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Sewing Cabinet Upcycled into a Bar Cart

I am especially excited about sharing this sewing cabinet project because sewing cabinets are something that I’ve seen a lot of in the past and have passed up because I wasn’t seeing beyond their intended use. Now that I’ve upcycled this cabinet into a fun and useful drinks serving station, I would definitely seek out these cabinets in the future.

I purchased this sewing cabinet for $35 from an estate sale because I really liked the character of the piece. Since the machine was not in working condition, I bought it only for the cabinet. My first move was to remove the old, built-in sewing machine and recycle it for cash. The machine netted me $5.55 in scrap metal payout.

I was torn between two design directions: a bar cart or a game table. The answer was clear to go with the bar cart idea after I removed the machine. The top of the cabinet was on hinges that allowed it to open to the left. With the machine gone, the cabinet easily tipped over in the open position.  I needed to detach the top and therefore upcycled it into a removable serving tray.

I decided to do a distressed look on the cabinet using Vaseline. Vaseline prevents the top layer of paint from sticking and therefore you can achieve an easy worn look and interesting brush strokes with transparency to the under coat.

In contrast to distressing, I wanted the top of the serving tray to be pristine stained wood. I sanded and stained it with gunstock wood stain.

The second challenge was making the inside of the cabinet useful for storage. After the machine was gone, the inside of the cabinet was completely hollow. So I installed a sturdy board that I screwed to the underside of the cabinet. The board was cut to size at Lowes where I purchased it for $7.50. I needed to use my jigsaw to cut the corners so it could fit around the back legs.

There was a board inside the cabinet that hid the view of the sewing machine, but for my purpose, hindered access to the storage shelf. That was removed by way of screwdriver chiseling and a handsaw.

I kept the metal storage container on the door that was originally used for machine attachments and bobbins, and repurposed it to hold shot glasses and wine glass markers.

This bar serving station with removable serving tray is all ready for the holiday season!

Below are links to more information on the details of this sewing cabinet project.

How to distress furniture using Vaseline
Sewing Rocker restoration – this rocker was purchased with the sewing cabinet
The scrap metal experience and cash realities

Eve of Reduction: Free Seasonal E-Newsletter; Extra tips and wit on Facebook; Reduction Beauty on Pinterest ; The debut DIY lifestyle book (includes 10 upcycling tutorials); and the guide to creative streams of income ebook (only $2.99).

I’m Cristin Frank (AKA Eve). I love all things frugal and crafty. My mindset is always on upcycling, repurposing, reducing waste and saving money – and Eve of Reduction is my roadmap. You might also want to check out my book, "Living Simple, Free & Happy."

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4 Responses to Sewing Cabinet Upcycled into a Bar Cart

  1. Penny January 25, 2014 at 3:13 am #

    Would you happen to still have the hinges from the top of the cabinet that allows he machine to flip down? I can see them in the 1st red picture. I would be willing to purchase them from you if you still have them.
    Love the upcycle! You did a great job.

    • Eve January 25, 2014 at 11:01 am #

      Hi Penny, I sold this bar cart otherwise I would have passed them on to you. I’ll keep my eye out for those hinges in the future!


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