「箪笥リメイク」Refurbishing my kimono closet

For a long time now I wanted a proper way to store my kimono.
Japan gets really humid in summer, which can make the silk kimono moldy, light can burn the colors and of course there are insects which just love to eat holes in your favorite kimono, so they need to be protected.
Cedar wood is a natural insect repellent and kimono closets are constructed that they close almost air tight. (The wood expands and shrinks depending on the weather, so on a sunny dry day you can open and close the drawers like a breeze, on rainy days they are rather tight.)
When closing one drawer, the other ones tend to pop out slightly due to the air being pushed out. It’s quite cool.



誕生日に桐箪笥は届きましたーー 嬉しくてたまらなかった。

Since kimono closets aren’t very cheap (and I didn’t want a huge standard one either) I looked around for a while online for second hand/vintage furniture.

The ones which are gorgeous and in good condition are also very costly so I thought I’ll try to snatch up a slightly more shabby looking one and attempt to refurbish it.
So I did. This baby was delivered to my house on my birthday:


Tansu refurbishing

As you can see it is a little beaten up, has many scratches and discolorations.
But I liked its size and arrangement of drawers.

I have never refurbished anything like that before so I was a little scared to do harm to this lovely piece, but thought if I don’t try I’ll never know.
A quick search online pointed me in the right direction and so I was off to get everything I need from a home center.
A new nut and ratchet set to take off the drawer handles and sandpaper in 3 different grain sizes. Usually you’re supposed to have some firm block to wrap the paper around but I was too cheap to buy such thing so I looked around at home and could only find a box of old name cards.. I stuffed it to the max to make it firm and taped the sides closed. Haha.


The closet without drawers was moved onto the balcony, put a mask on and started sanding on the side first to see how things turn out. After a while the wonderful cedar wood started shimmering through.

I basically spent 6 hours sanding the whole thing down in 3 steps until nice and smooth. After the main part was done I moved on to the drawers.

The next morning I double checked and noticed the drawers weren’t done right (I was in a rush because it went dark out the night before and I didn’t want to stop), so I sanded the drawer fronts again to make them smooth like a baby’s butt.
Of course you also want to clean the dust out afterwards and wipe down with a damp cloth.


Tansu Refurbishing


Tansu refurbishing

Tansu refurbishing


The kimono closet made of cedar doesn’t need any coating because the wood itself doesn’t burn naturally and coating it would be more offending than anything (my first plan was to make it black, but my mom-in-law wanted to kill me hah)

So here is the result.
Before and after!

Tansu refurbishing

Tansu refurbishing

Tansu refurbishing

Tansu refurbishing

I say it was definitely worth it and looks way better than before.
Of course I’m super proud, even I had no feelings in my hands anymore after sanding 6 hours straight. Not to mention the sore muscles in my arm on the next day.


Also finally my accessories have a proper place.

Tansu refurbishing

Tansu refurbishing

Tansu refurbishing

Another lesson for life:
Don’t be afraid to try out new things and challenge yourself.

Have a great one,

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