A few weeks ago, I found a vintage 1950s kitchen utility cart in the scrap metal pile at our county trash drop off point. I decided to “rescue” it and turn a DIY upcycle into a chic bar cart. It’s going to work perfectly to serve cocktails, wine, or coffee.
My patio area is covered to keep it out of the weather, but it’s rather small. I’m always looking for multi-use pieces to maximize the space. If it has extra shelves, as this piece does, that’s a bonus!
I live in an area so rural that the garbage trucks won’t drive out to collect our trash. Ironically, they drive right past en route to the local landfill hundreds of times daily, but they won’t stop to collect. Hmmm.
Finding the piece in the trash heap
Anyways, I have to haul the trash to the county trash drop off point each week. They have bins for trash, wood, and metals. The attendant at the location often snags metal shelves and pieces that still look half decent and sets them aside into a pile for residents to grab. If I see something interesting, I always ask permission to take and he always says yes.
Rust spots covered the piece. At some time, somebody tried to paint it but made of a mess of paint runs under their tape job…and everyplace else. They apparently gave up on it. In addition, it had a power strip that was an old non-grounded version mounted to the leg.
On the other hand, it was fairly sturdy with just some tightening up needed, had clean lines that would work with my mid-century ranch home, and it was metal so I knew I could hit it with some spray paint and it would be ok.
To be honest, my husband thought I was crazy when I hauled the trash but came back with this. He said I brought trash back home! I insisted that it was just in need of some TLC.
I turned to the internet to look up information on this cart and found the manufacturer is called Cosco. These carts, in the 1950s, were the original kitchen islands. This was an authentic mid-century piece. I could tell this from the old, original electrical outlet attached to it. I became even more excited about restoring this grand old piece.
Interestingly, Cosco is still in business and makes carts for big-box chains. I’ll have to check that out the next time I get to a city with a Target.
I wanted to start this project a few weeks ago, then my grandmother passed away and I needed to head to Pennsylvania for several days. When I returned, my husband surprised me. He had taken on the project and even picked out a paint color that he knew I’d love. He’s so sweet to me.
He knew I wanted to post this project. He took before photos, but he didn’t take any photos of the “steps” during the project. Therefore, my apologies are in order. This post only has a couple of photos. But that is why.
This was before the DIY refinishing project started:
First, he completely took the unit apart using just a screwdriver. While he was at it, he removed the non-grounded electrical strip and trashed that. Dangerous-looking thing.
He sanded down the rust off of the shelves, but he stopped short of getting to bare metal. The metal was getting a bit thin! He applied three coats of Rust-Oleum Rusty Metal primer, letting each coat dry about 15 minutes in between.
While the primer dried, he turned his attention to the metal frame and legs of the cart. He used Mother’s Mag and Aluminum polish, a mild abrasive that removes light rust, and worked his magic. They came out as shiny as new, he saw no more surface rust at all. So he decided to leave the pieces as original. Good call!
That job completed in about 45 minutes, he went back to the shelving pieces. He had gone to the store and selected Rust-Oleum’s Stop Rust in Jade. It’s a very pretty green with a more cool blue undertone. He applied three coats of this spray paint, letting each one dry for about 15 minutes between coats.
He let all those layers of primer and paint cure overnight. The next day, he reassembled the cart.
Here is the result, a chic bar cart:
Someone discarded this cart due to its ugly and old appearance. The electrical cord appeared outdated and unsafe. But for the cost of two cans of spray paint and two of primer and just about three hours of time invested, this cart is like new. It will add fun and vibrant color and serve as a chic serving piece.
I know that I am going to love this bar cart and enjoy it for many years to come! But for now, I’m keeping my eyes open for that next great project piece.