Flea Market Flip: From Dull Storage Unit to Rad Record Cabinet

Girl, put your records on, because we've got a DIY project that's full of nostalgia.

It’s Flea Market Flip Theme Week on I Heart HGTV! All week, we’ll be sharing our best thrifting tips and makeovers. Come back every day for a new take on upcycling.

It might not be Thursday, but it already feels like #TBT to me. With everyone watching Netflix's series "Stranger Things", reading the latest rendition of "Harry Potter" and playing Pokemon GO, it's difficult not to feel nostalgic.

Inspired by the retro-chic trend, I decided to do a little throwback of my own for this week's Flea Market Flip challenge. Read on to see how I transformed a dull storage unit into a rad record cabinet.

Resized Record Cabinet

Resized Record Cabinet

Photo by: Liz Gray

Liz Gray

The Before

Because my taste leans more midcentury modern, I was naturally drawn to the idea of a record cabinet. Simple yet bold in shape, a cabinet would easily fit in my small apartment and bring character to the space.

The one I found at a local antique store was, admittedly, a little lackluster. Coated in whisper gray, the piece was almost unnoticeable surrounded by all of the other vintage furniture.

Cabinet, Before

Before Image of Record Cabinet

Cabinet, Before

Detailed Before Shot of Record Cabinet

Before Image of Record Cabinet

Detailed Before Shot of Record Cabinet

Still, beneath the dull varnish was a lot of potential. With a strong, boxy silhouette and sliding doors, all the cabinet needed was a fresh coat of paint and new hardware, which was ideal for a DIY newbie like me.

The Process

As far as DIYs go, flipping the cabinet was a painless process. After doing some research, I chose a geometric pattern for the doors, which would create visual interest without overwhelming the furniture.

With that plan in place, I then sanded the cabinet to make way for a new coat of stormy gray paint. While the cabinet was drying, I removed the doors, layered tape on top and painted the defined sections white, purple, dark gray and rose gold, respectively.

Record Cabinet, After

Comparison Image Record Cabinet
Liz Gray

Record Cabinet, After

Record Cabinet With Paint-Dripping Legs
Liz Gray

Comparison Image Record Cabinet

Photo By: Liz Gray

Record Cabinet With Paint-Dripping Legs

Photo By: Liz Gray

Because I chose a geometric pattern for the doors, I decided to balance the bold look with round hardware in softer colors. As a final unexpected touch, I added a paint-dripping effect on the legs, just for a little pizazz.

The Budget Breakdown

Allotted $100 for the total project, I decided to go ahead and spend $60 on the cabinet — because, truthfully, I wanted that midcentury modern look and was willing to pay to get it.

Luckily, my supplies were fairly inexpensive. After buying paint brushes ($5), five bottles of paint ($10), new hardware ($12) and stencil tape ($5) for a total of $32, I came in under budget with $8 to spare.

The After

As you can see, we've come a long way since the beginning.

Before, Plain and Dull

Before Image of Record Cabinet

After, Bold and Beautiful

Record Cabinet With Albums
Liz Gray

Before Image of Record Cabinet

Record Cabinet With Albums

Photo By: Liz Gray

What I Learned

You don't have to settle for less if you have a specific piece in mind. Thanks to antique shops, thrift stores and flea markets, you can likely find whatever you're looking for at a good price. You just have to shop around.

Sand the you-know-what out of your cabinet. Then sand it again. Going into this project, I had no idea that sanding was a necessary step in helping paint stick to wooden furniture. So, I impart this wisdom unto you.

Don't be afraid to go bold. Seriously, I can't recommend this enough. Bold colors (or even a bold pattern) can really bring new life and style to an old design.

Feeling Inspired? See More Flea Market Flips

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Before: Antique and Ordinary

This antique bar cabinet was in great shape already, but the style looked dated and could use an exciting update.

After: Bolder Bar Cabinet

A darker stain and cute key drawer pulls add an extra layer of depth to this traditional bar cabinet.

Before: Bookshelf + Shutters

For their "Stealthy Storage" project, teammates Dani and Mo purchased an old bookcase and pair of black shutters.  

After: Colorful Concealment

What a transformation! A stylish paint job and a pretty patterned wallpaper turn an old bookshelf and window shutter into an adorable shelf with concealed storage.

