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Tag Archives: desk makeover

Putting the High in Highboy

One of my favorite things about all this is that each piece I have seems to have a story.

I wasn’t sure what to think of this story.

I got a call from an acquaintance who said,

“My ex-husband’s cousin has died and I am in charge of cleaning out his house.  He has some furniture that I thought you might be able to use.”

She didn’t seem terribly broken up about her ex-husband’s cousin’s passing.  And although I was curious about the furniture I was A LOT more curious about why/how she ended up being responsible for the property of such a tenuous relative.  Wouldn’t the former spouse be a more logical choice?  How did her current spouse feel about this?

These questions burned in my head until I actually arrived at the house which was, I am not kidding you, an episode of Horders.

The front lawn was covered with…..lets call them “belongings” and half a boat (half?! How do you end up with half a boat?  I saw Titanic – even if your boat breaks both parts still sink and Leonardo DiCaprio dies – that’s just how the world works).

My friend and her ex-mother-in-law…. (yeah, her ex mother-in-law.  This is one incredibly new-age, super tight post-divorce relationship) had been there for a couple of days and had just managed to clear a path inside the house.

It took them two days to clear a path.

They showed me through the house (down the “path”)  to a back bedroom and a really, really nice highboy dresser which was, inexplicably, in very good shape unlike the wall it was in front of or the floor it sat on or the ceiling it was under.


They left me to examine it and that’s when I found the baggies full of a “mysterious” dry, herb-like substance in the top drawer……..

I wasn’t quite sure what to do.  What is the etiquette in this situation?

Does one just place the baggies on a nearby surface and move along?  Do you tell the clearly not grieving friend that her ex-husband’s cousin seems to have left some “stuff” behind?  And, perhaps even more importantly, do I continue to open drawers?  Might the highboy be in such good shape because it was some sort of, I don’t know, filing system?  Will the subsequent, larger, drawers yield more “supplies”?

I decided it was best to be straightforward and made my way to the kitchen.

My news was met with a sigh and I was directed to “the pile” which consisted of several similar baggies, a lot of cash aaaaaand a gun.


“The police are coming shortly” I was told.  And really, who could argue with that plan?

The rest of the drawers were, happily, empty.  I never quite got the reason why she was stuck with this task and the police did eventually come.  They were very nice and one of them helped me carry the highboy to my car which was thoughtful but made the whole experience just that much more bizarre.

So here is the highboy after being released from custody

See?  It really was in pretty good shape just some trauma along the top and some wonky (empty!) drawers.

And after some sanding and priming here is its angelic, white incarnation (Restoration Hardware Cloud White – it just seemed so appropriate).

I couldn’t even bring myself to distress it as I thought it had probably already been through enough, you know? 
Shall we link?

My Color Blind Secretary

Ahhh I love the Monday after the Rose Bowl.

The build up is always so hectic (because I am disorganized!) and then on the day of it’s up at 4:45 to get there and get set-up by 6:30 or so and then pack it all up again, home, unpack the truck, return the truck, and collapse.

Monday always seems like a fresh, new start.

It turned out to be the best Rose Bowl yet!  The weather was perfect, I got to hang out a bit with Nicki of Nicki Huard Creations (whose husband assures me will soon blast into the 21st century and have her own web site so you can actually SEE her cool stuff – her teapot lamps are awesome!).

The little blue table I blogged about last time sold quickly.  Coasters flew away and a lovely woman who is just opening a store nearby pretty much cleaned me out of candle blocks!

I’d made a few new things as well like the Hello sign at the top of this post.

My scroll saw skills are getting better  (and by “better” I mean I made it without  cursing – so I guess that would make it a curs-less cursive) so I made another one in blue with a little more distress to it.

I’d jammed out some new letters and they seemed popular:

And I’d been working all week on my latest secretary desk and although it didn’t sell it got a lot of admirers.

Here are the before during and after shots.

She was in really good shape so all it took was some sanding

And then, as always, I got stuck on color.  My goal for this Rose Bowl was to create a kind of unified palette (I totally failed btw) – so I had some leftover Restoration Hardware Silver Sage paint and I decided that would be the color……so I painted the drawers:

And then the back seemed kind of bland so I added some paper (its what I do!)  to it.

