I worked in a library all through high school, which means that things like microfiche and the Dewey Decimal System have a special place in my heart. So of course I was excited about this DIY project from Jeremy & Adrianne that involved turning a Craiglists find from an old public library into a signature piece for their dining room. Here’s Jeremy’s letter:
My wife Adrianne and I love your site. I thought I would send in our before and after pictures as we took a vintage Phoenix Public Library card catalog (purchased on Craigslist for $150) and turned it into a buffet for our dining room. Here’s a quick breakdown of what we did:
- Removed the 72 drawers, numbering each with tape as we went so we could place it back in the correct corresponding spot
- Removed the outside plywood casing of original cabinet
- Separated the four sections of 18 slots that were stacked 4 X 1 and reacquainted them with each other in a 2 x 2 buffet setting. Screwed the sections back together.
- Purchased two 4’X8′ sections of oak plywood and had Lowe’s cut them to size for free. These would be the new top and base, but we used the original casings for the sides to preserve the character of the piece since they have great splits and dents already.
- Secured 8 legs purchased from Lowe’s for $8 each to base sheet of plywood in a diamond pattern (the card catalog is probably 350 lbs so we were really really relieved when the base withstood all of the weight.)
- Added 3/4″ trim purchased from Lowe’s and cut at home with our miter saw, then patched the nail holes with wood putty.
- Sanded, re-sanded, and sanded a little more to smooth things out.
- Painted with Behr Premium Plus Ultra Paint and Primer in one from Home Depot (a blueish gray color call Rhino).
- Then we rubbed some stain (Minwax Dark Walnut 2716) all over with a small brush and a few rags to give the antique look, followed by a little more sanding and then some Minwax Wipe On Poly to seal it.
- Lastly we placed all the original hardware back on each drawer, moved it into place and we now have this great, extremely unique buffet.
We keep bottles of wine in one section, napkins and utensils in another, and still have many drawers to fill with whatever will fit. It was a tough project since the unit was so heavy but we are so happy that we put a little time, a little energy, and a few dollars ($345 to be exact) to have this great conversation piece. -Jeremy and Adrianne at The Lentine Family
We’re totally digging this transformation (not to mention the meticulous refinishing that went into it). And it’s fun just to think that if we were ever lucky enough to score a similar discarded card catalog we could fill it with tons of fun stuff (from Clara and Burger’s collection of toys to Sherry’s extra lip balm tubes and my favorite ties and belts). Great work you guys- it’s a total showstopper akin to some 3K piece from Restoration Hardware or Anthropologie (but it’s even more one-of-a-kind). What do you guys at home think? Isn’t it quite the makeover? Who’s craving a trip to the library?
Psst- Don’t forget to check out our weekly BabyCenter post right here. We switched up Clara’s art wall again- we just can’t help ourselves!
I’m SO SO impressed. It looks AMAZING! I want.
Alicia (Atypical Type A) says
So. Insanely. Jealous.
I was dying to get one to use at our upcoming wedding in a library but all I could find was a tiny two-drawer version.
Looks great! I see old card catalogs at vintage stores here in the midwest for $500 – $1000 depending on the quality of the wood/hardware. They seem to be a hot item.
I almost cried when I thought you guys were getting rid of the drawers, because I apparently don’t read well. But then I saw the finished product and it is BEAUTIFUL! Amazing job guys!
I wish I could splurge for one of these since I’m in the valley too. :D
Now that is an AMAZING transformation! I absolutely love it!
Elisa @ What the Vita says
WHOAAA. This is beyond awesome.
Tiffany Abbott Fuller says
I absolutely LOVE this! I may have to find a way to steal this idea. Craigslist and old libraries here I come.
We found a library card catalog on CL too (but wow – it was TOUGH to find one – and NOT cheap).
I love this reinvention – so beautiful – and very “Anthropologie” – If I didn’t love mine as much as I do, I’d attempt to follow this inspiration.
that is incredible! looks like it was so much work, but soooo worth it!
Handy Man, Crafty Woman says
Wow, this came out great! I used to work in libraries, too. Loved the old card catalogs.
Paula M. says
Kudos on the makeover. Good idea!
