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It Didn’t Start Out as a China Cabinet

Repurposed Tea Cabinet

At a casual glance it appears to be a small china cabinet; one that could be wall mounted or left freestanding. But looks can be deceiving – this little gem began its life as a tea gift set.

It was love at first sight. There is something about wood cabinets anyway that appeals to me more than any other type of furniture, and I was drawn to this one immediately.

Christmas 2010, the last holiday I spent with my father at his apartment, I opened the cupboard next to the sink looking for paper towels and discovered this little wood cabinet filled with small boxes of Walkers shortbread and two different types of tea. It hadn’t been opened; when I asked about it, Dad explained that someone had given it to him the previous Christmas but he had forgotten about it. The next time we hung out in front of the TV, I opened one box of each, then made some tea and put the shortbread on a plate.

I don’t know why I fell in love with the little wood cabinet like I did, but it captivated me with its simple lines and whimsical detail that gave it a charm I could not resist. Before I finished packing, I asked if I could have it. He said sure.

But when I finally got it home, I experienced some difficulties in my repurposing furniture project. Of course, not being designed as a china cabinet, the first problem I ran into was when I opened its door, all the ornaments tipped forward and fell out. Mounting it on a wall would solve that issue, but I didn’t want to risk marring its back with some type of fastener, only to discover it might not work. The final problem was location. I kept moving it around from place to place before I was happy with where I put it.

My tea gift set/china cabinet came to roost on the table in the hallway. Technically it should stand about eye level so that you can view all the ornaments inside. But it’s the first thing I see upon opening the front door when I return home, and it just makes me smile.


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