Before and After: A $13 Craigslist Cabinet Gets a Gloriously Simple Make-Under

published Mar 29, 2021
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About this before & after
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Rental Friendly
Before: record cabinet painted black and covered with stickers
Credit: Shelley Nall

Some home furnishings are easy to find — maybe you stumble on the exact right couch or a perfectly sized rug the second you start looking for one. But others can take longer to get just right. For Shelley Nall, the elusive item was a record cabinet that didn’t feel like standard cube shelving, but also wasn’t over-the-top expensive. Then, one day, she found the perfect fit: a very beat-up record cabinet listed on Craigslist for a cool $13.

Of course, it was cheap for a reason — the old record store furniture wasn’t exactly in pristine condition. “Its black paint was chipping, it had stickers all over it, and it was missing legs, but I saw the potential,” Shelley says.

Credit: Shelley Nall

Shelley started by removing all the stickers and black paint, a step that she says took hours of power sanding. Next, she repaired cracks and chips with wood filler, replaced the trim, and spray painted dowel rods gold to use as dividers in the top section.

Shelley turned to her friend Kelly for help in building a frame for the new tapered mid-century-style legs she was adding that would support the weight of hundreds of records. It’s attached to the bottom of the cabinet, and from the outside just looks like a cosmetic detail. Smart engineering at work!

Credit: Shelley Nall

As for the stain, Shelley did a ton of research on how best to go about the process for her mostly-plywood cabinet, turning to YouTube for guidance. “If I could do it again, I would practice staining on SEVERAL spare pieces of wood first,” she says. “I did one quick test run and then jumped right in. I was smart and started in the back so I didn’t do too much damage, but staining was a much steeper learning curve than I expected.”

Once she was happy with the finish, she painted the insides of the bottom shelves black, screwed on the new legs, and filled the cabinet up with all her favorite records. While the piece looks like a pricey vintage piece, it only came to $93, which includes the cost of the cabinet and all of Shelley’s supplies.

It’s almost hard to recognize the old battered piece inside the stylish new one, but Shelley had the vision all along. “As soon as I saw the Craigslist posting, I could see the finished mid-century inspired piece in my mind,” she says. “I am thrilled it actually came out as I imagined it! I absolutely love that it has this more refined look at first glance, but then you realize it’s literally a record store cabinet.”

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