Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Curio Cabinet

I like to think that I have a mind of my own, in decorating as well as other things.  But one of the fun parts of blogging is that I do sometimes get wonderful ideas that really click with my own style; I  love that other bloggers share their ideas with the rest of us.

I mentioned Laura Ingalls Gunn at "Decor To Adore" a few weeks ago when I wrote a post about some of my favorite bloggers.  I wrote that I love Laura's decorating style, and when she posted about curio cabinets a few weeks ago and told us the history behind curio cabinets, or cabinet of curiosities, as they were originally called, this post really resonated with me.  Laura then shared her own "cabinet of curiosities" Here, and after seeing it, I was on a mission.  I immediately went into our living room and started putting together my own curio cabinet.  I didn't have to buy a thing for it; everything was collected from throughout our house.  Thanks for the inspiration, Laura -- I hope you don't mind my copycatting!  :)

This is basically what the corner cupboard in our living room looked like before.  I've had my Pink Castle dishes in here for the last seven years, and even though I still love these dishes, I thought it would be fun to have a different look for awhile.  So I created a curio cabinet for Spring.

Here's what the corner cupboard looks like now.

This tiny porcelain plate has a likeness of Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello.  My parents brought it to me from Monticello, and I hung it on the cabinet door because it looks so similar to the Pink Castle dishes.  It's meant to be a Christmas ornament, but I've never used it as one.

Let's see what's inside now.  I'm enjoying the look of the white plates in here; they really stand out against the dark wood.

In Laura's post, she mentioned that the original curiosity cabinets usually contained many things found in nature.

This is a real bird's nest that my mom found one day when I was visiting, and she gave it to me.  It was actually in one of her outside potted plants, so I think it was probably a wren's nest.  Next to it is a magnifying glass and a wee bird that was on a flower arrangement sent to me many years ago.  The two books beneath are both about England, which is one of my very favorite places.

To the left of the bird's nest is a miniature painting that I bought years ago and forgot I had.  I came across it in a spare room when I was looking for things to use in the display.  Next to the painting is a bisque egg with a hand-painted rose adorning it.  I bought this in the town of Black Mountain, North Carolina, one summer when we went to the mountains for our annual Miata trip.  I love roses, so into the cabinet it went.  It normally sits on our piano.

I also found this peacock feather when I was looking through the house, but I can't remember how we came to have it.  My husband and I got the little Royal Tara bell in Dublin when we visited in 1999.  I bought it for my maternal grandmother, and when she passed away, my mom gave it to me.

This covered dish was given to me years ago by my husband's grandmother.  I've always thought it was so pretty.  It's "Stafford Flowers" by Spode, and I was happy to have an excuse to display it.  It definitely reminds me of Spring.  The little swan to the left is a salt cellar made by Lenox and was a wedding gift.

This small watercolor was done by a friend of a friend years ago.  It's actually a note card that I popped into a frame; you can see it's signed by the artist.  Patrice is now selling her hand-painted note cards in a local gift shop.

On the right is a teacup and saucer I bought at HomeGoods a few years ago.  Violets are one of my favorite flowers, and in fact, I saw some in our yard today.  Inside the teacup are some little moss balls.

The bottom shelf holds something near and dear to my heart.  This Beatrix Potter "Peter Rabbit" plate and mug were given to our son by my mother-in-law.  It also has a cereal bowl and a soap dish, as part of the set.  My mother-in-law purchased these in England, and she gave them to me at my baby shower.

 I adore Peter Rabbit and all of Beatrix Potter's charming characters.  Our son's nursery was decorated in Peter Rabbit decor, and I loved it.  The little books were Will's, too.

On the left side of the shelf, Hal gave me this unusual teacup and saucer for a gift; it came from our local tea shop.

The flowers form the handle on the teacup, and there's a little bee on the saucer and on the handle of the china spoon.

Here's a closer look.  The blue and gold blank book was brought to me from Italy by my in-laws, and the "Prayers for Mother's Day" was given to me by my sister.

