New Uses for Antique Furniture

New Uses for Antique Furniture

Modern life and new technology has meant that for some pieces of antique furniture, we have simply outgrown their original, intended use. Changes such as the rise of digital books may mean less physical books in houses, but does that mean we can't use beautiful antique bookcases? With floor space being at a premium for many of us, it's often a priority to ensure that our living spaces are multi-functional. Traditional, antique pieces of furniture were often designed for a single use - but that doesn't mean they can't be used creatively to suit the needs of modern life.

Antique Display Cabinets and Antique Bookcases

Antique display cabinets, or antique glazed bookcases are beautiful, useful pieces of furniture in their own right and still have a place within the home, but how about using them for handbag or shoe storage? Glazed doors keep your collections dust and damage free, and if you're particularly proud of your shoe collection, they're perfect items for displaying. Victorian walnut display cabinets or Globe Wernicke Bookcases are great examples of display perfection, and could be placed in bedrooms or even hallways. If you don't have much of a shoe or handbag collection, these timeless bookcases are beautiful storage pieces and have endless uses - one of our favourites is a drinks cabinet and glassware storage.

Antique Writing Bureaus

Antique writing bureaus, originally intended for keeping up with correspondence were a fairly important part of the home. A really interesting piece of antique furniture, bureaus can feature cupboards, pigeonholes and cubbyholes for storing all the writing paraphernalia a person would have needed to keep in touch with loved ones. Sometimes bureaus were designed as bookcase bureaus and featured a bookcase on top, later periods featured a chest of drawers. Without a doubt, the most important piece was the writing surface, which is hinged and drops down to provide a flat surface.  Often you can find them with a leather or felt inlay. These writing surfaces make ideal laptop desks, with lots of variety in the storage inside, they can take on a new purpose which is actually rather close to their original use; keeping in touch.

Antique Bookcases and Secretaires

Antique Secretaires were originally used in the same way as antique bureaus; for catching up with correspondence using the writing area, and storing books in the bookcase. But why does the use have to stop there? If you have an impeccable folding technique, use the glazed bookcase to store your prettiest linens. Lower sections of later secretaires often have a chest of drawers, which is also perfect for storage. Et voila, you have a gorgeous antique linen press. Antique display cases would also have look great used for linen in a bathroom, where you can use the top for lotions and potions.

Antique Credenzas and Antique Console Tables

Antique sideboards or antique credenzas were originally used in dining rooms and commonly used to store tableware and glassware. Placed against a wall, they were extremely useful for serving food, and are some are known as buffets. Antique console tables were traditionally used for displaying decorative items, and could be used in most rooms around the house. Both sideboards and console tables can be repurposed to make washstands and vanity units in bathrooms. Sinks can be placed on top, or sunken in to the sideboard and there's plenty of storage underneath.

Antique Sideboards and Altar Tables

If you have enough space in your kitchen, islands are very popular as well as useful. Kitchen islands don't have to be a matching part of the kitchen. Perhaps you'd like it to seem more like a piece of furniture rather than a flat pack centre island. Blend the old with the new and use a large antique sideboard or a freestanding church altar table. The beauty of having a freestanding kitchen island, is that you can move it as needed, as it's not a permanent fixture. Making your unique island a bit more kitchen friendly can simply include using a piece of marble or worktop to fix onto the top, which instantly changes the look. If you have a kitchen diner, they can be used to transform the space into two separate areas. Antique buffets or sideboards span many eras, so finding one to suit your kitchen needs shouldn't be too difficult.

Photo; 2012 Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times
Mahogany Globe Wernicke Bookcase

Shop Kitchen Furniture at Kernow Furniture

Antique Whatnots

The antique What-Not was a popular piece of furniture throughout the 19th century. Derived from the French étagère, it was originally intended for displaying curiosities, china, decorative objects such as ornaments, and storing newspapers and books. Convenient pieces of display furniture, they were made in various shapes and sizes. They are still useful for their original purpose, and look lovely with plants, books and magazines, but some what-nots are just the right size to fit some of our modern technology. Why not try using it for as a hi-fi or stereo stand? In the picture below you can see it perfectly fits the hi-fi separates and the newspaper storage at the bottom if ideal for store your favourite vinyl records. 

Antique Piano Tables

Many people wouldn't consider having an antique piano in their house, unless they are a pianist. Although they are beautiful pieces of furniture, they have a very specific use and take up a lot of floor space. Antique pianos can be repurposed as a whole host of useful items of furniture! We are lucky enough to own an antique piano that has been converted into a table, which serves well as a home bar/drinks area. They can be altered in a couple of ways, from removing the musical parts of the piano and leaving as an empty shell, which can then have shelves added if desired, or the top of the piano can be removed to create a table. They can also be used as beautiful, unique desks and workstations, large enough to fit everything you need to work from home!

On the Banks of Squaw Creek

Antique Piano Conversion by On The Banks of Squaw Creek

What repurposed antiques do you own?

We've love to hear from you if you have your own repurposed antiques, the more creative the better! Leave us a comment or send us a picture, as we would love to share them in a future blog post!


Kernow Furniture - online store based near Redruth, Cornwall. Huge selection of furniture and decorative items. Find many eras and styles of antique, retro, and vintage furniture, homeware and gifts. Fast national delivery offered on all items. Viewings by appointment on 01209 861444.

December 21, 2017 by Benita Ellis-Kelly

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