the cleaning cart turned kitchen cart…

Marian ParsonsBefore and Afters, Furniture Makeovers, Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint, Painting & Refinishing91 Comments

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

the cleaning cart turned kitchen cart…

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91 Comments on “the cleaning cart turned kitchen cart…”

  1. I’m gobsmacked!! WHAT? just when I think you cant get any better you turn around and totally blow me away! That has got to be the most visionary makeover ever. I love it. You are one talented lady.

  2. I love it! I would use it in an entry way with baskets to corral shoes, keys, purse, etc. when you walk in the door, and maybe some plants. It’s awesome. There is sooooo maNY things it could be used for! Way to go Marion! You’re on a mission girl!

  3. Okay, I usually pride myself on having a good, crazy vision for pieces that others would pass on, but I definitely wouldn’t have touched this one. And you made it AMAZING. Kudos for following your gut and creating yet another awesome piece!

  4. Really inspiring. For your next syling, could you please display as an artists cart. Please?!?! can see this being attractive to a nom who homeschools as this can hold a globe, books, and kids supplies.

    1. Yep! I am going to show it as a craft cart and gardening cart. I don’t really have the props for a homeschool/kids cart, but that’s a fantastic idea!

  5. Okay – there was a point (after the paint and BEFORE the wood top) that I thought – “well…it’s okay – but stay still a bit awkward…”
    I should know better than to doubt you – the final staging and pics are SPECTACULAR! You know I have a “thing” about beautiful objects having real purpose – this is perfectly utilitarian AND GORGEOUS!

  6. The cart is so nice with the staging. I think that was an especially good idea because it shows the true potential of the finished product. Great job?

  7. The cart would be a perfect serving cart for my enclosed patio room – bar cart, coffee cart, I can see it as a home for a bunch of my plants that live out there too. Why does California have to be so far from Lucketts?! Your vision for these humble cleaning carts was outstanding!!

  8. Talk about an ugly duckling turning into a beautiful swan… You did it again. It turned out great, especially with the wooden top. Good to know that you can also paint metal with milk paint…

  9. I think vintage cookbooks would look sweet on the cart. Love how you brought them back to life!

  10. Amazing! You have a real talent for seeing potential in things. Also, your styling is brilliant!

  11. WOW just read all those comments. You should be pretty tickled. The cart, the pictures, the styling….perfection!

  12. The minute you showed it painted, my brain went, “Oooh…that’d make a fantastic rolling wet bar or drink cart at a party.” You could tuck a small wine rack onto the bottom shelf to hold bottles, maybe add a basket for utensils, drink stirrers, etc., on one of the other shelves, perhaps attach a board/shelf to one or both of the side rings (you could drill and screw right through the metal band to secure it), and you could even put a small waste basket on one of the lower side shelves. Roll that baby out when you’re entertaining with a bucket of ice on top and you’re good to go. Then, just tuck it back away in a corner when done.

  13. This may be your most creative makeover to date. I was dubious until the wood tops went on. Wow! Just wow! I think they could be great used as a laundry sorting/folding cart. Bags for sorting colors/ whites on the ends, soap, scrubbers and stain stuff in the shelves, maybe your folded up drying rack in there somewhere and the top used for folding clothes. You have such excellent vision! Well done.
    The Other Marian

  14. I love everything you have repurposed, but I have only two words for this one…mind. blown.
    A cleaning cart is going on my list of things to look for this spring. This would make a great coffee bar for a small kitchen, breakfast area, or guest room. Thank you for sharing your creative visions with us every day!!

  15. I’m thoroughly impressed!! When you first showed these I thought you were crazy to have bought them but WOW. You truly have a gift for seeing potential. These are amazing. And I love the butcher block top!

  16. – off to Craigslist I go! Wish me luck in my search! lol Love your vision – you got it goin’ on, I’m impressed.

  17. I’m curious as to what the final height of these turned out to be? I love your transformation of these carts. I’ve redone several carts myself, when my hubby wanted me to pass on them, and then was shocked at how well they turned out. Just goes to show, listen to your instinct!

  18. Amazing transformation! I agree with one of the comments above…I’d love to see it staged as a mini mudroom. Umbrellas tucked in one of the trash can slots, scarfs hanging from a rail, boots and shoes tucked on the shelves and on the opposite trash can slot. Vase of flowers and a catchall vessel on top. It would be amazing next to a front door!

  19. I also think they’d be cool in a bathroom. You could drop a sink in there, hang towels on the bars on the sides and still plenty of shelving for other things. Great vision, they turned out great.

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

  21. 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.

  22. 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!!

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

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

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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!

  28. 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!!!

  29. 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.

    1. 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.

  30. 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!

  31. 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!!!

  32. 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

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

  34. 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? ☺

  35. 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!

  36. 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!

  37. 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!

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

  39. You just gave me some inspiration for a metal dresser with casters! I am going to paint it in MMS. I think I am going to go neutral. The paint is brown underneath. I am super excited. I will have to put a Tough Coat over too. I am pretty excited. I will post on My Nest on Facebook and ybully on Insta. Thank you for the inspiration. I love how your carts turned out. Just beautiful.

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