A few years ago, I inherited my grandmother’s china cabinet. Come to think of it, I also inherited most of the china, minus her formal dinner set (which went to my mother and is now owned by my sister).
Before you get all excited with visions of an antique cabinet or at the very least, some type of collectible, the china cabinet that once belonged to my grandmother is actually neither. Frustrated that she had nowhere to store her china in the cupboards of her small apartment kitchen, she coaxed one of my uncles to drive her to a furniture store and bought the most economical china cabinet she could find.
I highly suspect that it’s made of particleboard or at best, MDF, but I don’t care. I wouldn’t part with it if you paid me a million dollars – literally. It possesses a simple, transitional style and includes a built-in buffet, glass doors on top and wood doors on the bottom. While the top half of the china cabinet could be called contemporary, the bottom half (and this is where the transitional part comes in) of the cabinet has doors comprised of raised squares with ornate, antiqued pewter door pulls. It doesn’t have any extra features like interior lighting or a mirrored back. Friends that know of my passion for furniture have often wondered why I haven’t upgraded. But there’s something about this piece of furniture I just like (no logical reason necessary).
It is deceptively roomy, as I recently found out after my mother’s own 10-place setting dinnerware was shipped to me. For two days after receiving the shipment, every flat surface in my apartment was covered with dinner plates, breakfast plates, salad plates, soup bowls, tea cups…well you get the idea…waiting to be washed and placed inside the cabinet. I already had my own smaller sized “company” dinner set and the china pieces that had been my grandmother’s stored in the china cabinet. These had been removed in preparation of the new arrivals.
I really did not think that everything would fit. Behind the glass doors are three shelves, none of them adjustable. The top two shelves, however, have plate grooves. When trying to make my mother’s dinner set fit into the available storage area, the plate grooves were a life-saver, perfect for displaying the several condiment dishes and cake and sandwich servers that were a part of the dinner set. The bottom cabinet only had one half-width upper shelf, but a roomy interior. Once I had grouped all of the different sized plates together, I piled them into the bottom section of the china cabinet. I looked in despair at the narrow shelf and almost wrote it off as useless until it occurred to me to store the soup bowls and salad plates on it. The top of the china cabinet was reserved for the cups, saucers, tea pot and the small serving dishes. Much to my surprise (and relief) I also managed to include the china cabinet’s original contents.
I don’t let my china cabinet just sit idle. While I’m not in the habit of changing the décor to match the seasons, I do like to use it to help me celebrate the holidays. Currently the cabinet with the glass doors is displaying all of my chinaware that has fall colors, especially orange. One of my small crystal vases holds some twigs with drying fall leaves in fading reds and golds. In time for Thanksgiving, I’ll decorate the top of it with a display of gourds and small pumpkins. At Christmas, I rearrange the top shelves to showcase my Christmas cups and saucers, mugs and plates. I also make sure that the top of the china cabinet is decorated with pine boughs, which lends my dining room the scent of a forest freshly dusted with a sprinkling of snow.