Monday, August 24, 2015

19th Century Empire Dresser

Empire dresser, circa 1870s
When I found this gem for FREE, from a man who no longer had room for it, I knew I found a piece of history.  He was an older gentleman and said it had been his parents' dresser but didn't know the extended history.  After doing some research, and consulting on the piece, it was believed to have been from the 1870s.  Oh, how I love stumbling on a beauty!

Considering it's age, there really wasn't much to be fixed except two missing drawer knobs and a crack in the top that had already been stabilized.  Otherwise, it just needed a good oil rubdown and some touchups.

First, let me give you some reasons why it was worth saving.
1.  Gorgeous, handmade dovetail drawers!  These were done without a factory.  Makes me think of Pa Ingalls working away in his workshop for his Half-Pint Laura.  To think they held together all these years!

Hand-carved dovetail drawers

Each drawer was unique
2. Hand-planed wood too!  The inside of the dresser revealed hand-planed wood.  Again, serious Amerian craftsmanship.

With the drawers removed, you could see the raw hand-planed wood

Yes, the back piece had started slipping a little after 150 years of gravity!
3. Drawer knobs that were all one piece!  The knobs and their "screw" were all one piece of wood.  When I unscrewed the knobs, the threaded end was part of the knob.  Therefore, in order to fix the missing two knobs, I instead glued on two new knob "faces" to the existing remained of the broken knobs.  That way as much of the original knob was salvaged. 

Notice the two knobs on the left of the bottom two drawers were missing and then reconstructed.
4. The dresser had character in the form of a crack.  Some might see a crack as a flaw, but this crack showed it's almost 150 years of use.  It was a battle scar from the post-Civil War era to our modern day technology age.  It stood the test of time and took a crack along the way.  Prior to it coming to me, someone had carefully secured the inside to keep the crack from growing.  I added the glass to make sure it didn't bow over time or crack more. 

The top as it came to me

The "anchor" on two sides from the inside to hold the crack in place
The top after much cleaning and oil

The top with glass added.  It's ready for a new home!
Of course, I did a lot to bring the shine back and oiled up each drawer, inside and out with lemon oil.  The dresser was so dry.  It was ready for a new home.  The dresser sold and went to home that will treasure it for many more years to come.

Look at those gorgeous curves!

What a beauty!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

American Girl Doll Cabinet Makeover

When this vintage/antique cabinet that had been redone with a 1980s stenciled creation showed up for me to rescue, I fell in love with it immediately.  It was long overdue for a new overhaul and new purpose.  Upon removing the paint from the top, I quickly realized that the wood was not uniform around the cabinet and it would need be kept a painted piece rather than stained.  Having grown up with a dislike for dolls, and now being a mother of only boys, I laughed at the original suggestion of a doll cabinet from my neighbor.  However, this American Girl craze had me thinking.  Not only was thinking, "Thank God I have boys!" but that this would be the perfect height for a little girl's doll collection. 

So I primed and painted over the stencils.  Painted the whole cabinet white.  Then I traced out a plain star so not to fully copy the American Girl logo.  The rest was easy with filling in the star, putting a coat of seal for the paint and shining up the brass drawer pulls.  Did I mention the real brass pulls?  Under the years of tarnish were shiny brass pulls!  This is why I love working with other people's castaways.  They often don't know what they've thrown away. 

It didn't take much except some paint, fine motor skills, and elbow grease.  However, hopefully this Christmas a little girl will be surprised with a new cabinet for her American Girl Doll collection.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

End Table Checkerboard Fail and Redo

I had seen this great pin on Pinterest from Minwax about how you can stain a checkerboard right into the top of a table.  I was up for the challenge and purchased my $5 yard sale table to being the project.  However, when I sanded down the stain off the top, I found the wood to be a knotty pine that would never in a million years cooperate with a checker pattern.  With my luck the dark knots would end up right where the light squares should be.  So I moved on to plan B.

