Curio Cabinet Makeover

collecting, Makeover

I love curio cabinets.  The Victorians excelled at collecting things, (which are now non-PC or probably extinct), on their Grand Tours around the world.  My Great Great Uncle Bernard was one of these, and in the family we still have his amazing cabinets filled with butterflies and eggs that he collected voraciously.  Nothing came in small measures, he would collect 50 perfect specimens of one type of butterfly rather than just one, plus the caterpillar of the insect as well.  The smell when the cabinet is opened is overwhelming of camphor still, and when I was a little girl I would spend hours inhaling the smell and coveting the butterflies.  I have quite a few little odd bits such as fossils, animals and coins, and wanted to group them in some sort of display case together, following the Victorian cabinets which are so inspiring:

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My last post talked about buying at auction, and one of the items I purchased was a very cheap little oak wall storage box from, I think, an old power station/railway box.  It is made of oak, and has the original sticker in the box.  As it is plain oak, I decided to paint the exterior in a distressed grey/green effect using chalk paints.  I left the interior oak as I wanted the items to stand out.

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Once it was dry, I hung it on the wall and popped in my little items; a skull, a pickled lizard, vintage smelling salts, fossils, coins and my grandfather’s lead toy soldiers.  Here is the finished cabinet:

good mid cu good good interior good interior 2 cu good


Displaying collections Part One


Coming from a marriage of two compulsive collectors, it is really hard not to let the objects accumulate into chaos and clutter.  We are dreadful at always coming home with bizarre treasures, and love taxidermy, old medical paraphernalia, books and actually anything odd that grabs our fancy.  For Christmas I received a vintage medical model of a hair follicle and a also Biologist’s fish’s brain model – bless him!  However, with so much stuff and growing collections I often have to reorganise the items into some form of controlled display.

I am inspired by this house featured in Apartment Therapy where the owners have as much ‘stuff’ as we do, and have managed to group it into some semblance of controlled display.

st uff 1

Eclectic collection of items

I love their version of a kitchen unit – a dream for hoarders like me.  Cannot see myself chopping onions anywhere on it, but it is a small price to pay for such a beautiful piece of furniture.

Photo: Apartment Therapy

Photo: Apartment Therapy

There are lots of ways to display items and they can look great en masse, this is a collection of antique textile fibres I picked up at a flea market and grouped together in a shelved box frame:

I always remember being knocked out by this photo of a collection of baskets in a hotel.  Amazing.


I have a large glazed cupboard in the hallway where I store bits and pieces like magazines, ribbons and so on (neatly hidden away in boxes).  I wanted it to be visually more exciting so backed the cupboard in fabric, then added in collections of shoe lasts, fossils and some very old books:

 I am working my way through the various collections and trying to space them out around the house so they can be seen clearly and preferably not gather dust.  It is a long winded task, this one below is one of my husband’s ‘cabinet of treasures’… I don’t even know where to start on this one but it needs an edit.  He has also swiped some of my treasured insect taxidermy into it I note…