my giant English cupboard.

For quite some time now I’ve been looking for a giant cupboard for the Q branch.  I wanted something that would mostly fill up this wall …

The dresser that I currently have in that spot is very functional, it holds lots of crafting supplies and camera paraphernalia.  There isn’t anything wrong with it, but I don’t love it.  It’s a bit more traditional than I am.  Since it was functioning well, I wasn’t in a hurry to replace it, but it’s something that has been in the back of my mind for some time.

I like the idea of being able to shove everything inside a cupboard and shut the doors leaving the room looking nice and tidy.  Otherwise I tend to pile stuff up on the dresser and it looks messy most of the time.

I’ve pinned quite a few examples of large cupboards as inspiration, like this beautiful example from Rustic Farmhouse

And this gorgeous cupboard from Rusty Hinge

Amazing, right?

So I’ve been keeping an eye on Craigslist for a suitable candidate.  To begin with, pieces this large are few and far between on Craigslist.  In addition, when I do find them they tend to be newer pieces that were intended to house clunky television sets in the 90’s.  But I have seen a handful that were fabulous vintage pieces, but for the most part they were way out of my price range.  And by ‘way out’, I mean over $1,500.

For example, I’ve been admiring this gorgeous cupboard for months now (here’s a link to the ad if it’s still out there) …

But the price tag is $1,800 and it hasn’t come down since I started looking at it last winter.  I suspect the buyers are holding firm.  It does have a gorgeous original painted finish.  I’m not saying it isn’t worth that much, I’m just saying that I can’t pay that much.

Then I spotted the ad for this one …

The ad was very short, it simply said “Antique English country armoire (late 18th / early 19th century) with the original lock.” And it gave the dimensions:  63″W x 17.5″D x 72″H.  But it was priced at $900, which was pretty high for me.  Still, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  So I checked the measurements first and they were perfect for my space.  Next I contacted the seller to ask what was inside because there were no photos of the inside included with the ad.

The seller got back to me and said there were bars inside for hanging clothes, but no shelves.  However, she said there were supports for shelves, so at one time it must have had shelves.

So.  No shelves.  $900.  I decided to put it out of my mind.  It wasn’t really right for me after all.

I sent an email back to the seller letting her know that it was just too far out of my price range with the cost of adding shelves on top of the $900.  I didn’t hear back right away and assumed that was that.

But then one Saturday morning I got an email from the seller saying she would take less and asking me to make an offer.  So I offered $600.  I really didn’t expect her to go for it.  And I thought for sure she’d counter with $750, which was still going to be too high for me.  Let’s be honest, even $600 is a lot for me to spend.  I was surprised when she emailed back and said “Great!  I’ll take $600 if you can come today.  We’ve just moved and we need to get it out of our garage.”

As luck would have it, Mr. Q had already left the house for the day with his truck.  But nnK (my neighbor Karen) said her dad, Larry, was coming over with his truck and he’d probably be game to let us use it to pick up the cupboard.  Shortly afterwards Larry showed up and instead of his truck he was driving his baby blue classic Oldsmobile.  Hmmmm, that wasn’t going to work!  Next nnK suggested we borrow Ken’s trailer.  We could hook it up to her SUV.  So we called Ken next, and he said ‘sure!’   So we hooked Ken’s trailer up to nnK’s SUV, and then Ken and Larry both decided to come along for the ride too, so the four of us headed out.

As nnK says, we must have looked like one of those Shriner clown cars when we got to our destination and all four of us piled out of the car!  The sellers did look a little surprised that I had brought the entire neighborhood with me.

I headed into the seller’s garage to check out the wardrobe.  It’s an interesting piece.  It’s made out of pine and looking closely I could see that at one point it was painted (there are still traces of paint in the grooves), but it had been stripped.  Pine pieces were typically painted, so that didn’t surprise me.  And it was good news to me because if I decide to paint it, I won’t feel guilty about painting over an original finish.

It has some really cool hardware inside including this gadget used to hold one door closed …

And a huge lock mechanism …

The husband of the woman I’d been emailing with asked if I wanted to know the story behind the piece, and of course I did!  He said he was from Texas and he purchased the wardrobe from an antique dealer in Texas who regularly travels to England, buys antique cupboards, ships them back to the U.S., refinishes and repairs them and then sells them.

I always hear stories like these and wonder how in the world it is possible to buy something in Europe, ship it back here, refurbish it and still make any sort of profit.  The guy didn’t tell me how much he paid for it, but I’m guessing it had to be a lot more than $600.

While listening to the seller’s story, I was also giving the piece a thorough inspection.  The back of the cupboard was obviously a replacement.  It’s made out of cheap particle board.  Or possibly this cupboard was originally a built in and never had a back, but instead just used the wall as its back.  I wasn’t convinced that the cupboard was as old as the ad said it was (late 17th, early 18th century), but it’s definitely an old piece.  I loved the simplicity of the design.  And the size was perfect for my space.  So after much scrutiny, I said “I’ll take it” and handed over the cash.

Next came the fun part.  Loading this monster into the trailer.  In the end it took 6 people!  The seller’s neighbor came over to help too.  Part of the problem was that there just wasn’t anything to grab onto to lift it off the ground.  We ended up putting cardboard under it and then sort of sliding it out of the garage.  Once we’d cleared that space we were able to tilt it backwards with three people on each side and then lift it up and into the trailer.

