Rack Em Up


Everything’s bigger in Texas: the weather (from snow storms to hurricanes and tornadoes to triple digit heat), the geography (it takes 12 hours to cross from one side to the other), the food (ever heard of the Big Texan’s infamous 72 oz steak?) and, most especially, people’s affinities towards their guns.  (If that doesn’t make you want to come visit our state, I’m not sure what will.) Chris and I aren’t exactly the guns a-blazing type so imagine our surprise when the house we fell in love with came equipt with a custom-built gun rack.  Oh goody!

What was most frightening about this little gem was the fact that there wasn’t a lock or even a place for a lock on the entire thing, even the cabinet for the ammo.  Nice.

So, you may be wondering what we decided to do with this monument to the ultimate Texan hobby.  Well, conveniently it had a sink attached so, in the beginning, we mostly used it for cleaning our paint brushes since we didn’t really care for keeping it in fine form.  Then the plumbing sprung a leak so we had to move our paintbrush cleaning elsewhere.  For the next year, it became junk limbo.  Anything we didn’t have a place for was stored in the gun rack.

The rack is in the back room which connects the garage and the kitchen so Chris and I pass through it everyday.  Finally, we decided we had had enough of being greeted with a messy pile of junk everytime we came home.  We were determined to make use of the gun rack, without actually having to fill it with guns.

Having the attached sink on the rack gave us the idea of turning it into a…. *drum roll please* butler’s pantry.  After several weeks of sketching, pondering, and resketching we determined that we could turn the two sides into a lattice for wine bottles and the middle section could have shelves for storing wine glasses, martini glasses, margarita glasses, and beer steins (yay for finally showing off our wedding presents!).  And with that, we had a plan!

The lattice turned out to be a little more complicated than we anticipated.  I originally hoped we could build a diamond shaped lattice for the sides… (much like this)

…but the space was too narrow to do this affectively.  So, onto plan two.  After a long week of persuasion, Chris talked me into replacing the diamond shape with triangles.  In the end, it worked but I was pretty nervous.  I like to see examples before I commit to a new idea but I couldn’t for the life of me find examples of wine triangles anywhere on the wide world of Google.  But, not having any other option, I decided to trust him.

We knew we also wanted to change the lovely burnt red and green cheap-y countertop but couldn’t decide what material to replace it with.  While shopping for our master bathroom tile (a story for another day), we stumbled upon the clearance section of the store.  We love finding a good deal so we sprinted towards the section like there was no tomorrow.  We were in luck!  4″ travertine tiles were on clearance for $1.50 a square foot (comparable travertine is usually $5 per square foot).  $8.25 later we had plans for a new countertop!

We decided to tie the cabinets into our kitchen cabinets so we painted them the same color.  Good ole Behr China Cup.  We also installed new brushed nickel cabinet hardware to replace the bronze hardware that reminded us too much of the 70s.

We were able to reuse the sink, faucet, and lighting.  There were some nicely placed can lights that cast flattering light on both sides of the cabinet and we loove saving money and time when possible.

There was also an interesting niche cut in the wall that looked like a medicine cabinet.  We still haven’t figured out what it was originally used for but it had holes in the sides that were fit for pegs.  We inserted pegs and cut down a piece of wood to create a shelf.  It’s the perfect place to store our liquor.

And voilah!  We now have a full fledged butler’s pantry.  Being a combination of German, Irish, and Italian blood, we get a lot more use out of our butler’s pantry than the gun cabinet.  We still have a ways to go in filling it in, but, by all means, feel free to send us a bottle. 🙂


“I don’t even own a gun, much less many guns that would necessitate an entire rack. What am I gonna do with a gun rack?”- Wayne’s World

It’s no secret that we Texans love our guns. I’m not a “gun person” by any means, but even I can’t help but get a little excited at the thought of firing off a few rounds from a Colt .45. Almost every Texas Tall Tale involves a gun in some way, shape, or form, and almost every Texan is packing some sort of heat. So I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised to find a gun rack in our new home, located in the Great State of Texas.

I seriously have no use for a gun rack. I don’t think it’s particularly wise to display your guns in the middle of the room, and it looks a little trashy. Oddly enough, this gun rack had a sink in front of it, which made me wonder if this had been some sort of gun rack/mini-bar combination. According to a neighbor, liquor and firearms were not an unusual combination for the gentleman that originally built this house, so I guess I was right.

Texas runs pretty deep in my soul, but nothing can outdo my German-Irish heritage. That said, I decided I needed a place to store my booze. Being the connoisseur that I am, I also have a different glass for every type of beer, wine, and mixed drink there is, and I needed a place to store those, too. I measured the bottles and glasses, measured the gun rack/cabinet thing, and an idea was born.

We initially wanted to do a traditional lattice with a single hole for each bottle. We went to Home Depot and the guy in the lumber department directed us towards garden lattices… uh, not quite. Julie then had the idea of building larger “boxes” that would hold several bottles each, like you find at a lot of restaurants. I really didn’t like this idea as it required a LOT of work, so I took it one step simpler: triangles. The idea sounds a little odd at first and Julie wasn’t quite on board with it, but if there’s one thing she’s learned it’s that if it works in my head, it will work in reality… I just can’t explain things to save my life. She reluctantly jumped on board and trusted that I knew what I was talking about.

Demolition was easy. It turns out that pretty much everything was barely nailed together, so it came down easily. Next, I cut up some 1×2 boards with opposing 45* ends and built two identical “zig-zag” patterns on each side, one against the back wall and one on the face of the cabinet. The two sides are composed of angles opposing each other, so the overall effect is that we cut a box in half and shoved some shelves between them:

This all sounds really complicated, but it was actually very easy and only took an hour or so. I sank all the screws into the wood and covered them with wood filler, so once everything was sanded and painted it had a really professional look.

Next up was the countertop. It was some sort of marble-look veneer, and it had to go. We had gotten lucky with the bathroom sinks in that they were standard sizes and pre-cut options were readily available, but this was something else. It  was custom made, so I had to get creative. While perusing the clearance section of the tile store, we found real travertine tiles for something like $1.50/sq. ft… jackpot. Julie had just been telling me about a secret love affair with travertine a few days before, so I took this as a sign.

I must confess at this point that I had never really tiled anything before. I helped my dad a little bit with a few tiling projects here and there, but he had always handled the major stuff like adhesive and grout. Furthermore, I was on a budget and didn’t own a tile saw, so I had to settle for this goofy little contraption that basically just breaks the tiles and if you’re lucky, it’s a straight line.

I cheated and bought pre-mixed adhesive, so I proceeded with my “learn-by-doing” experiment and basically just started sticking the whole tiles where I thought they should go. I then measured out the pieces I’d need to fill the gaps and went about using that stupid cutter, which was a really painstaking process. In the end I’d say I used at least a square foot more than I actually needed just because I had to scrap so many pieces.To be honest, the end result looked pretty amateur. Fortunately, though, I had some grout left over from a bathroom project, and a wise man once told me, “putty and paint makes a boat what it ain’t!”

Ultimately, I’m really proud of how everything turned out in the end. All my uneven cuts were hidden by grout, and the wine rack looks like it was built with the house. The only problem is that it’s a little empty… so send us some booze!

And now for the pictures.



Filed under Before & After, Renovation

2 responses to “Rack Em Up

  1. Aunt Aileen

    Looks Great! Ya’ll did a wonderful job. Ya’ll need to be on HGTV!!
    Love ya, Aunt Aileen

  2. Pingback: Mastering the Master | DO or DIY

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