salvaged piece. There is such fun hardware out there, from Anthropologie, Joanne Fabrics or Wayfair. 

Here is a how-to video on restoring and making over an old antique table/cabinet. Don’t be afraid of throwing treasures in YOUR trunk. It keeps stuff out of landfills and saves money. 

Just do it for the good stuff! You can leave the junk for the metal scavenger trucks.


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