Organ Revival

I’m excited to finally reveal this project because it’s been a few months in the making.

I’ll start from the beginning. When my grandmother was sick and in the hospital, she kept telling me she wanted me to do something with the organ in the shed. I said, “Grandma, just to clarify, are you talking about a piano or a human organ?” She let out her signature cackle and verified that it was definitely not an internal organ.

It turns out that my grandfather purchased this organ from a yard sale about 45 years ago. It was painted in black lacquer and by accident one day, chipped off a piece of the paint. What he discovered underneath was beautiful, cherry wood. This was a treasure too good to cover up so he spent a lot of time stripping it down to the original wood. I never met him because he passed before I was born. I feel like we could’ve been quite a pair!

At some point, it made it’s into my Grandma’s shed. That’s where Brian and I come in. After my grandmother passed in March, I felt like I had to fulfill her wish and do something with this organ.

Here is what it looked like sitting in the shed. She was in pretty bad shape but surprisingly not as bad as she could have been sitting in a shed for decades. Hmm. What to do with this thing? We ventured in to the shed a few weeks after we moved into our new house. We had searched for a bar on Craigslist to put in the man cave. Well, here was our bar! Brian and I acknowledged it would be a lot of work but we were up for the challenge.

First step: clean this puppy off!


I will say the men in my life did the dirty work. My dad cut out the bellows in back so we could eventually put in a shelf. Thank goodness I don’t have a picture of what came out of that! Clearly it had become a cozy home for little creatures.

Once we got it home, we had to decide what to do with the finish. I didn’t want a drab, dark, dingy bar in our basement. We knew we wanted to keep it’s vintage feel but in an updated way. It killed me to paint over the wood knowing that my grandfather had stripped it down. It would only work in our house though if we overhauled it.

Settling on a steely, gray color, I made my own chalk paint and got to work.

This is the back of the organ after we put a shelf on the bottom and painted it.

The painting process took a while for the rest of it. I did two coats of paint, clear waxed it, sanded and distressed then dark waxed. This is after spending weeks taking little pieces off, ripping out nasty material and cleaning it meticulously. My husband became kind of obsessed with cleaning every little nook. If it was going in our house, he wanted it perfectly clean. I can’t say I fought him on that!

In the midst of all this, I called a guy my dad knew and picked out a piece of a granite remnant. He gave me a great deal and we were able to get both cuts out of one piece.

Once we got it inside, we adhered the granite to the bar with clear, silicon caulk.

And now, without further ado, our refreshed organ bar:


It was important to us to leave some original pieces intact. I like the contrast of the dark wood in some places. Also, we replaced the nasty fabric behind the detailed panels and the foot pedals. I put a sheer, natural fabric in place so that a little light could come through.


We left the original pulls in place as well. I assume they were the buttons that changed the sound of the organ.


The stools were a great find on Craigslist! The three of them were $20. The light wood just wouldn’t work so I painted them in the same gray and distressed them slightly. I kept them clean and simple as not to compete with the rest of the bar.


I realize this is a long post but this was a project with lots of components! It was important to me that somewhere near the bar, there was a picture of my grandparents since this piece used to belong to them. I had some frames I painted, put in some vintage sheet music I had on hand, and printed out a great picture of them.

Now they overlook the bar and remind us of where it came from. The other photo is of Brian’s grandfather playing the accordion. Such a musical family!

The blue frame is filled with a major scale made from the tiny metal pieces that were inside the keys! Thanks for the idea David Prusina!

The bar made it’s debut at our housewarming party this past weekend. It was a big hit and I’m sure it will get a lot of use in the future!





11 thoughts on “Organ Revival

  1. i really look forward to your blog . each project is something i would love in my home too. Great taste and nice work. keep it up , I just love it warmly laura

  2. Meg and Brian, it’s beautiful. You brought tears to my eyes when you mentioned you have pictures of my dad playing the accordion hanging over the organ along with your grandparents. Wait till my mom sees it in a few days!

  3. Meg, there are no words for your talent, both in imagination and working hard to accomplish the unexpected. The organ bar is so beautiful! I know your grandmother would be so proud to know that you have brought something so special, back to life!

  4. What an absolutely fabulous idea! It looks great and I’m sure you’ll think of your grandparents every time you sit at the bar. And I LOVE the scale in the frame! You’ve inspired me to go through my grandparents stuff and see what I can adapt. 🙂

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