Your China Cabinet Doesn’t Have to Hold China

Since the day the furniture delivery guys brought it into our house, my china cabinet has displayed the beautiful china and crystal that we received as wedding gifts.  I absolutely love our traditional patterns, but the display was feeling a little too stuffy for me since I don’t have a traditional decorating style.  I considered adding a few things onto the shelves to give it a little bit more of an eclectic feel, but I couldn’t come up with anything that didn’t feel too contrived.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was desperately trying to find a place to hide the gifts Santa was bringing for the kids.  I remembered two big boxes of books we had stored in one of our closets.  They were the perfect size to store the toys and would be easy to get out on Christmas Eve, but where would I put these books that were deemed too special (mostly by my husband) to be donated or sold to Half Price Books?

Ding! Ding! Ding!

I took the china and crystal out of the display hutch and stored it in protective boxes behind the cabinet doors.  I then pulled all of those books out of the boxes and put them on the display shelves.  I added a few other goodies, such as the monogrammed silver napkin ring collection from my husband’s grandmother and my favorite vintage dog paint by number.  Instant storage solution, and better yet, instant color.  Oh, how I love decorating with books!

But, I still thought it needed something else to make it not look so much like a traditional china cabinet.  I found some beautiful hand-painted knobs at Hobby Lobby for just $2 a piece (they were priced at $3.99, but their knobs are ALWAYS half off), and replaced the plain silver knobs that came with the cabinet.

I added a few turquoise pieces that I had elsewhere in my house to the top of the cabinet and hung a champagne starburst mirror above it to create a little vignette.  The owl and birdcage look much better here than they did in their previous homes.

And that mirror?  Oh, that mirror!  It’s so stunning.  You’ll definitely want to come back tomorrow so I can tell you all about it.  That’s a big fat HINT, folks.  😉

Do you have anything other than china displayed in your china cabinet?  I’d love to hear about your display!

Filed Under: Decorate Your Home, Project Gallery

About Lindsay Ballard

Lindsay Ballard is a former college mascot turned political geek turned DIY fanatic who is conspiring to live in a Technicolor dream world. Her designs are bold and graphic, while her spirit is fun and full of color. Lindsay chronicles her projects and design ideas here at Makely, where she shares daily tutorials and inspiration. Lindsay lives outside of Austin, Texas with her husband (Tom), children (Zack and Emma) and dogs (Jack and Duke).


  1. I actually moved a smaller china cabinet into my home office/craft room. I removed the upper glass doors and have books and baskets of computer “stuff” on the shelves and the bottom cabinets now store office supplies and photo paper.

  2. My husband just redid a Craigslist find cabinet for me this weekend. I was wondering if I could do something else besides my wedding china (I’ve used once in five years) to fill it. Perfect timing for this post! Thanks for the ideas!

  3. We use our buffet table to hold our movies, dvds and games. I covered the glass panes with replica 1895 decorative paper. Changed out the knobs with Costplus World Market porcelain ones. And put our flat screen tv on top.

    New uses for old things are always great. :)

  4. I repurposed our formal dining room into an office for my husband. Our china cabinet is now home to his favorite political, historical, and motivational books along with some pretty linen covered boxes that hold documents and office supplies.

  5. That is totally rockin’! I love the look of the books in the cabinet!!!

  6. I repurposed an old wood gun cabinet that I bought at a garage sell for a buck into a China cabinet. However, I don’t really have any china so I use it to store my shot glass collection (along with some rum) and my sewing machine. Basically put the stuff that doesn’t have a home in there.

  7. It looks great with the books in it! We just got married in September and opted out of getting wedding china, and did not register for any china at all. AND we have two China hutches and have had a hard time filling them with non-traditional items. I love your blog…I love this idea! :)

    I can’t wait to get home and play with my china cabinets!

  8. What an awesome looking china hutch… and it looks gorgeous.
    If you don’t mind me asking…what color and brand did u use to paint it?
    It looks so rich and full of dimension, I can about imagine what it looks like in person.

    • Thanks, Jodi! It actually came straight from the furniture store that way. It’s a very dark brown, almost black, wood stain. I love it!

  9. I just found your site. And I love the idea of books in the china cabinet. Mine houses my growing tea cup collection but also my sewing supplies in the bottom part.

    I think you and I have the same hutch & table. I got different chairs from Costco but I recognized the cabinet right away. :)

  10. Cindy Behrens says:

    What a fabulous idea! I have a beautiful china cabinet that we inherited from my mother-in-law that I was (secretly) wanting to sell, but couldn’t find the heart to tell my husband. It too, house the traditional china and crystal and just seemed BLAH to me. But, now thanks to your idea, I will give it new life!

  11. I like the book shelf idea. Do you think it would be appropriate in an entryway? I have a hutch I need to repurpose. Any other ideas for the contents for an entryway?

  12. I was thinking about putting my china cabinet that use to belong to my parents in my bedbroom and placing linens and towel in it….

  13. Connie Lee Berg says:

    I have a collection of ceramics – several awards that I’ve received – gifts from the Grandkids – things that mean alot to me – pictures of me with celebrities and sports figures – my TREASURES.