Sanding off the ugly parts

by statia on January 3, 2013

I hope everyone had a great holiday season. Filled with everything your heart desired. Whether that was sitting around doing nothing but eating cookies, or taking a vacation to warmer climes (climes are good). We basically did a lot of the former. The kids got way too many gifts, and I suppose that in some eyes that’s not really what the spirit is about. But my parents were one of those people that always made sure that they got into the spirit of consumerism during the holiday. The kids didn’t get everything they asked for, but there was an abundance of stuff under the tree. Christmas vomit, is what I like to call it.

Since it was a holiday more on the relaxing side, there was a lot of time for me to work on some of the furniture projects. I’ll admit, I’ve become addicted to rehabbing furniture, along with the decorating part of life, but mostly, the furniture projects. I’m addicted to all things midcentury modern. I’ve always loved that look. I think because for me, it’s a feeling, more than it is the look. The look is awesome. Kitschy. I believe the term from Van Wilder is apropos: Early Fuck.  But also, it soothes the cluttered mind. The clean lines, and minimalist look. I like to pair that with some simple home decor.  I’m not overly froofy.  I like the occasional froofy thrown in, but overall, simple and understated is more.

So, what I’m saying is that I’ve spent a lot of time on craigslist looking for “murder dressers.”

Murder Dresser - [mur-der]/?dres?r/ noun: An article of furniture purchased on craigslist. Usually being sold by some shady person, who keeps it in their basement, for your convenience.

I’ve scored quite a few of these pieces. I always take a buddy with me, obviously, but buying something like this always makes me nervous.  One guy actually (unintentionally, but he was still creepy) turned around to lock his deadbolt with his key after we had walked in. He realized what he was doing as I was staring at my friend with saucer sized eyes like “DUDE, we are SO getting murdered tonight!” Then he proceeded to lead us down to his basement.

I bought that dresser because I think the alternative was a “massage.”

I’ve gained a lot of experience since my first true furniture rehab, the Hepplewhite style sideboard that we use for family room storage. As a first piece, it was pretty difficult to do.  I could have easily just painted over it, but I really envisioned those fluted legs in the dark stain I used. And oh those fluted legs. They were a nightmare to strip. It took me two months from start to finish to do that project. But every layer of paint and varnish that I took off was a little victory.

It’s crazy how popular redoing a piece of furniture has become. A lot of people are turning to chalk paint, as it’s easy to take an inexpensive piece of furniture and turn it into something awesome. But it’s become all anyone ever does.  Shabby Chic. Slap a coat of chalk paint on it, scuff it up and call it a day. But the purist in me (and the perfectionist, let’s be honest) isn’t a fan of this movement. I mean, I’m not knocking it at all.  Stuff is staying out of landfills and getting a new life. And these Annie Sloan people are nuts over this paint. And my mantra is, if you’re that passionate, then it’s worth it.  But I love scraping and sanding and seeing all of the history come off and unearthing what’s underneath. I love starting from bare wood. I get the option of either painting or staining. Sure it’s a lot of work, but I love putting my sweat and elbow grease into a project. Scraping off the ugly parts is like digging for buried treasure. Once I get to the treasure, I can make the decision on what to do with it.  Most of the time, I’d rather stain, but obviously sometimes underneath might not be what I want it to be. And this is a nice lesson in being more flexible. Something that I need to work on in other areas of my life.

Right before Christmas, I was bringing home dresser after dresser (insert chronic stink eye from the Meester here). I scored this one, which I planned on keeping. A midcentury American of Martinsville dresser. I’m deducing, based on my research that this was from their more inexpensive hotel line, because I have other pieces, and they’re more minimalist than this, with a better veneer. Still a decent piece – better than most furniture from today:

Tasty tasty murder

Obviously it was painted the color ugly. Not only that, but the paint job was half assed. Not that it mattered. I just loved the lines. Simple. This piece was screaming bright color. I wanted to add a touch of color to my entry way.  I’ve said before, my plans are a bit fluid. I have a general idea, but it gets adapted as I go along, and I start to see the progress. The finished product was a little more green and bright for my liking. But it’s growing on me:

At first I wasn’t sure about it. But I have to admit, it’s growing on me.


Lisa @ Lisa the Vegetarian January 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm

I think the dresser came out awesome! It looks like something out of a magazine. Nice job!

statia January 3, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Thanks! :D

katie marsh January 4, 2013 at 3:51 am

Oh I love it!

It’s only taken me a year, to get my fiance to let me paint this ugly ass hutch he has in his kitchen. His dead grandparents gave it to him… and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t worth that much money for it’s time, but yet he still wouldn’t give because he liked the look of wood. Gag. It’s so damn ugly, there just isn’t any words.

Anyhow, we finally bought black paint last night… I’m so excited. If it turns out even a quarter as nice as your pieces, I’ll be on cloud 9! :) :) Any suggestions for a newbie getting into this painting old crap, i mean treasures? ;)

Amy January 4, 2013 at 9:05 am

I so want to do these types of projects, but fear stops me in my tracks. That and just general inexperience and visions of failed projects left in my wake. :-) I planned to strip & refinish my hardwood floors over Christmas break when I was off for 19 days, but I got cold feet and didn’t do it. I’m so worried I’m going to “do it wrong” or screw something up that I never get started. So – how did YOU get started? Perhaps I need to start small and one day I’ll have the courage to do the bigger projects like the floors.

BTW – the dresser is amazing. I like the pieces you chose to put on top, too.

statia January 4, 2013 at 12:27 pm

I’m hoping next week to do a tutorial on how to paint. The right tools are essential. It also helps to be a bit anal retentive. :)

Shelly January 4, 2013 at 10:06 am

LOVE IT!! I am so impressed with your mad skills.

Betsy January 4, 2013 at 7:17 pm

I LOVE THAT DRESSER. Seriously. It might just make me start looking at old furniture in a new way.

ewe are here January 6, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Love love love the paint job.

jen January 7, 2013 at 2:52 pm

This is gorgeous and you are inspiring the hell out of me. I’ve always wanted to refinish/reupholster/renew furniture, but I am full of the same fear as Amy, above. I come from a long line of mostly successful DIYers, so I’ve decided to blame my fear on all the years I’ve lived in apartments with maintenance staff who just turn up and make things better. ;)

the cape on the corner January 8, 2013 at 12:32 pm

oh my gosh, murder dresser or not, this is an amazing find, and what you did with it truly brought it to life! wowza!

Ally January 8, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Oh! I love it. What an amazing find! You brought that poor baby back to life. Great job. I think it looks terrific.

KAREN January 8, 2013 at 8:14 pm

LOVE IT!!!!!!

Shanna January 11, 2013 at 8:54 am

LOVE the color. But then you have seen the pictures of my kitchen. ;) That would go great with the kitchen so let me know if you ever need to part with it. Just a hope, skip and a jump to come pick it up, right? ;)

Tracey January 21, 2013 at 2:53 pm

That is fabulous! Great job!

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