Homebodies - Always one more project


By Rita Friesen

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It was sitting there, in a nearly empty room in the basement. Forlorn, abandoned, in need of love. A household was slowly being down-sized, the word we dread. Left alone was half of a vintage vanity. Once partnered with another set of drawers, bravely supporting a low shelf and a round mirror, sat this half of a whole.

After my initial gasp, I quietly mentioned that if no family member wanted the unit I would love to have it. My guide was willing to toss it in the truck immediately, but I deferred, for the family would be meeting shortly and, perhaps, someone would want it.  Two days later it was deposited in my garage.

Part of my longing was for half of a whole. Part of my longing was that the unit could become a bedside table for the spare room. The chest of drawers, and the vanity with a mirror, where of the same vintage, the soft curve of the waterfall top, colonial maple in colour.

I waited for a reasonable amount of time, fearing that someone might still claim it, before I started the restoration process. I won’t say that I’ve mastered stripping and staining reclaimed furniture, but I am pretty good at it. [A few weeks ago a family member sat in my living room admiring a chest of drawers that I had refinished two years ago. The TV belongs on top of it. The comment was made that someday she would like one like that. I reminded her that she had given it to me when I found it in the basement of her home -stained, unsteady and bereft!]

It felt great to take the sander and remove residual glue that had held the original unit together. In some places the colour had faded, and the handles needed extra care, decorative amber coloured Bakelite ovals snuggled in the brass pulls. Ornate carvings grace the solid wooden bars between the drawers. It is beautiful. In my haste I neglected to don protective gloves before handling the stripping compound. No permanent harm done! A minor repair to a back corner, and it is all I saw it could be.

The mood set, I decided it was time to work on another piece of furniture. This is also a small unit that could serve as a bedside table, or a catch-all at an entrance. Many years ago, when I was first starting out as an independent, a carpenter friend made it for me. Years ago a grandchild borrowed it, and with my permission spray painted it a glossy black. Now back in my care, the black had to go! I purchased a coarse sand paper, moved the unit to the open air, donned a mask, and set to work. My aim was to dim the shine so that even an undercoat could bind! Some time, and much effort later, goal achieved. And now it sits. I don’t know what it’s new purpose is to be, and so I wait to choose a paint colour.

And there is always just one more project to go!