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How-to: From rack and ruin

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By Heather Berry

Old coat racks make a terrific and cheap solution to a variety of clutter problems. Bath towels, children’s play clothes/dress up clothes, scarves, hats, and mittens are just a few reasons to save a rack on its way to the dumpster.

With the help of a stool, even the youngest in the house, has an easy time putting away whatever’s covering the floor. Take a look at one of world’s ugliest coat racks, below,  which was easily transformed into a beautiful princess dress rack for our six-year-old daughter’s play room.

Often passed over, ugly hat racks from the 1970s and 1980s are easy to find at flea markets and yard sales, rarely costing more than $20. Within a weekend, you can create a funky and useful piece for your home.

Step One: Prep for Painting

Made of metal or wood, it really doesn’t matter, as long as the coat rack is solidly built with all it’s pieces. Pass over anything with large cracks in the wood or a rack without all its hooks and pieces. Smaller cracks can be filled with wood putty. Loose hooks and bases are to be expected and easily fixed with some screws, nails and/or glue.

After making the necessary repairs, wash the coat rack thoroughly with a clean rag and soapy water. A gentle dish soap will do the trick.

Step Two: Sand

If the coat rack is wooden, give it a light sanding before moving on to priming and painting. After sanding, wipe the piece down with a damp rag.

Step Three: Prime

Priming the piece will be necessary for both metal and wooden racks. Using a spray primer will make things much simpler. Make certain the primer is intended for use on metal or wooden surfaces. Priming the coat rack will allow the paint to bond better in the end.

Usually two coats of primer are required, especially if the piece has a lot of varnish or a very dark wood.

Step Four: Paint

For this project, any paint will do if the piece is wooden. You can even search the house for some leftover paint from a room redo. Latex will be easier to work with than an oil-based paint but both will do the job. If the coat rack is metal, using a paint designed for metal is necessary.

Setting the rack on some newspaper in the garage or outside, on a calm day, is ideal. Watch for paint drips and keep a small brush handy to catch them and smooth them over.