For folks jonesing for something similar, but not able to find the real deal, just an FYI that you can find that style of library or card catalog cabinet in two-sided, four-sided, etc., sizes (and various wood finishes) on Amazon. I bought something similar to these years ago for my CDs and have gotten a surprising number of compliments on it:
LOVE! I’ve been on the hunt for years for a decently priced card catalog. $150 is a steal! Great job!
Umbrella Island says
Cool cool cool!!! Love it!
I want one too – it is absolutely amazing!
oh my, that looks absolutely fantastic. :) what a great idea, I love it! and the color you chose for it is perfect. I wonder if we have any old libraries in town wanting to get rid of a decent shelf like that. ;P
wow- I love it and I so wish that I had one!
I would use it in our office and put a ton of craft supplies inside and then label everything.
This piece is amazing! Inspiring…although I’m not sure I’d have quite the same results! LOL!
They’re right that the hard work definitely paid off. I love pieces with a story!
That is fabulous. One of my favorite makeovers to date!
This piece is so beautiful and original…and it’s something you can hand down from one generation to the next. Really well done!
This is great! I’ve always looked at those cabinets with longing, but was never sure how they would look at home. This has renewed my imagination~
This is by far and away the most impressive project I have seen. I just took a look at my local Craigslist in hopes to score one of my own. No such luck!
Why would you store wine in it? Wine should be stored between 54 and 73 degrees around 70% humidity. Just sayin’
Briar Oak Wife says
That is so amazing and creative! I never would of thought of that. Looks great!
Wow, what a unique idea! I actually work in a library (and am at work as we speak). Definitely wish I could steal one of those old card catalogs now! :-)
Obsessed! I have been looking for an old card catalog FOREVER. Gorgeous. Love what they did.
I LOVE this! I have been wanting an antique card catalog for years. Unfortunately, I have neither the space or the money right now. Someday though!
What a cool find! Love the transformation.
This would also make such a great storage spot in an office/school/play room. The hardware really makes this piece and I never would have thought about rearranging the sections for a buffet table!
Hey, did you see that this transformation and your post got featured on Apartment Therapy? Pretty cool!
Yay! We love when our amazing reader redesigners get some Apartment Therapy love!
Sweet T says
Very cool – I think it would have been even prettier in a really “rustic” finish, with mismatched doors, and bright colors, that are kinda random, and “worn”. Can’t go wrong with card catalogs though.. what a great idea!
wow, that’s awesome. but how you do remember where eveything is?
YHL readers, thanks so much for the kind words. And YHL, thanks so much for being such an awesome site, and getting us on apartment therapy.
Colette, we keep track of whats in the drawers by rows. The nice thing about the buffet is that there are 4 distinct sections and each section has 3 rows of 6 drawers. So there is a 6 rows each with 12 drawers. We keep place-matts, table runners, and napkins in the the first row, serving utensils across the second row, wine in the third and fourth row, white wine in the left section and red in the right…..(we dont have a cellar to keep them at the ideal temp, but it is a good place for storage, we of course chill the white before we drink it :)). And then we have 2 open rows, but I am sure we will eventually find stuff to put in them.
Thanks again for all the great comments and all the love.
Jeremy and Adrianne
You guys totally deserve it!!!
This inspired me and I finally got myself a card catalog today for $50. It’s a bit smaller than this one, and I am going to keep it taller instead of reorienting it, but I wanted to tell everyone to search for ‘your state’ surplus property, and if you’re near one, it’s worth a trip! The government has a lot of old crap they sell off for cheap that can be made over with a little love and paint. Mine is going to be a home for my husband’s computer cords and tidbit crap that he strews all over the house.
As of Jan 12, 2011 I have several library card catalogs available for sale in New Haven, CT. Contact me at [email protected] for details.
Liz Ward says
We have a peninsula in our somewhat small narrow kitchen and also toyed with the idea of a banquet or table. We love the peninsula and it has become the focus of our kitchen. An idea you might consider. Because the inside corner of the peninsula can be a hassle for a cabinet, we chose to have two sets of deep right angle drawers on that side. We realized that there was still a large area of unutilized space so on the other side (where the stools are) we have doors that open to the corner area and voila more storage space. We decided to put doors all the way across that side for continuity even though two open to nothing. If you cant’s visualize this for my description, let me know and I will send a picture. It would definitely work in your space.
We’d love to see photos! Feel free to send away!