Month of Makeovers, Day 20 1/2: I’ve got mail!


Sorry about missing Sunday, everybody. Here at Lurayville we spent the day getting a window back into a wall and getting a flight of steps off a deck. Yes, they were makeovers, but not anything of which you’d probably care to see pictures.

Now back to the fun stuff!


I’ve had this cast iron mailbox forever. Once upon a time I thought we’d use it for an actual mailbox, but it’s so old that it it’s far too short to hold modern #10 envelopes, never mind the reams of mail order catalogs that start arriving in October. If the only mail we got was large-letter linen postcards sent by people who own Esterbrook fountain pens then this is the mailbox we’d use.

Hey, people!  Send me postcards!

Anyway, it’s got issues. It weighs about 10 pounds, for starters! There is no latch, so the front panel flops open. It’s got several thick layers of paint—most recently black and before that metallic gold.

The bottom is slanted to shed rain, so it doesn’t sit flat on a table—it must be wall-mounted. And I didn’t know what to do with it.

I still love it, though. Anything with little doors, or drawers, or cubbies I’m drawn to, even if I don’t have anything to put in all the little spaces.

I dream about those banks of heavy library card catalogs, which you kids have probably never seen in an actual library.

Beautiful maple or oak, with massive solid brass label plates and finger pulls, and the little wood shelves in between the upper and lower drawer banks that slid out so you could rest a drawer there while you were flipping through the cards.

If I actually owned a vintage card catalog, what would I put in it anyway? Socks? Rolling pins? The world’s largest collection of over-organized knitting needles? I don’t know, and I don’t care. I just love the drawers.

Back to my mailbox. The new and improved Lurayville has not one but TWO closets in the front hall, to make up for the closet deficiencies of the original 1929 house.

All our old closets were so shallow that, when you closed the doors, the clothes hangers on the rods would get jammed between the back wall of the closet and the door.

In fact, the original closets had no rods. They just had hooks mounted around the inside, for your three dresses and his suit and five shirts. My, how times have changed.

One of the new closets in the front hall is an actual closet, or will be once we install the closet rod and a bunch of shelves. At five feet by five feet, that closet is so roomy compared to what we have now that I really don’t know what we’d store in the second closet. I don’t own that many coats.

So I’ve planned to make the second closet—the one with the tiny window that faces east—into a quiet room.

It’ll have a mission oak armchair (still needs to be refinished and the tatty cushion replaced), a little bookcase (needs a coat of paint), a vintage table lamp (got it! Ready to plug in!), and not much else.

It’ll be a sweet and soothing spot in the mornings, with the light from the east window streaming in.

You’ll notice I’m not posting any pictures of this room, because right now it’s our paint can storage spot!

What about a little shrine on the wall? Something small-scale and quirky, like, oh, I don’t know, an old cast-iron mailbox?

I give the box a couple coats of Annie Sloan Emperor’s Silk. The red will totally pop against the green walls.


I leave the inside of the box black, to create a shadow-box effect.


Now it looks a lot like a red fire alarm box, which is not what I’m envisioning, but I’m not done yet.  I decide to pick out the lettering on the front in contrasting colors.


Then a good coat of wax.


Much better! Now for the insides. I’ve had this reproduction of an antique German card of the Virgin Mary for ages. I love it because of the way the artist conveys her calmness and perfect stillness in the midst of her daily work.

The completely anachronistic spinning wheel is a special touch! Wish I could find an original of that card—the colors would be so much nicer. That goes in the back of the box.

In front goes a Christmas creche piece rescued from my mom’s attic. He actually survived our childhoods having been broken and mended only once, right at the knees. He was meant to be a shepherd at the manger, but I’ll think of him as the Good Shepherd, carrying the found sheep home on his shoulders.


I still need to figure out how to latch it closed. An antique key from my stash plus a little jury-rigging should do the trick.


Just the right thing for my quiet spot.

See the entire list of projects for our Month of Makeovers HERE.