Posted by: Small House Under a Big Sky Homestead | August 9, 2013

Primitive Jelly Cupboard Score

Guess this fits under the category of junk to jewel!

This primitive vintage farm cupboard was a challenging piece to makeover for me. The problem was that I am not used to pieces this “rough” and I just couldn’t decide the best way to transform it. I usually work on a more refined vintage piece and paint them in a more refined manner. Plus I encountered several false starts and stops. I am pretty sure that my indecision caused a lot more work for me this time around. Interesting lesson huh!


The blue and gray jelly cupboard photographed without its door.

My research found that this is most likely a freestanding 19th century jelly cupboard or pie safe identified by shape, style and the most interesting, original holes in the side. A pie safe was also used to store pies, meat, bread and other perishables. This was a common piece in the home in the days before refrigerators.


I found this old primitive cupboard at a local Fly Wheeler’s swap meet.

Built using heavy, solid oak boards it was used somewhere along the line as a work space cupboard as it was saturated in spots with oil…but it was only $20.00 so like you do in love and second marriages, I took a chance.

I LOVE the primitiveness of this piece, the inset panels – front and side and the old metal latch. The latch is an early nineteenth century piece, so I’m ticked with my score.


The style of this latch tells me this is a 19th century piece.


Love those side panels and the mystery of the holes drilled into the side “Before” photograph.


Inset side panel “After” being painted with chalk paint.

We addressed the oil by removing the galvanized metal sheet on top and stripping this down to the bare wood. The cupboard was sealed top to bottom (except the wood stained top) using Kilns to create a clean barrier and give me fresh boards to begin to paint.


You can see the old oil stains on top of the cut metal piece some added along the way. 

We challenged the mold using Basic G, made by Shaklee and lots of sunshine. My dear husband tore off the galvanized metal added piece and we started to work on the top, stripping off the old paint and doing a bit of sanding.

Originally I had hoped to achieve a chippy white over gray with milk paint but the brand I used, just didn’t chip one bit. I’ve tried milk paint twice now and neither time has it chipped.


I experimented with the front door by painting the cabinet door with white chalk paint but it did not go chippy. Plan B: I followed that by a dry wash of the Aubusson paint highly watered down. It was “okay” but not what I had in mind. Plan C would have to be developed…

Next I painted the interior and two shelves using ASCP Aubusson Blue.  I painted the lower most board with Graphite for a dark gray look. I am very happy with both of those. Next I stained the top using Minwax Dark Walnut and brought the stain down over the top rim right and went over the gray paint – which ended up in quite an interesting effect. I have never used stain over old paint before but the effect is pretty intriguing. I will likely try this again.


The lower shelf under the antique blue mixing bowls was painted in ASCP Graphite.

Because this wood was fairly rough and its style very primitive, I knew I wanted to work with the original gray paint color but I just wasn’t sure how I might accomplish a pleasing effect. I began experimenting by dry brushing the Aubusson Blue over the original gray paint followed by CeCe Caldwell’s Aging Wax to fill in the unpainted sections and even out the overall tone. This I do like!


I adore the contrast of the blue against the terra color wall as it was being photographed in the White Oak Studio Designs “Power Room Gallery.”

On the front door I had previously tried white chalk paint but when it did not chip, I decided I did not like the effect. I then tried washed the Aubusson blue over the white which I liked but didn’t quite go with the rest of the piece.

Eventually I used Aubusson blue in a less refined washed manner and decided this was it.

Primitive Cup Collage w textjpeg

The complete primitive jelly cupboard with and without its door attached.

I think that this would be a perfect storage piece; perhaps as a wine bar or in a craft room laundry room or maybe even used on a sun porch with open ledge shelving above it.  Or, how about a rustic kitchen island with lots of storage? I’ve already decided if this doesn’t sell, I’ll be putting it in my studio’s “Powder Room Gallery” and will use it to store TP, paper towels and the like for the studio bathroom needs!

The dimensions of this piece are: H 38″ X W 27″ X D 15 1/4. For sale through White Oak Studio Designs,

What a journey this piece has been!

Posting on:

1) The Dedicated House / Anything Blue Friday

2) Miss Mustard Seed’s / Friday Furniture

3) Funky Junk / Junk to Jewels

4) Lilyfield Life / Paint Parade

5) Embracing Change / Creative Inspirations

6) Homemaker on a Dime

7) DIY Vintage Chic: Friday’s Five Features

Thanks for visiting!

Small House / Big Sky Donna


  1. That is beautiful! Really lovely sympathetic restoration. Just the sort of piece I would love in our own cottage. Pity there’s a big wide sea between us!

  2. Thanks Bridget. Glad you enjoyed seeing my newest work.

  3. Love it! She’s a beauty! You did a great job.Stop by my Friday’s Five Features and link up this post (and others)!

    • Thankyou for the invite (and the compliments). I’ll stop in and see your work and link up. Thanks for noticing my work, I appreciate it!

      • Thanks for stopping by DIY Vintage Chic’s Friday’s Five Features and Fun Festivities. Don’t forget to stop back by this Friday!

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