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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Old Oak Cabinets from Start to Finished!!!

Yes.. they are finished!!!

If you remember back a couple weeks ago, we found these wonderful old cabinets from the 1920's on Craigslist...

They came out of an old mansion in Fond du Lac, WI.  I was just thrilled to find such a wonderful complete set, and amazingly that space in the middle is right where we have a window on the wall of the kitchen!   We gladly handed over $850 for them, a mere fraction of what NEW cabinets would have cost us.

We hauled them home in brother-in-law Pete's trailer up the highway to our warehouse to work on them.

And I started to work on them... sanding... staining... polyurathaning....

I painted all the interior surfaces with a thick coat of "food safe" paint meant for dairy milk house rooms on farms.  It was a stinky oil-based paint, so I waited till a nice day when I could work in the open doorway.  Not too many days like that in November in Wisconsin, so I really got lucky with 2 days in a row to get this part done.  The fumes gassing off were horrible, but soon they dried to a hard shiny finish.

Soon it was time to start staining! 

 Two coats of polyurathane went on easily.. 
and the wood was just gleaming under my hands! 

I ordered new latches and drawer pulls for the cabinets. 

 I could not find the same shaped replacement hinges in black.  
Instead of buying new ones, Steve ground off the old painted hinge surface for me 
and I re-painted them with Rustoleum's Hammered Metal Paint.

Then I ordered a new copper sink and a tall gooseneck kitchen faucet to match. 

Yesterday I lined all the drawers and shelves with a granite printed contact paper.  Then I screwed on all of the latches, hinges and drawer pulls.  OH MY! It was all coming together!  Steve got here after work and helped me to lift the upper cabinets up onto the bottom base.  For now we set them on the older wooden countertop, but when we install them in the house, we will put on a newer granite patterend countertop of a dark color.

On one of the enclosed sides that will face the wall, I wrote a little message to people of the future who someday may be tearing the house down or removing these "old cabinets" to put in "new ones"  LOL

I can't stand back far enough to get a good complete shot of all the cabinets because they are situated alongside the motorhome in our warehouse for now.  Once they are installed in the new house, I can take a new shot.

You may wonder why I am so crazy gaa-gaa about these cabinets?  Well----

As I have been working on these cabinets, sanding and stripping and wiping ... then staining and wiping again... then sealing and now finally putting on the hardware... I have been thinking.

I identify a lot with these cabinets.

A long time ago, I was battered and bruised just like them.  I was told nobody wanted me and nobody would love me.  That I wasn't worth anything.

I was just like these old cabinets.

The lady selling the cabinets was told by her friends that it was just foolish for her to try to sell them.   The cabinets were junk, no good, ready for the garbage pile. Nobody would want them.

But someone did.

As soon as I saw them advertised on Craigslist, I knew they were for me.  I showed Steve and he agreed.  They needed to be saved, to be loved, to be valued and taken care of, to add new hardware.

Just like Steve...  He saw the good in me, and knew that I had value. He added "new hardware" to my ring finger and made me his wife.  The happiest day of my life.

So last night, as I was putting the final coat of polyurethane on the cabinets, I was enjoying their beauty, their strength, their awesome magnificent appearance.  I stand there between the two upright cabinets, over the place where my sink will go.  I pretend I am looking out my new kitchen window.  I dream of them all set in place in our new home---  surrounding me with the love that I put into them.


  1. They are beautiful through and through...just like you Karen! you did a great job!

  2. Great job a lot of work but I m sure they are worth the effort.Be safe out there. Sam & Donna...

  3. Beautiful work Karen and a beautiful analogy!

  4. They're beautiful! I'm so glad you posted about them. What a wonderful feeling knowing it's with love and labor.

  5. Oh my! They are beauriful! They are going to look terrific in your new home. Your story is wonderful. I love happy endings!

  6. Karen you did a bang up job...what a gorgeous set of cabinets...just like you their beautiful inside and out..and I love the idea of the note..:)

  7. What a labor of love, Karen. And a sweet story to go with it. Steve is a lucky man. :c)

  8. Great way to think of it, but I doubt you were ever "worthless." Steve saw that!

    Love that you put that note on the backs of them. I have left similar note on things over the years.

  9. Great job on restoring those cabinets, Karen. They will add so much to your new house.

  10. The cabinets are beautiful, Karen. You did a great job restoring them. They will add so much character to your new kitchen.

  11. Your cabinets Are beautiful inside and out just as you are

  12. Great job Karen! Whoever said the cabinets or you weren't worth anything doesnt know have a clue what they are talking about.

  13. The cabinets are beautiful and you did a wonderful job on them. Knowing how you feel about them and your life is very special. Thanks for telling us about it. You are special.

  14. Karen beautiful job and beautiful story. Even though we've never met, you bring joy and encouragement to me in your blog. Thanks

  15. Such a beautiful post... my favorite of all that I've read. I love your tender and discerning heart, Karen and your willingness to share it with others who may need to hear and understand the message of these cabinets.

  16. Sweet story for a sweet lady. And the cabinets are lovely~

  17. You did a wonderful job on the cabinets. The granite top sounds amazing, too. Thanks for sharing your story. As always, I thoroughly enjoy your posts. Best wishes to you and your family.

  18. You did a great job on the cabinets. I love the idea of the granite top, too. As always, I thoroughly enjoy your posts and find them heartwarming and inspirational. Best wishes to you and your family.

  19. Beautiful cabinets - so very glad that you saw their potential. And that Steve recognized yours! :-)

  20. Karen,
    I'm happy you included a link to this blog. We were in Australia and didn't have a lot of internet time. I missed out on about 1-1/2 months worth of people's blogs.

    This is excellent. Thank you for sharing it again.

    Wow on the cabinets and wow on the analogy. Doing work can really get you thinking, can't it. I experience the same thing. Some of my best thinking took place whenever I was pulling weeds in our yard in Hawaii. That seems like a lifetime ago, but it's only been a year and four months.

    You did good!



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