Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Old Sideboard Redo

The east morning light is pouring into my dining room from the open door in this shot. It's mid-May, and me and my English sideboard are prepared for a new season.

I'm still unprepared, though, for how quickly the seasons come and go. Last week I heard for the first time the saying that time is like a toilet paper roll. The closer to the end you get, the faster it runs out! As indelicate as that image is, I must say that at this stage I'm eye-balling just how many squares I have left!

All this musing reminds me of lines from The Sheltering Sky. . . ,

"Because we don't know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, five times more, perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps 20. And yet it all seems limitless."
Paul Bowles

How many more times will I change up my sideboard? My mother-in-law kept the same arrangement in her living room for fifty years. She left it just as her mother arranged it for her FOR FIFTY YEARS! But I am a compulsive arranger. My son says the living room is changed every time he steps into the house.

But I have left my doggies just as they were. I thought I would do an all white theme, but found I couldn't live without my brown transfer-ware. So I removed the darker pieces for the duration. And a little goes a long way, I find. I'm becoming like Oscar Wilde who said,"I find it harder and harder everyday to live up to my blue china!" (read: brown transfer-ware).

And I always have seashells, though I live about as far inland in the high desert as you can get.

But white shells are the perfect compliment for white china and this ancient Wedgewood pattern of creamware which I found a few pieces of while digging around in the usual digging around places. It's unmarked, do you know it?

About a year ago I found this gem of a butter pot for ten dollars. The little cow makes me cry every time I see it. Who says money can't buy you happiness? Just out of sight to the right is an orphaned lid.

My little biscuit jar has a country scene on the front. It's just like peeking into another place and time. (Maybe Brambly Hedge!)

Gathered collections become more than the sum of their parts. They are like an eccentric family with their missing members, flaws, and scars bundled up together and living in harmony. Beautiful. Who wants an old tureen with a missing lid anyway? I say, "Come on in Tureen and make yourself to home!" (We might all lose our lids eventually.)

Standing by for duty.

Many of you agree that the graphics on the backs of china can be as pleasing (or more) than anything else. I like these plates better on the back than the front.

More light and lyrical patterns inside square ironstone bowls. All the action going on inside this cupboard is almost more than I can bear!

Eighteenth century homespun towels with crochet edges, including the one underneath everything, all originated in the same family.

I always have bird's nests here and there in-house too. These are evocative of spring, but will stay all summer. I use acorns and quail eggs inside as well as small shells and anything else from nature that I find interesting.

The open drawer is for bibs and napkins referred to in an earlier post.

My granddaughters wear this antique bib. It's similar to a blouse with no arms and covers everything front and back. I wish I had a dozen. They would be simple to reproduce but I no longer have any such ambition. Great idea for you creative gals lurking out there!

I have a serious love sickness for hand worked towels. Well--all kinds of white vintage towels.

It's time to close the drawer on this post, but I wanted to share what I heard in the shop a few days ago. A woman of a certain age remarked how when she turned fifty she looked around at all the very nice linens and things she was "saving", even things given her when she married, and wondered if she didn't start using them NOW when was she going to? She didn't have time left to even wear them out! So out they all came to be used every day.

My old friend Rebecca asked me recently didn't I worry that the little ones would break things? The sideboard is too high for the really short people, and the cupboards lock. The bigger visitors have learned respect. How many places are there left to do that? (And yes, like everywhere on the planet, sometimes things get broken, but it's most often Mr. C. that does it [just sayin' ]).

"The weary Mole soon had his head on his pillow, in great joy and contentment. But ere he closed his eyes he let them wander round his old room, mellow in the glow of the firelight that played or rested on familiar and friendly things which had long been unconsciously a part of him. . . It was good to think he had this to come back to, this place which was all his own, these things which were so glad to see him again and could always be counted upon for the same simple welcome."

Kenneth Graham, from the chapter Dulce Domum, The Wind in the Willows.

Ciao! Thanks for stopping by! And check out My Romantic Home for Show & Tell Friday.



  1. Oh My Goodness,
    Are you sure we are not related? Your sideboard looks like it would be in my house!! It is just beautiful! There is nothing I love better than vintage white ironstone and brown and white transfer ware mixed together! And that little cow butter dish is to die for, and only $10.00!!! What a gorgeous sideboard and lovely post!
    Have a great day.

  2. I really enjoyed seeing all your pretty china and linens-very nice post!


  3. Gorgeous sideboard! Great job!
    xoxo Beth

  4. SOOO pretty! Loved every image! You did such a great job with your side board. And the concept of time that you talked about... Ugh! Soo true!


  5. Gorgeous--love the redo! The bib is precious...

    love, kelee

  6. Just beautiful...I love the transferware and linens and the seasonal sea accents...lovely!

  7. I really love coming over here. I feel like I've spent an afternoon having tea with you! Your literary quotes are mesmerizing and your sideboard is absolutely gorgeous! I've just fallen in love with that cow on the butter pot. I'll be quiet now, but you know I'm a huge fan of your brown transferware collection!

