The Cross House

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!




19 Responses to Undoing the Madness in the Butler’s Pantry

  1. 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?

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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).

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

    • 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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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