Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Little Dog in Yankee Mag

Last summer Yankee Magazine invited me to participate in an article about upcycling. You know, finding old things and giving them new life. Right up my alley, you say? That's what I thought, too, so I heartily agreed and a few months later met a Yankee writer and photographer at Todd Farm to hunt for a project. The idea was to get before and after shots of a DIY upcycle project to feature in the magazine along with a bit of detail about my process. The magazine came out this month, and while I do love the writeup, it doesn't include any "in process" pictures, so I thought it fitting to show some of those here on the blog.

I selected an old drawer box that looks similar to an apothecary chest, but was probably intended more as a tool storage box when built. Here it is in a fuzzy Instagram shot along with some other projects that sat around in my Vermont workshop for a while but eventually were finished...

The box is plywood and somewhat beat up - which I love - but wasn't appropriate for refinishing so I chose to treat the outside with a white pickling stain and leave the drawer faces unfinished for contrast. Pickling stain gives wood a whitewashed look while still letting the grain show through.

Next I swapped out the simple wood drawer pulls for brass card catalog pulls found for $1 each at a salvage shop. They were still on their original wood drawer fronts and had plenty of dirt and tarnish to go around. I used a screwdriver to remove them from the old drawer faces, then polished the brass with a baking soda/vinegar mixture and a fine grade sanding block.

Lastly, I wanted to add old industrial caster wheels to the bottom so the piece would be easy to roll around, but found that 4 piece sets of vintage caster wheels are not the easiest to find. Yes, it's possible to run into them at a flea market for a steal, but it just never happened for me. I turned to Ebay and Etsy, only to discover that the type of set I wanted would likely cost me $75. Too much for this project. I ended up buying metal caster wheels at Home Depot for $5 each and spray painting them a matte black color. Hindsight I wish I'd gone with more of a rusty brown, but in the end they turned out pretty well so I am happy with it.

Instead of selling the box as I usually would have done, I decided to keep it to store my lamp rewiring supplies that had long outgrown the small tool box I'd been stuffing them in for the past few years. Many of the drawers have divided sections, so it's perfect for sorting out small hardware like finials, washers, and the like.

It was a blast thrifting with the folks from Yankee, fixing up the chest, and eventually seeing the project in a magazine. Thanks Yankee for getting in touch. It's been a big thrill for a little shop like mine to be featured so!


  1. I love that you used old card catalog pulls on the drawers. I'd like to try something similar, but use it to store my post card and vintage paper collections.

  2. Good for you, Claire! The feature looked great...I love to give old things new life too, but I come from the fabric, sewing end. I really am impressed at what you can do!

    Carol Joy

  3. Wow, it looks so good, you did pretty cool job out there. I wish I could do half of what you have done here. Thanks for sharing it with us and keep posting such posts