How I made money replacing my tenant’s old cabinet

So, in last week’s post, I mentioned that one of my tenants wanted to replace the medicine cabinet in their washroom.

I also mentioned why I didn’t want to spend any more.

As you remember, I went nuts after experiencing a few hiccups on our other property. Expenses were draining nonstop for the entire month!

After all, that’s some of the risks you run into when you decide to become a landlord.

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It was this dreadful experience that triggered my mood to write about the benefits of buying used items in last week’s post.

 

Generally, most people would just casually walk into Lowe’s or Home Depot to buy a brand new medicine cabinet for $100-$200. But after last month’s disaster, I challenged myself to save money (and earn some too).

That was, to find a used cabinet in new condition on Kijiji. To my surprise, I managed to find the perfect one for only $30!

Not only did I challenge myself to find an awesome deal, but I also challenged myself to repair the old one to earn some money back.

It would’ve been a shame seeing that go to Oscar the Grouch!

 

Here, take a look at this poor little thing prior to its makeover.

Before – interior
Before – exterior

BTW, it actually looked worse!

I’m hitting myself in the head for not taking before pictures of cleaning and removing the tape…… and yes, my tenants had the entire bottom wrapped with duct tape. Needless to say, removing that was a total nightmare!

Anyway, I was determined that I could save this little guy’s life!

 

Overcome discouragement by others…

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

 

But before I could, my boyfriend, friends, and family tried to convince me that the cabinet was helpless; that it was impossible to bring back to life! As a result, they told me to give up before even trying.

Not only that, but they were even angry at me for wanting to attempt it. They thought I’d be wasting my time because I would fail.

Despite their negative comments, I envisioned a lot of potential for this piece. The more they thought it was impossible, the more I wanted to prove them wrong.

After all, it wasn’t about how much money I could make from this medicine cabinet. Instead, it was the challenge to see whether I could bring her back to life. And more importantly, whether I could find a buyer who would love and appreciate this cabinet!

With that said, I was ready to take on the challenge!

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Initially, I had no idea what I was going to do with her because of the endless possibilities.

But eventually, I figured it out.

Here’s what I did to this poor little thing…

After sleeping on it, I decided to create something turquoise, pretty, and versatile.

Check out how the cabinet looks now.

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Presenting little miss shabby chic…

After – exterior
After – interior

Dr. Panda to the rescue!

I can tell you that I’m no expert. If I can do it, so can you!

You can do this in these five easy steps!

 

1) Clean it

This was a bit difficult for me only because of the duct tape. I had to make sure that the tape didn’t leave any sticky residual, or rip off any surfaces.

Other than that, cleaning is generally a breeze! All you need is a mix of 1/2 water and 1/2 vinegar.

As most of you already know, vinegar is an excellent and cost-effective disinfectant for most household items.

 

2) Prime it

Do not skip priming because this will ensure your paint adheres to the surface of the cabinet.

If the original surface is a light color (e.g. white), then 1 coat of prime is sufficient. But, if original color is darker, you may want to prime twice. As a result, you won’t have to apply so many coats of paint later.

Then wait at least three hours for dry time prior to painting.

 

3) Paint it

Before you paint, make sure there’s no dust. You can use a relatively strong vacuum to suck the little dust bunnies up.

Or alternatively, you can use a blower to blow all the dust and lint away from the cabinet.

Now you have a couple of choices with paint. You can either hand paint or spray paint it. For this project, I chose Krylon’s chalky spray paint in “tidal blue” because I had leftovers from a previous project.

I managed to grab this spray paint from Michael’s in their clearance section for $6.99 ($7.89 after tax).

Generally speaking, you get more value buying a gallon of paint from your local hardware store. But I was curious about this chalky spray paint, so I decided to give it a shot.

As a result, the finish wasn’t bad, but I still prefer to hand paint. In comparison with that flawless look from a can of spray paint, your paint strokes will give your piece a lot more character. That’s based on my personal experience, anyway.

 

4) Showcase your personality

Photo by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

 

Now it’s your time to shine, Sunshine! So, go nuts and inject some personality!

Or, you can choose to stay neutral, but I’d much prefer the latter.

You can do what your heart desires! But of course, if your intention is to sell it, think about your audience.

This was my first medicine cabinet project, so I wasn’t so sure what buyers want. But having done other pieces, I’ve noticed that a lot of my buyers love the pretty little “Paris” themes.

