dining room, diy

Vintage Mail Sorter

Do you ever find something when you aren’t even looking? This is exactly what happened with me and this gorgeous vintage mail sorter. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but I just knew I had to have it. It was one of those pieces I would probably never find again and I would regret it forever if I didn’t bring it home with me.


vintage mail sorter
 vintage mail sorter


I was browsing a local auction house online when I came across this beauty. Surprisingly, when I contacted the vendor it was still available. The next morning, Joe and I went to the warehouse and looked at the piece. The vendor told me they had been thinking about throwing it away and I couldn’t believe it. I immediately purchased it and Joe loaded it up in his truck. When we got home the back piece was deteriorating and falling off. We removed it and hosed down the entire piece with a high pressure hose. There were so many spider webs, spiders, and even a wasp nest that came out of this thing. The vendors told me it had been outside for years and the previous owners didn’t persevere it. To be honest, I was terrified and thought there was no way I was bringing it into my home until it was completely clean.


vintage mail sorter


After it was all hosed down, we let it completely dry out for a few days. The weather wasn’t cooperating and we had to move it into the garage. Meanwhile, I browsed Pinterest for ideas on cleaning vintage furniture and removing the old wood smell. I loved the piece but didn’t want my home smelling like an antique store. There was also layers and layers of dirt in every cubby. Using what I learned from Pinterest – I gloved up, filled a spray bottle with a 1:1 ratio of water and vinegar, and grabbed a roll of paper towels. I sprayed and wiped out every cubby until the paper towel was clean without any residue of dirt. This took me about two full afternoons and three rolls of paper towels. The piece was now clean to the touch but still had a funky smell. I then used some baking soda and put about a tablespoon in each cubby, I let it sit for a couple days and then vacuumed it up. The smell was slowly starting to fade, but still lingered. Back to Pinterest I went and learned that newspaper absorbed smells. I rolled up some old newspaper and stuffed them in all the cubbies. After a couple days, I finally felt like the smell was gone.


vintage mail sorter


Joe and I headed down to Tractor Supply and purchased these metal wheels to attach to the bottom. The wheels were silver, so I spray painted them with black spray paint we had in the garage. We attached the wheels with wood screws, careful not to split the old wood. I love the use of the wheels and it made bringing this large piece into the house a lot easier. However, I do think I will add some larger wheels eventually by adding a newer piece of wood attached to the bottom for more support. Overall, the balance seems off with small baby wheels on this large 4′ x 4′ piece.


vintage mail sorter

After a week of working on it everyday, we finally brought my vintage find inside. The wheels give it some extra height, but I still think the bigger wheels would look a lot better. I still need to add some shiplap to this dining room wall. The project list just keeps growing!


vintage mail sorter


I wasn’t sure how I would decorate this piece, but I knew I wouldn’t be filling up every cubby with a knick knack. This year, I’m going with a more simple approach to my design style and I actually love them empty. I decided to keep my DIY grocery sign, and I’m sure I will hang it on the wall eventually.


vintage mail sorter succulents


vintage mail sorter succulents


The weather is getting warmer and I’d been craving some touches of spring in our home. On a recent shopping trip to Michael’s, I found the cutest little succulents and knew they would be perfect for the cubbies. It was my lucky day because they were on sale and I had a 20% off my entire purchase coupon. I bought the entire shelf! Yes, I know but they were only two dollars a piece. I came home and placed them randomly strategically in each cubby. If you know me, then you know the randomness was strategically thought out in order to give the appearance of being random, but it wasn’t. #ocdproblems I love them and it’s the perfect simplicity look for spring (Michael’s loved them too and posted them on their Instagram page)!


This little gem  is slowly becoming one of my favorite pieces in our home. I don’t miss my dining shelves one bit. My word for 2016 was simplicity, and I’m so happy that I’m following it. I don’t have to worry about rearranging the shelves every season, dusting, cleaning, and shopping for new decor items. I now have a dining room that I truly love and its maintenance free!

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4 Comment

  1. Reply
    Carly Tegeler
    February 10, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    I love this piece! So unique and you styled it perfectly! I am not usually a fan of succulents because they often look too contemporary for my style, but they look great here!

    1. Reply
      Allison • A House and A Dog
      February 16, 2016 at 5:07 am

      Thank you so much!!

  2. Reply
    Joyce - Quilted Nest
    February 16, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    wow – this is massive – and awesome – and I woulda been intimidated by it I think. Looks great! Good for you.

  3. Reply
    June 26, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    [* Shield plugin marked this comment as “trash”. Reason: Failed GASP Bot Filter Test (checkbox) *]
    Allison, my husband and I are working on a similar project. Did you use 2 wheels or 4? I can’t figure out if it is going to balance with only 2, but 4 seems cramped with the width of the bottom piece. Thanks!

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