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Sewing Cabinet to Outdoor Bar

My mom’s friend picked up a sewing cabinet from the curb knowing that I would enjoy making it over.  This sewing cabinet is no longer a sewing cabinet, it’s now an outdoor bar.

Sewing cabinet turned into an outdoor bar

Sewing Cabinet to Outdoor Bar

Sewing cabinets are easy to find in thrift shops or even for free. People aren’t sewing much these days and have no use for a sewing cabinet.

Turing a sewing cabinet into an outdoor bar is a great way to upcycle an unwanted item and to turn it into something useful.

Sewing Cabinet Before

This sewing cabinet had definitely seen better days.


Someone decided to decorate each leg by gouging the wood.  They did this in a fairly even pattern around each leg.


The top was full of ring marks and one of the faux drawers had come off.  Perhaps someone used the hardware for something else as it was missing.


How to Make the Outdoor Bar

After cleaning the cabinet, I used copious amounts of wood filler to smooth out the gouge marks on the legs.  After the wood filler dried, I sanded the legs to get them as smooth as I could and then sanded the rest of the piece.

An 18-quart dishpan from Walmart was purchased to become the sink part of the bar.  Mr. SP decided that the dishpan should be inset into the cabinet so that the tabletop pieces could close over the sink.  To accomplish this, we first traced the top of the dishpan and then cut on the line with a jigsaw.


We then cut plyboard to hold the dishpan into place.  We had to use two pieces of plyboard because we didn’t have a large enough piece on hand and had to make do with scraps.  The plyboard was glued and screwed into place, so it should have no problem supporting the weight of a dishpan loaded with ice and drinks.


Here you can see that the dishpan is flush with the cabinet top.  No one will ever know that it’s inside with the leaves are shut.


Making the Outdoor Bar Pretty

I wanted to use a bright and cheerful color for this piece since its meant to use outdoors for parties.  I chose Ava from The Plaster Paint Company.


To protect the paint, I sealed this piece with my favorite poly, General Finishes High Performance Top Coat in Satin.

The original bat wing pulls were reused but given an update with black spray paint.

The knobs came with an Ikea Rast dresser.  We upgraded to pretty knobs for that patriotic hack and kept these in case we ever needed them.


Enjoying the Outdoor Bar

When the sewing cabinet leaves are opened, the party can begin!

A former sewing cabinet is now an outdoor bar and serving area. This would be so handy to use for entertaining outdoors. virginiasweetpea.com

The leaves offer plenty of space for snacks, napkins, and glasses.

A sewing cabinet is now an outdoor bar and serving area. This would be perfect to use on a patio, deck, or beside a pool. Get the details at virginiasweetpea.com.

The dishpan can be filled with drinks and ice inside and then easily added to the bar area outside.     

This former sewing cabinet is now an outdoor bar and server. virginiasweetpea.com

When the party is over, dump the ice in the grass, put the dishpan back in the cabinet, take the snacks inside, fold up the leaves, and clean-up is done.

A sewing cabinet is made over into an outdoor bar with an inset sink. Get the full tutorial at virginiasweetpea.com.

The wood filler worked like a charm on the gouges in the legs.  I wasn’t sure if it would work, but you’d never know that those marks were there.

Sewing Cabinet to Oudoor Bar - Leg Detail -virginiasweetpea.com

This piece is now used at the lake entertaining on the dock. 

Our guests love seeing it and it is always a conversation starter.

Sewing cabinet repurposed to outdoor bar


  1. This may be my favorite project of yours yet! What an awesome idea!! I love that you can use it at your lake house too. Sounds like you have a bunch of fun weekends coming up! Enjoy!

  2. Paula, I’m just stopping back by to thank you for joining the Grace at Home party and to let you know I’m featuring you this week. I’m just smitten with your outdoor bar! 🙂

  3. Love this to the moon and back. Look for it among our honored features on Friday’s Furniture Fix and out on social media in the next few days. Susie from The Chelsea Project

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    1. We really enjoy using this and it was a great way to repurpose a sewing table and to keep it out of a landfill.


  7. Such a cool & fun idea! I love the shade of blue you chose. To me it just sings “tropical.” And then you have the boat drinks right there. Pretty soon, I’m going to be singing a Jimmy Buffet tune…..

  8. The bar came out really good and what a great way to upcycle! I’m inspired to make my own now. THanks for sharing this idea with us at #OMHGWW

  9. That is such a great idea! We found so many of these old sewing machines cleaning out my husband’s grandparents’ house. I love that upcycle.

    1. Thank you so much! It’s nice to create something useful out of a piece headed for the landfill.


  10. I loved your cabinet conversion, Paula! Such a fun color you chose, too! I’m now on the lookout for something like this! Thanks for sharing it with us at Tuesday Turn About. I was happy to feature you.

    1. Thank you, Cindy! I see these frequently at Goodwill. Speaking of Goodwill, I hope ours reopens soon!


      1. I love this and it was my inspiration to do one myself! Question though, the left flap that opens up, how do you keep that stable? When I have mine open and place anything at all on it, it starts bending downward and I’m not sure how to correct that.

        1. Hi, Paige! I suspect that the hinges on your left side may be your problem. Good luck with your project!


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