Should I stay or should I go? The story of a hand-me-down armoire

It’s practically inevitable that despite our best efforts, we all develop sentimental attachments to things: clothes, pieces of art, even furniture.

Growing up my parents had this beautiful 1920s, dark wood armoire that, despite its somewhat awkward size and bulkiness, always managed to avoid being placed on the curb during garage sale season. It moved with us to every house.  Even during my mom’s grad school phase when we lived in a tiny 100-year-old duplex, the armoire was there. It’s an enormous statement piece in which my mother kept the family stereo…back before stereos were the size of shoe boxes.  I have vivid memories of watching my reflection in the mirror at age 8 as I danced to Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi in our living room.

In college when I got my own apartment but had no furniture of my own, my mom used a jigsaw to cut a hole in its back, converting it to a makeshift entertainment unit/TV stand. She even painted it in colors to match my apartment so I could feel like a genuine “big girl” with fancy furniture. Overtime I have become attached.

Red and green 1920s armoire, painted for me by my mother

And now for the bad. It was painted back when I was obsessed with paisley and doesn’t exactly mesh with the other modern elements in the house. It’s also extremely heavy, probably one of the most difficult pieces to move. On top of that, the mirrored door doesn’t really latch anymore and sometimes swings open on its own. And while it is good for extra storage, it was made back in the days when people were much smaller, so it doesn’t function as a true closet what with the size of our modern-day hangers. Plus, our TV now is too big to fit inside anymore. Finding a true purpose for it these days is not so easy, and it has essentially become a wardrobe to house random knick-knacks and our DVD collection. But I can’t bring myself to toss it.  It’s so much more personal than an IKEA book shelf or Target lamp or World Market chair. It’s a one-of-a-kind family heirloom.

Stay it shall. Like most pieces of yesteryear, it just needs a little sprucing up. We’ll patch up the back, grease up its hinges, and slap a more age-appropriate paint job on its surface. And, in true doodle house fashion, I’ve already perused pinterest for ideas to copy.

Another weekend project is on the books.


10 Comments on “Should I stay or should I go? The story of a hand-me-down armoire”

  1. Maggie Ray says:

    i like the yellow!

  2. kmom says:

    I’m glad you will give this piece another incarnation. I’ll be interested to see how it transforms.

  3. I struggle with projects like this because I like natural wood, but painted it can add a pop of color to a room.

  4. What a cool way to keep something so special to you in your life. I think the blue is my favorite! 🙂

  5. Libby Keane says:

    I like them all. How hard to choose! What a great project.

  6. Rae says:

    I love the ones with bright, eye-catching colors and detail! Your heirloom could end up the centerpiece of a room… and a conversation piece. I like the idea of storing blankets, toys, or DVDs inside… great finds on pinterest!

  7. Kelli says:

    Reuse for sure!! You seem like a creative type and can do this!! Cute blog lady!

  8. […] there is my armoire–the 1930s piece my mom had painted for me during my Paisley stage, but which needed a little […]

  9. […] (armoire, couch, coffee […]


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