Connecting with Cabinets

When we were finally able to think about the kitchen renovaton, our first thought was, “Save the Knotty Pine.”  In reviewing that thought with a sage cousin, someone who’d spent many summer weeks in that kitchen, she looked at me flatly and said, “No.  Nothing in that kitchen is worth saving.” 

We needed a lot more storage space than we had, so my next thought was to find a set of knotty pine cabinets at a salvage yard.  I prowled my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and I duly noted where the Rehab Addict shopped in Minneapolis.   

She, of the HGTV fame, shopped for used cabinets at Bauer Brothers in northeast Minneapolis, so I went there on subzero winter’s day.  While the office is heated, the vast expanse of warehouse floor is only slightly warmer than the outdoors.  But I was dressed for the weather and I hiked that labyrinth for the perfect cabin cabinets.   

You must dress for the exterior temps to shop at Bauer Brothers!

You must dress for the exterior temps to shop at Bauer Brothers!

Although knotty pine was top of mind, as I walked the warehouse, I saw several sets of metal cabinets.  I’d done enough reading to know that metal was the material of the future in the 1950s—all the top kitchens had them.  The more I walked, the more I thought that white metal cabinets might be the perfect contrast to the non-stop knotty pine in our “open concept” cabin.  I went home, talked Dave into it, and a week later, drove back up with the truck to claim my prize.  Everything I had looked at the week before was still there: a nice set Geneva cabinets with one upper cabinet and  two lower cabinets, including a corner unit, made by Youngstown Cabinets.  Everything still had the original labels and handles.   

You know that phrase, “custom cabinets”?  They say that for a reason.  The interesting thing about buying salvage cabinets is that they are not custom to your space.  You have recorded some dimensions of the kitchen on your phone and you have a tape measure in your hands as you prowl a warehouse that’s seriously five degrees inside (it was -20 outside), so you can get close on dimensions and sizing, but you must accept that you will not be perfect.  Also, the kitchen in question is 250 miles from the salvage store, so you can’t just buzz up there to recheck the measurements. 

This is a big problem for my husband.  Less so for me.  There’s a reason I didn’t bring him to the salvage store. 

You must be able to concentrate to shop at Bauer Brothers!

You must be able to concentrate to shop at Bauer Brothers!

The back of the pickup was filled with a mish-mash of Geneva and Youngstown white metal cabinets. The crew at Bauer Brothers was more than helpful in getting them loaded up and properly secured for the drive.   

All the cabinets were in great shape, they just needed to be cleaned and painted.  I researched painting metal cabinets, and it seemed like a doable DIY project. 

Dave and I decided to transport them to the cabin before painting, just to make sure that they didn’t get scratched up en route.  Based on my research, I decided that we should use a sprayer with enamel paint.  Dave thought rolling with latex paint was a better idea, but I insisted that my method was better, I guess because it was on the internet.  And besides, he owned a Wagner sprayer.  How hard could this be? 

We set up a painting station between the Tool House and the old Wee Wee House and I started taping and painting.  Did I mention that Dave runs a light construction business and does a lot of painting?  He helped me set everything up, but I really wanted to do this, to contribute to the ongoing effort that is Lloyd’s Landing. 

Let me just say that he makes this job look easy. 

It was windy.  The sprayer is drippy.  I’m not good at this.  Enamel paint is fussy.  Clean up in a huge hassle.  Everything about this is hard. 

I did a primer coat and two finish coats.  It’s far from perfect.  In hindsight, I would never recommend hand painting metal cabinets to anyone.  The next time around, I would get them powder coated by a professional.  On the other hand, the price was right. 

Amy Anderson