Thank you for finding That Old House amidst the chaos of the Internet. We are delighted that you are here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An Embarrassment of Old Cupboards, and A Bit O'Red

You can never have too much of a good thing.


That is certainly true for chocolate, money, and blogging friends. But when it comes to big ol' pieces of vintage furniture that should by rights be living in your kitchen, well, then, you can indeed have too much of a good thing.


I'm showing off some red on Today Is Rednesday at It's A Very Cherry World! blog, hosted by Sue. This is my first time jumping in to Rednesday; thanks! I don't have much red today, but you will find it if you keep reading!


There is room in our kitchen for two freestanding storage pieces.
There are two there already, and two others waiting in the wings for their auditions.

I have a 19th-century walnut cupboard rumored to have been built by Abraham Lincoln's Dad.
This puppy is going to stay right where it is. It's too big and heavy to move, and,
like a glass slipper on Cinderella's foot, it fits perfectly -- between the back stairs and the back hall.

It also holds a poop-load of stuff.

Note to Self: Tidy shelves before snapping pictures. Oy.

This cupboard is more than 24-inches deep, and each side is made of one solid board.
You can see a big knot in the side of the cupboard, below.
It's been a long time since 24-inch plus boards were available to cabinet makers.

Nearby is an old jam cupboard that I bought a long long time ago on a junking trip with an old boyfriend to United House Wrecking in Connecticut. It cost me twenty-five bucks -- a lot of money for me at the time -- and was slathered in layers of paint.

It's not photogenic, sorry. It's very cute in person.
Lovely manners and a charming smile.
My Mom had my Dad build a replica in the beach house for their pantry.

Under all the paint was an original layer of milk paint,
and whoa baby! was that hard to strip off.

(Yes, I can hear the groaning now.
Hey, I was young and stupid, and it was my first refinishing project.
Now I'm old and stupid, but at least know to leave original milk paint alone!)

I did a "fine" furniture finish on it.

It's cheerfully bounced around to all the places I've lived, with just some edge wear
and some dings on the bottom where feet and vacuums have knocked into it.

That glossy finish is one tough mama, and it's not polyurethane; it's layers and layers of shellac, and then varnish. I followed The Furniture Doctor's instructions (George Grotz) and my Dad said it wouldn't work. It did.

Then, there is the Hoosier cabinet, right now sitting in our front hall looking miserable.
We put it in our weekend Yard Sale, but I didn't expect it to sell, and it didn't.
I priced it high on purpose. I think Howard was wise to my madness.

The cabinet on the right has the intact flour hopper. The upper cabinet's lower section pulls up for work space and the enamel top pulls out. The drawer on the right in the lower section is tin-lined -- a bread drawer.

It's by Sellers, so it's really a hoosier with a small "h" -- not made by the Hoosier company.

It's got its original decoration, which my girls say looks like some sort of beetle. I didn't realize until the yard sale, but it the flower used to be yellow, and someone has carefully painted over it in red:

Yes! My first Red for Rednesday.
The rest of the stencil is original. The pull-out enamel top looks new;
I don't think the hausfrau who owned this did much cooking!

Lastly, the pie safe.
(And we can play "spot the dust" with this one!)

My cousin gave this to my mother, in the 60s. During summers she occasionally helped
out in his menswear shop in Stony Brook on Long Island, and he would pay her in antiques.

My father never liked this cupboard, called it a "piece of junk."
What? That's an insult?

I loved it when I was a kid, and I love it now.

From what I have seen in books, it is a country Sheraton style,
and is probably Southern, judging from its screened openings. No punched tin.

My Mom always threatened to replace the screening with punched tin. Thank goodness she never did.
I suspect she only said that for the entertainment value of watching me go hysterical over the prospect.

When I was a kid, this piece was relegated to my Mom's laundry area in the "unfinished" side of our basement. It moved to the beachhouse, to store skeins of yarn and quilting books. It moved to That Old House on Labor Day weekend.

My Dad came for dinner last Saturday night, and saw the pie safe.
He still thinks it is a piece of junk, but he says "It looks great here."

He might have been being polite.
Or, he thinks junk suits our house. ;-)
Or, he might be relieved to no longer have its shoddy workmanship in his house.
Or, maybe it really looks at home here, like it's found its spot, which right now is in the conservatory next to the kitchen. It might not stay there. . . .

(The window over the pie safe is at the end of our back stairs from the kitchen to the 2nd floor.
That used to be the outside wall of the house, before the conservatory was added.)

So, what to do about our embarrassment of riches ... er ... cupboards?

I could list the Hoosier on Ebay; I can't bear to part with any of the other pieces.

Or, the Hoosier can go where the jam cupboard is, and then the jam cupboard can go where the pie safe is, and then the pie safe can go . . . where?

Or, the jam cupboard can go in the butler's pantry, now empty of furniture, but that's just a temporary band-aid. And then the Hoosier goes in the kitchen, or. . . what?

I am not going to put the Hoosier back in the basement.
Old stone-foundation cellars are not good places for wood furniture.

Ack! It's like playing Musical Furniture.


More Red for Rednesday:

I have more ripe tomatoes to dry or stew or something.
And today I plan on getting to a farm stand and buying some early apples.
I'm hoping for Winesaps, but I may be optimistic.

I am bowing to the inevitable. I will embrace Fall. Eventually.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dion DiPoochy reminds us to take time,
and smell the flowers while they are still here. Good boy, Dion. --- Cass


  1. No need to feel embarrassment of any kind...these old cupboards are treasures!!!
    I had my mother's old Hoosier cupboard and intended to refurbish it in time till a basement flood destroyed it and in tears, I had to throw it away...*sniff*
    I love the history that surrounds pieces like these! You are fortunate!!!
    Just adjust a little...these pieces are worth saving!