I had already purchased the Minwax Polyshades in Pecan for the first round of the checkerboard so I stained the top and drawer in this shade.  Three coats later, I liked the color and moved on to the legs.  The dark knots needed to be paired with a dark charcoal bottom.  The contrast is more than I would normally choose, but I liked the outcome.  I swapped out the dainty white knobs for small black ones and a new end table is born (without checkers).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Salvaged Headboard becomes a new Coat Rack

"I see dead people" was a line from the movie, The Sixth Sense.  That's how I feel sometimes when I see a piece of discarded furniture.   Of course, I don't see dead people, but sometimes I look at it and see something that my family can't see.  In this case, I saw a headboard in my neighbor's trash that I just had to have because I saw a new coat rack.  My husband couldn't see it but he played along and helped me carry it to our deck where he sawed off the legs so we could store it for a "rainy day" when I had more time.  That time finally came this fall.

I got to work on sanding the rough spots, painting on the primer, then the gray paint.  Of course, I had to sand all my drips and start again.  Those circles in the center were not as easy to work with as I originally thought!
Add caption
Once I had the paint as I'd wanted, I tried to add an accent color to the indent in the circles but nothing seemed to work.  So I primed and painted again.  In the end, I found the starfish/stars for the corners as accent pieces and put on black hooks.  I thought maybe simple is better.  And the finished product is nothing like the original headboard!  I'd love to say I'm keeping this piece, but at 5 feet long, we don't have a mudroom or entryway large enough.  So it's been purchased by someone who can enjoy it in their home!
The finished product

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mahogany Woodard Antique Dresser Finds a New Home

[UPDATE:  This dresser sold to a young couple in Philadelphia and now resides in their 1920s home along side other antiques.]

Without all the hardware, my husband is holding it up for the photo

Repurposing furniture or renewing furniture with a fresh coat of paint is the new craze these days but sparing an antique is not so popular.  Sometimes, history is worth saving from the paint brush so it can be appreciated for just as it was meant to be.  When I came upon this old 3 drawer dresser with the swivel mirror, it was covered in spider egg sacks, lots of dust and in need of a good oil rub.  I brought it home and thought about a "project".  It wasn't until I started researching the label on the back that I decided to spare this dresser the paint brush or sander and maintain it the best I could as a piece of history.
The Woodard Furniture company, 1880-1930

Afterall, Woodard Furniture was known for it's high quality wood and craftsmanship. When the quality wood was no longer available in 1930, the company turned to the wrought iron patio furniture business that they are known for today.  This dresser that I had acquired was no exception to their quality.  It was rock solid and had stood the test of time of 100+ years.  It deserved to keep on standing in all it's beauty.  So I got to work to expose the beautiful details that made it known for it's quality.  With a litte lemon oil on the inside (to get rid of the old smell) and a cleaning on the outside to evict the spiders, we were on our way.  I ordered new mirror hardware, only to discover later that all the original pieces were there.  I'm sure in the end this would look great covered in chalk paint, or turned into something new. I have no doubt.  But with the history this holds, I wanted to spare one and keep it "as is" for a little longer.  Look at the details below.
Dovetail drawers
Gorgeous wood after a little lemon oil
Keyholes on every drawer
Corner moulding
Almost finished, you can just smell the history!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Old Skis Find a New Home for Christmas

Yes, that's real snow at the bottom from our Dec. 8th snowfall
The radio is playing "Let it Snow" and "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" so what better decoration for the porch than a set of skis?  My husband had this old pair sitting in the attic for years.  Finally, this year we pulled them down.  I love an old sled draped in holly that I occasionally see on front lawns.  So why not a pair of skis?!  They have lived a good life on the slopes, so this week we gave them a Second Chance as a decoration.  And when the snow fell yesterday, it just completed the Christmas look!
They add color to the porch in the day, and they're lighted at night by the Bethlehem Star hanging nearby.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Tribute: "A Mom, the Ultimate Tough Mudder"

[In honor of Mother's Day, and my wonderful husband who supports me in all my "second chance endeavors", I'm posting his tribute rather than a project.  My husband, Kyle, who is a fan and participant in mud races (and now my kids too!) composed this wonderful essay on motherhood.  So to thank him, and to thank all the Moms out there for all you do, enjoy reading!]

