Something Old Is New Again



After the excitement of Christmas and the clean-up aftermath, I set a new goal for myself:  to rid the living room of boxes of books that thus far have had nowhere to go. I had wanted to get a bookcase for the area the boxes occupied, but it would have to be low enough to allow in the lovely light from the window above.  A low bookcase would not be sufficient for the many boxes of books.  

The space where the boxes were stacked for the past six months is right beside the fireplace—a pretty prominent feature in the room— and the boxes were not at all attractive.  I have selected a place for tall bookcases— which will solve the book problem—but that is another story.

For more than four decades, I have had a cabinet always used just to fill space in our home.  It is an old Magnavox Hi-Fi cabinet that I gutted years ago to make it easier for me to move around.  It is a very traditional mahogany piece and has seen better days since it first came to us.  After our move, I decided it might be more appealing if it were painted.  It certainly was not valuable as an original cabinet with its insides removed.  It had some battle scars from early use as a stand for a small portable TV. Paint seemed to be in order.

I had considered a black and gray combination, or a turquoise; turquoise won.  At first, it seemed too bright and lacking in depth, so I added some antique glazing; that was better.  Still not sure before Christmas what to do with it, I first put it in the spare room and let the holidays occupy me.

Come the new year, my daughter suggested I try using the old, painted the cabinet in the space beside the fireplace until I found something better; it certainly would fit.   I decided that the cabinetwould allow “Sophie” the cat, a more stable place in the sun to view the dogs next door; the boxes of books were sinking under her weight!  It also would add a bit of color in a room that already has a lot of wood furnishings.

I was not thrilled with the cabinet even after the paint; it just was not something I thought I would use again, but using it under the window was a good idea, so why not give it a chance.  Just when I thought I would kick it to the curb and see who might pick it up, it was spared that humiliation and has a place in our home once again.

The moral of this story is not to give up on a piece just because it is old and worn.  Paint can revive just about anything and bring new life to an old piece.  Who knows? It looks good enough to stand the test of time for another few decades.

The Search Continues


The build-out for my current client is not limited to a new bathroom, but also a seven- foot extension of the master bedroom.  Having the additional space in the bedroom allows for a cabinet on the other side of the bed for some much needed storage and surface space.

The need for this furniture piece took us back to the Rose Bowl in search of a hefty bedside cabinet.  Not wanting a matched pair made the search both easy and more difficult as sellers are less likely to break up a set; although it is always a good idea to ask, you might get lucky.

This time we planned to paint the surface so we were less concerned with the species of wood and its condition.  I am always surprised to see “shabby chic” still popular, but it does not alter our goal for a painted surface.  


The piece we settled on had some pretty feminine applique details that I mistakenly thought would be simple to pry off with a putty knife.  Apparently, a century ago, the glues they used were pretty strong; in addition,  the appliques were secured with tiny brass pins.  We needed to resort to heavier tools than we found in the pink tool box; we needed a man’s tools for this job!  The appliques came off but not always cleanly; some of the oak splintered off leaving more to sand off with an electric sander.

My client chose this piece  because of its size and storage capabilities and because of the secret compartment!  When making choices from flea markets, one needs to be certain the piece will fit the space and needs; it is wise to be careful, and always carry a tape measure since such pieces are not returnable.  Getting the furniture from the stall to one’s vehicle is the task of the buyer.  We were not well prepared for this part; the oak was much heavier than we anticipated, and we were without a strong guy to carry the for us.

We struggled carrying the awkward piece through the crowds, having to stop and rest periodically.  At one point, we had the great good fortune to stop in front of a stall where the kind owner offered to loan us her homemade dolly if we would leave a driver license.  She apologized for needing to keep something of value as she had been burned by people in the past not respecting her generosity.  My eternal thanks to this wonderfully kind woman.

To make a simple portable dolly requires on a couple of 2x4’s nailed to form a platform and covered with a remnant piece of carpet.  Four heavy duty casters attached with some screws to the underside, and one is in business.