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A Home Apothecary

Once upon a time, I worked in supplements. In fact, once upon many times, I worked in supplements, and herbs, and body care products. When I lived in Washington, D.C. in my early twenties, I worked in the supplements and body care department at Whole Foods Market  in Arlington, VA for about a year, before transitioning to two different small Mom & Pop health food stores in the district, where I juggled the entire gamut of both stores. Then, when I returned to Asheville, in 2000, I worked several years at a large regional natural foods store in the supplements & body care department, before ultimately working the supplement & herb section at an integrative medicine practice before transferring to being the practice’s medical assistant and nutrition consultant.

So, you see, I have a long and storied history of working with bottles of Vitamin C and tinctures of echinacea. Recently, I found myself frustrated with the storage area for our own arsenal of natural remedies. From herbal teas to natural cough lozenges, everything was sort of lumped together all crazy-like in our walk-in pantry. “Nevermore, quoth I!” (dramatic emphasis is imperative to developing tension in any good story, you see). And so began our quest to build or buy something in which to house our remedies.

We considered a number of possibilities, including building something ourselves, but ultimately decided that something upright and tall and upcycled/repurposed would do the trick. We opted to tuck it into a little nook in the kitchen that you pass en route to the pantry. Several antique and thrift trips later, we found just what we were looking for. An old wooden cabinet, sturdy but not terribly heavy, and with a good number of shelves inside spotted at the Antique Tobacco Barn (oh, SUCH a temptress, that place is!) met all of our criteria.

It was a beat-up white when we purchased it, so we knew it would need a paint coat to make it mesh with our interior (which is largely composed of dark, earthy colors). Glenn found a shade of army green that meshed with the kitchen palette perfectly. He gave it two coats, and then sanded down the edges and bits of the exterior, to make it look worn in. A knob matching our kitchen cabinetry replaced the knob the cabinet came with and it was done!

Those of you that like to organize like I do will understand the immense, abiding satisfaction I now experience every time I open the cabinet (which, incidentally, has been a good deal lately; this cold just doesn’t want to leave!). There’s a shelf for prescription items, one for Glenn’s supplements, one for Huxley’s, one for digestive needs and cold/flu health, one for bulk medicinal herbs, and one for teas. I adore it. A place for everything, and everything in its place!

14 Responses to A Home Apothecary

  • Brooke Hampton says:


  • Dixie J says:

    Nice! I need one as our supplements have now taken over an entire kitchen cupboard which I can not afford to lose. Love the tobacco barn. Every time we come to town we make sure we go there. Hope you get feeling better soon.

  • jen says:

    Ooh, I do love good organization. This turned out great! I confess I wish I knew more about herbal supplements and natural remedies, tinctures, etc. Something about making your own cures sounds so appealing!

  • amanda (sweetpotatoclaire) says:

    heading there soon myself in hopes of finding the perfect table to use for a new bathroom sink cabinet….. very nice work organizing all your goodies!

  • steph says:

    I shopped at that Whole Foods when it was Bread & Circus….then Fresh Fields…then Fresh Fields Whole Foods Market…then Whole Foods. Probably saw you there. Still wish it was called Fresh Fields. I loved the cardamom rolls and maple cream pies :-)

  • Kaitlin Jenkins says:

    Beautiful! How nice to have all of your things at hand like that :)

  • Georgette says:

    Fits neatly in that space and the colors are warm, earthilicious plus chic! I like the heavy colorful almost Turkish plates on the wall. Martha would no doubt put her stamp on this one or Pottery Barn! I need a cupboard for my tiny bathroom; I must go perusing at the flea markets soon!

  • Missy says:

    How are you getting away without child-proofing this? My little ones would be in it within seconds.

    • missy-the door has a catch inside, that provides a good deal of resistance to the door knob. that said, huxley could totally get into it, if he wanted to, which is precisely why things i’d be concerned about him accessing are placed on the higher shelves. glenn and i are both pretty much always aware of where he is in the house and what he’s doing. so, if he did try to get into it (and he knows he’s not allowed to), we’d likely know about it quite quickly.

      • Tina C. says:

        I’d say get something stronger. you never know. i thought i was done with having to actively prevent these things from happening through watching and patrolling, and then my 5 year old ate a small metal ball. i thought he knew better. you know what they say about assuming…

        • Shanda says:

          Yep, I agree with Tina. My five year old swallowed a Quarter, goofing around. Did you know that a Quarter is 7/8 of an inch wide and the maximum size that can exit your stomach is 1 inch? I know now after the development of several gray hairs. Ha ha (now I laugh, not at the time of the infamous Quarter incident however).
          Love the cabinet, great job on the painting and I love that color.

  • Melanie J. says:

    Had heard of Antique Tobacco Barn, but hadn’t visited their site yet….ohmygoodness, the STUFF! Think I just found my next place to explore when I’m off on a toot :)

  • KC says:

    That is so much more organized and contained then I had imagined! Hear I am thinking medieval style with color jars and loose herbs all over the place. What a nice cabinet you found.

  • Liz ~ A Natural Nester says:

    Ah, the Tobacco Barn. I used to go there when visiting my parents in Leicester, several years ago. LOVE! And I really love your cabinet… I’ve been dreaming of creating something similar. But I need not only the space, but the goods too… learning about & building a natural/herbal medicine cabinet is on my list of goals for the year.