Medicine Cabinet turned into Pottery Barn Message Center

August 2, 2013

CREATE   |   Published August 2, 2013

About five years ago, I rescued an old metal medicine cabinet out of my grandma's garage before it was torn down.  I'm not sure what it was used for in the garage, maybe to hold first aid supplies since my grandma had tools in there.  I didn't know at the time what I wanted to do with it, but I guess I saw some future potential in it.

Here is the before pictures, complete with the dirt and grime collected through the years.  (I'm not so sure it was necessary to watermark these photos!)

Fast forward a few years, and Pottery Barn was selling a message center for holding keys, has a corkboard for posting things and provides storage for small necessities.   I took on the challenge of making my medicine cabinet as useful as the Pottery Barn message center.

The medicine cabinet started out in very poor shape....It's old and has lived a good, long life.  There were layers of paint, a chipped finish, dents, and dings.  The mirror shows signs of age and has a few scratches on it.  A lot of this is hard to overcome, so I decided to "embrace the age" of the piece.

I started by cleaning the piece up  and then sanding off the chipping paint. It would be impossible to get all the layers of paint and drips off the piece without massive amounts of stripping, so I decided that was part of the "age" I was embracing.

I began by painting the piece with two coats of silver Rustoleum paint....I like to paint all metal pieces with this regardless of the final finish just to protect  the paint if later on the rust decides to peek through.  I choose silver because I planned on distressing the piece after painting it and figured the silver would make it look like the original metal.

Then I painted on FOUR coats of white chalk paint with my Martha Stewart Foam Pouncers.  This process takes a little longer to pounce on the paint, but you get a nice textured finish which I like.  If you are painting a piece like this, you'll still need to use a brush to get into the corners before pouncing the paint on the center.  Between the texture I got using the pouncers and the coverage of the chalk paint, a lot of the imperfections of the old finish disappeared.  (Although you can still see some of the drippy original paint there on the corner in the picture below...remember....I'm "embracing the age"!).

After painting the entire piece with white chalk paint, I had a few more steps in order to finish my conversion. Since I wanted this to be a message center, I decided to paint the door with chalkboard paint.  I had originally wanted to put cork on the door (like the Pottery Barn version), but the cork was too thick to let the door close.  I taped off a rectangle on the door with painter's tape using the edges of the door as my guide to get the chalkboard centered.  Then I painted on four coats of chalkboard paint.  To be sure that the tape came off smoothly, I ran the edge of my painter's tool around the edge of the tape to "cut" through the paint.  It came off perfectly.

Since I was "embracing the age" of the piece, I decided to sand the edges of the medicine cabinet to make it look a little worn again.  Then I coated it with satin varnish to protect the finish.

The Pottery Barn message center has hooks for keys on the inside.  I wasn't sure what to do since I was working with a metal cabinet, while the PB version was wood.  But after searching for ideas, I found this key rail at Target for $6.99.  It is made of wood and has a white painted finish.

 I lightly sanded the edges of the wood to keep the same worn finish as the cabinet.  Then I used contact adhesive all over the back to attach it to the back of the medicine cabinet.  Problem was, this rail was made to be screwed in and had two screw holes.  Luckily I had some tiny wooden plugs that fit perfectly into the holes.  I painted them with the white chalk paint and my message center was complete.

The metal cabinet could also be used for craft storage, in a workshop, or could be filled with spices.  There are many possibilities.

So lets review.....

Here is what I started with:

Here is the Pottery Barn Version:

And here is the after of my medicine cabinet to message center:

Can you imagine this piece in your home?  

Do you have any other ideas for how to repurpose a medicine cabinet?

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