Before & After: Metal Kitchen Cart

I found this vintage metal kitchen cart in the basement of an estate sale.  I saw it on Saturday when it was marked at 50 cents and then again on Sunday when it was half priced at 25 cents.  Something about it sucked me in and it ended up in the back of our mini cooper for a mere quarter.  For almost a year it has been in our garage and then moved into my studio to hold stacks of folded fabric.

This summer I decided it need a face-lift.  The shelves were in pretty bad shape and the chrome legs had some rusting.  I took the whole thing apart, bought two cans of Rustoleum spray paint in a pretty shade of blue and broke out the sand paper.  I spent a few hours sanding the shelves smooth, really smooth, getting all the layers of rust and grime off.  Then, between light layers of spray paint, I took the chrome legs into the sink and scrubbed them with Barkeeper’s Friend to shine them up again.  I made sure to lightly sand the shelves between paint layers with fine grained sandpaper and did quite a few layers to assure a nice even coat with no drips.

In total, the project cost me under $10.  Not too bad at all!



  1. wow, I love the blue color!

  2. LOVE IT.

  3. Melissa says:

    That looks absolutely fantastic! :) Great job!

  4. WOW! Truly amazing deal and stunning outcome!! Be still my cart loving heart!!!

  5. Penny Dreadful says:

    I saw you on Apartment therapy. This is absolutely FANTASTIC!!

  6. I also saw your terrific DIY on AT. I have 2 metal mcm step stools waiting to be redone and have a couple of questions about your process.
    Why light sanding between layers of paint?
    Where did you get the fab-colored spray paint?
    Any suggestions for removing paint from chrome?
    If my project turned out 1/2 as wonderful as yours, I’d be over the moon!

    • Hey Alisa!

      2 stools! How fun! I hope you’ll share photos when they are finished!

      I learned how to spray paint in college in my 3D design class. Hah. The reason we lightly sanded between coats with fine grain sand paper is to assure a smooth, even coat. Wet spray paint inevitably attracts dust, dirt and hair and often drips (hence the light coats). Sanding between coats or every couple coats can remove that debris and give the piece a nice, professional looking cover.

      The paint was from Lowes. I believe it was Rustoleum, which is great for metal. They have a TON of colors! Now that I have it cleaned up I may change up the color next summer. :)

      Removing paint from chrome… I would give the barkeepers friend a try if the legs need to be polished up. Depending on what kind of paint it is water might loosen it up. Otherwise you could try a mild paint thinner.

      Good luck! I’m sure they will look awesome!

  7. i love barkeeper’s friend, but never thought to use it on chrome legs for some reason. i’ve got a vintage dinette set that has some rusty chrome legs. do you mind telling me what you used to scrub the legs with? i was thinking steel wool might scratch it up, so i’m curious as to what you used. thanks!

    • It was kind of a stroke of genius. Haha. It’s the only thing that gets our stainless pots and pans shiny and it worked wonders on the legs! The bar keeper’s friend had enough grit to get the rust off my legs using just a regular sponge. You could try that first and if you need more “force” switch to the steel wool and scrub it all over to remove the rust and give it an even light texture.

      Good luck with your project!

  8. I have a cart just like that!! I rescued it from the side of the road on garbage day and was trying to decide how to revive it. This looks great.

  9. Awsome job! I loved your cart so much I mentioned it on ! Keep up the great work!

  10. Jennifer says:

    I’m trying to do something similar (but purple!) to my rescued cart. The only problem I’m having are the wheels. Mine are super sticky. Did you have this problem? I was going to buy new ones, but I can’t find them anywhere. Any help would be awesome! :) Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Well ours does have wheels… And they are not pretty. Haha. I’m using it as a stationary piece so I wasn’t too worried about them. I did try to actually remove the casters and couldn’t so I just left them and scrubbed them as best as I could. Sorry I can’t be more help on that front. Let me know if you figure it out!

  11. I love love love this! Great choice of color!

  12. You have inspired me to FINALLY get around to tackling my kitchen cart… I’ve been putting it off knowing that there are hours of work involved, but I know it will be worth the work!

    See it here:

  13. Got here from AT, LOVE the cart makeover!!

  14. Carol Klahn says:

    Thanks for the tip of using Barkeeper’s Friend on chrome that has a bit of rust. My bike fenders are looking a bit worse for the wear (I live in a humid climate) and I didn’t know if I could get them spiffy again. I will definitely give that a try!

  15. great job, old objects have amazing quality over the new mass produced ones, lets rescue them all and bring them back to life, reuse refresh….

  16. Wgat a cool idea. I have a cart from my motherinlaw thatvis exactly the same. Wondered what to do with it.

  17. I just picked one up at a yard sale this morning! Free! Thanks so much for sharing. This is wonderful!

  18. Oh my goodness, this is PERFECT! A vintage kitchen cart was abandoned at my place by my father-in-law and it’s a hurting unit! I have great dreams of covering the awful 60’s chocolate brown with a cheery vintage yellow and chrome. Thank you for posting this! It’s been wonderful inspiration and help!

  19. Christina says:

    Beautiful cart! Love the color! I no what I will be doi g with mine. I was wondering how I could clean the legs.


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