  8. Your sideboard looks just like the ones in magazines with all those gloriosu pieces!!!! And that antique bib your grandkids wear is TO DIE FOR!!!

    Hugs, Lana

  9. Hi Jacqueline, Your sideboard is so lovely! Your transferware birds and nests tucked about are too sweet:-)

  10. What a pretty china. I love them. Im a collector of pretty china too.

  11. I really love brown transferware and it looks perfect on your sideboard. Its great to rearrange our treasures I think!

  12. your sideboard looks sooooo beautifully set! all the china are beautiful! and the lace and other knick knacks just lovely!

  13. I adore the wee dogs! heart is going pitter pat.

  14. Gorgeous. Love everything, from the brown transferware to the dogs to the creams and whites. I love "I have a serious love sickness for hand worked towels. Well--all kinds of white vintage towels." ME TOO! :) Lidy

  15. That looks like a beautiful China Cupboard. The china and towels hiding it are lovely too. Like you, I have a thing for them!

  16. Oh, how pretty everything. I especially like your towels (I love everything crocheted); they are so lovely.

  17. Oh my, what a lovely and entertaining post....the toilet paper analogy makes me laugh and then not so much as possibly I can see the end of the roll!!!lol
    I've looked at your wonderful cupboard several times now and will be back to look again! The vintage linens are spectacular!!!
    One question???? do you keep it all clean and dust free??

  18. I've only just now found your blog and this is the only post I've read but I can't wait to explore some more! Your musings about time mirror those I've been having myself and your lovely sideboard makes me ready to go and play with my own dishes! Thanks for such beautiful inspiration!

    Sherry in Little Rock

  19. SO beautiful! I love the little dog collection!

  20. What a gorgeous post!! I love everything! I adore brown transferware and you have some of the prettiest pieces I've ever seen!! The white dishes are lovely and the linens with crochet lace are beautiful!! You have displayed it all in the most charming way, too!

  21. Oh my goodness... pretty, pretty, pretty. Love your new sideboard look. And I love your blog.
    Peace and happiness,

  22. I love this sideboard and I really enjoy the collection of hounds. I continue to click on this post over and over again!

  23. This is all so beautiful....all of it! Love the whites and the transfer ware, and the dogs!! Love'em!!

    The linens....all of it....Stunning!

    Lou Cinda :)

  24. beautiful. all of it.

    now your blog reminded me to find some good patterns for those crochet cupboard shelf decorative edges

  25. She left it that way 50 years?? That makes my stomach hurt a little ;)
    I don't know what I'll do if I don't soon recreate this cabinet and all it's contents in my home!!!

  26. Jacqueline,
    I just wanted to let you know I referenced this post in my Mosaic Monday post today. Your sideboard redo post has been the inspiration for my humble collection of brown transfer ware and mosaic.

  27. Totally scrumptious! I am crazy about transferware and actually don't own a single piece.... I'd better get on the ball, huh? It's just beautiful. And, your linens are DEEEEE.LISH! Now, those little dogs....If I give you my address, could you send them ALL? :-)

    Warm blessings,

  28. I love this post! I just came to browse and this is such a beautiful china with the brown transfer...and all the pieces. I adore dogs, I have a collection, wish I had the ones you have posted here! Your linens are so pretty too. If you csan come over and see my post: Cake stand with pedestals and Little friends, I know you'll like it.
    I'm Love This!

  29. I saw this post before and loved it. Revisited it today and had to post a comment of how beautiful everything is. I recently became IN LOVE with white ironstone pieces. I don't think I could have enough of them, but that would be leaning towards being a hoarder? Love the brown mixed in too. Love, Love, Love....Linda

  30. Wonderful entry. I make it a point to serve my grandchildren ice cream in my old fashioned malt shop glasses, and their juice in 'real' glasses. Tea in china tea cups etc. It's a way of showing them how they are my 'special'guests. Memories are made of these.
    'hugs from afar'

  31. I know I linked this post before on my blog but I had to come by and look at the inspiration here again as I dress up my cupboard~

  32. What a beautiful job you did of setting up all your precious items on your sideboard. Love how it's all display so prettily! I found your blog through Met Mondays on BNOTP.

  33. Complimenti! il tuo blog è un sogno!....baci dall'Italia Sara

  34. Browsing through your older posts, I came across this one that left feeling so nostalgic. The quotes are perfect companions for the photos of your cupboard.

    While the toilet paper roll analogy is less than refined, I agree with you that the imagery does cause one to realize time is limited.


  35. Love all the white. I came over from Susan's BNOTP. Oh, and your dogs are wonderful.



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