August 5, 2013
I must admit up-front that I'm not one of those crafty bloggers. I am impossibly hard on myself and am rather lacking in craft/home-ec skills, so taking on projects such as this are few and far between. But for some reason, when I saw this warped and stained sideboard sitting in a pile of trash in front of a nearby old folk's home, it called my name. So I had to answer.
After making my husband help me pack this massive thing in the back of the car and haul it up two flights of stairs to our apartment - that's the thing about old furniture, it's heavy - I started to take a closer look and wonder if I was crazy to take this on. I had only refinished one piece of furniture before, and while I adore the finished product, I could tell the work was child's play compared to what I had sitting in front of me now. All that grooved trim work, lock and key door closures with no key to be found, the damaged top edge... I figured if it turned out horribly, it could just go back on the sidewalk for someone else to pick up.
Luckily, with a lot of sanding, a good base coat and a combination of smooth sponge brush and sponge roller, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I looked to makeover maven Jeran over at Oleander + Palm for tips on painting laminate furniture, which I had to adjust a bit since I had neither an electric sander nor a yard suitable for spray painting in, so old-school elbow grease and cans of traditional paint had to do. The toughest part is stomaching how much money you can pour into a free piece of furniture. With all I spent on brushes, paint and new hardware, we could have had a brand new, damage-free piece (or two!) from Ikea, but then we wouldn't have this unique and more personal piece of furniture. Warped top and all.
There are only a couple minor details still to be worked out. Since patching the keyholes and installing plain knobs, there was the issue of the doors actually staying shut. Magnets I found here were so thick and bulky, the doors would have been left with a significantly large gap, even when shut, but the flat adhesive ones my mom very kindly sent from the states for me are so weak, the doors tend to fall open on their own. Granted, this probably has more to do with the fact that our floors slope in at a 20-degree angle than any shortcomings on the magnets' part, so here's hoping our next apartment is a bit more level. The dingy, stained interior also begs for some kind of revamp as well, but contact paper options in Germany are like so many crafting options here - limited and uninspired. I'm hoping eventually I can find something like this - or this - to give it a chicer, cleaner backdrop for the items we store inside.
One added benefit to picking things out of the trash (as if they are numerous), is that you never know what treasures might be found inside. In this case, it was just stains, aside from a 1950 deutschemark wedged into the back of one the drawers. Since I had never visited Germany before the dawn of the euro, it was my first ever of the currency and I considered it a good omen for my project. I think it was right on.