The Many Lives of My Craft Cabinet
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Affordable craft supply storage cabinet solutions.
If you have been following me for sometime then you know I have a room in my home devoted to all things crafty and creative. It is a room of my own that I spend a lot of time in.
I call it my craft room – studioffice since it is a room that serves both purposes – a creative studio and…
an office where I can take care of the business side of my blog.
I had a similar room in my previous house where I claimed the formal living room on the builder’s plan of the house since I knew we would never use it as a formal living room since the house had a family room.
I feel lucky to be able to have such a space. I grew up sharing a room with my two sisters and in college always shared a living space. Having a room of my own had always been something I dreamed about and when I saw a chance, I went for it in a living room I knew we would never use.
To read how I made this long desk, click over to this post: Craft Room Work Table
When we moved to the lake, finding a house that had a room that I could set up as my own creative business space was on a “must have list”.
I was thrilled that we found one where the room not only can be closed off from the rest of the house when it is messy, but it looks out to the lake, which is good and bad as I sometimes spend more time than I should looking out at the lake.
The focal point of the room even back in my previous house is this large antique armoire that was handed down to us from Ed’s family. I had been experimenting with makeover ideas for awhile, but took my time to actually do anything to it as I wanted to make sure whatever I did, I would like.
To see if I would like it unpainted, I stripped one of the drawers to see what the wood looked like underneath. I didn’t like it, so I opted to use paint to give it a color makeover.
The armoire is not only the largest piece of furniture in my studioffice, but in my whole house.
It is quite old and unique. It comes apart by sections. Here it is apart as we prepared to load it into one of the PODS we used to move to South Carolina.
The armoire has had quite a life and is one very versatile piece of furniture as you will soon find out.
The armoire started it’s life back in the 1920’s or a little earlier when Ed’s maternal grandparents bought it. It was stained in a medium brown wood finish back then. I don’t know what they stored in it, but this is where it got it’s start in life.
When Ed’s parents inherited it in the 1950’s they used it to hold record albums and musical items. They painted it a deep orange…
… and that is the color it was when Ed and I inherited it in 1984.
I went in search of photos of it in the family photo albums and only found this one where you can see the side of it. That’s my oldest when she was about 7 months old rolling around the breakfast room in our house in Durham, NC. In this house we used the armoire as our kitchen pantry.
After it was a pantry for 3 years in our North Carolina house, we moved to Pennsylvania, the house we lived in didn’t have room for it, so it was stored in our basement. We only lived there for one year and moved again to live in New Jersey.
When we lived in New Jersey back in the early 1990’s the armoire was put back together to be used as my clothes closet in my bedroom. The house was a two bedroom house that had only one teeny tiny closet in each room. Ed used that, so I had to get creative as to where my clothes were going to be kept.
To transform the armoire to a closet, I removed the shelves and installed a wood pole to hang clothes. I added a full length mirror inside the right door and hung a scarf, belt and jewelry rack on the inside of the left door. It was one very functioning closet.
It held everything except my shoes which I stored under the bed. I even added a pink floral stencil to the center top. Do you remember when stenciling was the trend? I scanned this photo from the decorating book…
… Instant Decorating that I wrote and was published in 1994. You can still find copies of it online for a few dollars and in my Amazon Shop.
Some of the fabrics I used for the projects in the book look dated, but if you can overlook that and envision the project’s being done using fabrics that are popular today you may find a few budget friendly and no-sew decorating projects that can transform your home in an afternoon.
Four years later, we moved back to Pennsylvania to the house where I eventually started my blog. I painted the armoire antique white which erased the stencil. I removed the mirror and clothes rod and put the shelves back in so it could become the place where I organized and stored my craft supplies.
I centered it between two IKEA bookcases. You can read about the Billy Bookcases in this post: Bookcase Makeover
For the past 24 years the armoire has been my craft storage place. I love it pink, but the reason I didn’t paint or paper the inside yet is that sadly, age has taken it’s toll on the wood on the back of the base section. It is cracking and becoming weak which is making the armoire lean backwards. :-(
I will soon have to take her apart to replace the sections with new wood that have become brittle with age. Once I get this done, I plan to paint the inside pink or even add decorative wallpaper to really make her a feast for my eyes every time I open her up. She is officially a girl, especially now that she is pink.