To the right of Peter Rabbit is an old English Tea Caddy that I found in an antique shop when we first moved here over 20 years ago.  It features reproductions of John Constable paintings around the jar.  I looked this up online, and these tea caddies were made in the 1970's in England by A. C. Hackney for Twinings Tea Company.  Even though it's not an antique, I still think it's pretty.  Next to it is a conch shell, which reminds me of how much I love to go to the ocean.

That's my curio cabinet; I tried to get a mix of things found in nature and things that have special meaning for me.  This was fun to put together, and I encourage you to do one for yourself.  It's funny how familiar objects can take on a whole new look when you move them to a different spot in your home.  Like Laura, I plan to change my curio cabinet seasonally.

Do you have a spot in your home that you could turn into a "curiosity cabinet?"  It doesn't necessarily have to be big to be interesting.  It would make for a good conversation piece when you have visitors -- what do you think?  Thank you so much for visiting today, and I hope you have a wonderful week!



  1. Lovely to see your cabinet and your very pretty "curiosities". I especially like the Beatrix Potter items.

  2. I have so enjoyed seeing - and learning - all about your curiosities!

    Your cabinet and floors are gorgeous, too.

    I love Laura and I know she'd be flattered she inspired you to do this and share it with us!

    I have a curio cabinet but have only just bits and pieces shared what's inside - it is difficult to photograph, but YOU have inspired ME to do so one day soon.

    Have a truly blessed week.

  3. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...

    This looks like a fun project with great results...almost like a life-size journal or scrapbook.

  4. You have created a lovely vignette in your cabinet! I like to shop in Black Mountain too, not too far from me. The Beatrix Potter books and curios are just charming.

  5. Well I must say Denise...THIS is THE most elegant display I have seen for a long, long time! Beautiful! I could linger for hours at all of your lovely pieces...you have done an outstanding job at creating a beautiful cabinet!!!

  6. My whole house is a curiosity. I enjoyed seeing what you chose for your curio. Our firstborn's nursery was a Beatrix Potter theme. I have a set of the B.P. baby dishes, too. Hope you have a lovely Easter week!

    1. Ellen, this comment made me laugh! :-D You could say that about our house, too. Thanks for visiting and have a great day.

  7. Denise, that's a wonderful cabinet of curiosities! By sheer coincidence, I was reading Peter Rabbit just the other day (as you do). I have managed to create a kind of display of some curios, not as tasteful as yours, odd family bits and pieces, war memorabilia - and what Mrs Britain politely refers to as 'my junk'..! Which reminds me, there is a sofa buried somewhere under the paperwork and other rubbish in the study :-) (I like Ellen's opening line, above!)

    1. Hal has lots of "curiosities" as well, Mike. Hal and I are both pack rats, and my sister rarely saves ANYTHING. Hard to believe we're from the same gene pool. ;) I like Ellen's comment, too -- thanks so much for visiting!

  8. I like the change, but I also liked it with the castle dishes (I'm a fan of those). I love it when our things have stories to go with them, and your things certainly do. It looks lovely and it's so nice you can change it up whenever you like!

  9. The spring change up of your curio cabinet is lovely Denise, a variety of things of interest which will likely spark some conversations.

  10. Hi Denise. As I brought your post up I spotted the peacock feather and thought I must remember to comment on how pretty that plate with the feather is. I really was amazed, later, to find it was an actual feather and not painted on the plate. That relates to a "curiosity"!! It looks so pretty and I might rearrange one of my hutches as I don't have a actual curio cabinet. Have a wonderful Easter with your family and little Duncan..Judy

  11. How fun for you to create a cabinet of memories.Neat to put thought into where each item came from. I look forward to seeing your cabinet change with the seasons.

  12. I love how we inspire each other through our blogs, Denise. Your cabinet looks so pretty all decorated for Springtime. I change things out seasonally in my home, but not in a cabinet, but I love the idea.
    Right now, I'm going to copycat you and look up your cherry cobbler recipe again. I'm going to Arkansas this weekend and I want to bring all the ingredients to make it there. One day, if you don't mind, I will put it on my blog. Somehow we eat it all before I get a picture!



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