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the cleaning cart turned kitchen cart…


So, I was trolling craigslist one night and ran a search for “industrial” in the general “for sale” category and I spotted two of these industrial cleaning carts for sale…


I closed the listing, dismissing it, and kept clicking around, but those carts stuck in my mind.  There was something about the shape of them…  AND they were dirt cheap.  Cheap enough that it was worth the gamble, even if it seemed a little nutty.

I sent the listing along to my dad and he delivered them a couple of weeks ago to my studio.  When he drove up with them in the back of the truck, I realized they were much larger than I anticipated.  Carts that I thought would be about waist high were almost up to my shoulder!

The gigantic wheels were cool in their own way, but not right for what I had in mind and they made the carts a height that wouldn’t be functional for most people.  I was initially thinking kitchen island, garden cart, crafting cart, even a TV stand and those all need to be about counter height.


The problem is that the wheels were soldered on.  I was this close to waiving the white flag and listing them back on craigslist, but I decided to push through and follow my initial instincts.

I shared in a different post that the Mustard Seed Studio is located in a small industrial park and the “guys in the back buildings” work with sheet metal.  I decided to take a stroll back there to ask if they knew how I could get these wheels off.  They referred me to a machine shop that was practically across the street.  I could see it from my studio window and I had never noticed it before.

“Alright, Kriste, we’re taking the carts for a walk!”

She raised her eyebrows and questioned in a flat tone, “Really?”

“Yes!  Let’s just get this done!!”

So, I made my introverted employee walk down the street with me pushing a large, blue industrial cart to the machine shop.

Photo Mar 15, 2 53 41 PM

They removed the wheels for me and a few other random metal bits on the bottom that weren’t going to work with my plans for them.  It cost $70 to have the work done to both carts, so $35/each.

As a bonus, now I know where to take metal things that need to be repaired or removed!


My dad added wood boards to the bottom (just cut to size and hammered tightly into place.)


I screwed in some 2″ steel wheels picked up from Lowe’s.  These are my favorite inexpensive casters.  They roll well and have a great vintage look to them.


And then they needed to be painted.  They were once gray (icky industrial gray) and someone painted them with a blue latex paint.  My mom pointed out that we should’ve painted them in Flow Blue or something that would’ve covered in one coat, but I really wanted them white.  I knew they would be a bear to paint, but I had my heart set!

We painted them in MMS Milk Paint in Farmhouse White, without the Bonding Agent or sanding.


Kriste, Katie, my mom and I all took turns painting them and, after three coats, the coverage was good.  They looked a little flat…too perfect, so I hit the edges with some sand paper to chip off some paint and lightly ran a sanding sponge over the flat surfaces to smooth out the paint and knock down any “high points” on the piece.  There is some gorgeous crazing in the finish and it turned out better than I expected.


To protect the finish, we sealed both pieces with the new matte Tough Coat.

I really wanted a wood top on them.  I felt like the carts needed the warmth of the wood as well as a clean, smooth work surface.  The latex paint layer left some crinkles and orange peeling.


With measurements in hand, I poked around our basement workshop to see if we had any wood that would work.  I was so excited to see that we had enough of the butcher block remnants from our kitchen counters!  They are solid black walnut and will be a perfect finishing touch.


Jeff cut them to size on the table saw for me.  They were cut to be an exact fit, so they fit in the metal “fence” nice and snug.


I applied a coat of all-natural food safe Hemp Oil and left the surface wet, so I could “wet sand” it with some fine grit sand paper.  This makes surfaces buttery smooth.


I wiped off the excess oil and the carts were done!!  I was so excited to see these ugly, blue cleaning carts turned into something I really love.

I brought some pots and pans from home to style the cart as it might be used in a kitchen as an island or just a storage cart.  (It would even be great for holding a microwave, as a coffee station, etc.)


The metal brackets that would’ve been used to steady mops, brooms and vacuums or as garbage bag holders, were put to use as a pot rack and dish towel holder.

I brought some copper pots, bowls and bunt pans form home, but I’m hoping to find some to sell at Lucketts for styling the cart.





The surface is food safe, so it really could be used for food prep, which I felt was important to make it truly functional.  Even if it’s used in a place other than a kitchen, it’s a nice feature.




The low side shelves are perfect for baskets, stacking trays or mixing bowls, cutting boards, etc.  You could even fit a small waste basket there.

Can you just see all of the potential?!




The middle shelf on both the carts is a little bent, but I “fixed” that by using a bread board to level things out.  A tray or basket could also work.


The shelves are big and deep, so they could hold a lot of stuff.


Yeah, I had a little love fest with this cart today, if you can’t tell from all of the pictures!

Since these are so versatile, I am going to show the cart staged in a few different ways in the coming weeks, just for fun.

So, if you see a cleaning cart on craigslist for dirt cheap…well, you just might want to pick it up.

Cleaning Cart Collage

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  1. My wish for today: please move in next door to me. Outstanding!

