Thursday, December 4, 2014

the Re-Purposed Home: DIY Cupboard or Shelf out of an Old Wooden Box

When we built our house my husband gave me free reign to do our downstairs bathroom however I chose but he wanted our upstairs bathroom to be "from this century."  So I put my grandmother's clawfoot tub, one of my grandpa's broken ladders, an old hand pump (that I dug out of an obliging neighbor's loading chute in his corrals), an antique wash basin that my brother gave me, a whiskey barrel, an old, iron wagon wheel rim that my grandpa had saved out in the field, and numerous other antique farm implements, to show my husband just what he was missing.  (I may do a little write up about the bathroom and its oddities later.)  

Unfortunately, the storage space in the whiskey barrel under the sink wasn't doing it for my husband or our guests (Although the smell when the barrel door was opened made everyone suddenly feel celebratory. Apparently it still smells like its old contents).  Anyway, I needed a cabinet and not just any cabinet would do.  It had to be one that fit my rustic, re-purposed decor from a few centuries ago... or at least last century.  Hmmm. I did what I always do when I need building ideas, I walked through the barnyard and dug in the scrap piles (the ones that I'm allowed to dig big sister can get a bit proprietary about the scrap piles) and EUREKA!  There it was, an old box, broken, and some of it rotting and falling apart, but still in good enough shape for my purposes.  I muscled it out of the dirt and took a better look.  It had writing on the side that was faded but some of the letters were still legible-DECEMBER 1941 CHEYENNE WY.  Awesome!  My grandpa saved everything.  Thank you grandpa!  Your granddaughter who is a packrat too, is loving it.  

I hauled it home and hid it from my husband until I could clean it up.  I used a small broom first, then a scrub brush and hot soapy water and finally a hose to rinse it off.  I actually wish I wouldn't have used the scrub brush or hose so aggressively though, as some of the letters became more difficult to read!  If I could do it over again, I'd skip the scrub brush and soapy water and just use a wisk broom and or vacuum and lacquer the heck out of it.  

As I surveyed the box, I decided I needed some more boards, similar in wear and tear, to do some repairs to the box and put in dividers that would work as shelves.  Luckily, another walk around the barnyard and I found some palette lumber that looked very similar to my box lumber.  I decided to do a little spot sanding on my box-not on the lettering-to bring out some of the beauty of the old wood.  I also spot sanded,  measured and cut the palette pieces to fit and, because the wood I was working with was old and splintery, I drilled the holes where I would put the screws first (with a small diameter drill that was just barely smaller than the diameter of my screws) and then screwed them into place.  

Using some spray clear lacquer, I sprayed several coats all over my box and shelves to seal up the old wood and make it shine (which also helps when you need to wipe it down to clean it or dust it!).  I measured my box and my bathroom, made my pencil marks and my husband and I secured it to the wall where it now proudly holds towels and soap and toilet paper. (If I were a better decorator I would have cool stuff in there too...and probably no toilet paper.  Oh well!  At least my company coming over the holidays will be able to find a spare roll in their time of need!)  As silly as it may seem, I love having something, that means something to me, doing double duty as something functional in my home!  

*My husband and I recently built our home (its mostly done..."done enough," anyway) and have re-purposed several items from around the ranch and surrounding area to incorporate into our design.  I will be sharing these different projects in a series called, "The Re-Purposed Home".  If they aren't helpful at all to you, then I hope they will be entertaining!

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