When I revealed our (mostly) finished kitchen a few weeks ago, I shared a bunch of new projects that I got done in a 1-week period and I promised to return with some details on each of them. Our new credenza for storing shoes is one such project, and today I’m diving into the nitty gritty of how I turned this $20 craigslist find:
Into this piece perfect for our space:
I searched for months for the right thing for this space, because I knew it had to fit some really particular requirements to work:
- It needed to be between 60″ – 66″ long to fit under the window and not feel too big or too small
- The body of it needed to be no more than 24″ high (without legs) to fit mounted against the wall between the radiator and the window sill; if it had legs they could be maximum 7″ tall and the back ones had to be removable so I could slide the piece all the way against the wall rather than having it sit out 5″ because of the radiator
- It needed to be at least 12″ deep to fit our snow boots but no more than 18″ deep to not protrude too much into the room
- It needed to have (or be easy to make) shelves for small shoes but also sections that were at least 20″ high for our snow boots
- It needed to have doors so that it didn’t look overly messy
- Price point no more than $200, and ideally less
Those were my requirements, and I really struggled to find something that met them! Even the floating “fauxdenzas” that are so popular in blogland (made from IKEA cabinets mounted on the wall) wouldn’t work because those cabinets are all more than 24″ high and so wouldn’t fit between the radiator and window sill. Most dressers wouldn’t work well because they use drawers that would be too small for our winter boots, and I thought about using a long low bookshelf but that wouldn’t have doors unless I managed to make some (which I was a little daunted by). I did think about spending the time to make something myself, but it’s hard to find wood that is at least 12″ deep so it wouldn’t have become a pretty pricey project.
So I did what I always do in these situations, which is keep checking craigslist frequently and patiently. Still, it was coming down to the wire in the week between Christmas and New Year’s since that’s when I wanted to wrap up most of the renovation and I still didn’t have this critical piece of storage. And then one afternoon I spotted it: a set of stacking cabinets that I suspected might work if I reconfigured them to sit side-by -side:
I sent the seller a message, and the next morning was loading it into my car. I did check to make sure the two pieces were the same height minus the legs on one of them so that they would look like one piece once I was finished.
When I showed up at home with them, I could tell Sam was skeptical about what I was proposing putting in our home:
But I knew it would work. The first step was to remove the legs from the first cabinet. I flipped it on its back and unscrewed the first leg:
I repeated this for the other three legs. Don’t be fooled, these are not cute MCM legs worth saving — they are cheap legs painted brown that are not high quality enough to strip and refinish.
With that done, it was time to get the shelves working how I wanted. I want to add a shelf to one of the halves so that even more shoes could fit, and remove the shelf from the other half so that tall boots could fit. I tried removing the shelf with a hammer (banging at it, removing the nails in the sides and back attaching the shelf), but it was clear that some really strong glue had been used so I resorted to cutting the shelf down with my jigsaw.
I decided to leave a portion of it in place in order to hold our basket of hats and gloves. Then I used a piece of scrap wood I already had on hand to add a second shelf to the other half (no picture at this stage, sorry! But there’s one at the end of the finished result…).
Next I lined the two halved up next to each other.
Because of the slight overhang on the top piece, the cabinets wouldn’t side flush against each other. I just found a piece of scrap wood the exact depth as this gap, and drive screws in from the sides of each cabinet. Then I found another scrap piece for the gap in the back so that the back didn’t have a tendency to flex.
Before starting to prime, I removed the wooden knobs because I knew I wanted to replace them with new hardware. I used wood filler in the holes just in case the new hardware was smaller.
After letting the wood filler dry for a few hours and sanding it down to smooth, it was time to start priming. The brown paint was pretty gross and the inside had a bit of a smell — it was cathartic to brush on some primer!
I put the cabinet on top of paint cans to make it easy to paint along the top and sides without coming into contact with the floor.
After a coat of primer, I applied two coats of BM’s Chantilly Lace (which I had leftover from painting the walls and bench). Then Sam helped me center it under the window. It turned out that it was the perfect height while sitting on top of the paint cans, which made it easy to keep it stable and level while I drove screws through the back into studs.
Lastly, I decided to add two front legs out of some scrap wood I had. The cabinet was deep enough and the back panel thin enough that I worried it might not be stable without some legs to help hold the weight (not that shoes are very heavy).
A final step was to order some new hardware. Naomi included some adorable and affordable ideas in a post she did almost two years ago, so I totally stole from her roundup and ordered four of these for $1.93 apiece from ATG.
I drilled new holes to install them, and the only problem I had was that they were clearly intended for a thicker drawer — the screws didn’t go into the knobs far enough. I solved that by just adding a few washers to the back…not the most elegant solution, but for $20 shoe storage it works.
And that’s it! It was very satisfying to load it up with shoes that had been lying in giant piles by the front door:
So that’s it, months of searching turned out better than I could have hoped for!