Before: Industrial Pieces

What can you do with a milk can and an industrial baking pan?

After: Innovative Side Table

You turn them into a one-of-a-kind side table with a removable tray that also works great as a mini bar cart for entertaining.

Before: Nothing Special Chairs

For their "Pattern Play" project, Alicia and Erin hope to add a wow factor to these basic chairs.  

After: Stylish Seating

Now these folding teak chairs look super stylish with a funky pattern and soft seats.

Before: Worn-Out Hutch

This old brown cabinet was missing hardware and desperately needed some freshening up.

After: Simple Sophistication

With a bright white paint job and the addition of a wallpaper back with a modern print, this once-dated hutch would be the perfect addition to any home.

Before: Basic Baking Rack

A collapsible metal bakery rack is already great for storage, but Erin and Alicia plan to give it a bit more pizzazz.

After: Rustic Upgrade

Wood panels and a few coats of bronze paint turn this bakery cart into the perfect "Rustic to Refined" project for Erin and Alicia.

Before: Waning in White

This bench was cute, but the upholstery was dated, and the all-white look wouldn't cut it for Chris and Max's "Contrast Design" project.

After: Pop of Color

Cheery yellow paint and a fun pop art fabric turned this bench into the colorful showstopper Chris and Max had hoped for.

Before: Not All There

A red oak traditional Morris chair was an awesome find, and Katey and Leigh hoped to give it the makeover it deserved.

After: Cozy New Life

Comfy cushions covered with a gorgeous blanket really show off the beautiful woodworking on this classic piece.

Before: Typical Ladder

Think you know how Chris and Max plan to transform this ladder for their "Durable Design" project?

After: Personal Touch

With a simple switch, this ladder went from a basic tool to a rustic picture display.

Before: Dull Dining

Before the makeover, this drop-leaf table featured chipped paint, and the black stools lacked style.

After: Restructured Design

Totally redone, Chris and Max gave the drop-leaf table a black and white paint job, added shelf and utility basket. The stools were given a mod makeover with colorful fabric.

Before: Mystery Makeover

For their "Dine In" project, Katey and Leigh bought a yellow painted door and two wooden stools.  

After: Table for Two

Katey and Leigh really used their imaginations with this one, transforming a plain door into a charming café table.  

Before: Time for a Change

For their "Remix" project, James and Jill bought a rusty outdoor trellis and clock.  

After: Style Meets Function

Three shelves add utility to this innovative project that resembles a modern grandfather clock.  

Before: Sad Seating

Karla and Michelle snagged an Egyptian revival chair and a simple wooden chair for their "Fabric" project.

After: Perfect Pair

Karla and Michelle repurposed the plain wooden chair into a charming footstool. They then covered the chair and stool in matching fabric for a cohesive look.

Before: Rusty Beginnings

For their "Color Design" project, Karla and Michelle plan to combine an industrial cart and some vintage wooden yardsticks.  

After: Repurposed Rainbow

After the makeover, this cart could not be cuter with a rainbow of colors and a smart wooden top made of vintage yardsticks.

Before: Set of Windows

It's hard to imagine how James and Jill will use three old windows for their "Fabric" project.

After: Stylish Separator

With a bit of creativity and a lot of TLC, the old windows were transformed into a beautiful room divider, complete with gorgeous fabric.  

Before: A Good Start

For their "Sets and Pairs" project, Marc and Dion obtained a fabulous pair of 1965 Danish teak stools.  

After: Only a Spruce

The wood was sanded and stained, and the seats were padded and reupholstered for a modern new look.

Before: Extravagant Frames

Marc and Dion chose a couple of elaborate gold and black frames for their "Twisted Traditional" project.

After: Unexpected Side Tables

After the makeover, the two frames are now two elegant side tables with a story.

Before: Dated Duo

For their "Reclaimed Modern" project, Tony and Suzanne purchased a round table and old door with peeling paint.  

After: Converted Coffee Table

Tony and Suzanne reused the round table's sleek legs and combined them with a freshly-painted door to create a charming coffee table.

Before: Sturdy Secretary

This oak secretary was already a nice, solid piece, but it could definitely stand to be updated.  