  2. Rednesday is great . Your cubboards are nice and neat compaired to ours.Thanks for the idea. I'm going hunting for a metal bra forsure . I have a lift for mom so won't hurt back anymore .Thank goodness.You need to get one. Call the doc. medicare pays alot on one if doc. orders it.

  3. Hi Cass,
    You have some wonderful pieces of furniture all with a story; love that! I love the jam cupboard! Happy REDnesday.


  4. Cass,
    This is a delightfully written post!!

    I surely can relate to your dilemma about moving furniture around. We are opening up another small display room at the store, and i have 4 times more pieces to put in there than the room can hold!
    Plus, if i move this piece in there, where do i put that piece???
    See, told you i understood. =0)

    So, i am trying to remember that nothing is permanent. Try apiece somewhere, and if it does not work, put it somewhere else. (easy to say hard to do.) =0))

    I do not have this dilemma at home. same pieces, same places, for ??? years?

    Thanks for coming by.
    I enjoy your visits.

    Barbara Jean

  5. I didn't have to look hard to find your red rocking chairs. So pretty. Love all your cupboards. The hoosier is great.

    Let me join in the chorus and say how wonderful your home is! I think I may have been by before but lost track and didn't get back. I'm a bit scatter brained sometimes! I'm clicking that follow but as soon as I finish here!

    Welcome to Rednesday.

  6. I sure enjoyed this's like a "real" visit to your home...the kind that a neighbor can pop in for a real visit...beautiful pictures of your "lovely" antiques...loved them all...

  7. I have the perfect spot for the 'ole hoosier ...MY HOUSE!

    That is a rare gem, how could you even toy with the idea of getting rid of it? What's this world coming to? :)

    In such a great house, I'm sure you can find a wonderful spot for it!

  8. I loved looking at your cupboards, the pie safe is never like one I ever seen, and I from Mississippi! The jelly cupboard is wonderful, never seen on like it either! The Hoosier is great! I have one, wow they are totally different. I think the Hoosier would go great in the butler's pantry! You been hiding furniture from me. lol I love the big cupboard, with all the wonderful dishes!

  9. Oh Cass
    I saved the best for last.
    I loved everything you have shown us today for Rednesday. Don't be afraid to "go for it"... as I can tell you do... and you have fun with it.
    Loved it and you.
    Love Claudie

  10. Oh, why can't New Jersey and Massachusetts be closer together? I'd snatch up that hoosier in a heartbeat! Gee, if you're ever up this way . . . LOL!

    All your cupboards are beautiful - I love old wood stuff!

  11. Great treasures in those cupboards! I love them...esp. the one your Dad did not like!

  12. I love all of your cupboards...all of them! So jealous. My favorite is the pie safe. Oh my goodness I would LOVE to have that thing.

  13. Too bad today isn't about the color green, because that's the color I am right now. Green with envy over all of your cupboards!!! You lucky, lucky girl! If I had to pick a favorite...I can't. Love them all!
    Happy Rednesday!
    P.S. Dion is a cutie patootie!

  14. Hi Cass,
    Great post, you do have a lot of cool old cupboards. That Abraham Lincoln's one really caught my eye! Will you look at all those dishes girl! I say save the hoosier!!! Hugs, Cindy

  15. I do love furniture with a story to tell...and yours definitely has some stories...a great read, thank you for sharing.

  16. Welcome to REDnesday with a great furniture story. Got a laugh from your 'note to self' comment and love all the pieces. Yep, garage sales are a lot of work for a little bit of return...unless you have gobs of stuff.
    How come there are no pies in the pie safe? Maybe it isn't safe and that is what you Dad doesn't like about it ;-)

  17. Well, Shoot, Cass...I took one look at the Hoosier and.....
    FELL IN LOVE !! How I wish I lived close to you and I'd take that baby off your hands!!
    I love your other pieces, too...
    Welcome to's a lot of fun and I NEVER run out of the color red at Sweet Nothings!! :O)

  18. The answer is so obvious. Send the extra piece to me ;-)
    I will give it a lovely home and you can visit it when ever you like.

  19. What a cute post....I had a hard time getting past... A Poop Load, haven't heard that one in quite awhile. LOL I was snickering the whole way through your post.
    I love that pie safe, I have never seen one. How unique.

    I am going to check out some of your older posts and see what else you have on here.

  20. Loved this post. Poop Load? I never heard that comment before. I found myself wondering how much poop made a load. LOL! Also had to laugh at your note to self. I need to do that too. At first I did not see the flowers on your hoosier. I thought they were beetles or something until you said it was a flower. Then I could see the stem and the leaves. I thought those leaves were feet. Silly me!

    I have a great idea for your pie safe. Put it in the sewing room you want and store pretty fabrics in it!! With the screened sides like that, you can see the pretty fabrics and other sewing related items, neatly stored in there.

    Thanks for coming by my place today!

  21. I also noticed RED peeking out from behind the Jam cabinet. Or am I seeing things? I couldn't figure out what that might be....

  22. I stayed around to look at your other posts and loved this one. BTW, your tea set is pretty too... I got rapped up in the applesauce making, I guess. Tell your dad that pie safe is a gorgeous antique and worth a pile of money as is that wonderful red cupboard with the one-board sides. I LOVE both pieces!


Thank you for visiting That Old House; it's always exciting to find new comments -- they are treasured! Because of increasing spam, I have reluctantly eliminated "Anonymous" commenting. Legitimate anonymous commenters, please forgive me! You might try using "Open ID" instead. Blogger's spam software worked for a good long time, but, sadly, no longer.