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How did that get there?

January 4, 2017

I have some interesting living area furniture.  And by interesting, I mean that it’s been far too loved by decades of spitting up babies, grimy toddlers, grungy preteens, dirty-footed teenagers, sharp-clawed cats, and Jake the Jerk-Faced Dog as well as his greyhound Dingbat Brigade predecessors.  We won’t even discuss the fact that it was last in style sometime in the mid ’80s. It has served us well, but we’ve already had to drag one hopeless piece to the curb, and another probably isn’t far behind. But for now, it’s what keeps us from sitting on the floor.

As I was thinking about what we could do with what we have, my thoughts turned to a well-worn little table thingy that we first used as a TV stand (remember when small TVs were the size of dorm fridges?), and then used as a coffee table. Except it would better be described as a Fruit Roll-Up table, or a dirty sock table, or a bobby pin table, or a what-is-that-and-who-spilled-it table, because it’s really not seen much coffee in its years. It’s not fancy. But it’s still pretty sturdy.

The wheels started turning.

Maybe I could paint that table. I bet I could paint it. But hand painted furniture often ends up looking all rescued, in all the wrong ways. Except people are painting a lot of furniture these days and it looks great. Maybe I could paint furniture that looks great, or at least better than it does now. But what if it doesn’t? What if I make an ok-ish piece of wood furniture into a truly terrible eyesore?  Wait—what about that chalk paint stuff people rave about? I see a lot of nice furniture painted with that. Of course, it wasn’t painted by me, and my furniture painting skills or lack thereof might actually be the issue. But I could start smaller because we’ve got those wooden bar stools that I keep thinking would look so much fun if they were red. I could try chalk painting one of them and if it turns out terribly, I could stop and quietly put things away and pretend nothing happened here, nothing at all.

And then I started googling chalk paint, and the next thing you know there was this:


It’s not perfect, but it’s not too bad for a first attempt with no real guidance.

I decided to try me another bar stool, one with a slightly more complicated design, and maybe experiment with a different technique. Chalk paint is cool because you don’t have to sand or prime, but you do have to clean the surface because nothing wants to stick to where your greasy orange Cheetos fingers surreptitiously wiped, except maybe staticky cat hair. So I popped another bar stool up on the table and started washing.

Here’s the thing: until I started scrubbing at that stool, I would have sworn it was pretty clean. But when was the last time I picked it up and really scrubbed at the lower legs on it? When was the last time I considered that maybe the color of the wood should be a little lighter? When did I last actually look at the underside of the seat?

Funny how you can think something is in pretty good shape until you go to spruce it up, confident in how little effort it’s going to take, and then you discover just how much dirt has been hiding in plain site.



8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2017 8:27 am

    Selah indeed.

  2. January 5, 2017 11:50 am

    That looks very nice! Thank you for the chalk paint idea too. I had never heard of it, but now I may have to try it.

    • January 5, 2017 11:51 am

      Look it up on Pinterest. You’ll get lots of ideas and photos of how it can be used!

      • January 5, 2017 11:53 am

        How exciting! I have the perfect piece of furniture in mind.

  3. January 13, 2017 12:04 pm

    The red bar stool looks very nice indeed. I’ve heard of chalk paint and been meaning to look into it too.

    • January 14, 2017 1:03 am

      It’s a rather rustic/shabby chic in style, but I love that’s it requires so little prep and fuss.

      • January 15, 2017 11:38 am

        I like the idea of the little prep and fuss. I was reading Marion Keyes’s latest book where she talks about chalk painting and how she loves it. That was the first time I heard about it. After that I started seeing the paint on sale all over the place. And now you have written about it too. Amazing how things work…I’m taking that as a sign to try it out.

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