I work at a Very Old University (established 1855). Over the decades, various storage rooms, closets, and little-used offices have accumulated a lot of paper, steelcase furniture pieces, broken chairs, cartons of floppy disks, and lots and lots of mystery items.  All the stuff that gets shoved aside in favor of The New.

Recently we decided to have some fun with the little ‘lounge’ area leading into the ladies room in my office suite. I knew I’d seen some interesting pieces lurking in the dark corners of my building, and so I suggested we go on a treasure hunt to see what could come upstairs and find new purpose.

I already knew the first treasure I wanted to nab – I’d lusted over this piece for years, but never had a place to bring it back to light. Now I do! This cabinet has set the theme for our decorating project – we’re going (yay) Victorian! Pardon the tilt of the shot, I literally was scrunched up against a counter and couldn’t get a decent angle. It’s about six feet tall.


And that set our theme. Next!  I stumbled over a newer piece, but well built, and dark wood. This is SOLID wood and with some lace atop and some sort of decoration, will work on a side wall.

These two little chairs are oddities – and we have had them in the ladies room for at LEAST 25 years.  But they’re cute-kitchy.  I’m thinking to pull some ornate pillowcases over the backs, tie them off at the base with thick plush ribbon, and call it a day.  I don’t want to get rid of them as I am sentimental about them.  The countertop and mirror will get some sort of treatment… the old linoleum is blech.  Not sure what I’ll do yet.


I’m saving the best for last. Not sure how these will be used, but damn!  The tallest piece is about a foot tall. They need polished. But they are beautiful, heavy silver pieces. Maybe something on the little countertop, with flowers in them?  I DO know their history.  One of our deans, back in the 1960’s, used to like his afternoon tea. His secretary would prepare it, and serve it to him and guests on an ornate tray.  The tray seems to be undiscovered so far, but we did find the rest of the set!


(And the silver is sitting on my beloved 1940’s era credenza in my cubicle. Mine! You can’t have it!)

With all these bits collected, I think we have some good ideas for gathering in artwork for the walls, and bits of frippery to complete the look.  We were given a $50 budget to buy anything we wanted.   I’m hesitant on adding a rug, knowing how the custodial staff treats the floors. But maybe.  I know a really good second hand store for rugs…

Shall be nice to have a bit of genteel Victorian times in our otherwise drab 1948 institutional building.

Treasure Hunt
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Lori Alden Holuta


Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields of Mid-Michigan, where she grows vegetables and herbs when she’s not writing, editing, or playing games with a cat named Chives.


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