Today I’m sharing a fun little organizing project that I’m very happy with. I always love it when wasted space finally gets put to good use. And this time, it was . . .
An Underutilized Kitchen Corner
Although we remodeled our kitchen several years ago, there is one space that we could have done a better job of thinking through: The bland, empty corner where the cabinetry ends on the north wall.
The heat register, the light switch, and the traffic flow from the kitchen to the hallway all made this corner a bit challenging to plan. At the time of our remodel, we had so many other decisions to make that we didn’t give it proper attention.
It became a feeding station for our cats – which actually was great since, for the most part, it kept our little darlings away from the food prep area. But now our only cat is the lovely Priscilla, and she prefers to eat her meals upstairs.
I was thrilled at her choice because I could finally do something more with this underappreciated corner. But what? Since shelving wouldn’t block the heat register, I was considering attaching shelves, or maybe a floating bookcase, to the pantry cabinet on the left.
I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.
A Vintage Fir Cabinet
Disclosure: Affiliate links are used in this post.
Around the same time, Chris started asking me when I was going to do something, anything, with the vintage cabinets that I’d had in our garage for the past couple of years.
We’d picked these two cabinets up at a garage sale for $5 apiece. Since each cabinet only has two “good,” finished sides (the front and one side), my assumption is that they were actually built-ins that had been pulled out of an old house.
The flush-mount cabinet doors, the glass knobs, and the leaded glass fronts, are all similar to the original dining room cabinetry in our house – which was built in the 1920s.
So to me, buying the cabinets was a no-brainer.
I just had no idea what we were going to do with them. There didn’t seem to be any good place to put them if we were going to keep them together.
With Chris wanting his garage space back, and with the cat bowls gone, it finally clicked. I took measurements and, sure enough, one of those vintage cabinets (the one with its “good side” on the right) would fit in that blank kitchen corner without obstructing the light switch – if we put legs on it so that it would clear the heat register.
But that old cabinet would need a lot more than just legs.
Paint or Finish?
I originally wanted to paint the cabinet the same white as our kitchen cabinets. But then I noticed that it had been painted – and someone had gone through the painstaking work of stripping the paint and sanding it.
And the wood was fir – like our floors. Since someone else had already done all the hard work, I decided to apply a finish to the exterior and paint only the interior.
(I went ahead and worked on both cabinets at once – even though my plans for the second cabinet are still in flux.)
A Danish Oil Finish
For the exterior, I used Watco Danish Oil in Natural. It can be applied with a rag, which I find so much easier than using a paint brush – at least on non-ornate surfaces.
Danish oil is not like Polyurethane, and I found this post that explains the differences. And this post has helpful tips on the proper method of application – which I followed – as well as the proper way to handle application rags since – yikes! – a wadded-up oil-soaked rag could possibly combust!
Applying the oil with a rag was easy, but the wood was very thirsty. I probably applied 10 layers of the oil over the course of several days.
Prime and Paint
I painted the interior with three coats of primer and two coats of white paint.
For smaller flat surfaces like this, I prefer to use a Shur-Line paint edger instead of a roller because it gives me a smooth, even finish. Then I use a small paint brush for the hard-to-reach areas.
The white paint is a custom blend that matches our kitchen cabinets and is the same paint I used on the walls for our laundry room remodel.
Finally the fun part: A stencil! I just wanted a simple accent and, since I couldn’t find a stencil I liked, I used one I’ve had on hand for years.
I practiced a little and experimented with color combinations.
Now the cabinet needed legs. Chris and I looked online. We visited big box stores and specialty lumber stores. But we wound up buying these legs on Amazon.
They were unfinished, so I applied countless coats of Danish oil on them as well.
Now it was time for Chris to get to work.
He attached the legs to the cabinet.
And then, because we live in earthquake country, he secured the cabinet to our built-in pantry.
I moved the Fiestaware that my Mom gave me for Christmas, and many of our other blue-and-white serving pieces, into the cabinet. This is where our fun, casual, and colorful pieces live now.
The cabinet is recessed enough so that it doesn’t impede traffic flow from the kitchen to the hallway.
And it adds charm.
I’m glad I kept the wood exterior. It works well with the floor and the built-in hutch’s wooden countertop.
Adding this little fir cabinet has caused a happy chain reaction: There is now more space in all of our overhead kitchen cabinets.
And I even reclaimed some countertop space on the hutch – enough for the snazzy new coffee station that I will be sharing soon (unless the gremlins return to mutilate my blog again, in which case it won’t be soon).
As for that second vintage cabinet, I haven’t completely decided how I’m going to use it. But I have a few ideas. So stay tuned!
In Other News
I love to support artists, and I buy vintage instead of new whenever I can. That’s why I’ve always been proud to be an Etsy affiliate.
But now I have another reason to love Etsy: It has become the first online retailer to offset 100% of their carbon emissions from shipping. That’s amazing. Let the guilt-free shopping begin!
I hope other online retailers follow suit, but right now Etsy is leading the way.
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