Monday, 14 January 2013

The Story of a Dresser

Plans to paint an antique dresser

Dresser "Before"

My husband and I got married the same year that my grandpa moved out of his house, where he had been living for over fifty years. We scored a few pieces of furniture because of our timing. My grandpa's basement was vast, unfinished, and full of surprising finds stashed away decades ago by some relative and forgotten. That is where we found the dresser. And kept it in its found condition for almost twenty-five years.

We had been told years ago that this was a common Eaton's catalogue dresser from the turn of the century or earlier, and though the wood, "tiger oak" I later learned, was of good enough quality on the top and drawer fronts, the rest was not worth refinishing.  You can see similar dressers on the internet for sale for about two or three hundred dollars, so we are not talking about a fine antique here.

Still, it took me over six months to get up the nerve to paint it, caught in the crossfire of the internal voices saying "how can you paint wood, and an antique?" and "for crying out loud, let it sing."

Another "Before" view.

You can't really see in this picture, but the wood was scratched and not in the best shape.  The funny thing was, when we took off the mirror for painting, the strip of dresser hidden by the bottom of the mirror frame was actually quite shiny and a lighter colour. Could I get the top at least looking like that again?  And what kind of erosion of a century had reduced the wood to dull darkness? 

As soon as I started sanding, more scratches and drip marks started showing up and I wondered if it had once been used as a wash stand.  I persevered.  

Miles Redd bedroom in Architectural Digest
I saw this picture of a bedroom designed by Miles Redd online at
How I love Miles Redd and especially his wallpapered bedrooms.  I noticed that this room had green curtains like our bedroom and aslo a green headboard and green door. I knew I needed more than the bedside lamps (visible in the first photo in the mirror) to balance out the curtains. (And we will never have an upholstered headboard because of my husband's dust allergies.)  Please notice that the fine antique dresser in this picture is also painted (black and gold.)

So I persevered with my sanding and priming.

Stay tuned for the after picture. 


Kristie at The said...

ooh, i love that green door! look forward to your after :)

Susan Telfer said...

ooh, I love it, too. I was thinking of painting all my doors a muted aqua like Stratton Blue, but now I am thinking maybe all my doors will be green. The after just went up.