Teaming Up for a China Cabinet Re-Vamp

Do you have some sort of china cabinet filled with china you never use? Or do you have a hutch of some type that just doesn’t look how you wish it would? There was a time when registering for china was the thing to do and my friend, Christy, and I were still part of that “era.” She and I both have one other thing in common and that’s the fact that we don’t use that once-desired, made-our-fiances-pick-it-out-with-us china very often. Mine currently lives in the cabinet over our refrigerator (I don’t dare get rid of it as many people who love us spent their hard earned money to give that to us as gifts – it will be used again, but I want it to keep it safe in a place where it will not be harmed in the meantime).

Christy asked me to stop by and give her some suggestions for how to update her built in cabinet (which is really great for storage by the way) and make it look less “antique-y” and more modern day. She packed away her china in storage containers perfect for dinnerware and she sorted what she wanted to keep, donate and move to a different location. Here’s a couple of quick phone pictures she grabbed for me before she started emptying things out.

Oh, and I need to mention that Christy is a fabulous photographer and has her own business called Little Daisy Photography? I mean seriously – look how adorable those photos of her kids are on the glass! For this project, I literally had about 1.5 hours to help her knock out a plan for this so we utilized our time as efficiently as possible while I was there and then she sent me the awesome “after” photos you’re about to see as you continue to read. (Just a side note – all photos you see in this post were taken by Christy.)

Christy, like many of us, has caught the Rae Dunn pottery bug (it’s HIGHLY contagious and quite possibly partly my fault). She had several pieces that she was hoping to use in the cabinet once we went through the sorting process. She had also ordered some new dinnerware that is awesome! But she wanted to be sure the sentimental items were included as well and blending it all together to be practical and pretty was the challenge du jour.

Let me say that again… The goal was to make it look updated but also be PRACTICAL so that she could actually have the items she uses every day at her fingertips. There were a few pieces that were non-negotiable… some cups and saucers from her grandmother, some pieces from her trip to Ireland, some other sentimental stemware and flatware. So as she sorted and brought out her Rae Dunn pieces she’d been excited to incorporate, I finished emptying the cabinet and wiping it down. Christy discovered that she had some leftover contact paper from a prior project I happened to do for her (which happens to be in the same room) and, since the inside of the cabinet was dark brown, we decided that it would brighten things up if we added that along the bottom of the cabinet. That was some immediate bright-ification!

As we moved along, and Christy unpacked her gorgeous new dinnerware, ding! ding! ding! The lightbulbs went on in both of us that painting the back of the cabinet would also do wonders for this cabinet. Perhaps white? That would be bright. Right? Hey, who knew I would be rhyming this week! But then we thought about Christy’s love of gray… the walls in this room are a soft gray. And what about the fact that we were going to be putting in those Rae Dunn items that are white… would they just blend in? So, how about a dark charcoal? OOOOOH…that sounds rich and dreamy and sophisticated all at the same time! So, because our time was limited, here is the plan we concocted…

  • Finish arranging while I was present to help.
  • Snap some photos to remember how everything was after I left.
  • Go get paint for the back.
  • Take everything back out again.
  • Paint the back of the cabinet.
  • Re-load it all as it was when I left!

That was the plan stan… so onward we marched.

Christy continued to unpack the items that “sparked joy” (for you KonMarie followers) while I started placing items inside the cabinet to get a starting point. I tried to alternate her glass items with the Rae Dunn and other solid items. Each shelf was a different depth so that also helped us with what could go where. Once we were happy with the placement of the items, we took a gander at the open spaces and determined that Christy would grab some small greenery items from the nearby TJMaxx when she went to get her paint. And that she did!  But first, the paint (Sherwin Williams Showcase in Peppercorn – flat finish)… in my best Chandler Bing voice, “Could that BE anymore gorgeous?” She knocked that paint out and had this bad boy restocked complete with greenery items in less than 18 hours (including photos)!

Is that not a huge difference going from dated brown to modern charcoal? And one thing I didn’t mention is that it would have been super challenging to take the glass out of that cabinet with the divider in the middle – but Christy was up for the challenge of painting around that glass because she knew how great this was going to look! Come on, let’s take a look at some of her lovely photos taken after she re-stocked everything and added her new greens and cool new finds from TJMaxx…Come with me and I’ll take you on a tour and give you a little of her story behind these photos…

Christy’s husband’s grandmother, Marjorie, wore those gloves in her wedding. Holding up the hugs and kisses mugs in the next photos is a cake plate that also belonged to her grandmother. It’s crystal and it’s called Candlewick.

The china pattern shown below is called Opal Innocence by Lenox.

