A Transformation of Sorts and Vintage Joys

f0471-p1010682I started this post as a way of showing you my new collection of vintage white pottery (which is growing), but as I was uploading pictures and typing I decided I really wanted to show you where my cranberry red cabinet came from. It’s come a long way!

It started here…in my parents old farmhouse…as a built-in-ish thing…in the living room.

f7961-sc018c90d1Do you see it there tucked back into the corner? Yes, that’s it…recessed into the dark brown paneled wall…to the left of the Christmas tree…yes, that big brown thing. My parents house was built in the late 1800’s as the old Bracy home (is that right, Mom? I can’t remember…I just remember it was almost 100 years old when we moved in…that was 1983-ish).

e7965-greeneryandsky-153It looks much the same from the outside as it did all those years ago, save the bay window – that’s new. It was a part of the Bracy family for many years, but changed hands somewhere in the 1970’s. One of the owners decided what a glorious thing it would be to “update” it. While we appreciated the indoor plumbing, the decor left much to be desired. They paneled over all the lovely beadboard paneling with fake-o wood paneling and covered the gorgeous weathered oak floors with…shag carpet in varying shades of orange. The height of ugliness.

Originally, the Bracy home had two sets of stairs. The upstairs was divided and separated – there was a side for the boys of the family and a side for the girls. The 1970’s remodel left the home with only one set of stairs leading to a no-longer divided second floor – the set that originally led to the girl’s side was now gone leaving a gaping hole in the living room. The big brown bookcase was the answer apparently. It was recessed back in the wall so that (I’m guessing?) it would look like a set of built in cabinets for the room??? I wish I could say that the bookcase was a part of the original home, but it was not. It was sized to fit the hole left in the wall, and it was removed when my family remodeled the living room several years ago and found its way to the top of the loft out in our workshop where it sat.

The family has been working to restore the home to her former charm, uncovering the beaded paneling, removing icky carpet…etc. There is much work left to be done, but a few rooms have been completed – the one you see above was one of the first on the list to be redone. (Can you guess why? The word cave comes to mind. And check out those hanging orange lanterns…classy, huh?) I could not leave you hanging about how the room turned out so I had to go searching through all my pics to find one so you could see how beautiful and different the room turned out…

60336-family-049This must have been taken just towards the end of the renovation (about 7 years ago?) – you’re looking at the same wall/corner of the room just behind my sister holding the (then 5 year old) Sweet Pea.

Ok…back to how the big brown thing got to my house…

Rob and I moved into our house about 7 years ago, and though it is lovely, the kitchen was never completed leaving a woeful lack of cabinetry. We didn’t have the budget to add cabinets. So I had this thought….wonder what we could do with that old, ugly, brown, 70’s throwback of a cabinet up in Mom and Dad’s loft???? Mom and Dad gave it to us and I began to imagine the possibilities…which involved the skilled carpentrywork of my brother and husband. Together, they sanded it, added molding and trim (which changed the look entirely), built an extension to add height and a butcher block top (which we bought from a craftsman in Kentucky) and we brought it home where Rob and I painted it. (For those of you that don’t know us – that’s my amazingly talented brother, Chris, on the left, and my adorable and generously talented husband on the right and the base of the cabinet between them.)

8a9dc-img_0189I wanted it to have an old feel so we painted it using Old Fashioned Milk Paint in Barn Red. It was a bold color choice and I’ve never regretted it. We did this about 6 years ago, but I’ve always wanted to post the story of our cranberry red cabinet.

After the transformation


My brother and husband do good work, do they not?!


And now, to bring this long post to a close with the original intent…to give you a glimpse of my smallish collection of white wares that bring me such joy to look upon. I’ve never really collected anything, but I’ve always thought collections of pewter were lovely. Not having the budget for collecting pewter, I decided a collection of white pottery would look lovely in my cranberry red cabinet after I saw an article in the January/February 2009 Victoria magazine entitled The Beauty of Ironstone. Do you remember the one? I remembered that I had one piece of my Mom’s original Ironstone – a wedding gift, I believe (in the pictures of the cabinet you can see my Mom’s plate in the lower right corner of the cabinet collection…displayed on the butcher block, just to the left of the lamp). I also had a few white plates (not Ironstone) and some other random white pieces I collected from around the house. I gathered them all up, displayed them and immediately fell in love with the look.

I set out to begin collecting with a few restrictions…I would only collect what I could find for a couple of dollars at thrift stores and flea markets – this was not to be a rabid, ebay search for Ironstone. And, it had to be white – creamy-white, blue-white, opaque-white – and somewhat vintage. I was excluding all the white pieces of pottery that are modern day, made-in-China pieces.

I’ve been at it since the beginning of the year and have made some amazing thrift shop finds. One and two pieces at a time, I’m slowly building what seems a lovely collection. I pressed a crease in my Granny’s embroidered white napkins and added them to the top shelf of my collection and I think they add charm and grace to the collection, don’t you?

For my birthday recently, my family gave me the perfect gift – a few more pieces they found in a local flea market to add to my collection. And, look at my pride and joy below…

fde24-p1010673Do you recognize it? Look at the cover of Victoria magazine again…

f09bc-hai8z4It’s the same petite porcelain dish from Italy. Lovely. Thanks for indulging this lengthy post on the salvaging of a cabinet from the throes of the 70’s and it’s collection of vintage whites.

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  1. What a lovely article! Thank you for sharing with us. I love the white porcelain dishes and I especially love the cranberry red cabinet (I just painted my dining room with that color).

  2. Ladies – I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! I really enjoyed putting it together…and I’ve wanted to put it together and post it for such a long time! It’s such an inspiration for me to see how someone takes something that is ugly (for lack of a better word) and transforms it into something lovely and useful! I love seeing how all of you do that…and I had so much fun sharing this experience of ours! I think this is a time when we’re all looking to be thrifty and creative and think outside the box to provide for our needs anyway…so, here’s hoping you have something cast aside in your attic or in a loft somewhere – who knows how it might serve your family with a little paint and a bit of trim and molding?

  3. Oh my goodness! I also have a cranberry red cabinet containing a few of my white serving dishes. It was bought for the same reason yours was… hardly any cabinets in an old house. You have given me the great idea for mounting an outlet strip onto the side of it, and I am so very grateful!!

  4. I just found your blog through a friend. Fun!!! I just started blogging..and now I get why it is so amusing. I will not be getting much laundry done. I LOVE your house. I too am apt to get out the paint cans and redo and reuse from what I have. One day when I am handy with the digital and the computer, I will share some of my projects. nect time I will remember to take before shots! thanks ofr a very fun read.

  5. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Thanks for sharing it with us. It makes me want to pull up a chair and have a cup of tea. What a wonderful room!

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