It all started in the urban shire that is our rental apartment in Brooklyn. Our bathroom is quite small- with a pedestal sink and about 18"x15" of square space between the wall and the toilet. Since we moved in, we'd been using one of those plastic bins from Target for the necessary bathroom storage. And for a long time, I searched for something thin enough, tall enough, cheap enough, oh and also attractive.
Somewhere along the way I came the decision that a locker would be a great option. I searched for one that was tall with lots of cubbies to no avail. Eventually I found just the perfect vintage one on Ebay- 7 ft. tall with six separate cubby holes. Immediately I knew I'd leave the top half as open shelving. I was already imagining it in my bathroom. Love at first impulse, I bought it.
The locker arrived and we promptly left it in the corner of the apartment for, oh, 9 months. The gestation time of a human. Not that there were any humans gestating in our apartment, but that's how long it sat neglected in the corner.
When I finally got to working on it, the first thing I needed to do was remove the top 3 doors. As you can see the locker wasn't in great shape. The previous owner had painted it w/ regular wall paint, which was lookin' skanky. Also, some of the door latches were so crooked you couldn't even open the doors.
nut splitter because the painted-over, square nuts were not going anywhere. So yeah, I'm a nut splitter now.
After looking at the lousy paint job, I began to realize I didn't want to just spray paint. Online research pointed to powder coating as the proper way to paint sheet metal, so I contacted Jose from Pride Powder Coating (maybe this part took me a couple months... the timeline's a bit fuzzy). Of course they needed to see the piece in person, so Jon and I loaded up all 7 feet of the metal sheets and took it over. Jose was very knowledgable, reasonably priced and honest. He told us that because the locker had been painted, we would need to get it sandblasted before we could powder coat it.
No turning back, we're in too deep.
So we contacted Evan Eisman based on Jose's recommendation. He has a sand blasting shop in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which was really cool and had a fantastic view of Manhattan. From the looks of his other projects, I'd say he has an upscale corporate clientele in a variety of businesses. I also got the feeling there weren't a lot of residential DIY enthusiasts banging down his door. Five months later we decided to go for it- not that we were mulling it over for 5 months but shit happens.
Ultimately he did a fantastic job on the locker. It wasn't cheap, but after seeing what he needed to do to it, I can understand. Sandblasting is a labor-intensive process.
The finished product looked really cool- the sheet metal was a matte gray which Jon and I liked enough to say forget the powder coating- let's just keep it this way. Evan gave us a recommendation for some Minwax oil we would need to treat the metal with to avoid rust.
Then my hero of a husband slaved for a few days (or weeks?) on re-assembling and oiling. The nuts and bolts were no easier to get on than they were to get off.
Miraculously Jon still loves me.
Finally we had it together! And it looks awesome in our bathroom now. Because it's a damp environment, I'm not sure how long it'll last before it starts rusting- hopefully as long as we live in this apartment. I have to keep an eye on it and expect we'll need to apply more oil periodically, but I love the result:
Restoring or upcycling vintage furniture will always take more time and cost more than you think it will. It can be worth it, especially if you're into the process but don't fool yourself into thinking it will be a budget option (like I did).
I love this shit, but some people might have seen that $99 Ikea badboy and hung themselves with their soap on a rope.
What do you think of the result? Would this whole process be worth it to you? Let me know if you ever want to embark on a project like this, I am happy to give pointers!