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  • Writer's pictureJacqueline Loiacono

How to Create a Budget Friendly Linen Cabinet

When I started my interior design company, I didn't know where it would take me or what exactly I would be focusing on. Home decor and design was my focus, but furniture refurbishing is my biggest love. I didn't know I would graduate to being a "woodworker," and I use that term loosely in every sense of the word!

My dad was a carpenter and I had always wanted to do what he did at his shop. I grew up watching "This Old House" on TV with him and always asked a million questions. I wasn't so sure of myself with a saw yet, so the woodworking dream was a long ways ahead. My tool was a paintbrush for a really long time and I'm here to tell you that anyone can do it. My first real diy project with wood was this linen cabinet. It came from two composite wood bookshelves and some courage.

My grandmother had bought these from Target for her bedroom a few years ago. She was throwing them out to make room for a piece of furniture I had refurbished for her and I thought maybe I could use them. We didn't have much bathroom storage except for a vanity and a medicine cabinet in our apartment. My linen closet was basically "Schowetsky Supplies & Co." It was full of tools and paint rather than towels. I knew we would need something functional if we were staying here for a year or two before we bought a house. I had saved a bunch of ideas on Pinterest (can't wait to go through all of the inspiration I've saved to share with my viewers when I begin my podcast soon) for inspiration and wondered if these shelves would be stable enough for a cabinet. Obviously I needed some direction. Luckily, Brian helped me through every step of the way.

When we first began the project, we used 1 inch screws to secure the two shelves together at the middle. In order to make it more sturdy, we needed to wrap it in plywood. I had bought a Ryobi Circular Saw from Home Depot as a Christmas gift to myself. At this time in my business, I am not turning over an actual profit so this was more of an investment for future projects.

My original sketch was inspired by an expensive cabinet that I had found on pinterest. I was planning on buying cane and wrapping the cabinet door with it as well as adding gold knobs and bare wood legs. It wasn't exactly what the final product looked like, but again, it was only inspiration for my own ideas. The stacked shelves measured 6 ft tall so we needed to cut the plywood 11 1/2 in wide by 2 ft long and then the same for the bottom measuring 11 1/2 by 4 feet long. I had bought 2x4 foot plywood 1/4 of an inch thick. I'm far from a mathematician, and math is my worst subject, so I left the computation to Brian when it came to measuring the trim later on. I tried my best, and I'm sure it will get a little easier, but I need to brush up on my fraction skills.

I glued the cut plywood on using Loctite wood glue in the caulk gun. I clamped the wood in order to hold it in place so I could secure it with screws. At this point, my mother had given me one of my Christmas gifts early, Stanley foldable sawhorses. It made it so much easier for me to do my work instead of using our kitchen stools to build on. I caulked all of the seams and realized that I was very messy at it. Once again, I tried my best. I used a baby wipe to wipe the seams but still needed to sand off the excess caulk that I left on the corners once it dried. I filled in all of the screw holes and the splitting in the plywood and sanded the outside of it down with my electric sander. I used a sander block by hand inside the shelf spots.

Once it was time to paint I became excited. I’m a perfectionist and when a project is still in its early stages, I get down on myself that it doesn’t look good. I have to remind myself that I am still learning. In my first project sketch, I had wanted to use cane wrapping and build a cabinet door to hide the toiletries and towels inside. My amateur phone design is above pictured ;) I primed it with Stixx primer, the primer my dad always told me to use. It really gives a thick base to paint over. Then I painted the cabinet it with leftover paint from our bedroom since you could see both the cabinet and bedroom from the hallway. The color is Salamander by Benjamin Moore. We added the light wood legs I bought from Amazon after I had painted it, and then screwed it into the wall, so it wouldn’t fall forward. I soon learned that this was a mistake because the screws ripped the paint off.

Since I painted over wood composite, even the primer wasn’t thick enough to keep the paint on. I had to go back back, fill the holes, prime and repaint again. All the while Brian was reminding me that things take time. I am very impatient.

I went to Home Depot on my first real solo trip in the lumber department to get the trim on my own and was embarrassed when I had to go back in the store to cut it. The trim was hanging way too far out my back window and was too dangerous. A man next to me in the parking lot was trying to help and he advised me to go back into the store and cut the trim. I laughed, said thank you and begrudgingly walked back in to hand-saw it. Home depot has a station in the wood aisle that you are able to use a hand saw to cut smaller pieces yourself and not wait a million hours getting an associate to help. You are even able to measure the trim against the risers where they have a measuring stick up to ten feet. For a beginner like me, it was easy as 1,2,3

When I got the trim home, we wanted to try to miter the edges (think picture frame edges). It was extremely difficult to make it exactly right with no gaps. Since I wanted to leave the trim bare for a contrast to the green, it wasn't like I was filling it with wood glue and painting over it, so we decided to nix the idea and go with an edged shaker style. My mother-in-law bought me a Workpro staple/nail gun for Christmas (Yes, this Christmas has been my favorite since I got new tools and accessories for my business, I was so excited!). The small nail gun was perfect since I did not have an air compressor brad nailer. Plus, for the trim, I only needed small 1/2 inch nails.

After trimming the cabinet, I realized I didn't want a door. It looked so much more elegant with the trim on the front of it. I wanted to see the green broken up with the bare wood trim instead of buying the cane to wrap the door in my original idea. Just like we change our clothes, we can change our ideas right?

When the last piece of trim went on, I took a deep breath and stood back. I thought it looked amazing. It wasn't perfect but it was perfect for us. I was so proud to have made something from my own two hands. I usually refurbish furniture and love to make something old new again. This time, I had a base to work with and built this piece on my own. I was proud of Brian and I as well. Our first piece of furniture built together with love, as well as blood, sweat and tears. Teaching someone like me to build was a feat in itself as I am not easy to work with when I get frustrated. It's funny, I was always able to teach my students coping skills, but when I make a mistake, I sometimes stomp around like a 4-year-old.

The linen cabinet was a labor of love that has begun my journey of woodworking. I am so excited to create again. I am glad you are still with me to witness it and I hope you stick around for more.

-Jacqueline, xoxo

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