Wednesday, October 6, 2021

The Old Dry Sink

Hi, Friends,
How are you? I hope you are doing well.
I have a restoration story for you. I did a dive into Rehabilitation, Preservation, Restoration and Conservation. I feel that this repair falls into the Restoration category. Let me know if you agree. 
I will put away my nerd badge now. 

About a month ago, my brother texted out pictures of a couple of family pieces that he'd had in storage. 
I immediately thought they would be great for our house out in East Texas. I wrangled them away from my siblings since they might have put them in storage as well. I couldn't let that happen. 

I was very excited about the dry sink. There is also a rocker and a Victorian table. I'll share those at a later date. 
The dry sink was just what I had in mind for the "entryway." There isn't really an entryway in our house but I'm trying to create the feeling of one. 

I have always loved this piece. 
It was out on our sunporch when I was growing up and it made the cut when we moved to Texas in 1977. 

My Childhood Home 

It had seen better days. 
Three of the four doors were off.  Two of the doors were in pieces. 

As we started gathering the pieces to glue them together, we noticed that the top of one of the doors was missing. 
My brother said he'd look for it. Realistically, I felt like it had gotten thrown away in their move.  

Bill and I brainstormed about what to do:
We could remove the top doors and use a section out of one of them. I planned to keep them open anyway. 
We could build new bottom doors in a primitive style. 

Bill quickly decided that he wanted to replicate the missing piece. 

We thought the dry sink was pine. A quick consultation with my brother in law corroborated that thought. 
If the dry sink is pine, it's old growth so we really wouldn't be able to match the grain.
 I was okay with that. 

Bill was able to draw the pattern by using one of the other doors as a template. 


If you have been following, you will know we had scorpions at our house in East Texas. 
It was at that point in the day that I found a second live scorpion. This time the scorpion was on the kitchen counter. I was running my hand over the newly sanded counter to see how smooth it felt. When I moved the toaster, there was a live one was under it. I'm out! I told Bill that I was headed home the next morning. It was Labor Day Weekend. We were there to relax. Scorpions are not relaxing. 
He said, "No. We're going home tonight." 
We packed up and left. Bill spent the the next two weekends sealing up any cracks bigger than a credit card!! 
Needless to say, the dry sink took a back seat to scorpion removal. I am happy to report that we haven't seen anymore live scorpions in the house so the dry sink project could commence. 

My dad used this piece as a liquor cabinet. He or my mom, "antiqued" the panels with red paint. They had the red showing since our house had a very "Early American" vibe going on. (I will say that I don't care for the word "vibe" but I appreciated "Early American" and "vibe" in the same sentence. I hope you do as well.)
When my sister had the piece, she flipped the panels so that the red didn't show. 
I wanted the doors to remain open on the top, so flipped or not, the red wasn't going to cut it.
Stripper and sanding removed the red. 
For a week or so, I contemplated painting the panels. Sweetie Jane by Sweet Pickins Milk Paint seemed like an identical match to the inside of the cupboard. In the end, I decided to stain the panels. We feel like the interior paint is very old. I'm not sure it's original but new paint won't achieve that same look. 

Bill re-cut the missing section because he wasn't happy with the first try. 
Once he was satisfied with the cut, he routed the edge to match the existing edge perfectly. 

Since the door had broken, the glue lines were not going to be clean or easy to match. 
Additionally, the place for the hinge was completely split. 

After consultation, Bill carefully cut new clean lines on the old door and the new piece. The new hinge mortise will be in the new wood instead of trying to fix and fill the old hinge mortise with wood putty. 

It was a good feeling once this was glued and clamped. 

I stained the repaired piece. 
My brother John thought that my parents bought this at a fire sale so it may have been refinished in the 60s. Special Walnut by Minwax was the best color match. Something with a little more red might be in order but we didn't have anything that would work. 

It is darling! The three drawers are adorable. I'm sure that Bill will tuck love notes in them for me. 

Styling it was so much fun. 

This old blue/green paint is so pretty. 

One of the latch keepers is missing so finding a new one on eBay will be my next task. 

The latch and keeper appear to be Victorian but the dry sink looks earlier than that. 
If you have any insight, we will appreciated it. 
High back dry sinks seem to be more rare. I found very few images on the internet. 

I'm so impressed with Bill's handiwork on this one. I knew he was talented but this time his attention to detail was amazing. 

He took his time and thought through every step of the repair. 
He said it wasn't a Smithsonian level restoration but he was pleased. 

So, is it Rehabilitation, Preservation, Restoration or Conservation? 
Either way, I am in love with it. It's such a fun addition to our little East Texas country house. 
I'm already thinking about styling it for a country Christmas. 
That is all for now. Thanks so much for stopping by. 


  1. I think it's all four! It looks so cute. The two of you are such a talented duo, but I have to say Bravo, Bill! Katie, I love how you've styled it. And I love your sense of humor!!

  2. Bill did an awesome job with that door. I wouldn't know it was mended unless I had read this. I love the way you decorated it too.

  3. Outstanding!!! I share your love of family pieces.

  4. Yikes about the scorpions. I would have been out too. Glad you have not seen anymore. We do not have those here in Illinois but I am so afraid of spiders and we have those and I want to burn the house down when I see one! Lucky we can spray to keep them out. The cabinet looks so great. You did a great re love on this piece. Have a great Thursday. xoxo Kris

  5. I love it! Beautifully refinished. I has an Ethan Allen china hutch I bought when I was married 47 years ago that looked very similar in style. I donated the hutch when we moved west but I still ahve soem other dark pines pieces I'm still using.