the mystery cabinet.

Don’t you just love a good mystery?  Here is a furniture mystery for you.

I picked up this cabinet at a lunchtime garage sale a few weeks back.  It was being sold by a darling little old lady (don’t tell her I called her old).  She said that she had bought it years ago and attempted to strip it, and just never finished the job.  Unfortunately, I have been a bad blogger again and neglected to take a ‘before’ shot.

But here is the ‘after’.

mystery cabinet full

I’m calling it a mystery cabinet because I simply can’t fathom what its original purpose was.  It doesn’t seem to have much of a bottom, which makes me think it originally sat on top of something else.  Or perhaps it hung on the wall like a cabinet?  Or maybe it had legs.  And the back splash trim at the top is asymmetrical.  Why?  Was this part of a pair?  Does anyone out there have a clue what this might be?

In one of the world’s strangest coincidences, someone has a very similar piece listed on craigslist at the moment.  Here is the picture from their ad.

matching mystery cupboard

The ‘before’ condition of my mystery cabinet was very similar to this one.  A sort of mostly stripped off paint look.  Obviously this is not an exact match to mine, but the similarity is striking, don’t you think?  And FYI, the seller is asking $175!  Wowza.  According to their ad, their cupboard is about an inch larger than mine in every direction.  They speculate that it was part of a larger run of cabinets.  You can see that they don’t have the same trim piece at the top that mine has.

Well, despite not knowing what it is, I decided it would be fabulous with a Quandie style makeover.

2014 summer blog26

So I painted it with Sweetie Jane milk paint.  I was inspired by what appeared to be the original paint color that you can still see in spots.

mystery cabinet original color

Next I wallpapered the drawers using the same fab vintage wallpaper that I used inside my photo cottage cupboard drawers.  Do you guys love this stuff as much as I do?  It’s just so darn sweet.  I still have a bit left for another project coming soon.

mystery cabinet drawerQuick sidebar about the wallpaper because I’ve gotten questions on it before.  I adhered it with wallpaper paste that Mr. Q picked up at Home Depot for me.  I put the paste on the paper, book it for a couple of minutes (booking = folding pasted sides together lightly), apply it to the drawer, smooth it out with a squeegee, wipe off excess paste, let it dry.  I came back the following day and sanded the edges gently.  The paper seems to adhere quite securely.

I added new glass knobs because the piece came without any hardware.  Just between you and me, I like these a lot better than the deep blue anthropologie knobs on its $175 cousin, how about you?

A previous owner had painted the inside in a dark grey.  I left that as is, but also added some wallpaper to the inside of the door.

mystery cabinet interiorI staged the little cupboard with some glass jars and clothes pins.  I think it would be fabulous in a laundry room to hold your supplies.  Dryer sheets in the drawers, your laundry soap in a glass canister behind the door.

But then again, I could also see it in a bathroom holding the extra t.p. and other sundries.

Or maybe in your craft room?

The possibilities are endless if you use a little imagination.

Here’s one last picture of it so you can get a better feel for the size.

mystery cabinet with charm

I’ll likely sell this one at the October Carriage House Sale, unless one of you wants to snatch it up first?

P.S.  my price will be no where near $175!

16 thoughts on “the mystery cabinet.

  1. Just found your blog and love your posts…fun to see them so often! Will be at the Carriage House Sale….thanks for an entertaining and inspirational way to start my day!


    1. Thanks Candace! Stay tuned to the blog for updates on our next sale, which is tentatively planned for the first Saturday in October. Our fall sale is always just Saturday only. Hope to see you there!


  2. I think the wallpaper on the inside of the door really made the piece. Funny how one thing just grabs a person. I would have to use it as a display piece with the door open as you show it in your picture.


    1. I was thinking the same, but the outside of the door with that carving is pretty fun too! If I kept it, I think I’d be in a quandary over which way to leave it, open or closed, open or closed?


  3. Another interesting piece. Have to say no contest between yours and it’s cousin. The laundry idea really appeals to me. Do you Color, wallpaper and knob add to the sweetness factor I somehow doubt this baby is going to hang around for long.


  4. What you have is the hat and glove “box” off of a dresser. There is normally one “box” on each side (sometimes just on one side) mounted on the top of a dresser that is usually waist high or at a sit down vanity type dresser. The top compartment is for your hats and the drawers are for your gloves, and other things like jewelry etc. These dressers were normally made in oak. I often see these little “boxes”; people take them off for use like yours when the dresser is in awful shape.

    Blessings (I am an antique dealer) 🙂


    1. Yee haw! I was hoping someone out there would have the answer. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dresser with this large of a ‘box’ on top. Of course I’ve seen smaller glove drawers (one on either side), but this seems like it would add quite a bit of height to a dresser. I am going to have to be on the lookout for one that is still intact, just to see what it looks like. Thanks so much for commenting with this info!


  5. It is a real beaut! I wondered (and Shelly answered) if it didn’t come off of an old dresser and perhaps was for holding accessories . I love it and think if would be great just about anywhere you put it. And again, bemoaning the fact I don;t live closer to get to your great sales, etc.


  6. I was just leaving a comment that it was the top of a gentleman’s hutch for hats/gloves, but see the mystery has been solved. My mom has my great grandfather’s gentleman’s hutch in the original oak finish. It’s beautiful! My great-great aunt had an antique store in Lansing, IA and a few of her pieces have trickled down. I re-did my office (dictionary pages) and was able to put up one of her mirrors. I also have an iron bed from her that was mine as a girl. Love these old pieces. Nice to see new life put in them as well. Love the paint and wallpaper. Looking forward to the Oct. sale since I missed the June Carriage House!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.