Tuesday 17 June 2014

An Antique Tobacco Cabinet

A few weeks ago, my husband went to his grandmother's house to help her prepare for a garage sale. He came home a few hours later with some cardboard boxes of children's books, old magazines, some random craft supplies and a treasure; an old side table they had uncovered down in the basement while sorting through things in storage.

This cabinet originally belonged to her grandfather . . . making it my husband's great-great grandfather! A true family heirloom and it was very generously passed on to me; being known for restoring furniture does have it's perks!

I was so thrilled to hear a bit of backstory about this piece. David's grandmother says she can remember it being in her grandfather's house when she was young and that he kept his tobacco and rolling papers inside of it. I am not sure how she came to own it, but it has been stored in her basement for a long time and all but forgotten about, probably because it is in rough condition.

My own family has very little in the way of heirlooms and antiques. My grandparents moved to Canada when my mom was just a little girl and they didn't bring a lot with them - and the few family treasures that do exist have to be doled out among the very large extended family . . . meaning I have never had the experience of owning something that has been passed down through the generations.

When I married my husband, I discovered that his family is bursting with these sorts of things! There are many, many family heirlooms and my mother in law has been incredibly generous with passing most of hers along to me. She saw my passion for vintage pieces and decorating with things that hold meaning, and began giving me gifts of family heirlooms, my engagement ring being one of them. One day I will do a blog post sharing some of the amazing things that I now own thanks to my generous mother in law! It has been so wonderful to "tap in" to a family that has so many pieces with stories behind them.

Despite being quite weathered and worn, this cabinet is still solid. When the door is opened there is still a faint smell of tobacco, which for a girl like me who adores pieces with family history was enough to make me get teary eyed.

The veneer on the top was very damaged; much of the finish is long gone and it was scarred with water spots. I wanted to try to keep the top of the piece natural wood; what a shame to paint over something that was obviously once a beautiful piece with nice detail. Although I knew I would give the body of the cabinet a coat of paint, I was determined to find a way to salvage the top.

The tobacco cabinet, as it's now referred to, sat in my garage for a few weeks before I got up the nerve to touch it. I wanted so badly for it to be perfect that I was afraid to start!

Yesterday the sun was shining and I had an entire evening devoted to working on furniture in the driveway and so I took the plunge and refinished it.

And it looks amazing. Just like I had hoped it would.

It is waiting patiently for me to have the time to do a coat of wax and apply some sealant to the top. As soon as it's finished I will share photos. . . it looks amazing!

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