Undoing the Madness in the Butler’s Pantry


This is what the south cabinet in the butler’s pantry looked like when I purchased the Cross House in 2014.


At first, I never gave the cabinet any thought.

Then, I wondered: WHY are there ugly plywood doors at the top?


Scanning the original drawings, I realized that the tall pair of doors had been lowered, the serving counter removed, and two drawers also moved. Then the ugly plywood doors were installed up top. And why was this done? I cannot imagine a single good reason. Utter madness.


So, in 2016, I removed the ugly plywood doors, re-installed the tall doors in their original location, and … OMG! Sooooooo much better! The room looked MUCH taller! I now just needed to recreate the two lost drawers and missing serving counter. And remove the plywood infill panels on the tall doors and replace them with glass. And guess what?


I have now done all that!!!!!!!!


Thanks to Dr. Doug, the two missing drawers are back!

The missing serving counter is back! (It looks bent in the image. It’s not.)

The glass is back in the tall doors!

The tall doors have been stripped and shellaced, as they were originally!





  1. A. H. on March 16, 2019 at 9:21 pm

    Looking good! Will the new wood be made to match the old?

    Also, it looks in the drawing like there would have been a supporting molding under the service counter. What do you think?

    • Ross on March 16, 2019 at 9:40 pm

      The supporting molding is now in place, AH!

  2. tiffaney jewel on March 16, 2019 at 9:25 pm

    Maybe someone got annoyed with being short.

    You’ve made it look so much better!

  3. Annette on March 16, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    It looks and I suspect functions so much better. It’s going to be stunning when it’s finished.

  4. Dan Goodall-Williams on March 17, 2019 at 5:16 am

    The pantry thanks you! Looks fantastic. Thank God you have the original blue prints.

  5. Stewart McLean on March 17, 2019 at 8:07 am

    Could we have a close up picture of the pulls please?

  6. Kerri on March 17, 2019 at 11:46 am

    Like you, Dr. Doug does great work! It looks soooo much better now that you have changed it back to its’ original configuration.

  7. Jakob on March 17, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Looking good! Pretty soon it will seem untouched by time. Why ceiling tiles 10+’ up in a narrow space where no one would pay attention to the ceiling? And what is the patented Ross method for matching shellac on the recreated pieces? Someday I would love the tutorial a la the one you did for cutting plaster.

  8. Grandmere Louise on March 17, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    And glasses and cake stands sparkling on the shelves. It is so nice to have a place to put the dressy plates and glasses and be able to enjoy their beauty even when they’re not in use (and keep the worst of the dust out of them).

  9. Sandra Lee on March 17, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    Amazing and wondrous progress!!! What once was IS again!!
    Wonderful it’s back to original design! Exquisitely done!
    Great work Dr Doug & Ross!

  10. Seth Hoffman on March 17, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    Great work, as always! I’m excited to see the continued progress as the rest of the paint is stripped and the wood refinished. I’m sure the final reveal will be astounding!

  11. Jonathan W on March 18, 2019 at 12:39 am

    Sooo I kinda love the colour on that green door…any chance you know or of one that’s similar? And Amazing work as always!

  12. Derek Walvoord on March 18, 2019 at 9:01 am

    When I look at the original picture, I often think – why would someone have spent the time, probably 4-6 hours, to mess something up that was already great? All old houses have these weird alterations. . .what exactly got that on the weekend warrior list circa 1950? Very impressive with the new/old pieces! Great work.

    • Seth Hoffman on March 18, 2019 at 1:15 pm

      Yeah, so unusual compared to how people remodel today, with pitching all the old stuff in the dumpster and starting over. At least the old remuddled stuff is still there with salvageable parts and ample clues to the original configuration!

  13. Amanda aka Tigger on March 21, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    Umm…it’s been 5 days. 😉 I just recently finished binge-reading every single one of your blog posts, and all of the comments. I have thoroughly enjoyed your writing style, and all of the history you’ve researched and shared with us. You and your blog have helped me through a dark time. Your “voice” took me away from my reality for a while, and it was/is refreshing to my soul! Thank you so much for sharing your restoration journey with us. I love you for it! (nothing creepy, I promise) 🙂 I hope that I can book a tour of the house someday soon, or maybe come to the after-Thanksgiving gathering if you host that again. I live in West Virginia, so it would take me a few minutes to get there.

    • Ross on March 24, 2019 at 10:39 pm

      VERY nice meeting you, Amanda! And thank you for the kind words! BIG hug!

  14. Beth H. on March 21, 2019 at 9:53 pm

    Oh lord… I’ve discovered your blog and it’s going to suck hours of my life into it. I dream of restoring a house as you have – only we did it (on a much smaller scale and without any $$$) when we were young and I doubt I could get my husband to jump in again. You’re about the same age as he is (about to turn 62 now), so I need to give him a shot of your enthusiasm and energy! Cross House is gorgeous, and I’m so glad you’re bringing it back to its original glory – and entertaining us all along the way with your great writing!

    • Ross on March 24, 2019 at 10:37 pm

      Nice meeting you, Beth! And thank you for the kind words!

  15. Nancy from Georgia on March 30, 2019 at 3:08 am

    Phenomenal. Beautiful. Words fail me. Thank you for taking the time not only to restore that little corner, but for sharing it with us all. These dark times are illuminated by the small beauties around us. Thank you.

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