Home DIY Upcycling DIY Carla Bauer  

Upcycling for Small Closets

Whether discovered at the flea market or found in grandma’s attic: pieces of furniture with a history have their own charm. But so that you can use it reliably again and enjoy it for a long time, you should work up the old darling properly.

Sometimes they are ready for the bulky garbage on the roadside – but actually the furniture is far too good for the garbage! The good piece is quickly taken away. But at home you notice that there is still some work to be done before you can integrate the find into your apartment? No problem! We’ll show you how an old kitchen cabinet gets a second life in an upcycling process!

You need this:

  • old piece of furniture, here a cupboard
  • Viennese braid
  • Square timbers for the plinth, wooden board for the shelf
  • Acrylic paint (here, for example, RAL colors 150 40 10 felt green and an anthracite color)
  • Matching foam rollers and brushes, paint tray
  • Wood glue
  • Furniture oil, rags
  • screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Japanese saw, jigsaw or circular saw with guide rail
  • Eccentric sander or hand sander
  • Sandpaper with different grits
  • Abrasive fleece pad
  • Carpenter’s square, alternatively folding rule, pencil
  • scissors
  • Stapler
  • Clamps or frame strap tensioners

Disassembly of the individual parts

To restore your old piece of furniture, you should always dismantle all loose parts first. In our cabinet, we first remove the defective fly screen and fittings. You should make sure that these are removed so that they can still be used. The door can also be removed here. In addition, the feet of the cabinet were sawed off.


In the following step, the furniture is sanded. This can be done with the eccentric sander as well as with a conventional hand sander. The sanding process begins with the finest grain size, here 240, in order to get a first feel for the material and tools. Then you continue to sand with an increasingly coarser grain. With a grit of 80, you will remove most of the material.

Finally, a finer grit should be used again (e.g. 180) in order to achieve an optimal sanding result. The edges are then broken and many quirks have already disappeared. You should also sand the cabinet inside; a hand sander or sanding pad is more suitable here.

Then vacuum or sweep off the sanding dust thoroughly.

Painting furniture

Now the cabinet is getting its new coat of paint. We decided on the RAL color felt green. With the help of a foam roller, the paint is evenly applied to the piece of furniture. You can use a brush for the harder to reach corners.

Let dry, after an intermediate sanding, a second coat is applied.

Tip: If you want to make some of the screws or fittings more inconspicuous, you should insert them before the second painting and then paint over them.

Build the base

Instead of feet, the cabinet has a base. It consists of four squared timbers that are mitred and then glued together. For the duration of the drying time (overnight), the timbers are tensioned so that they cannot slip. You can use clamps for this or, for example, a one-hand frame strap tensioner .

The base, like the body, is also sanded and varnished, with an anthracite color as a contrast.

The internal dimensions of the chest of drawers are required so that the shelf can be cut. This is then transferred to the wooden board with a square and a pencil and cut to size.

Insert the wickerwork and oil the inside

Now the braid is inserted. First of all, the inside dimensions of the unhinged door are measured. Then cut the braided fabric with a little extra and attach it to the inside of the wooden frame with a tacker. Attention: Pay attention to any existing nails!

The other open cabinet sides are also closed with the new grille in this way.

So that the cabinet stays beautiful for a long time, the interior as well as the strips and the shelf are oiled. It is important that you work in the direction of the grain.

Tip: You can get anywhere with a rag, but you should protect your hands with disposable gloves!

Final assembly

If the oil is well absorbed, the strips for the shelf are screwed tight again and this is later placed.

Then the painted base is mounted. This is glued and screwed to the bottom of the cabinet.

Since the key for the door does not really fit the cabinet and no longer closes, we screwed an old furniture knob a little above as a replacement. Then the door hinges are reattached and the door is inserted.

The old cupboard looks almost like new and can now be used where you need it, for example as a fruit cupboard in the kitchen and dining room, as a bedside table or bookcase.

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