A Mom: The Ultimate Tough Mudder

Mother’s Day 2013

1st Stage of Obstacles
Obstacle # 1 – Pregnancy
The first obstacle a Mom encounters is 9-months of pregnancy. During this period she has to deal with her body changing in so many different ways. From weight gain, general pains, feet hurting, back aching and the list goes on and on. This obstacle can even cause permanent changes. You often hear Moms say “My body will never be the same.”  

Obstacle #2 – The Unknown Race…….
When a Mom enters labor, she doesn’t know whether she just entered a 5K or a Marathon. The delivery of this precious gift of life can either be quick like a 5K, or drawn out like a Marathon.

Obstacle #3 – The Short Rest Period
After the anticipated little one has entered the world, a Mom is given only two maybe three days if she is lucky to rest at the hospital and recover. The delivery of this little one might have been dramatic, exhausting, and sometimes an overwhelming emotional experience. However after this short rest, she is on her way to the next obstacle.

Obstacle #4 – Learning by Trial and Error
There is not a detailed ”instruction booklet” for a Mom. Therefore a Mom is forced to learn on- the-go.  So from their experiences, they learn the best way for doing things, and the best way not to do things. This is a never ending obstacle things are always changing as kids grow and Moms are presented with new challenges.

Obstacle #5 – Dealing with the Dirty
All the changing of diapers and dealing especially with “messy one.” 

Obstacle #6 Sick, But Still Going
Moms may feel horrible and sick, but they continue on and do what needs to be done. “Moms never get sick days.” This applies to all stages of being a Mom.

2nd Stage of Obstacles
Obstacle #7 Play-Date Anxiety

Who ever knew the complexity of arranging a play date for your kids and all the unknowns? Will the kids play well together? Do the Moms have things in common to talk about? What if you or the other Mom decides they are not interested in getting together for another play date? This is similar to not getting a “call back” after a first date. There seems to be so much pressure for things to go right on the first play date or there might not be a second.

Obstacle #8 Stuck on Default
Kids always seem to call for “Mom”, whether it’s regarding a question they have or calling for help. They will even call for Mom when Dad is in the exact same room they are calling from.  For kids the “default setting” is calling for Mom!

Obstacle # 9 – Around the Learning Curve
Moms seem to be the go-to person when it comes to helping with homework. Moms for the most part seem to be the ones to check-over homework or the tutor when the kids don’t understand something. Again Dad may be capable in helping but the default seems to be Mom.

Obstacle # 10 Neighborhood Politics
If your kids have friends in the neighborhood, a Mom must skillfully master the underlying politics of the neighborhood. The good ole days of kids working out their own issues between each other seem to be gone.  It now takes a “council of Moms” to first decide what happened, then which kid is to blame, and finally which kid is to apologize for what they may or may not have done.  Just like in politics, a Mom has to decipher which Moms you can work with and think on the same page. Which Moms you might not always agree with, but you can “reach across the aisle.”

3rd Stage of Obstacles
Obstacle # 11 Never Ending Adventure

Obstacle # 11 is for all the obstacles a Mom encounters which are not mentioned above, and for all the unknown obstacles which still lie ahead.

There is never a Finish Line when you are running the race of being a Mom.  This is a race like no other and the energy is derived from unconditional love which is an everlasting energy source.  This energy is specially given to Moms and it cannot be packaged in an energy drink.  Moms are built in a special way and are able to endure for however long it takes. That’s why a Mom is “The Ultimate Tough Mudder!”

So on this Mother’s Day, I want to thank you for all you have done and do on a daily basis. I appreciate everything you do as a Mom and a Wife!! You are loved very much by me and our two boys!!

Happy Mother’s Day!