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Three Ways to Style an Antique Meat Safe

Meat safes were used in Australia and elsewhere before the invention of ice boxes and refrigerators.  They kept food (not just meat, but any perishables) clean, cool and safe from flies.  After a little investigation on Google I learned that they’ve actually been around for centuries!  Now they can be found in farmhouses all over the country.  They’re a great decor piece with the added functionality of storage.  We are lucky enough to have three; two that were already on our farm and one that my husband bought me at a clearing sale.  I’m going to share with you the three ways I’ve styled our meat safes.

This first meat safe was here on the farm in the shearers’ kitchen.  It was in fairly good shape considering its age.  We took it to a local antique restorer and he did an excellent job giving it new life!


This particular meat safe is in our downstairs hallway and houses my Santa collection among other holiday pieces.  It fits ideally in this space and I was able to make the entire piece, along with the items on the adjoining wall, a vignette of sorts.  From the wall hangings to the lantern to the pieces on top, these items form a cohesive and cozy collection.


Because of it’s size, the top of this particular meat safe has endless possibilities when it comes to styling.  I am able to use more than one large piece of decor and still have room left over for a smaller grouping.  The large glass plate on the bunny base has lived it’s entire life on this meat safe because it’s the perfect size for it and it’s high enough that I feel it’s safe from being broken.


This second meat safe is slightly smaller than the previous one and was restored by the same person.  It also came from the shearers’ kitchen on farm and was in slightly worse shape after years of use.  But as you can see, it came up beautifully with a little elbow grease and a few minor repairs.


This second meat safe is housed in our master bedroom in lieu of a dresser.  Again it is used for storage.  Because this one is in our bedroom, I wanted the decor elements to be more personal.  So I’ve filled it with photos of our children, nephews and niece and my sweet Dad.  I love layering items and doing the unexpected such as leaning the painting (courtesy of my very talented mother-in-law) against the wall as opposed to hanging it.  There’s a sweet story behine the tiny painting near the lamp.  My Dad was the paperboy for the artist when he was a young boy and many years later bought this painting at a fund raiser.


My husband bought me this third meat safe from a clearing sale and I knew right away that I would use it in our children’s bathroom.  It was in worse shape than the previous two.  As you can see the gauze was missing on one side.  In the other two safes we had the gauze replaced, but in this one I liked the rustic look that it had so decided not to replace it.


When I styled this meat safe I decided to keep it clean and functional since it was going to be storing everyday items used in the bathroom.  The pottery is the perfect color for the bathroom and lends a bit of texture to compliment the sleek glass of the apothecary jars.


I’m thinking it may be time to repaint this old girl and spruce her up a bit.  But I’m still not going to replace the gauze because I love the piece’s character and don’t want to lose any of it’s history.


Hopefully I’ve given you a bit of inspiration when it comes to styling meat safes or any other sizeable piece of furniture.  These safes come in all sizes so if you haven’t seen one, keep your eyes peeled.  They’re beautiful, functional pieces with lots of history.


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