Furniture Blog,  Heritage

The Story of the Pie Holder

There are certain places in our past that leave such an impression it’s like a picture book in your mind. my grandparent’s house was such a place for me; rickety back porch, the spare key kidding place, and the sound the back door made when it closed. All these and so much more are the things I remember with a smile. Within their home were so many treasures and we would hear the story of where it came from and how long it had been theirs. I wish I could remember all of their stories.

Old farmhouse decor
Because I really am terrible at remembering before pics, this is the only one I have and it’s in the old farmhouse dining room.

My grandparent’s had a large dining room in the center of their house. One piece of furniture in the room was a handmade meal-flour bin. It was made for my great-great-grandfather by his neighbor.

Handwritten note on the origins of the flour and meal bin
This is a note my grandmother wrote and placed inside the bin.

Every year at Thanksgiving it held our precious pecan pie that my grandmother made. I always thought it was so unusual and had never seen anything like it. Several years before my grandmother passed away she built a new house and it was one of the pieces she chose not to move back in. When settling her estate I was fortunate to be able to get the meal-flour bin from the barn where it had been stored several years. I was so excited to bring this piece home and give it new life.

If you haven’t heard me say this before, I’m not a purist on wood. I like painted wood and I like stained wood. But, this piece… there was no way I was painting it. I mean who knows maybe one day I’ll change my mind, or one of my children may decide to later on. But, for now, I was perfectly content with restoring as much of it as I could.

This is after I had removed the old finish.

It had been varnished at some point, but it was bubbly, hard and cracking. A regular sanding was not budging this stuff. All you carpenters and true woodworkers cover your eyes for this next part. My husband brought me his grinder and I was able to get the build-up of probably 100 years off of it. After being so invasive on the wood, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. After talking with my great Aunt Trudy (my grandmother’s sister) she suggested I just use a mix of olive oil and vinegar on it. Genius! The turned feet weren’t in as bad of shape and I liked the contrast of the color so I left them. And let’s be for real I did not want to sand all those round edges!

You can see here I’m almost done applying the oil & vinegar mix when I remember to snap a picture!

I have it in my breakfast room and although it’s small, at family gatherings we place as many pies as it will hold on top of it. I am all for taking a family heirloom and totally transforming it into something useful for your home, but in this case and in this century I think she’s just made to hold pies.

Antique Meal-Flour Bin (after)

What are your family heirlooms? Have you brought new life and purpose to them or are you stumped as to what to do? Maybe I can help.

From my heart to your home,


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