How to Use Tired Kitchen Cabinets in the Playroom

Home decor

Everyone loves a good Before and After right?! Well, this one took a little bit of creativity and elbow grease but I can’t believe we figured out how to use tired kitchen cabinets in the playroom and create an awesome amount of stylish storage for about $50!

How on earth is March almost over?! Does anyone else feel like time is moving at the speed of light? I gotta tell you, I’ve been having a blast and it looks like April is going to be even better. Lots of projects on the way. In fact, you guys – I’m committing to the ONE ROOM CHALLENGE. It starts next week!! I’ll be tackling our Master Bedroom. Also this week, I’m starting a new monthly series dedicated to something totally new – finances. I have reached a point in my blog, where I just want to write about what I want to write about. And personal finance is something I am passionate about. So watch for that. It’s coming on Friday.

Meantime, today’s post is something I’m SO EXCITED about! It’s the last playroom project I’ll be sharing for the next bit due to the ORC, and it’s such a good one!!!

These cabinets have seen better days. They originally hung in our kitchen (!!) and flanked our window. They blocked A LOT of light, so we took them down and replaced them with open shelving and re-hung them in our laundry nook until we could figure out what to do with them. Once we started fixing the studio/laundry room wall and painting the new cabinets in that space, we realized these old ones had to come down.

As we were clearing things out to drywall, Dan casually stacked the cabinets in the playroom just to get them out of the way. And that’s when we both had a light bulb moment!

We’ve been finding the playroom design incredibly challenging. It has to serve about 8 million purposes and the room has SO MANY WEIRD things about it. From uneven walls, to oddly placed windows and doors, planning furniture placement and storage was proving to be a nightmare. But these cabinets? They actually solved a few problems!!

We figured we could refinish them and rehang them to create a bookshelf type ‘experience’ but keep it off the floor. I also figured I could tie the whole unit into the new media centre I’m working on with fabric, colours and finishings.

So we set to work. I was a bit naive and thought we’d be able to save and paint the cabinet faces. But because we wanted to hang the larger of the two cabinets down low (and create a mini faux-denza of sorts) it caused problems when we considered we’d need to add a sturdy countertop to it and not have a gap. So off the faces came. It wasn’t hard, just a couple pulls with the pry bar. I think I’m going to use them for something else in the laundry room anyway! Waste not, want not!

From there we used 1x6s to plank the cabinet sides – each side with two. The top of the lower cabinet is clad with one solid 1×12 piece of lumber. It’s actually a scrap piece we had left over from our fauxdenza build in the living room! The faces of the cabinets were rebuilt using 1x2s (remember when we built lanterns from 1x2s for the February Monthly Challenge? I had some left over hehe) and then finished off using pieces we ripped down to size using our table saw. It was unfortunate that a standard size piece wouldn’t fit, but a 1×2 was too small to cover the gap, a 1×3 left a weird lip thing showing and a 1×4 just looked too heavy. So we ended up custom cutting those pieces.

All of the wood cladding was secured to the cabinet sides using wood glue and our air striker nail gun and 1 1/4″ brad nails. Already the cabinets were looking better and more like the unique piece we were hoping for.

The next step was to use basic wood filler to close some of the gaps and then stain them to update the look.

It really is no secret that my favourite stain product are the Minwax Stain Cloths. (I’ve talked about using them here, and here, and here!) They come with plastic gloves (which I recommend using) and for real, you just open them up like a package of baby wipes and rub them onto your wood. The wipe-on stain dries in less than an hour, which is why these are my go-to for small or simple projects. If you want a deeper stained look or something more layered, you can easily wipe on one tone and follow that up with another. My personal favourite tone is Natural Oak, but I’ve used almost all of them at some point! (And I admit it!! Sometimes, I do all my DIYs in my pyjamas. So there! )

To give you a sense of coverage, I used one and a half packages of the wipes to complete the cabinets. Staining and clean-up took me less than an hour. I’d say that’s a DIY win.

Once everything was dry, we measured the wall and found a stud. These cabinets aren’t exactly lightweight and since LB is going to be playing down here, we NEED them to be safe. Dan bought special heavy duty wall anchors to use on the spots where we won’t hit a stud.

The finishing touch is the fun fabric back! There is a secret to doing this that makes it super easy. Just measure you shelf backs and cut a bunch of foam or bristol board to those sizes. Then wrap your boards in fabric and secure with tape or glue. (I’m using painter’s tape – works just fine and you’ll never see it.) Then place your fabric covered board firmly into the shelf backs and voila!

This is absolutely the best solution for this small space. We hung the cabinets so that smaller baskets could fit beneath the bottom one and on top of the top one to max out storage even more.

I’m enjoying having an excuse to be playful and fun. I think everyone should have a ‘playroom’ in their house! haha One thing that LB and I do every day is read stories. We’ve just started to bring her puppets out for story time as well. She LOVES them. So I expect there will be many more puppets to come. For now, I’ve got our SkipHop grey and cream floor tiles beneath it and they are working great! Once I get moving on the rest of the finishing touches in this corner, I will extend them further. 

As you can see, I’m pulling in a bold PINKY-ORANGE colour to the room and I intend to take that theme and run with it. I’ve got another DIY revamp coming up for the playroom that will more or less complete the space. I haven’t started it yet, and it’s a biggie, so it’ll probably be a few months before I show you that project – but it’s coming! You can see it off to the side in this shot – completely not-done and ready for a revamp.Meantime, we are loving having this fun, inexpensive shelving unit to store all of LBs toys and games!

Thanks so much for checking out this latest playroom project. I hope you like it as much as I do 🙂



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