So in her 100 years, she has had a few lives before my time. For me… a pantry, a clothes closet and a craft storage cabinet. Once we fix the base, she will continue to be a craft closet, but I think her future looks bright and she has a few more lives to live that will be determined by one or both my daughters who will inherit her someday.
Do you have a piece of furniture in your home that has been transformed many times in it’s life or has been in your family for many generations?
To find out more of the details about how I put my studioffice – craft room together. Head over to this post: Craft Room Tour – Changes in My Studioffice
If you have been thinking about getting all your crafting and decorating supplies organized in one handy place, I found a few affordable armoires in different sizes and styles.
I am showing them in white, but most come in other colors and even wood tone. They are not as unique as mine, but would do the job just the same and may become a piece of furniture with a highly functioning past.
I am currently trying to convert a bedroom into a crafting and sewing room. I would also like to have a small bed or chaise lounge in the room for potential guests. I need ideas and my style is much like yours. I like the look of Frills and Southern Charm. What suggestions do you have?
Hi Nancy –
Have you started on converting a bedroom into a crafting and sewing room? I would make a list of everything you need in the room and then plan out what furniture to use or buy to hold it all.
Since you mentioned that you want to keep a small bed or chaise in the room. I would use a day bed on one wall and on the opposite wall you can create the long table I did using wood doors as the top and file cabinets to hold it up. To keep with your style of southern charm and frills, make a fabric curtain along the front of this long table to hid items underneath. This will give you pretty style and a place to hide and organize smaller items.
Hi. This is late to the party, but I’m adding in case someone need ideas. Have you thought of trying a twin bed with a pop up trundle underneath it? You can use them separately or together as a king. I found a wicker day bed at Goodwill and the pop up trundle on fb marketplace. I ordered mattresses from Amazon for a great price. Good luck!
Thanks for the idea. :-)
I have used your chalk paint recipe on several pieces of furniture and it’s great! I use an old shoe polish brush to buff it. It is soft enough to not scratch the paint, but thick enough to bring a lovely shine to the paint. And I can use it over and over so there is no waste. It also fits nicely in my hand as I buff.
You have inspired me to revitalize an old wardrobe that I inherited from my grandmother. I have been using it to house my crafts, but it is still a dark walnut color. I want to freshen it up!
Hi Terri – It was a big paint job that I kept putting off, but I finally did it and it has made me love the cabinet all over again. I still would like to add decorative paper to the inside. Maybe someday. Enjoy making your old wardrobe come back to life.
I also have an armoire in my craft room. It functions as a desk and a craft closet. It’s from Ballards and got it for a steal. My colors re green, pink and black also. I like your pink desk chair. Where did you pick that up! All beautiful! I have a walk in closet in Mt craft room and it hosts my sewing and embroidery machines. It has polka dots on the wall. Check it out at http://www.etsieandme.blogspot.com
Thanks for sharing.
Vickie from Etsie and Me
Great post. My studio is in lower level family kitchen on an old picnic table and a metal shelf. The armoire idea is so more appealing. Thanks for the suggestions
I love your room!! Do you mind sharing where you found your cabinets and table tops for your long desk? thanks
Hi Taneka –
Thanks. I need to link to the tutorial on how I made the long desk in the post you read. I will do it now, but here they are. Check out these posts for the details:
Wow, what a dream room! You’ve done an amazing job mixing beauty with utility in there. Maybe someday I can have enough space to have a nice little craft room office space, but for now I make due with a little area. That armoire is perfection too, the pink you painted it is spot on. I bet it was a lot of work, but worth it, right? haha.
I’m in love with literally everything about this room. The only thing I would tweak if it were in my house, would be to change out the ceiling fan with a light.