We strapped it down and headed out.  I wish I’d taken some photos.  The cupboard is huge and hung halfway out of the trailer.  We took back roads all the way home to avoid traffic and high speeds.  We made just one stop at the Dairy Queen.  I’d promised my helpers some ice cream for their efforts.

So for $600, plus the cost of two malts, one blizzard and one small cone, I am now the proud owner of this beautiful antique English pine cupboard.

 Now that I’ve got it home, Ken will work his magic on this inside and then I’ll work some magic on the outside … maybe … I still haven’t decided.

What do you think?  Should I paint it, or shouldn’t I?

46 thoughts on “my giant English cupboard.

  1. Looks good just the way it is… but… you’re painted projects are fabulous. Maybe live with it for awhile until inspiration hits you???


    1. That is pretty much what I was thinking too Donna. Live with it for a while and then decide. I think I need to at least put it in the room and see how it works with the other pieces in there.


  2. This piece was meant for you as it’s gorgeous! i love the looks you create with your painted pieces but also love the old wood look as well in a white room. Difficult decision to make. Please keep us posted on what you decide.


  3. What a great piece and what a great price too!…..well at least from someone in Canada!!! I love this piece exactly as is. I’m really loving the Belgian country look lately and so when I see pale aged wood like this, for me it’s just to beautiful to paint. If you paint, I would not paint it opaque. You need to see that beautiful wood. A limed wax or whitewash would be nice, but then again it has to fit in your environment! Look forward to this makeover.


    1. I’d never heard of ‘Belgian country’ so I had to google it and found this article on the Here is what they say about it “More polished than Shabby Chic and a little more masculine than Swedish Style, Belgian-inspired rooms are a little more rustic, but every inch as beautiful.” Hmmmm, I can totally see where you are coming from on that Mary. This piece is perfect for a Belgian country style. I like it!


  4. Would live to see a photo of where it will ‘live’, but my first thought was a combo application. Maybe part ‘pickling ‘ to continue to see grain, and part paint, or part stain and part paint! Can’t wait to see what you decide!! Awesome piece!!! Congrats ! I think that you made out well with $$, but even better with neighbors!!! Vicki B in CO!


  5. Oh be still my heart.What a beautiful piece and to echo Mary’s comment what a great price (from a Canadian). Lime wax would make that beauty sing.Sounds like your “team” is always up for a CL adventure!


    1. Thanks Laura! I think it’s probably a great price for a Minnesotan too, just more than I normally spend on things. But it is unique, and for the size and quality it was an incredible bargain. The lime wax idea is certainly beginning to grow on me. It certainly seems to be getting lots of votes in favor!


  6. I say paint it! This coming from your sister who was always a non-painter. Plus the inside already looks very good painted.


  7. I was wondering how you were going to get that upstairs until I realized where the Q branch is located! Cool piece!


  8. Oh, my! I’ve seen your Q branch and mixing painted pieces and natural wood pieces in the same room would be oh, so lovely! I’m certain that cupboard would look incredible with a lime wax coating!


  9. Wonderful score Linda. I am confident that which ever direction you take it will be less than amazing. I am assuming you are bead boarding the back or planking it. I am partial the the Belgian look myself very tailored, clean and simple lines. And I am in the midst of trying to convert a client to lime her oak kitchen cabients currently. However that may or may not be the. Look and feel you are going after in your space. Who knows you may even decide to alter your trajectory. Look forward to following along with the journey.


    1. You are like a mind reader Victoria! Yes, there is some bead board happening inside the cupboard. And I just might have to alter my trajectory (love that phrase) with all of these votes for lime wax!


  10. Well this is so beautiful,that I would love to see t it stay just the way it is. But this is Betty from Ontario and you know me. So you know what I will leave that entirely up to you as you know what you love. What does Mom think LOLHave a great day .Loved your pictures and yes that was the one my friend were on.


  11. He’s gorgeous. I like him just the way he is, but he’d be quite handsome with a spiffy paint job, too. For future reference, in moving something so large and with nothing to get a hold of, it sometimes helps to remove the doors to allow for handholds. It would have weighed less, too.


    1. So funny, I really thought I would get more votes for painting it. Especially from my fellow painters! Sometime you’ll have to stop by and see it in person, and also check out the bench!


  12. I’m thinking I’m going with the crowd on this one and see what it looks like with a good cleaning/wax. I’d paint the inside though. Looking forward to seeing it in its new home. It will look great no matter what you decide.


  13. Oh, my! I’ve seen your Q branch and the mix of painted AND natural wood furniture pieces in the same room would be oh, so lovely! I’m certain that this cupboard would look absolutely incredible with a lime wax finish!


  14. I would put it in place and live with it for awhile and then decide. It’s gorgeous as is so I wouldn’t rush right into painting it. I love the idea of lime waxing it. That would be beautiful.


  15. It is a beautiful piece and you got it for a steal! I sold a similar piece in my antique shop for $2800 years ago. I would leave it like it is or use Briwax liming wax.


    1. I had some ladies from Reclaiming Beautiful (the shop where I sell some of my pieces) over last night and they all agreed that I got a great deal on the cupboard. One of them had worked in an upscale furniture shop where she said a similar pieces would easily be 10x what I paid for it. So I am starting to realize that I did get an amazing deal on it.


  16. What a great find!! Gorgeous piece! I love it just the way it is. I would live with it for awhile and then decide. Lucky girl!


    1. I think that’s exactly what I’m going to do Monica. The first step will be moving it into the room, and hopefully that’s going to happen in the next day or two. I need to recruit a couple of heavy lifters first 😉


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 )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter 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.