Turn a Medicine Cabinet Into a Message Center
How to convert a vintage bathroom chest into a place to store and pass on information in the kitchen
Besides its obvious utility in a bathroom, a vintage medicine cabinet can double as a kitchen spice rack or a curio cabinet. I recently spotted a wood one with a plate-glass door displaying a handsome collection of vintage wind-up alarm clocks. But you can also use one to hold keys and letters, or, if you're still sore like me, the occasional missive to mom about that icky cod liver oil she used to make you gulp down.
Tired of littering my countertop with house keys, bills, and various daily reminders to my husband and babysitter, I set out in search of a medicine cabinet to transform into an organizer for a corner of the kitchen. A scan of Craigslist turned up a gorgeous wall-mounted oak model for just $65, a bargain because it was missing its mirror. Rather than filling the empty recess in the front of the cabinet door with new glass, I brushed on chalkboard paint and lined its back with cork. A row of cup hooks is perfect for hanging keys.
How to Turn an Old Medicine Cabinet Into a Message Center
When shopping for a vintage medicine cabinet for this project, look for a surface-mount unit. These tend to be older, some dating to the mid-1800s, and are typically made of wood. Recessed ones made of either wood or metal became popular around the turn of the 19th century, in part because of the Victorians' obsession with cleanliness. It was thought that protruding ledges, specifically those in kitchens and baths, harbored sickness-inducing microbes.
Prices typically range from $50 to $250 for a vintage cabinet, with the best deals at flea markets and online auctions. Compare that with $350 to $1,000 or more for repro models.
You can get vintage cabinets on eBay, but hit salvage yards for rare finds, such as this 1880s one with a beveled diamond-shaped mirror at Demolition Depot in New York City.