a peek inside the fishbowl

11 Jul, 2020

When old furniture is made new again

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Home/reno

Many moons ago, my mother gave us a china cabinet. It was in the dining room in the house that I grew up in.

Storage-wise, it’s great. It’s tall. The top half has glass doors, the bottom half has solid doors and hides all kinds of things. Dividing the top and bottom is a big wide (and deep!) drawer that holds our cloth napkins, special-occasion cutlery, and all kinds of odds and ends. (I can’t tell you how many chocolate bars I’ve stashed in there over the years.) Even the roof of the cabinet serves as storage.

Mark and I have talked about replacing it because it wasn’t our style and didn’t match anything we had going on on the main floor of the house, but I couldn’t find anything that came close its amazing storage capacity. And when I did spot something that might fit the bill, it cost a fortune. (Also, worth noting, I’ve asked around, and looked around, and these kinds of antiques aren’t in vogue or worth very much on the resale market.)

I thought maaaaaaybe there was a way to remake this cabinet so it suited our style. Enter, Malenka Originals.

I’ve been following this business for some time now. The owner, Katrina Barclay, was a neighbour of ours a few years ago. She had a cute furniture remodelling workshop and store in Britannia Beach, which moved to Hintonburg a few years ago. We wrote about the store opening in the community newspaper. I followed her on Instagram and absolutely loved how she transformed the ordinary into something extraordinary.

I wrote Katrina an email in early February and outlined an idea I had. Within a short time we had a plan and the cabinet was carted away.

Then came COVID, and as you know, the world came to a grinding halt, and so did Malenka Originals. (For the record, I was cool with this. Such is life, and it’s only a china cabinet, after all! No biggie.)

Well, we got it back the other day. If I was allowed to use only one word to describe how I felt when I saw it in person it would have to be: THRILLED. It was totally worth the wait.

Here’s are a couple of “before” pics, just so you have an idea:

China cabinet (before)

China cabinet (before)

… and here’s the after:

China cabinet, after

China cabinet, after

China cabinet, after


That bottom part looks handpainted but it’s actually a transfer called “Midnight Garden,” and it wraps around the sides a little bit.

The blue colour on the inside really makes our treasures shine, whereas they were lost in the dark before. (I tell ya, it was hard to pick that blue from photos of other blues, but we managed. AND IT WAS ALL DONE BY EMAIL. omg.)

Anyway, as I said, we are thrilled. THRILLED. I can’t describe how much I love this transformation, and how nice it is to have a piece of furniture that is truly unique, and truly our own.

Katrina was a pleasure to work with from beginning to end, and she went the extra mile for us. If you’re looking to breathe new life into something old, I recommend you take a look at her shop. Check her out on Instagram too! (You’ll see an even better photo of our cabinet there.)

1 Response to "When old furniture is made new again"

1 | Yvele

July 13th, 2020 at 7:06 pm


Love love that piece and was hoping it was for sale.
Yes, Katrina is a joy to meet and to work with too.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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