Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How to freak out your mother-in-law

I undertook a small sprucing project this week. Patrick and I had moved the china cabinet into the front room a few weeks ago-- and it's never moving again, lemme tell you, because the damn thing is heavy. It's one of those pieces that's proving a little hard for me to work with. I mean, it's gorgeous, but it's also got that dubious Colonial Revival pedigree. The cabinet is from the 1940s or 50s, but it has hinges someone made to look forged, like a blacksmith made them. So odd. Also, it's huge, and it's dark. It was sucking the light out of the corner of our dining room, and just looking a tad too matchy in there, what with all the cherry going on.

So anyway, step one, we moved the thing. My photos have really been crummy lately-- I'm not sure if it's my camera telling me it's time for a new camera, or what.

To break up the woodiness of the thing a little, I mixed up some liquid starch-- 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1/2 cup cold water, 4 cups boiling water stirred together until cool-- and adhered some fabric to the back. Natural linen behind the doors, and some sweet low-contrast quilting cotton down below.

At this point, my mother-in-law has a bag over her head, I'm pretty sure. This china cabinet was her mother's. But, wait, didn't I mention this whole thing is completely temporary and removable? All it takes is a wet rag to moisten and remove the fabric. Breathe easy, Jan. I wouldn't mess this thing up for the world.

I'd wanted to try this whole liquid starch thing for a long time. You've seen it out there, haven't you-- people doing these gorgeous "wall decals" with paper or fabric cut-outs. It was unbelievably easy-- the hardest part, as you can tell, was cutting the fabric perfectly to size. 

I really like the change-- it brightens the piece up a little bit, and takes away from its Colonial Revivalism. Next I'm thinking I might remove the doors (and stow them safely away, wrapped in towels, with the hardware). What do you think? I like the look of the shelves better without the glass in the way, and the texture of the linen is more out there. Slap a little new hardware on the doors and drawers below, maybe even do a little more fabric decoupage. It's a fabulous piece, of course-- so much storage and display, in fabulous shape with nary a scratch. 

A bunch more progress is on tap for our front room-- are you sensing a theme here? A get-ready-for-Christmas theme? We already have a new rug in there you can just see a peek of above, and new chairs (!!) are on their way this week. Then we move the fish tank, prime over some ceiling stains, move some art and accessories around, and find a low table to go under the far window... oh good heavens, it never ends, does it? It'll be a sad day when I look around and have everything just the way I want it. In 2042, maybe.

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Anonymous said...

That is a great idea. I have a cabinet in the corner of my kitchen/dining room - a taller version of yours, that could definitely use lightening up. Doors off yours would definitely tone down the colonial look. Do it!

Kristina Strain said...

Thanks for the encouragement! Maybe in a couple weeks, after I've lived with this version for awhile. :)

Becky said...

Looks good and hooray for you doing a reversible fix!

Kaity said...

Kristina the cabinet looks lighter and I'm with you on losing the doors! You have a good eye girl. It's been been fun for me to watch your work and progress with your house. You've created a screamin' mean cozy nest and I thank you for sharing some of the process in your blog.
Keep it going... plus a BIG hug to Genevive!

Erica Howat

Kristina Strain said...


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