Advice? Restoring a 1913 Built In Buffet

CassandraJanuary 21, 2009

I would like to restore my built-in buffet so that it resembles the original--or at least loses some of the badly done changes made to it over the years. (The white paint is staying.) What concerns me is the upper half. As you'll see, there are two shelf unit sides with doors flanking an open display-type shelf. The doors are not original--just cheap overlay doors made of plywood. Due to the fact that there are some outlines where hardware went, I suspect that both of these sides once had inset doors that must have been very slender and that met and locked in the middle. Perhaps they even had some stained or beveled glass as there are both types of glass in the dining room windows. The display shelf has me puzzled. I took down a glass mirror that was poorly fitted in the space and says "1960s" on the back. As you'll see in the photos, someone nailed two pieces of plywood to hold up the mirror, and there's original beadboard (that's never been exposed to discoloration behind it). Do think this area had a mirror originally? There are outlines of a kind of frame that may have enclosed it, but the frame pieces are gone. There are also outlines of a hinge of some type on the upper front tops and sides of this display area, so my theory about the mirror may not be correct. Were there doors on this space as well? Even if there was a mirror there originally, I'm not sure I want to have it restored. I don't particularly like mirrors, and the large mirror lower down on the buffet (which also needs restoration) seems adequate. Perhaps I should just enclosed the space with a nice piece of wood and paint it white, keeping the open-look display space? Does anyone have thoughts of what this might have looked like originally, and opinions on how to proceed? Thanks.

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What is on the back side of the built in? The bottom where he mirror is could have been a pass thru for the kitchen and the top could have held not one but two doors, similar to the one on the bottom left corner of the hutch.
My advice would be to look for some open houses in the area of houses of the same era and see what they have. Very often builders used the same or similar pieces in a number of the homes they built.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 6:21PM
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I'd guess that all 3 openings on top had the same type of inset door and the same latch as the doors on the bottom. I'd also guess there wasn't a mirror in the middle and that it was open between the 2 rooms. Check and see if any of your neighbors have the same type of built-in .... just like Carol suggested.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 7:41PM
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Thanks for your responses. I know for sure that the large mirror area was always a mirror and not a pass through. A bathroom is on the other side.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 10:55AM
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What's on the other side of the bathroom? Is it your kitchen?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 11:35AM
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No, a bedroom. It is kind of a strange configuration: living room and dining room, then a hallway with three bedrooms and a bathroom opening into it, and then the kitchen at the back of the house (oddly, as far away as possible from the dining room--and it is not an eat-in kitchen). But I know this was the original configuration since it was a built as a duplex and the other units are just the same.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 11:41AM
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Just cause the other units are the same way I wouldn't count on it being original. Very often if a building was altered and it was a duplex it was altered the same way thru out. Saved on time, money and materials.
Your best bet is to snoop around at some local open houses and see what your neighbors have.
Another tip is to get in some stronger than normal light into the space and have a really close look at things. Very often in strong light things show up hat we normally wouldn't see.
Like outlines of where hinges were or where doors have worn away wood.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 12:53PM
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Our 1900s built in buffet was oak. The glass doors were clear leaded glass.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 10:21PM
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