DIY: Cupboard

Owner of Second Treasures in Hillcrest, KZN, Christi-Sue Smith is an expert in recycling. Follow her guide to give a tired cupboard a rustic country look by adding chicken wire insets to the doors


  • Chisel or screwdriver
  • Chicken wire (available from any hardware store)
  • Sandpaper
  • A heat gun
  • A staple gun and staples
  • Clear sealant
  • New door handles

Optional: a jigsaw, wood glue, nails, a hammer and paint.


Step A: creating frames for the chicken wire insets

1. The best way to do this will be determined by the way in which your cupboard’s been constructed:

a) If, like mine, your cupboard has door frames with Masonite fronts, these can simply be removed using a chisel or screwdriver, leaving you with frames on which to fasten the chicken wire.

b) If the doors are solid, you could cut holes into them using a jigsaw or remove the doors and use the wood to create frames by cutting the doors into planks and glueing or nailing them together.

2. Once the door frames have been finished, measure them and cut the chicken wire to size.

Step B: revamping your cupboard

  1. Sand down the cupboard and round off any sharp edges. This cupboard had some damage to the countertop which was sanded off.
  1. Use a heat gun to remove some of the old layers of paint; this will also give the wood a lovely distressed look which was perfect for this piece. For a very rustic look, move the heat gun in random patterns. (If you want to remove all the paint, sand the wood again after using the heat gun to remove the last traces of peeling paint and dirt.)
  1. Get someone to help you fasten the chicken wire on to the doors; one person needs to pull the wire taut while the other staples it to the back of each door frame. To make sure that the wire is not pulling at an odd angle, attach the wire with a few, widely placed staples. If it looks good, go back and add additional staples.
  1. Apply a coat of clear sealant to the cupboard to preserve the character of the piece. (If you’d like to paint the cupboard, apply a universal undercoat instead, allow it to dry and follow with a coat of paint in a fresh colour.)
  1. Add a set of new door handles as the finishing touch.

Christi-Sue’s suggestions:

Instead of using chicken wire for the inside of the door frames, try hessian, an old burglar guard with an attractive pattern, gathered fabric or a piece of lattice.

If your cabinet has solid doors, you could glue blackboards that have been cut to size straight onto them.