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new uses for antique display cases

Emily Oster

In my search for an armoire for our master bedroom, I have come across some really cool antique display cases. However, being that these pieces are generally quite large - I was unsure of how one could really incorporate them into a more modern space without them looking overly cluttered or just out of scale. Then, I saw this amazing kitchen in Lauren Liess' new book, Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating, in which she had repurposed an old glass front bookcase as upper cabinets. Everything else in the space was crisp and new making the antique cabinet a beautiful accent element that defined the room. Unfortunately, images of this particular kitchen are not yet available online. So I did a little digging and found some other really great examples of how one could use antique bookshelves, curios, cupboards etc. in a fresh and current way. 

I have long admired this image that uses old locker doors for a glassware pantry. I like how the doors are part of a built in unit making them really stand out against the white framing.

I could see achieving a similar look and one that is much like the kitchen Lauren Liess designed by using this sort of antique bookshelf. You could just use the doors or hang the whole unit as an upper cabinet. 

This Drexel Heritage piece could also be used in a similar way although I would probably re-stain it as the color looks a little off to me.

If space allows, using a big display case can make a dramatic impact especially if you stock it with beautiful and useful kitchen items like the examples below.

 design by  SR Gambrel

design by SR Gambrel

With something so large, I think you would have to look for old commercial or retail pieces as the ones pictured above seem beyond residential scale to me.

For smaller antiques cases, check out these inspiring spaces.

 source unknown

source unknown

Ranging from rustic to more refined, these current Craigslist listing could be beautifully integrated into a new kitchen for a similar look.

For posts about my finds and searching Craigslist click here, for general kitchen inspiration check out this early kitchen post or to learn more about the design work of Lauren Liess click here