You must know, this is always dangerous, for I am known to rescue old abandoned pieces from curb sites, and dig through dumpsters for treasures without a moment's hesitation! I went over and was confronted with two small, sad looking curio cabinets, literally falling apart, one missing a door in the hinges, tops loose and lining ripped. But I also saw some potential...
What was I to do? I liked them regardless of their situation and in my mind I played out a couple of scenarios.
I'll take them, I told our friends and they were happy when I drove off with them. Problem solved. As I discharged them at home, I was pondering what in the right mind possessed me to get them and what I was going to do with them. They were in no state to be brought into the house and needed serious repair. Which would be expensive, something we could barely afford these days, with a huge bill ahead of us, due to Sandy....
Although I had a fairly good idea where they came from I googled them up. They were indeed about 140 years old English made curio cabinets, for china display or various collections! Not book shelves. Their velvet lining is perfect in its faded beauty to hold on to slippery china.
There they sat, a reminder of my foolishness. Every time I entered the garage they stood there, looking mournfully, silently pleading with me...
I finally spoke to my husband. After all, he put me on their track, he must have known what he unleashed when he asked me to look at them. We decided to have a craftsman looking them over and see what's needed and if there was any hope.
Eric Clingen of Tarrytown Woodworks is a man after my own restoration heart. He is a non-invasive, gentle restorer, trying to leave pieces as original as possible. No need for extensive repairs, he told me. Great, I thrilled inside!
I have worked with him many times before for clients or our own needs. We will glue them back together, clean the fine wood and metal trimmings, we'll leave everything else alone. They will be beautiful! Do you know, the glass in the doors is the most valuable of the pieces? Hand blown... I was happy!
We finally came to a good deal, the price was right and we drove them over to his workshop!
Yesterday I got them home and after a few trials and errors regarding their placement I found their perfect spot!
I pulled out the few valuable pieces of china I own, things I have had inherited and some I have collected over the years, some Astier de Vilatte and some Meissen.... Some knick knacks and some small pieces I love to see displayed.....
Even the toaster fits right there, close at hand at the dining table....
A few details have to be taken care of, I do not like dangling extension cords for example....
The small painted sideboard moved around and holds now, like many years before, the coffee maker and an additional lamp.
The old chest of drawers, in which I kept my table linens for a few years will have to find a new home, there is no way that I clutter this beautiful dining room with that unfitting piece. I am eclectic, but not messy!
After we marveled at the beauty of these Victorian cabinets for a good while I had the strangest thoughts. You must know, that I come from a family on my mother's side, where wonderful old furniture have been always appreciated, even after the war, when money was short. My parents bought themselves at their wedding an original chippendale dining set, something people were shaking their heads about it at the time, being the sixties and everybody trying to be modern. We love the regal curves of the large buffet, which, until today, holds everything of the china my mother treasures. Christmas displays are highlighted at that piece every year, as far back as I can remember. Do I digress?
Maybe, but hang on! Back to what I was thinking. Now there runs a connecting string in the family, something which also unites me with my grandmother and great grandmother.
As I finished the set up, I realized, how traditional these pieces looked, something I could perhaps not have embraced a few years ago, when I was younger and wanted to be more contemporary and eclectic. Which still I am I believe. Perhaps this is the first moment of wandering off into the older generation, I thought, laughing to myself.... All I'll need some day (soon?) are admiring grandchildren, which will stand in front of these cabinets, asking about this piece or that, just as I did when I was young and begged my grandmother to share the stories of the pieces behind her glass cabinets, which came directly from the Victorian era, being the time in which she had grown up!
Have I come full circle? If yes, I am happy!
I feel I do not own them, but rather take care of them for a few decades until I'll pass them on, then even older and more beautiful, for they will then have belonged to our family and will have collected memories and carry something which is more then wooden walls and a glass door. By then they'll contain some more stories as well.
I wish I could find out where they have been earlier in their existence and how the ended up on this side of the pond....Who owned them before our friends got them in an antique shop many years back. Who ever had these cabinets, must have loved them too and their spirit is carried on....and well kept with us!
A happy weekend to you all!
All images by V.Zlotkowski