Those rocks you see? Those are not just any old rocks. They are from the Burren Valley in County Clare, Ireland near the Cliffs of Moher and the Wild Atlantic Way.  The Burren National Park is known for it’s shades of gray, while most of Ireland is green. Like I said… not just any old rocks, my friends.

And, may I digress for a moment? I mentioned that Christy is a photographer. She, too, is not just any old photographer. She is MY FRIEND the photographer. She is MY FRIEND the awesome mom. She is MY FRIEND the great listener. She is MY FRIEND who has supported me from the moment I messed up her first order and made her kitchen bench cushion too long because I mis-measured. I knew right then and there that she was friend material. If you are looking for a photographer in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, you seriously need to give Christy a shout! Check out her page here for more photos, but allow me to insert these beautiful photos she has taken for all you visual learners…


The proof is in the pudding, folks. And that’s some pretty rich pudding. She’s a rock star. She’s my friend the photography rock star.

Back to the cabinet… there are so many more great rock star close ups!

The brown box holds some special flatware that Christy’s grandmother gradually acquired for the family using Betty Crocker points that she mailed in. Christy, her sister and her brother each have complete service for 12 as well as serving pieces and each set is different! How cool is that!? At first, Christy and I thought that, since the cabinet was moving away from the brown tones and into the gray tones, she would paint the outside of the flatware box either white or the same Peppercorn color as the back of the cabinet. But once she went on the hunt for those greenery items, she found a D for their last name (which is Drake, by the way) and figured that would be a great way to bring in the brown tones so that she didn’t have to paint the flatware box – genius idea! So she grabbed a couple more wood-toned items as well and blended them in just perfectly in my opinion. She did paint the hardware on the flatware box and that turned out to be all the makeup it needed.

All of the Rae Dunn items you see in the cabinet came mostly from TJMaxx, Homegoods and Marshalls. She’s been collecting for a while now and has managed to find a great variety of pieces!

Now, how about this Alvaro dinnerware she got from World Market (I’m not getting paid a dime by this company to tell you this either)? The charcoal and white was the inspiration for the background paint color. I just love these plates! And now they are accessible for her on a daily basis and even the kids can grab them since we placed them on the lowest shelf. Now all she has to say is “Set the table, kids!”

When I asked Christy about this piece, she said belonged to her great-grandmother (affectionately called Nunny) and violets were her favorite flower.

See how she added that wood round under the casserole dish? Genius I tell you! And the cups and saucers on the top shelf above belonged to her great-grandmother, Estella. Exactly ten cups and eleven saucers survived all this time and they even have 14K gold detailing!

Christy even found those decorative balls in shades of whites, grays and browns to bring in one more pop of the brown.

This Beleek vase shown here is something Christy bought in Dublin.

And, together all of these items make for one terrific story of past meets present. Christy started out as a customer and has become one of my dearest friends. She tries to give me credit for way too much of this makeover when all I really did was make some suggestions, add some liner, and start arranging some things. So this is me wanting to give credit to her for what she has done for us as well which is provide us with family photos such as this that will be treasured forever!

And, finally, in terms of the cabinet, are you ready for the icing on the cake? She got battery operated lights that can even be dimmed – all with the use of a remote! I may have to purchase some of these myself… here they are in action! I always love the glow of lights – just like I do at Christmas time when the tree is lit up at night. I’ve always loved having low lights like this on – they always feel like home to me. So I just love that Christy added these to her cabinet! They are able to shine right down through the glass shelves and highlight all the history and memories inside as well as her new found joy-filled pieces.

By the way, in case you were wondering, the bottom cabinets are fake because this unit extends into their downstairs staircase! What’s your biggest challenge with a storage unit like this if you have one? What’s your favorite part? I hope you enjoyed this episode of “Friends, Photography and Fabulous Dinnerware.”

6 thoughts on “Teaming Up for a China Cabinet Re-Vamp”

  1. Wow! Just stunning how it all turned out. I love how you were able to incorporate the pieces she needed on a regular basis with the sentimental pieces. The finished product is great. Thanks for sharing this transformation. It has inspired me to update my cabinet. Thanks!

  2. This is so beautiful!! Thank you for sharing Christy’s story as you took us through a tour of this beautifully redone cabinet!!! I absolutely enjoyed looking in great detail, at each of the pictures and the special items she has in her cabinet. I have such respect for Christy’s love of gray tones, black and white and love how she moves colors and themes throughout her spaces.

    Christy is a dear friend. A beautiful person inside and out. What a wonderful way to celebrate your friendship with her and equally celebrate both of your beautiful talents. The support you have given to each other simply warms the heart.

    I love all that you both did to make old new again and being together past and present!!!

    1. Wow! What a beautifully worded comment! However, I would expect nothing less from a friend of Christy. I’m just glad she thought enough of me to ask to be part of it. Thank you so much for taking time to read – I know this was a long one!

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