A metal cart is so versatile — use it as a bar cart, a place to store supplies, a craft center, an electronics charging station… pretty much anything goes! Our guest today took a salvaged cart from the trash and cleaned it up to make it a swanky bar cart:
The Moroccan trellis quatrefoil lattice style pattern (can you tell I don’t know exactly what to call it? 🙂 ) that she used is a perfect pattern to dress something up to be both elegant and modern, and it’s easy to DIY! Keep reading to learn how Meredith created the pattern on her cart, and get inspired by similar patterns all around the house, from rugs:
and full walls!
Now here’s our guest Meredith to show you all the details of her metal cart transformation:
Salvaged Metal Cart to Swanky Bar Cart
by Meredith of The Palette Muse
Hi there Remodelaholics, I’m so happy to be here with you today! I’m Meredith from The Palette Muse, where I share all sorts of home decor, DIY, and arts & crafts projects, as well as color palettes. Most of the time I’m a wife, mom, and sometimes Interior Decorator. But often I just feel the need to get my hands dirty with something other than cleaning supplies and cooking ingredients, so I go thrift store shopping and find a piece of something that needs a little extra love. That’s my favorite kind of project, perhaps because I believe that there is always hope, even for something that seems to have no value of its own.
Some people find inspiration in art, books, magazines, or music. Others find it in the trash.
This was a chippy old lab or cafeteria cart that someone was getting rid of, and I couldn’t let it go to waste. It’s organizational capabilities alone were enough to convince me to bring it home and give it a makeover. I knew that, with a little love and attention, it could become something beautiful and useful.
Here is the journey of my cart, “From Salvage to Swanky” and how to make over your own, if you’re lucky enough to find an old and decrepit piece of something that needs a little life breathed back into it.
Step One – Sanding and Cleaning
This is really the most important part of a rehab project. If you skimp out on this one, you’ll regret it later, when all your hard work begins to flake off. Plus, after sanding, you won’t need to go to the gym that day!
Sanding Block or Sandpaper
Dishsoap and a Rag
Gloves and a dust mask are a good idea too
Then, follow behind with the steel wool to sand down the edges between paint layers.
Finally, finish with the sanding block. You should be able to run your fingers over the edges without feeling a ridge between paint layers. You definitely should not be able to pick off any more paint with your fingernails. Continue sanding down the rest of the piece, so that all the surfaces are even, but not smooth, so the paint will adhere evenly.
Jacket’s off. The workout has begun! Wax on, wax off.
Clean the whole piece well with soap and rag. Let dry completely.
Step Two – Painting
Hang on to those gloves and dust mask. Now you need to add the paint. The best paint, hands down, for this kind of project is spray paint. It’s the easiest way to get an even coat, while getting into all the nooks and crannies where metal meets metal. I like Rustoleum because of its high quality, comfort grip trigger, and you can spray it at any angle.
Be sure you follow all the manufacturer instructions. (It really does make a difference if the temperature is too hot or cold.) I like to do this part of the project in a garage, or somewhere that can be well ventilated, but is protected from the wind. I hate losing half my can of spray paint into the breeze. Or into my face.
Cover your work area, if you haven’t already. Also, for this cart, I wrapped the wheels in plastic, so they wouldn’t get glued by any paint overspray.
Aim for several light, even coats, to prevent drips or crackling. This little cart took about one and a half cans of paint. Do yourself a favor, and buy more than you think you’ll need. It’s a lot easier to return an extra can later than it is to run out and buy another in the middle of painting.
Once the paint is evenly coated all over, allow it to cure completely, for at least 24 hours.
Step Three – Decorating
Now, onto the fun part! You’ll need:
- Cork Contact Paper (Mine came from Lowe’s, at about $9 a roll. One roll covered two shelves.) [Remodelaholic note: you can also find the cork shelf liner here on Amazon]
- A Lattice Stencil (You can find these online or at craft stores, or you can use mine. It’s just a line drawing that you can resize as needed. Then print out, trace onto cardstock, and cut out.)
- Sharpie or Permanent Marker
- Roll of Jute String (about $5 from a craft store)
- Hot Glue Gun
Next, trace your stencil onto the cork with pencil, making sure to center it so the edges are even all the way around.
Once the whole piece of cork has been penciled, go over the pencil marks with Sharpie. I used a wide tip, to get a slightly calligraphic style.
Carefully peel the backing from the cork, center it on the shelf, and lightly lay it down. You can gently pull it up and reorient it, if you find it’s not lining up quite right. Once it’s in the right place, carefully smooth it out all over, starting in the center and working out to the edges.
Repeat for the second shelf.
Finally it’s time to wrap the handles with jute string. I chose jute because I wanted the handles to have a touch of something interesting, and I knew they’d need to be protected from scratches and chipping paint. Starting at one end, tie the string in a simple knot around the handle. Then hold the short end of the string under the bottom of the handle and start wrapping the Jute tightly. Apply a dot of hot glue to the bottom of each cycle of the jute.
Let me know if you figure out how to do this without getting glue strings everywhere!
Be sure to tighten the string each time you go around, before gluing. This part is a bit time consuming, but so worth it in the end. When you get to the last few cycles, stop gluing as you go. We’ll come back to the glue in a minute. Finish wrapping, then cut the string to be about 8 inches longer than you need. Tie another simple knot at the end. Then loosen up the last few unglued cycles just enough to thread the end back through underneath the handle. Tighten each cycle up again, after placing a glue dot inside it. If the end of the string is sticking out, trim closely and finish with another dot of glue. Finishing off the wrapping was by far the trickiest part of the whole project!
Now you have a completely reinvented cart, ready for organizing crafting supplies, using as extra storage, or in my case, partying as a bar cart.
Actually, we don’t have too many parties, or at least the kind that require a bar cart. Shortly after finishing this project, I was admiring my handiwork when my husband strolled by and commented, “That’s just what I need to organize all my guitar equipment.” I think he has the best looking roadie cart in band history. Oh well, it’s better than where this cart was headed before I rescued it!
Great transformation, Meredith! I’m sure your husband appreciates all the work you put into his swanky guitar cart!
Check out our archives for more great furniture restorations, makeovers, and building plans.
Lorene has been behind the scenes here at Remodelaholic for more than a decade! She believes that planning projects and actually completing them are two different hobbies, but that doesn't stop her from planning at least a dozen projects at any given time. She spends her free time creating memories with her husband and 5 kids, traveling as far as she can afford, and partaking of books in any form available.