Tuesday, June 23, 2015

One person's junk is another's treasure (first posted online June 18, 2009)

photo: Eric Hylden, Grand Forks Herald 2014
When I was in college I remember walking home on a snowy, January evening.  I was returning from class, at the end of term, and saw, in the bright moonlight, an old black chest of drawers heaped near the trash pickup behind fraternity row.  Wow!  When I got home I rallied the troops -and after warming up the car Jim, Anna and me headed back to the frat house.  We squeezed the 3-drawer dresser into our hatchback, and home we slid.

It had legs, and sweet little old-fashioned drawer pulls:

Similar chest of drawers on Etsy
Jim removed the pulls and soaked them in paint remover, noticing that a magnet didn’t pull on them...a great sign.  I began sanding the rough edges before priming it, then painting it with two coats of creamy satin.  Upon completion we had one of our most treasured dressers, not the prettiest, but valued because we saved it from the jaws of the landfill.  I had learned this from my mother, as she always was one to dash off to a yard or estate sales, although her style was economical furniture, never things that needed hours of rehab.  Elbow grease expands one’s choices tenfold, which became my style.

Vintage mid-century modern footstool
Some time back a friend was cleaning out her garage, piling up items for the thrift shop, giving me first right of refusal.  I quickly saw the promise of a small footstool.  It became an instant favorite in our family room.  The nubby fabric was starting to show wear and needed replacing.  The stained wood was...well, too dark for my druthers.  

After a few hours of sanding (yes, I resorted to a palm sander, not always keeping the round dowels perfectly round, but natural wood was my priority) and finishing it with a honey-colored deerskin from my handbag supplies, we had footstool transformation.  Beforehand it was utilitarian.  Now it’s in sync with all my design desires.  If only it were this simple to transform a dark oak kitchen!   

Refinished footstool with the maven of chic

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