For this reason, I decided to go for that Eiffel tower!

To inject a bit of personality, I also decided to decoupage the shelves with Mod Podge and wrapping paper.

Yes, believe it or not, you can use any kind of paper to add some flair; even newspaper!

So, I purchased a standard roll of this classy black and white paper from Michael’s for only 50 cents with a 50% off coupon.

Also, you’ll notice that I went for the shabby look by distressing its edges. The shabby chic style gives this medicine cabinet an antique aged looked, which I noticed a lot of buyers go crazy for!

 

5) Protect it!

What good is it if you have a beautiful piece that’s not protected?

Once you’re done, your last step should be to protect it from wear and tear. My go-to products are either Minwax’s Polycryclic or Varathane’s Professional Clear finish. I personally prefer the latter because the finishing of this product is absolutely stunning; especially in their 1200 matte finish.

 

Last finishes – quick and easy hack!

Not to mention, an extremely easy design hack is to swap old hardware for beautiful ones such as these fancy looking ceramic pulls. With this hack, you can totally pull off a “million dollar” look for less!

 

(This post contains affiliate links to only products and/or services that I love and believe in. Finsavvypanda.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees, at no extra costs to you, by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)

 

I found these pumpkin knobs for about $2 per piece (tax included) on Amazon.com.  I absolutely love how they turned out on this mirror cabinet! If you were to purchase these knobs from a retail store, it would easily cost you $5-$6 per piece! So, why wouldn’t you buy them from Amazon?

 

Price it!

Now it’s time to put a price tag on this guy! What’s the right price?

At the end of the day, it really depends on you. How much are you willing to let it go for?

Generally, I’m able to sell my refurbished pieces for $80-$160, depending on the item.

Again, I’m new to this DIY refurbishing thing, so I don’t set my expectations unreasonably high. There’s still A LOT for me to learn, and I’m still gaining experience with this stuff.

Based on my sold items, I hope to sell this for at least $85. So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed!!

At the end of the day, I feel joy knowing that there’s a buyer who can enjoy and appreciate my work! Along with that, it makes me feel great that I saved something from going to waste.

 

Update:

Within two weeks, I ended up selling her for $110!

I’m so happy that the buyer showed so much love and appreciation! THANK YOU! 🙂

 

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Summary

The next time you need to replace a medicine cabinet, shop around to see if you can buy a used version in new condition. This saves you money if you can manage to score an incredible deal from a desperate seller.

Next, see whether you can increase the value of the old item by bringing it back to life.

Once your project is done, sell it and earn some cash!

This house hack isn’t just for your old and dirty medicine cabinets. It could be almost anything that you find has potential. For example, take a look at your your bathroom vanity, kitchen cabinets, or even some old window shutters!

 

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In a few words, go green and tackle some DIY. You can save some and earn some!

Don’t forget about learning as well.

 

Over to you

Do you have anything at home that you can fix and earn some moola?

I hope this post inspires you to get creative with your next find at home.

Feel free to share and/or leave comments below!

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2 Comments

  1. $110!! That’s amazing!!

    This is such a great side hustle. I would love to do this if I had more time pre-baby! Way more profitable than blogging (lol!).

    We are cleaning out my mother in law’s home right now and there’s so MUCH furniture that could use some refurbishing. Been trying to get rid of things on Letgo (for free!) too but no one comes to pick up. We are having to hire someone to come and dispose of stuff.
    GYM recently posted…GYM Net Worth Update: January 2018 (+$57,800/ +8.8%)My Profile

    1. LOL I was a little surprised myself, but I read on DIYer’s blogs to never underestimate the pieces you sell. They said to never let anyone try to lowball you either when you put in a significant amount of effort into your work.

      Honestly, I felt that I had more time to do this before I started this blog. The sad thing is this blog consumed most of my time, but maybe it’s because I don’t know anything about blogging and I’m starting from scratch? *shrugs*
      It’s fun playing around with the furniture. The thing is though, I got my hands all dirty and I couldn’t even do my nails anymore. I stopped painting my nails once I started this because it kept chipping away.

      Wow, no one comes to pick up the furniture?? When I msg ppl here for furniture, it’s like almost always gone. These guys here are like scavengers when it comes to finding furniture hahaha! Definitely, give it a try to see how you like it. But just make sure baby GYM is never around to inhale any of those chemicals from the paint, varnish, etc.

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