Friday, August 2, 2013

Vintage Cabinet Upcycle - Part 1

Back at the beginning of June, I went to annual Syracuse Funky Flea outside of the Everson Museum.  For those who aren't familiar with it, the Funky Flea is a one day market that has vintage goods, work from local artists, and some excellent food from local vendors.  My main score from the Funky Flea was this vintage cabinet.  The whole thing is painted metal, has a laminate top, and legs with wheels.  I thought I could put it to use in either my kitchen or as art supply storage.  The seller wanted $35, but I offered $30 and they accepted, so I walked away happy.

The cabinet has a shelf inside the large door as well as a towel bar in the inside.  After some thinking, I've decided to use it in my kitchen because I could use an extra countertop space by the stove, and the cabinet is almost the perfect height for that.  

That also means that this metal cabinet needs a serious makeover.  For starters, can we talk about that shade of pink? Yuck!  The whole cabinet is going to get a new paint job.  The top is in good condition, and I like the knobs (which will look good as new after some cleaning), so a new paint job will go a long way in sprucing up this cabinet.

I took the cabinet out in the driveway today to start sanding off the old paint.  The tapered legs and the corners of the cabinet are in the worst shape in terms of scratches and dings.  The wheels are also kind of grungy right now (as you can see above), so I've removed those for cleaning and polishing.  I also pulled out the drawer, removed both knobs, and unscrewed and removed the laminate top as well.  

Then I broke out my Mouse sander, some 80 grit sandpaper, and a face mask.  After a bit of work, I discovered that whoever had painted this cabinet pink put the paint on really really thick.  In some places, the paint is flaking off in chunks, but in other spots it's taking a lot of work to remove it.  In fact, let's take a look at the layers of old paint on this cabinet.  It almost looks like a topographical map!

That's six layers of paint before you get to the original surface!  Crazy!  The pink paint is the toughest right now because both layers of it were put on so thick.  Originally my plan was to get down to the original surface of the cabinet before priming and re-painting, but let's be honest, ain't nobody got time for that.  After working outside sanding for several hours, I have amended my plan to just sanding off the pink layers, which are the most noticeably bumpy and pitted, and then just to make it an even enough surface before I put the primer on.  The areas where I've gotten all of the pink paint off already feel pretty smooth and level, even though you can still see different patches of color.  Once the primer is on, you won't be able to tell the difference.  

I had to stop work on the cabinet a little earlier than I would have liked due to incoming rain and thunder, but when I came back inside I decided to do a little bit of research on my vintage cabinet - and this is where I found out some interesting things! After thoroughly checking the cabinet, I wasn't able to find a manufacturing stamp or label, but I knew that the factory printed faux wood grain that I found under the paint could help point me in the right direction.  

I haven't been able to find an exact match to my cabinet, but I've found enough to estimate that it's from the 1930's to 1950's.  I'd guess around 1940 or so judging from some of the other cabinets I found online.  It was most likely part of a medical office.  The two brands I found that look the most similar in style are Simmons and Hamilton.  For example, here is a metal 1930s Simmons wheeled cabinet with a faux wood grain on Etsy - selling for $350!  I also found another online shop selling vintage medical and apothecary cabinets that are similar to mine - but the lowest starting price is $495!  I don't know if my metal cabinet is worth anything like that, but I'm willing to bet that my $30 I spent at the Funky Flea was an excellent bargain!

I'm hoping to work more on the cabinet this weekend.  I'd like to finish the last bits of sanding and then prime it so I can start painting.  Now to pick out the colors!


Surely Sarah said...

Will be watching the progress on this project with interest! Just the kind of thing I'd like to do one day.

guinevere saunders said...

What an interesting find. Hope it all goes well for you. Can't wait to see the finished product.