I’m going to start by saying that this is probably the creepiest DIY project I’ve ever done. Let me explain….
A friend of mine bought a foreclosure house that had been sitting vacant for 12 years. Vacant of people, but FILLED with stuff. Apparently the previous owner had been a pharmacist and among the items in the house were old doctor’s bags and pharmaceutical equipment. Most of the stuff was beyond repair, but I came across this gem in a tiny basement closet:
Super creepy, right? My first though was ‘this is disgusting’, but then something sparked in my mind and I saw the future of this ‘trash to treasure’ item. I have been looking for a place to store my craft supplies for a long time and I hadn’t been able to find the perfect thing. I knew this was what I was looking for. However, I had to wade through the creepiness before I could get it home. Every drawer was filled with old pill bottles, prescription pads, medicine droppers, the sinister list goes on and on:
When I finally emptied it, I carried it to my car (don’t worry, I was wearing gloves this whole time) and took it home. It has been so cold in my little Colorado town for months, so this thing sat in my garage, blocking the way to my minivan. We had a couple of warm days, so my first project was to clean it up. I can’t even tell you how many times I almost gave up on this thing. I was just grossed out and swore I could feel the ghost of pharmaceutical patients swirling around my garage. But I persevered because the choice was to turn it into a work of art…..or have this asylum cabinet haunting my house. First I took all of the drawers out.
Then I sprayed two coats of white metal spray paint primer on the cabinet. Then I used 2 coats of tan spray paint on the main part of the cabinet. Here it is after the first coat.
The spray painting process took a long time because I had to wait for warm days for each coat. If I didn’t, I knew the paint would run or crack or not dry properly. After the main part was done, I moved on to the drawers. These took forever to prep. Apparently a couple decades ago, labels were applied with super glue. See all of these black labels on the drawers?
I had to literally chisel them off….not kidding….with a chisel. Then I cleaned the drawers and sprayed a couple coats of primer on them.
I started with 6 drawers just to see how the color would turn out. I chose a bright teal because I wanted to have a little fun with this piece.
I loved the color so I went back to the store to get 2 more cans for the rest of the drawers. As I walked into the aisle, I saw two cans of teal sitting on the shelf waiting to transform my cabinet. A guy came from the other end of the aisle and went straight for the teal! He grabbed one and I immediately grabbed the other. I knew one can wouldn’t finish my project so I gave him my most pitiful look and said something like “too bad they don’t have more, I need two cans for my project”. And he said…. “it’s a pretty color isn’t it?” and walked away into the sunset with my other can of paint. I was so impatient at this point, I had to come up with another plan. I decided to paint the middle drawers a different color and chose a dusty blue. It turned out to be the best misfortune! I loved the blue (add a new paint color to my favorites!) and the contrast added some interest to the drawers.
Another week went by as I waited for a warm day to paint my last set of drawers. The weather was not on my side and I got antsy. I decided to just go ahead and paint…..bad idea. Immediately after I started spraying, the paint crackled and split.
I was so sad. I knew that I would have to sand off all of the paint, re-prime, and spray again. However, I decided to wait. I’m going to live with the crackle for a while until summer arrives. So please politely ignore the crackled finish on the bottom drawers. Other than that….Ta Da!
I used adhesive drawer liner paper on the bottom of the drawers and I have already filled every drawer with craft supplies.
I had an empty frame that is spray painted in the same color to accent the top of the piece. In the summer, I will fix the bottom drawers and soon I will be making labels for each drawer.
I absolutely adore the way it turned out. It’s functional, a little sassy and has a great story.