DIY: refinished vintage pie safe

i've been dying to share this (not so little) project i recently completed!  this vintage pie safe has been in my mother's family for many years (the best i can tell from online research, it was produced in the late 1800's or early 1900's).  my mom remembers having it in her house while growing up, ever since she was a little girl.  they called it "the old safe".  i can remember it sitting in our garage ever since i was a little girl (haha).  it's where my dad kept pipe cleaners, old oil cans, etc.  but even amongst the darkness and dinginess of our garage, i always loved this piece of furniture and i knew i wanted to have it in my house one day when i grew up!

fast forward to me growing up and getting a house... and there i was, back on my way up to north carolina after a visit to my parent's house, with this vintage pie safe rolling safely behind me in a uhaul trailer!  i could hardly wait to unload it and get started with the refinishing process!  it ended up taking many more hours than i originally anticipated, but the specifics basically involve the following:
  • i used a liquid stripper and medium steel wool to remove the old dark finish (this was undoubtedly the hardest part)
  • sanding first with medium grit, then followed by fine grit sandpaper
  • staining the bare wood with a light walnut stain (to maintain the woods natural beauty)
  • painting the inside cabinets and shelves with an ivory enamel paint
  • applying pretty new knobs and handles i picked up at world market
once i got started and saw the beauty of the wood grain underneath the old dark stain, i knew this was going to look incredible!  they sure don't make things like they used to (ah hem, ikea... i'm talkng to you and all of your particle board furniture).  my kind, thoughtful and adorable mother recently passed down this beautiful pink depression glass that belonged to my great grandmother and my great great aunt, some clear fostoria depression glass (my grandmother's wedding china), and a gorgeous set of white china (also my grandmother's)... and i figured there would be no better place to display these family heirlooms than my newly refinished pie safe!  it looks so beautiful in our dining room... just how i envisioned it would look one day when i was a little girl!  here's a few pictures from beginning to end:

this is how it stood in my parent's garage for years.

i started with the top, and became so excited when the beautiful wood underneath the dark stain was revealed.  however, considering how long just this small part took to strip, i began to ask myself "what was i thinking"?

a few months later (haha, i definitely took my time), halfway there... completely stripped and sanded with one coat of paint on the shelves in the background.

the back of the safe.  there was a sticker where that dark blob was, which probably had information regarding when and where this was made, but sadly none of that is visible anymore.

i binge-listened to a lot of podcasts in our garage for those few months while i was working.

the finished product (now in our dining room)!!!

complete with all of my beautiful china and depression glass.  i think the ivory paint on the interior really makes the china pop!

can i just tell you how happy pink depression glass makes me?

 seriously.  so happy.

plenty of storage underneath, too!

beautiful, hand carved details!

pretty hardware i picked up from world market!

this is still the original glass... it's kind of hard to see the detail, but up close with the naked eye you can see tiny imperfections and ripples, which i just love!

when i was younger, i never understood why people had things they never used (one reason why i foolishly didn't register for my own wedding china).  luckily, the women in my family who preceded me were far smarter than myself... and i'm so lucky to have all of this beautiful vintage dinnerware on display in my home.  and now, i totally get it!  :)

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