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What I Know and Don;t Know About Old Furniture


A friend of mine made fun of me this week for how I talk about furniture. I say things like “It has good bones.” That means that under all the ugly I think there is something better that will hold up to the abuse my family can put it through. I also talk a lot about the age of the furniture. I have to be honest here. I can spot four types of furniture. Midcentury, mission, art deco, and 70’s. I cannot tell 20’s, 30’s or 40’s furniture apart. Any furniture older tan the 20’s you could tell me it was built in 1700 and I would believe you. I know it is old, but I just don’t have a frame of reference.  Most of the time When looking at furniture I either like the way something looks or I don’t. 

I feel like I need to let you know that I respect good, quality furniture. There are several pieces at my house that will never be painted, modified, retouched, or repurposed by me.  The first is this old chest.  I bought it 15 years ago at a Christmas Bazaar held each year in the city where I live.  I love it just as it is.  It serves as a coffee table, junk storage and it makes me happy.

Another thing I won’t mess with is our mirror.  Remember I have a thing for mirrors, but this one above all the rest.  We bought this when we really didn’t have any money years ago.  I was so proud to have it.  It has been in 7 of the 8 homes we have lived in.

The final piece I am going to show you that I will not violate is a very special family piece.  It was the first piece of furniture my extremely poor grandparents bought when they got married.  It is a simple two drawer dresser. It would have been the equivalent of Ikea furniture 75 years ago.  All the parts are out of different types of wood and there never was any ornamentation.
My dad rescued it out of an old storage shed when my grandmother passed away.  It was being used to hold tools and such. It was completely falling apart.  For my birthday several years ago my husband had the six layers of paint stripped off the piece professionally.  The stripping caused the entire piece to fall apart.  It looked like an erector set set when he brought it home.  He took every part and laid it out on the garage floor then painstakingly reassembled the piece, then stained and varnished.  I treasure it. 

 I will never claim to be an expert at furniture finishing.  I learn new things every time that I work on a piece.  I try to share what I learn because hopefully you can learn from my MANY mistakes.   Most of my city home furniture is unpainted.  Hubby has built some great pieces over the years that I could never consider painting.  I have some true antique pieces that deserve to be preserved.

 The furniture that I make over is either:

A) On life support, (The roadside broken up dresser.)
B) Was never that awesome (see above),

C) Was free, cheap, or found.  (My $25.00 solid wood bed above.)  I also have a wooden chest I recently bought for $5.00 that holds the birdseed on the front porch at Star Hill.  I saved it from being Pepto Bismol pink.  It was awful.  Now it is the red of our doors at the lake house.

A lot of that ABC furniture has landed at Star Hill. 
It is a mix of handmade furniture like the furniture that Hubby made from old fence boards.  (I love the buffet he made for me.)

I also have some found furniture like the cast iron typing table that we found in our garage when we moved into the city house, garage sale like our entertainment center and bunk beds.   Some of the things we have were”gifted” furniture. I have my great grandmother’s porch chair, my son’s bedside table, and my neighbor’s bedroom furniture.   I love the homey comfortable look that we have up in the country.  Up there I don’t stress about coasters, feet up on tables or eating on the furniture.  It sometimes pains me to cut up good pieces, even when they meet the ABC rules.  I am still hurting over the maple framed mirror that has become part of the mudroom bench.  I have saved all the cut off parts and plan on making a shelf with the parts.

I bothered me to use solid oak on the mudroom bench even though it was totally free.  I love having a place where those pieces of furniture that would have ended up in a dump are now a part of our weekend adventures.  I plan on getting pictures of each room at Star Hill this weekend so that you can see how far $1000.00 can go if you are patient.

I hope everyone has a great day and an even better weekend. 

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