After: Chalkboard Finish

Blue chalkboard paint gives this secretary an updated look with a cool matte finish.  

Before: Traditional Trunk

Suzanne and Tony chose a cool vintage trunk for their "World Design Project."

After: British Beauty

A painted British flag on top and cool metal legs take this trunk to a whole new level — literally.  

Before: Base Model

A Singer sewing machine base will get a brand new look after Carolyn and Robert use it for their "Rustic to Refined" project.  

After: Adorable Desk

Carolyn and Robert added a lovely wooden top and drawers for a very handy and incredibly attractive desk.  

Before: Strange Selection

A garden fence and a corbel from the 1800s don't seem like the ideal candidates for Amanda and Susan's "Seating Assignment" project.

After: Mind-Blowing Bench

Now completed, this handsome bench proves that thinking outside the box really pays off.

Before: Classic Cabinet

This wooden cabinet is missing some pieces but is in fairly good shape otherwise.  

After: Sophisticated Design

Amanda and Susan turned imperfections into major strengths when they converted this once-dated piece into a stunning wine cabinet.  

Before: Functional Drafting Table

Aaron and Angie are off to a good start with this drafting table and pair of stools they plan to update for their "Bachelor Pad" project.  

After: Contemporary Remix

Padded seating and a fresh new paint job make this table the perfect addition to any bachelor pad.

Before: Dingy Cart Frame

This industrial cart frame is such a cool find, but it's hard to imagine Aaron and Angie will be able to get it shining again.

After: On Trend Coffee Table

The duo worked their magic, turning the rusty cart frame into an industrial-style coffee table that is sure to turn some heads.  

Before: Carpenter Trunk

For their "Textile" project, Rae and Jared chose a cool carpenter trunk with tons of character.

After: Stylish Bench Seating

After the makeover, this trunk became even cooler with modern legs and a beautiful fabric-covered seat.  

Before: Junk Pile

For their "Smart Storage" project, Rae and Jared assembled a collection of metal drawers, boxes and bins. 

After: Mix-and-Match Storage

Their amazing industrial cabinet would be the perfect addition to a craft room or to add to the garage for tool storage. 

Before: Boring Trunk

Before the makeover, this wooden trunk was in decent shape, but there was really nothing special about it.

After: All in the Details

For their "Multi-Purpose Design" project, Cindy and Lynn added wheels and super cool stenciling showing popular NYC destinations. 

Before: Obvious Potential

A saloon door is a great find, but how will Cindy and Lynn combine it with this basic buffet for their "Retro Chic" project?

After: Multipurpose Furniture

With a seamless marriage of the buffet and saloon door, Cindy and Lynn were able to create a combination bar and storage console. 

Before: Slice of History

This Edison Dictaphone is pretty fantastic all on its own, so we can't wait to see how Cindy and Lynn make it even better.

After: History Preserved

By adding an attractive glass top, Cindy and Lynn were able to add modern function to this incredible find.

Before: Endless Options

For their "Simple Living" project, Dina and Shanna chose an old wooden cabinet with loads of potential. 

After: Stand-Out Makeover

The duo really made the cabinet stand out with a vibrant new paint job and fun patterned wallpaper which is put on display with the new glass-front door. 

Before: Retired Storage

A couple of wooden typesetting trays and metal drawers seem like the perfect start for Shanna and Dina's "Radical Reimagine" project.

After: Creative Coffee Table

Now a coffee table, Shanna and Dina really showed off their ingenuity with this innovative project. 

Before: Mixed Metals

Melody and Patty plan to combine industrial drawers and a metal cabinet to make a unique console table.

After: Rustic Contemporary

A new top, wooden drawers with rope pulls and legs that accommodate the green drawers give this console table a one-of-a-kind look that potential buyers will love. 

Before: Beautiful Details

For their "Great Pieces" project, Melody and Patty chose a traditional bed frame with an ornate headboard and footboard. 

After: Beautiful Bench

The team reimagined the headboard into a stunning bench with gorgeous lines and a comfy seat.

Before: Rickety Bones

For their "Mod Makeover" project, Dana and Jarmaz hope to bring this rusted bar cart back to its former glory.

After: Major Improvement

Some TLC and lovely wooden additions give this bar cart the rustic-meets-modern look the pair was hoping for.

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