Week 27: Refinish a Medicine Cabinet

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This is a step-by-step guide for anyone who, like me, loves vintage stuff and fixing them up. I found an old medicine cabinet (made of wood, with a glass door and no mirror) in our house and thought it would be perfect to store The Tactless Child’s many trinkets. Problem was, the cabinet was old and weary. The outer layers of the wood were peeling off, the glass on the door was about to fall off, and the whole thing was dirty. So, between writing assignments, this is what I did:

Step 1: Using the stick end of a broom and standing on a chair, inspect the entire cabinet. The broom and chair are vital. Otherwise, a lizard might jump out from its hiding place behind the cabinet and land on your arm, causing you to fall over backward in fright and, in the process, whack your head on the cement wall behind you.

Step 2: Once clear of bugs and cold-blooded creatures, clean the cabinet using a damp cloth.

Step 3: Fix whatever needs fixing. To secure a loose glass door, remember that super glue doesn’t work. (It doesn’t matter if they put on their label a picture of a smiling man hanging upside-down wearing shoes that are supposedly super-glued to the ceiling. It was proven this afternoon that if his shoes were super-glued to a ceiling made of glass, this man would fall to his doom.) Instead, be observant enough to notice that small nails are poking out from the bottom corner of the door frame, the corner that’s sticking out. This means all you have to do is nail the bottom frame back in place. This will secure the glass and make less of a mess. Hand a toy hammer to any hovering child to avoid him using the real hammer and dropping it on your foot.

Step 4: Sand all surfaces except for the glass. Make sure to keep crayons and extra sandpaper nearby in case a kid tries to help by eating all the dust from the sanding. (Best to begin Step 1 when said kid is taking his nap. But if he refuses to sleep, your best bets for a successful project are crayons and extra sandpaper. Drawing on sandpaper is new and interesting for young children, and this childlike wonder will prolong your solo minutes on your project.)

Step 5: Decide what color you want to paint the cabinet. To make a quick decision, just use whatever’s available in your home. Coffee can be mixed with water and painted on for a vintage-y effect. Egg shells can be broken in little pieces, washed and dried, painted or colored with marking pens, then glued to the cabinet. Magazine pages can be made into a collage then applied to the cabinet. Without buying anything, you can still be as creative as you want.

Step 6: But if you have leftover paint, and it’s the color you want, then paint away. Two reminders, though: One, line the glass door with masking tape, right inside the wooden frame, to avoid getting paint on the glass. Two, paint with no little children around. I didn’t once and The One Who Spits inevitably became The Red One Who Spits.

Step 7: Leave to dry. Add another coat of paint if you want.

Step 8: Hose down any little child who finds his way to the paint. Don’t use kerosene to remove paint on pudgy hands.

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