I’ve had my eye on this forever and it would look so good with the style you used in here. I’m sure you’re enjoying your studioffice, just as it is though.
Love all your projects, keep up the good work!
I loved this post! I’m a sucker for heirloom stuff and think it’s so cool that you hung onto this piece. I’ve kept a tall chest of drawers from my grandmother’s bedroom set that I am hoping to repurpose one day for a granddaughter ‘s nursery. That should be years down the road though…
I am also patiently waiting to finish the last section in my basement as my craft/office. All my goodies are carefully tucked away in storage. I’m sure it will be a wonderful feeling when I put it all together
I think you should put some polka dots on the inside :)
Pink polka dots or multi-colored ones?
I love the pink color!
Everything should be pink…even the kitchen sink… from an old movie.
So interesting to see pics and read about the history of your piece. I get hives just looking at all that ‘craft’ stuff. I like to see other people do crafty things – but makes me itch to think about even trying. I’ve used chalk pain on a couple of pieces because it’s brainlessly simple.
I have two pieces that at one time belonged to my Great Aunt (likely from the 1930’s or 40’s) – a bed frame and matching 3 drawer chest – nothing fancy and not the best wood or furniture – and the current stain of the wood is not pretty – but I cannot bring myself to paint them. My mom died in 2012 and left the pieces to me. My daughter says she has no use for them. Not sure what will happen to them in the future. Maybe one of my grand-daughters will be sentimental enough to take them. Many of the millennial generation just don’t appreciate old stuff. LOL
Diane, love your blog and your amazing ideas! I have an armoire that was in my daughters room for years that I am going to repurpose into a craft center! I am grateful for the inspiration you have given! Now, my question to you is…I love your desk! Would you mind telling me where you got it??
Hi Laura –
The desk was a freebie that I found on the side of the road in front of a house. I could not believe it and even went up and knocked on the door to make sure it was being thrown out. The homeowner said she simply didn’t have room for it and helped me put it into my car. I posted about the makeover I did on it in this post where you will be able to see what it looked like before I painted it with hi-gloss white paint:
Having a room like yours would be my dream come true and I love the armoire in pink
Your cabinet is so organised! I am not a bog craft person myself, but I love homemade crafts made by others
I’m happy you’re going to repair the beautiful armoire. I’ve been in love with it since first sight.
Very nice piece, I’ve done a lot of finishing & chalk painting. Paper towels are too rough, not the best choice. Used only cotton tee shirts or old cotton socks, they work like a glove or mitt. Soft & smooth finish.
Hi Nancy –
I always used to use old T-shirts and I still do since they are free. :-) But in the Fall I went to a Chalk Paint workshop and met Annie Sloan. It was there that I first used the soft Shop Towels that they recommended using. They are softer and thicker than regular paper towels and buff the wax to a beautiful sheen. I like using them now and have even found that Swiffer sweeper dry mop cloths work really well, too.
Seeing your armoire disassembled made me realize that I bought a similar one in the 60’s in a simpler design with no pilasters, no trim around the recessed paneled doors, and no raised panel in the section above the door. But it was almost 8 feet tall and broke down the same way – no screws, fitted together like a puzzle and you could stack all of the components on the rolling base. I was fascinated with that clever design. Mine was a beautifully finished light oak with all of the original hardware in perfect mint condition. When I moved out of my old house, I sold it to make way for more “upscale” and “fashionable” furnishings (for which I paid a great deal more). I have regretted it ever since. I would have had so many uses for it over these past 30 years, even now across country in my wine country home.
Remarkable craftsmanship, solid wood – hard to find in this age of manufactured wood. The history of your piece made me realize how many wonderful things I left along the way growing up. Thank you for sharing its history…
Wow, that’s a relief. I was so afraid you were going to say this armoire was beyond repair, or something! I have loved that stately old girl from the first time I saw her on your blog….. Thanks for the great update, Diane.
You can find find the big TV cabinets that people used to have at Restore or on Craigslist. You may have to add shelves. I love yours in pink.
