Poverty Breeds Creativity…

Poverty Breeds Creativity.  This has been one of my mottos ever since I was a child growing up in rural outport Newfoundland.  We didn’t have a whole lot back then, but some of my happiest memories are those of my grandfather whittling toy boats for me to play with or spending time in the outdoors with friends – roaming the meadows and woods with twigs, leaves, tree boughs and a lot of imagination!

These days, while I make a decent living – it’s not enough for me to be able to say (ala Lara Croft in Tomb Raider), “I just woke up one morning and hated everything!” and give in to my temptations to constantly redecorate.  I did, however, wake up one morning and decide that the living room needed end tables.  Trying to get more bang for my buck, I thought to myself, “What would be EVEN BETTER than a plain end table?… Aha!  Those adorable rustic end tables that double as file cabinets, that’s WHAT!”  So, I started sourcing out those lovely, rustic Pottery-Barn-esque style wooden file cabinets.

After spending some time sourcing (sigh), I quickly discovered that the prices for these pieces (both on-line and local) were rather costly.  That said, if you have the extra money, they are beautiful and I’m sure they’re worth it.  However, as a joint household purchase my partner was NOT in agreement to pay that kind of money.  So, drawing on my childhood memories of making something awesome out of whatever happened to be laying around, I started scouring Pinterest for ideas and the basement for supplies.

Pinterest had a variety of relatively easy looking projects to turn file cabinets into something ‘pretty’, so I pinned a few ideas and headed to the basement!

After finding cat puke, a pile of dirty laundry and some missing winter boots, my basement re-con mission also yielded two old grey metal file cabinets, some pieces of pine, leftover pieces of cedar wainscoting from our kitchen reno, a variety of stains, spray paints, glue, and a box full of spare drawer pulls.  I found: I-N-S-P-I-R-A-T-I-O-N!!! (and yes, supplies!)

Here is a photo of the process and the outcome:

Rustic End Table/File Cabinet

Rustic End Table/File Cabinet

I began by spray painting (black) the parts of the file cabinets that would be exposed.  Then, I measured the parts of the cabinets I wanted to cover with wood – which were the drawers and the tops.

I used the wrong side of the wainscoting to be my new ‘front’ because there weren’t any wainscot ridges on the back.  Luckily, three pieces fit nicely together to make the perfect height to cover the front of one drawer.  As they were all in odd lengths and too long, I measured the size width I needed for the drawer front and just cut them to fit.  Then I sanded all the pieces.  Next, I glued 3 pieces of the wainscoting together to make one drawer front (it worked nicely because wainscoting has grooves that fit each piece to the next).  I had 4 drawers to cover, so I needed 4 sections (each section comprised of 3 pieces).  Then, I placed a line of glue in the grooves and fit the three pieces together to dry, lying flat, and doing this 4 times for each drawer.

Once dry, I stained them.  (I just kept mixing various stains together, using a sample piece of wood until I found a shade that I liked).

For the tops, I used a large piece of pine that we (and I say we – meaning my partner, because I don’t like to use the electric saw!) cut to fit just on the top of each cabinet with just a little bit hanging over the edges.  Then, I sanded it and stained it to match the wainscoting.

Once the wood was stained, top coated and dry, I removed the existing handles from the cabinets and used wood glue to glue all the wood pieces to the cabinet.  I held the drawer pieces on with clamps. (Note: glue drips – so put something underneath on the floor to catch the drips!)

Once the glue dried, I marked where I wanted the handles to be and drilled the holes – very carefully so the wood wouldn’t crack, and attached the handles.

All in all – not a bad project!  And it was pretty quick – other than waiting for the stain and the glue to dry!  The result?  2 rustic Pottery Barn-esque file cabinets/end tables that cost absolutely nothing but my time and imagination!  There’s nothing like the lack of a budget that forces you to be creative!  So, reduce, reuse & recycle!

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