Posted on: Sep

‘Garbage’ Picking Treasures: Cabinet Shelf Re-do

Guest blog by Stephanie Brochey of Communify: Buffalo

It’s always a bit astonishing to me that people can toss out so much stuff that isn’t done living yet. You know the stuff I’m talking about; not broken (entirely), dusty, maybe hasn’t seen the sun in a few years, but still fully functional. In my eyes, the real jackpots come when you stumble across these things that are not only full of potential, but incredibly unique and special.

That’s what I got when I saw a friend post an Instagram a photo of this shelf at the curb. She lamented about how she was so sad to see such a beautiful piece of furniture thrown in the garbage. I loved this piece. It was so different and my brain immediately jumped to all of the possibilities. I commented glumly, “I really wish I had a vehicle big enough to pick this up.”


The next morning, she texted me: “I kinda, sorta need your address because I may or may not have picked up that shelf for you this morning in my skirt and heels.” Fantastic!

Once the shelf arrived, I surveyed the materials. Most of the shelf was laminate over particle board. I know from a recent painting project in my home, you have two options: sand or prime. Sanding can become a huge project and can also damage the laminate. Priming is also time consuming, but is definitely the easier option. Since laminate is smooth, the outer paint needs something to grip to; this is what primer does.


Clean, Inspect & Prime!

I sprayed and washed down the entire cabinet, including all the little nooks and crannies which was a HUGE pain, but needed to be done. I took off the doors to the bottom cabinet. Many of the screws were stripped so this process slowed me down quite a bit. When I bought supplies, I made sure to buy a new set of screws.


There was a small crack in the laminate on the front of one of the shelves. This was easily repaired with some E6000 epoxy. I held the piece in place for about a minute and let it dry.


Also, while I was cleaning, I noticed that the back panel had holes. I knew I had another old shelf in my attic that I could replace this with, so I went ahead and ripped the old one off.  The time it took to get this done was much longer than expected (and I cut multiple fingers on the decades old staples) but I was determined. All projects have roadblocks; don’t get discouraged!


After a good wash down, I began priming. I wanted a little bit of texture so I used a thicker bristled paintbrush.


Once that was done, I put everything away for the day and let it all dry overnight.


Spray Painting

The process of picking out the colors was the hardest part of this whole project. I ended up with a pebble color, a light brown and a copper gloss to go over the cabinet hardware and doors.


The spray painting process was really fun. The paint goes on so smooth. It’s important to make sure you have adequate light to make sure you’re not missing any spots. My garage light was very yellow so I made sure to check again the next morning that I didn’t miss anything.


The most fun surprise was using the copper gloss. I’ve used metallic spray paint that fully coated surfaces, but this went on almost transparent, with just a hint of copper. It was beautiful! I ended up using it on the hardware and over the light brown I used on the doors of the cabinet.



I tried to find a new piece of paneling for the back while I was at the store, but failed to find what I was looking for. When I got home,  I ran upstairs and removed the back of the other set of old shelves, and spray painted them to match as well.



Once everything dried, I put all of the pieces back together and voila! I now have a functional, one of a kind piece for my entranceway.


Start to finish, it took me about 5 days to complete (factoring in drying time). Five hours of work, some Netflix shows in the background and a few supplies turned this piece of “garbage” into a lovely piece for my home!




About the Author/Communify:

Stephanie Brochey is the founder of Communify: Buffalo. Communify creates and encourages opportunities for sharing, exchanging and bartering within the WNY community to foster sustainability and reduce waste.

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