We have a European antique version, with the original stamp somewhere on the back, I think from Hungary. It is called a “shrank” there, and used as a “closet.” We bought ours in Germany from an American family making a move to England. It had been passed on and on for many years when they got it. I love the natural wood grain finish. It’s huge, and goes together like a Chinese puzzle, with only 6 screws in the back. Over time, the top finish decorative piece (I imagine similar to yours) has gone missing – there is a groove all around the top where it should fit – but I put Czech baskets on the top for storage and it’s just fine. The left side is double wide with one glass door and vintage lace curtain, with a top shelf and hanging bar. The right side has drawers and adjustable shelves and an inside attached mirror. We have used it for clothes and storage, moved it a few times and across the Atlantic. The last time we put it together we noticed a crack in one door frame, and it doesn’t sit quite right, but we just love it. It’s nice you’ve kept your piece in the family.
This is an awesome story about the history of your hand-me-down armoire, and you should write another book! I’m really loving it painted pink also. You are so talented, you always know just when a punch of color is “just right”. I can see you really having a blast as a set designer in Hollywood.
That sure is a piece that you would want to pass down to your daughters. I envy you with a craft room. Although I have two spare bedrooms, both are done up for the grandkids. My one son has 2 boys and 1 girl. When they stay over they have their own rooms. They are quite young so they still like staying at Nana’s. We’ll see in a few years if I can turn one into a craft room.
I have a piece of furniture that was my mom’s. It is a wine cabinet. I used it for many years when I was doing more entertaining. Now my other son has taken it over with the promise that they cannot sell it and must pass it down to their children.
So nice to see how you organize your creative space, but my favorite photo is the one of your oldest daughter as a tot!
Hi Diane! Your creative space is stunning! Organized but beautiful. Thank you for sharing & giving me inspiration for my space. Can I ask how big your room is? I have a “formal dining room” that we use as an office but I’m hoping to convert to my craft room. Just trying to get a perspective of the size you’re working vs. mine. Thanks!
Beautiful. I love this piece. Love the color pink. Jealous of your organizational skills. ;-)
I miss a lot of my grandmother’s furniture too – they bought everything they would ever need in one felled swoop, so all of her things were perfectly matched, maybe around 1940 … and the rugs all matched… I miss all of it, but I do still have her secretary, sort of a Duncan Phyfe reproduction. I’m going to try to keep it with me always! I love your armoire, too!
She’s beautiful!! And very versatile, changing used with every move.
My Grandmother always had by her bed, a little two-door small, storage cabinet with little turned legs on it. Her daughters would repaint the white color from time to time to keep it looking nice. At one point there were gold floral stencils on the doors.
It is quite an old piece evidenced by the joinery etc. and I always remember sneaking into Grandma’s room, opening the cabinet to use her Jergen’s hand lotion (the original cherry almond formula) and I’d also look at her lace mantilla she used to wear for church “in the old country”.
Years passed, Grandma died, the cabinet stayed in what became a guest room. I painted it myself again to refresh the paint. There must be a lot of history in that piece before Grandma had it, but to me, it was just “Grandma’s cabinet”. Who knows where it came from or its former life. ;-)
I would love to have that piece of furniture ….some day…..
What paint color is on the wall of your office? It looks like a soft gray
Hi Kim – The paint on the walls in my studioffice is Valspar Bistro White. It may look grey since the room is in the shadow of the house.
My daughter uses my old childhood bedroom set (headboard, desk with hutch, and chest of drawers), given to me by my grandparents! It used to have flowers stenciled on it but we used chalk paint to paint it white and very light lavender. In the living room, our coffee table and a side table were Tom’s grandmother’s. We chalk painted them a very light blue, with dark blue accents on the coffee table. The side table is one of those hexagonal ones with doors–we took off the door and put a little dog bed inside for a “puppy cave”.
Hi Danielle – I love that you have kept some family pieces alive and have made them your own with some effort and paint. The puppy cave sounds ADORABLE!!! I know a few cats who would like something like that, too.