Friday, July 22, 2016

Antique Farm Grain Bins and Pie Safes Used As Furniture

We used to call old farmhouse furniture, "Primitives".  Items usually made by the homesteaders and farmers themselves as utilitarian pieces.  My favorite pieces were never sold in general stores, they were hand made using tongue and groove wood or large/wide boards probably milled right there on the property.
Grain bins are one of my favorite furniture pieces I have in my house.  Each one has it's own personality and "story" to tell where it came from, how it was made, how it works and what it was used for originally.
This grain bin is large, heavy, made of very wide boards and was probably originally painted red.
painted red on the inside
When I purchased this, many years ago, the trend was to strip the paint off and have a nice pine piece of furniture.  Sad to think I did do that to this wonderful old 3 compartment piece.  The farmer probably had different types of feed for different animals in each bin.
 The lids lift up and have a "breadboard" top.  As you can see, I use these old bins for lots of storage of fabric, rugs, etc.
This 2nd grain bin I use in my house is very unique and the person who made it must have been a very good cabinet maker.
It has a rounded bin lid, was probably originally dark green as the wood still has a green tint to it even though it has been stripped.  
Someone, like a child carved into the lid at some time.  It came from an old barn in Nevada County.
 One side of the bin is about 1/3 the size of the bin so it too, had different types of grains for feed stored in it.
 It even has a repair patch on it, where someone mended a hole to keep out, probably rodents from eating the grain.

A 3rd cabinet I use is also unique, it has the original barn red paint on it with very large/wide boards.  This one has a heavy duty hasp lock and the shape is tapered.  

The lid is made in 3 parts and lifts up.  
There is a shelf in the top,
I have no idea what it may have been used for but definitely for grain.  My husband does drafting/drawings and I keep all his large drafting board and tools inside it.  There is some stenciling and writing on the inside of the lid.  My idea is that the cabinet maker probably used wood from a wooden crat, maybe even re-used the large forged hinges and lock.
The next items are what I always refer to as "Pie Safes".  I have always been attracted to T&G, tongue and groove made furniture items and a lot of pie safes were made from that material.
The first one is my very favorite.  It came from a barn in Siskiyou County, Northern California.  We went to a farm sale and the farm items were being sold as the owner had died.  
They had two items pulled right out of the barn in the back of a truck as we were driving up.  A lady went up to it just before I did and asked the price of the cabinet.  He said $40 for the red one and $30 for the green cabinet.  She said that was too much and walked away.  I walked up and said I would take both of them and load them right into the back of my truck. The finish is original, painted red, original white knob, and had been too close to a hot stove or was in a fire at some time of its' life.  Due to the construction, I would say it is made during the 1870s or 1880s.  Look at the details this cabinet maker did.  It may have been inside a farmhouse at one time because of the fine craftsmanship but ended up its' life in a barn.  Well, not really, because it ended up in my living room.  I love to touch it whenever I open it up.
The other item I purchased at the same time is actually a meat or pie safe.  Very primitive, the finish is original green with screen all around it.  The boards inside are wide and thick, very early piece and in the center of the top part, inside is a large hook.  Probably to hang a piece of meat. Right now, it is in my dining room and I keep my sewing items inside it.  I move things around, so sometimes it has my big and large bowls and platters in it.
And if you are saying I am a crazy person for cabinets, you are right.  Here is a cabinet I have in my laundry room, with original yellow paint on it. Probably was originally on a back porch holding food in it.
Then I have this small cabinet in a bathroom that had a funky wood door that was dirty, so I covered it with fabric. I keep all bathroom supplies and towels in it.  They are so versitile.

This cabinet was painted black so i didn't mind painting it the color that went in my dining room

The inside I left natural and look how well the doors are made.  Another T&G made cabinet, love, love them.
One last storage item I want to share with you that I use in my house is this yellow box.  I put casters on it and store all my business files inside.  The top lifts up and one side is stenciled Sacramento Produce.  Perfect for our Windmill Farm. I use it as a table in the kitchen.

I hope you have enjoyed viewing my cabinet obsession but can't you see why I love them?  Each one has so much personality and they can be used any place in a house where once they were either in a barn or on a back porch of an old farm house.  Do you have any grain bins or pie safes?  Would love to hear and see any you wish to share.

1 comment:

The Slipcover Maker said...

Hi Paula! Oh man, I'm drooling over all of your farmhouse furniture pieces. I especially like the charming painted cabinets. I like your creative uses for them. So smart. I don't own any but always make a b-line towards them when I go to estate sales and markets. Fun!