  2. Sandi Allen says:

    Love! Love! Love!

  3. Leslie Collison says:

    Excellent transformation, way to stick to your instincts. This is recycle, reuse and re-purpose at its best. Job well done Marian

  4. Those are super, super, super cool! I almost thought you’d insert the wood onto the bottom, and make it the top, because of the recessed area being surrounded by the smoother pipe on that side. But then if wouldn’t have been as easy to hang things on the side.
    Very clever makeover. I hope you fetch a pretty penny and someone gets a new island.

  5. Terry Hubbell says:

    Oh my goodness, let me join you in your love fest! These are on the top of my favorites list of your wobdermous recreations!! Love, love, love them. Bravo!!

  6. This is an amazing transformation–so creative. I never would have imagined what you accomplished. Congratulations!

  7. Janine R says:

    I would have passed on these; a simply AMAZING transformation and I will not dismiss unusual items so quickly again.

  8. Marlene Stephenson says:

    Please move to Okla. so i can learn everything from you, i know i am old but i think it would be fun!! lol! The cart is the greatest.

  9. Laurie says:

    Great transformation! But what did you do to the dirty underside? After showing it to us [pretty gross IMO, who knows what made those splash marks] did you get it removed? Or paint it? I can’t help but wonder.

  10. Really??? Brilliant!

  11. Nancy says:

    What about that counter in the background ?

  12. Catt in Kentucky says:

    The cart is fabulous. A fab transformation! Wonderful for a work station in the kitchen, kitchen island for a small apartment, an arts and craft station, coffee/tea and bakegoods station, fine art supply cart, jewelry and makeup… many possibilities! Great vision in this purchase!

  13. Cathy J says:

    What vision! You are simply amazing!

  14. I’d use that beautifully transformed cart in my laundry room! Perfect folding surface + shelves for supplies & folded linens, place to hang shirts on hangers and/or laundry bag(s) and WHEELS — be still my heart!!!

  15. Wow! What a unique find and what a great post!

  16. B Folk says:

    Another use (without the need for a food-safe surface): gardening work station. Beautiful job!

  17. What an amazing find! Great job!

  18. Sue Pagels says:

    Your vision always amazes me!

  19. Karen says:

    The carts look great and all your design decisions were spot on! One more thing can be done easily and quickly that would make them even better. Turn the cart upside down. Place a piece of board (2×4 would work) under that bent shelf and hammer until it straightens. Not only will it sell better, but it will look a lot better in photo shoots.

    • marian says:

      Yeah, my dad said he would pound them back into shape. I didn’t realize that could be done! So, they will (hopefully) be straightened out.

  20. Marion,

    I never thought those carts could be turned into anything attractive. I would put the finished product in my kitchen in a New York minute. The addition of the wood top is an inspiration. JUST LOVE IT!

  21. Fantastic make-over!!

  22. logan wilhelm says:

    You just amaze me with you great ideas….LOVE seeing the final piece and the many ways it can be used. Our little rustic cabin in the Adirondacks, NY would be the perfect place to use this cart for kitchen prep. Thanks for all you do to spark our imaginations!!!

  23. Cecelia Krajcar says:

    They look amazing! Really impressed with the transformation!

  24. Cheryl says:

    MAGNANAMOUS!!! You have the eye of a creative genius!??Thanks for sharing❤️

  25. Moriah says:

    On the Easter wknd, I cannot help but to draw a connect between how God sees us and how He takes our ashes and turns us into someone beautiful (On purpose and for a purpose) and how you can look at a piece of ugly trash and envision something not only beautiful but also purposeful. :). Have a blessed Easter

  26. I love these. So versatile.The walnut tops are beautiful. Who knew a humble janitor’s cart could look so fantastic? Great job!

  27. Denise says:

    This is a brilliant transformation! One question, though. After you had the wheels removed, how did you get those monsters back across the street to your studio? ☺

  28. Margaret says:

    Marian ,I love this!! We have been “upcycling” salvage industrial prices for awhile, both for personal use and for resale. Those 2″ steel casters from Lowes are our favorites too! Great job, it turned out beautifully!

  29. Jamie Bowers says:

    Outstanding vision!! Love the wood top!! Inspires me to go with my gut and take the risk, it obviously will pay off. Thanks for sharing!

  30. Wow!!! What a transformation!! I think it would be perfect as an outdoor “sideboard”.

  31. I’m in love! This is exactly what I want as a kitchen cart. Beautiful job, all of you.

  32. You have an amazing eye. I would turn that puppy into a bar cart.

  33. KATHY B. says:

    Terrific Idea! They would also be great for a small cafe or restaurant owner to use!..Love the picture of your Mom painting!! You are both so lucky!

  34. Corrine Moore says:

    Nice; job well done!

  35. April Thompson says:

    I really disliked the piece even after you painted it, BUT!!!!! When you styled it, I fell in LOVE!!!!
    Amazing transformation! You GO GIRL!!!!!

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