Modernizing A Vintage Spice Rack

One thing I notice on many wedding and gift registries are spice sets/racks. Every couple starting out needs a staple set of spices and seasonings to get their kitchen in gear. I love cooking and enjoy gifting kitchen related items from registries and spice racks are usually a part of my go to gift package for the bride. With multiple weddings this summer, I decided to get creative when I noticed a spice rack on my sister’s registry. I figured for about the same price as your average rack I could create a unique piece that could save counter space in her small kitchen and have a big impact on style at the same time.

So I set out on a thrift adventure to find an antique wooden spice rack that I could modernize and personalize. Spice racks can be so boring and bulk up countertops in small kitchens. So I knew I had found the perfect one for this project when I came across this cabinet style spice rack. It had a great door and featured beveled detailing on front and a vintage diagram of “Herbs & Spices — How To Use Them” on the inside.

With its large picture space on the outside and a latching door to keep all those spice jars out of sight and organized, I saw the opportunity for this to be transformed to something that could be both pretty and functional. 

Knowing my sister’s kitchen style made it easy for me to envision modernizing this dated 1970’s style rack to work in her home. I chose a dark espresso wood stain and a paper that had a very classic laurel leaf motif but felt bold and modern. The pretty cream and gold color is balanced by the dark wood stain and keeps it elegant. I decided to edge one of the bevels in gold leaf to better tie elements together.

Supplies: thrifted spice rack, pretty patterned paper (like this), wood stainsand paperclear wood finishspray adhesive, masking tape, tape measure, razor blade, liquid gold leaf

  1. Take apart cabinet and sand off old finish. If you have any areas that need to be taped off when staining/painting do so now with masking tape. I needed to cover the center image area so used newspaper and masking tape to cover.
  2. Stain or paint sanded wood with chosen color, I used 3 coats of stain and this process took about 3 days doing 1 coat per day.
  3. For extra detail, I decided to rim one of the bevels in the front of the cabinet with liquid gold leaf. (this is an optional step)
  4. Seal with a clear wood finish.
  5. Carefully cut paper to size needed and remove masking tape and newspaper to apply spray adhesive.
  6. Adhere paper to cabinet and smooth flat.

For a beautiful and unique Bridal Shower / Housewarming gift, this project took about a week to complete and materials cost less than $40. To complete the gift, I’ll fill this cabinet with a starter spice set, like this one for a complete gift under $100.

A re-finished cabinet like this one could also be a perfect addition to bathroom or laundry room and used for storing essential oils or as a medicine cabinet.