An Investment Piece: The Department Store Cabinet

For months, Georgia had been hunting a large, vintage library card catalog to place in her new home office/craft space. She could never find the perfect piece (for the right price!) like the one below. Apparently, vintage library card cabinets are a hot item in the antique/resale market!

As we were shopping at the Flowery Branch Antique Mall, we spotted this wonderful cabinet from KJax Designs. Not quite a vintage library card catalog but still had the small design elements.

georgia & daughter

At first, we walked away because Georgia had her heart set on the library card cabinet. We looked through other dealers and kept talking about the piece at the front of the mall. Here were our thoughts: The drawers are larger than the small card catalog so it could hold bulkier items (like fabric). Its wider and more substantial and could anchor the very large room with tall ceilings. It wasn’t in horrible condition but it needed some TLC. The cabinet needed a top so Georgia could have a very expansive work surface. In the end, Georgia just couldn’t turn down the piece.

According to the dealer, the cabinet was used in a department store in Beaufort, SC for displaying Men’s dress shirts and slacks. The front side was solid glass for viewing the merchandise. The back side would provide access for the salesperson.

georgia & daughter

To refinish the cabinet, Georgia put a lot of time and effort into the piece but not ‘hard’ labor. The cabinet is so large and has so many parts; it took awhile to finally finish the project.

First, she cleaned the cabinet with Howard Restor-A-Finish. You can find this product at any hardware store.


The drawers needed the most attention. We counted three different sets of holes for hardware. Georgia order her new library-inspired drawer handles from Van Dykes Restorers online. She thoughtfully ordered hardware that matched one set of pre-drilled holes (similar to the style shown below). She used wood putty to fill in the other 4 holes.

georgia & daughterBrass Label HolderFor the top, Georgia went to her local Lowe’s and purchased a pre-made, unfinished wood top that measured 24 W x 60 L. The unfinished wood took 3 coats of stain but matched the base perfectly.

georgia & daughter

The entire cabinet received three coats of Polyurethane and then we asked the husbands to move this very heavy piece of furniture into place. It took an extra large Dolley to move it!

Finsihed 2 with logo

To enhance the ‘vintage, general store’ vibe that Georgia is striving for, we used a few of her old sewing books, her sewing essentials and a great thread holder.

georgia & daughter

Georgia paid around $250 for the cabinet. In the end, Georgia had to purchase stain, Polyurethane, new drawer pulls, and a new top, and she spent another $200. For $450, we truly believe that we have a beautiful investment piece that will stay in our family for generations. It provides a ton of storage and charm for Georgia’s office.

~georgia & daughter

One thought on “An Investment Piece: The Department Store Cabinet

  1. Pingback: Our 100th Episode! | georgia & daughter

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