Remember that time we pillaged a local high school that was about to be torn down and came away with a whole lot of furniture to
makeover hoard in our basements? You probably do, because we talk about it all the time.
While Brad and Sam may be of the opinion that we haven’t really done anything with all that junk, we have actually been making some progress. That school was the source of the matching cabinets that we did dual makeovers of for our blog anniversary, and also the library cart that Sage nearly lost a hand making wedge shelves for.
One of my favorite pieces that I took home from the school was this green metal cabinet:
I love its slide-out shelf and the space-age hardware. I think it was probably glorious back in its day, but it was in pretty bad shape by the time it made its way to my hands. The surface was scratched up and rusted, and there was a lot of caked on grime (which we thought was pretty gross given that we salvaged it from the nurse’s office).
But I knew it had potential. I just didn’t want to do all the boring grunt work of cleaning, sanding, and painting myself, so I used a clever ploy to trick a friend into helping out:
Fortunately, the only clever ploy needed to convince Sage to help makeover a piece of furniture is a text that reads, “hey, do you want to come over this weekend and help me sand and paint that metal cabinet?”
We started by giving it a good cleaning with soap and a lot of scrubbing. We had to resort to Goo Gone to get rid of the worst of the grime.
We then gave it a really good sanding, trying to rough up the glossy surface so that the paint would have something to stick to.
It left a gray-green film all over our hands, which seemed particularly gross since we were convinced that this cabinet was carrying all sorts of high school diseases (like cooties).
When it came time to paint, we ran into an issue – the doors kept swinging closed. So we devised an ingenious mechanical solution.
You can tell that my neighbors in the background are super impressed, and definitely grateful that they have a creative and gifted neighbor to put on such fascinating demonstrations of DIY prowess. (I might be projecting here.)
It took a lot of coats and a long time to get good coverage on this thing. We used one can of pimer and about six cans of spray paint in white semi-gloss. Thankfully Sage was there or my arm might have fallen off.
After letting it dry and off gas for a while in the garage (also known as getting busy and forgetting about it for a while… and also known as why the grass is green in those painting photos but I am writing the post in February) I took it back out to finish the project.
For some reason, ever since I had seen it in the school, I had a vision of it being covered with graphic black triangles. I had planned on taping these off and painting them in by hand, and wasn’t particularly looking forward to what a pain this would be to do with nice crisp lines. I like a lot of things about DIY, but carefully placing painters tape is not one of them.
So I was thrilled when I came up with a short-cut: vinyl decals. Since this cabinet is destined for garage storage (yes, I swear the ill-fated garage project will be completed someday) I was okay with using vinyl to decorate it, since the off-gassing of the vinyl wouldn’t be in my living space.
I started by mapping out the overall design, aiming for mostly black and white with a pop of yellow, and determining the measurements of the triangles that I would need for the sides, top, and front.
Following these measurements, I cut templates from cardboard to guide me in cutting the decals.
I also picked up some adhesive vinyl in glossy black (affiliate link – read our policies) and glossy sunflower (affiliate link – read our policies). It was made for use on a Silhouette machine, but I was pretty sure I could use it with just the cutting mat.
I just taped down the ends and carefully traced the edges of my templates with an X-ACTO knife.
The only tricky part of the whole application was applying them correctly to the cabinet. Given the size of the vinyl pieces it would have been easier to do with another set of hands!
I found that I had the most success when I peeled off only the bottom edge of the backing, got that lined up perfectly, and then peeled it off while smoothing upward with a credit card.
To let the design continue over the pull-out shelf, I simply applied the design over it…
… and then cut out around the opening and pressed down the vinyl edges so it wouldn’t look rough.
Even though this is destined for the garage I couldn’t resist setting it up inside so I could show it off:
I love the crisp lines that I got from using the decals, and how graphic it is in mostly black and white.
It is definitely not shy. However, in the garage it will be the one of the few design-y elements, so I think it will work out.
And, of course, here is a before and after:
I did like the original green color, so I’m glad I left the inside alone. I think it will also hold up better to heavy garage storage (my plan is to keep flower pots and garden supplies in here) than a coat of paint would.
The shelf is also a really fun detail, especially with the pattern continuing over it.
And a few more superfluous photos, because I can’t resist:
I am still super bummed that we didn’t get the garage done during the summer and fall. I would love to set this up and start using it right away! But it does feel good to be able to make some progress on it over the winter months!