FUNCTIONAL ANTIQUES page 1 of 3

As we said, we usually buy antiques that need a lot of help.   They’re broken, or scratched, or in pieces, or even painted over.  They may not even be usable anymore.  Sometimes, they need recovering, or some such other repair.  In other words, they’re really more junk than antiques.  Most people would not even consider purchasing them. 

 The biggest furniture project Jim ever tackled was the built-in buffet in the front foyer.  It was salvaged out of a house in International Falls, Minnesota, on one of our summer trips.  This piece was most likely shipped via train and wagon to where we found it.  We fell in love with the stained glass in an out-of-the-way antique shop aptly called “The Ice Box.”  I said to Jim, “Wouldn’t you like to see the buffet and hutch this came from?”  The owner then announced that the entire buffet was across town being used for storage.  We went to see it and brought the whole thing home with us.  It had been blackened with various efforts to refurbish its finish.  However, a little sanding revealed beautiful wood underneath.  After a thorough refinishing, it features its original windows, hardware, and mirrors. 

 The white buffet and hutch in the kitchen have quite a story, too.  The lower buffet came from Lynn’s parents who got it with their first house in Detroit, Michigan.  Lynn’s father worked for Ford Motor Company at that time.  He had just finished his degree on the VA program after World War II.  The piece was probably from 1900 or so.  It is made of maple, but is painted white enamel to match the cupboards and woodwork. 

 The white hutch that hangs above that buffet also comes with a very good story.  On the same trip when we acquired the foyer’s buffet, we also drove through Cumberland, Wisconsin.  We had been “antiquing” the day before and heard about a little old man who lived on some acreage just out of town.  We got directions and, although it was rainy beyond belief, we found his little home and several outside barns at the end of a very muddy (and long) two-track road. 

I asked about a hutch, and he showed me the inside of one of his barns.  It was stacked to the ceiling with antiques, all of which needed a lot of help.  Peeking around in the dim barn, I spied a hutch with arched windows (no glass).  It was painted Pepto-Bismol pink and had several holes in the back, but we figured we could work on it.  We bought it and loaded it on our already burdened and tarped truck.