Vintage Tennenbaum Clothing Armoire

Clothing hanging inside a vintage armoire.

Whew this project took a long time for me to complete! I bought it the day after Christmas (2016) and here it is almost August 2017. The project took a couple of twists and turns, but also sometimes I get emotionally attached to the piece (I know that's weird!), and I'm just not in a big hurry to finish up and list it for sale. Nevertheless, this project is now complete and ready to share with you. HINT: If you're in a hurry you can just read the captions beneath the photos for the short version of the story.

Before

I know it looks quite nice in the photo, and I thought so too when I spotted it across the thrift store, but upon further inspection it was a hot mess. The wooden wheels were broken, the finish had a large gouge across the front of the doors as well as other scratches, the inside locking mechanism was broken, the key was missing, and the shelves inside were gutted and long gone. But otherwise it was in great shape! I was shopping on Christmas Eve day and actually left the store without it. But I thought it had potential, so I was back making the purchase the day after Christmas.

Armoire manufactured by The Jake Tennenbaum Company (Cincinnati, Ohio) Circa early 1900s
Armoire manufactured by The Jake Tennenbaum Company (Cincinnati, Ohio)
circa early 1900s

The piece was made sometime in the early 1900s by The Jake Tennenbaum Company located in Cincinnati. It was originally built as a chifferobe, but the shelves were removed by a previous owner. I considered rebuilding the shelves, but decided instead to use it as a clothing armoire/closet instead.

Previously it was a chifferobe but the interior was gutted.
Previously it was a chifferobe but the interior was gutted.
I tested out my skeleton keys, and luckily I had one that fit the lock. I ordered a replacement key as well as four new wooden replacement wheels.

The original wheels were broken.
The original wheels were broken.
I initially painted it with a few coats of Old White and then sealed it with wax. It looked OK, but somehow it didn't feel quite right to me. So the project stalled for a few months until I finally decided what to do with it.

Handmade Furniture Appliques

As I mentioned, the white was OK, but in the end it was just too plain. I felt it needed something else and I wanted to give it a touch of romance. I played around with a few different designs until I decided to make a floral swag with clay for the top. Then I made lots of rosettes to create an oval floral applique on each of the doors.

Rosettes made of paperclay drying on tray.
Rosettes made of paperclay drying on tray.
I explained the process of using clay and silicon molds to make furniture appliques in an earlier post which you can read HERE.  But basically you first dust the mold with corn starch, press the clay into the mold, and then bend the mold to release the clay. I let the clay dry for about 24 hours. (I'll include a supply list at the bottom of this post.)

How to make furniture appliques with paper clay and silicon molds.
How to make furniture appliques with paper clay and silicon molds.

I used E6000 glue to attach the dried clay to the armoire. The glue doesn't dry instantly which is good for tinkering with the placement of the clay pieces. On the other hand gravity can play havoc with the placement while it's drying, so I laid the armoire flat to attach the clay appliques. Visitors are sometimes surprised by the furniture arrangements on any given day in my home!

Armoire on floor in preparation of applying appliques.
Armoire on floor in preparation of applying appliques.

I left it to dry for about 4 hours before moving it back into an upright position.

Rosette swag being applied to top of armoire.
Rosette swag being applied to top of armoire.

After

I painted over the first coat of Old White with a coat or two of Antoinette Pink and added light distressing to reveal some of the white beneath it. I sealed the pink with soft clear wax, and then applied a Winter White glaze.

Vintage armoire painted in Old White & Antoinette Pink
Vintage armoire painted in Old White & Antoinette Pink

The interior of the armoire was painted in Old White.
The interior of the armoire was painted in Old White.



Plenty of storage is found inside the clothing armoire.
Plenty of storage is found inside the clothing armoire.

A new clothing rod was added and also painted in Antoinette Pink.
A new clothing rod was added and also painted in Antoinette Pink.

The original rod from the chifferobe remains intact and adds a touch more space for storage.
The original rod from the chifferobe remains intact and adds a touch more space for storage.

Rosette swag hand made with paper clay.
The rosette swag was hand made with paper clay.

Handmade oval rosette appliques add an extra touch of romance to the armoire.
Handmade oval rosette appliques add an extra touch of romance to the armoire.

The original key was missing, but a replacement key was found!
The original key was missing, but a replacement key was found!


Light distressing was applied to reveal hints of the underlying white paint.
Light distressing was applied to reveal hints of the underlying white paint.

Wooden replacement wheels were obtained.
Wooden replacement wheels were obtained.
This armoire will work beautifully for anyone that needs some extra storage or closet space. It's sweet enough to be used in a nursery, but still sophisticated enough to be used by any age. 

Vintage armoire hand painted and designed by Patricia at The Black Sheep Shoppe
Vintage armoire hand painted and designed by
Patricia at The Black Sheep Shoppe
Thank you so much for stopping by the blog today. I hope you enjoyed the project and like the finished piece. I'll include the supply list below in case you're interested in creating a similar look. New visitors are encouraged to enter their email address in the "subscribe" button on the top right of the page! Or feel free to follow me on Facebook.

Supply List


Below are the supplies I used for this project. Some links are affiliate links which  means I earn a small commission if you make a purchase. It doesn't cost you extra, but it helps support the time and effort of maintaining the blog. Thank you for your support and understanding!

Supplies used for the appliques:
Here's one last look of the before and after:

Vintage armoire before and after

Tutorial shows you how to make your own furniture appliques by The Black Sheep Shoppe

How to make your own furniture appliques and save money! by The Black Sheep Shoppe


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