Now, in the past I swear this paper has perfectly matched this paint color but for some reason…..not so much this time.

I like the final result but I’m concerned it may only really appeal to the color blind crowd (a distinctly underserved market don’t you think?!)

Shall we link up?

I need fewer outlets and more creativity

I wasn’t prepared for the photography.

You see beautiful pictures in magazines or on blogs (I’m lookin’ at you Miss Mustard Seed) and they seem  so natural and easy.  Just snuggle your piece of furniture up against a wall, add some stuff and viola – awesome picture.

Not so much.

I spent my morning trying to figure out where I could photograph this blue table I finished this weekend.

So I wandered from room to room wondering, among other things, why  there is never an electrical outlet where I need one but there is ALWAYS one where I want to take a picture?!  There is always either an electrical outlet or a vent.  And to add insult to injury the vents don’t even work anymore – a vestige of an old system.

I also speculated on why I am driven to paint things colors that don’t go with any of my walls or props.  Or the flowers that grow in the yard.

That was my morning.

Long story short.  I failed.  No blue props.  No wall that looked right.  But I haven’t given up!  So we can all look forward SOMEDAY to a charming picture of a blue table and its best friends the electrical outlet and the vent.  If you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em.

In the meantime I’m going to show off a desk and a couple of chairs I worked on that are black and, therefore, go with the green wall in my sunroom.  I need to remember this lesson.

This desk arrived in pieces (well, actually I bought it in pieces so I really can’t pretend to be shocked.  But, bottom line.  Pieces).  It wasn’t the most elegant of things – one of those functional,  Ikea-ish numbers but it was solid pine and the price was right ($25!).

I’d also, fairly recently bought a family of chairs that were down on their luck.

So I got to work.

I have this thing about taking the backs off of desks and making some pattern back there.  It’s not the most practical of decorations – I mean, if you use the desk how often do you see the back of it?  Seldom.  But, I don’t know – perhaps it’s a nice little surprise when you clean it and say “oh, I’d forgotten there was that pretty pattern back there.”  Kind of your cleaning reward.

So, a little sanding, a little patterning, some minor upholstery work and……..

OK, now I’m off to find blue props….and a blue wall….. and the manual for my camera.


Shall we link?

My Secretary

I have kind of a “thing” for secretaries.

I mean, who wouldn’t want something lovely sitting there keeping you all organized and efficient?

I’m talking about furniture secretaries of course.

They are just so practical.   I love the idea of two pieces of furniture in one spot (must come from years of living in tiny apartments in New York) so when I came across this baby on Craig’s List I couldn’t resist.

With the flip up top and the slide out desk I was totally smitten.  OK, as we say in LA “she needed some work done”  some fillers, a little lift here, a tuck there but that bone structure!

First up was a good cleaning with TSP – man that thing was grimy.

Next up patching and filling with my friend Bondo (if you missed the tutorial) and some spackle.

And then, a lot of sanding (and cutting a small round hole in the back for computer wires).  After a coat of primer I decided to go with a two-tone paint scheme and I outlined the slide out desktop, added some glass knobs and…

Now, confession, I have a thing for Secretaries but don’t actually own one.  I keep finding them, loving them, fixing them up and then they sell super-fast (I guess you could say that, like Don Drapper, I go through secretaries quickly).  This one went out the door almost immediately.

Ah well, I will find another one.

Happily Linking up:

Craig’s List Guilt and a desk makeover

Craig’s List often makes me feel guilty.

 When I’m in a thrift store and see some particularly woebegone piece and think – “good God, who would do such a horrible thing to an innocent piece of furniture?” – I’m free to imagine some awful person lurking in a darkened room doing unspeakable things with paint.  It’s entertaining and I feel good about “rescuing” this poor desk/chair/bureau/whatever.  Win-win!

 But with Craig’s List there is no imagining – I come face to face with the evil doer and, more often than not, it’s someone charming.  Such was the case with this desk.

 You know when you buy an avocado, stick it in a drawer, forget about it, then find it and, even though it’s really mushy you’re hungry so you cut it open and inside it is this disgusting brown/green color? (Do you do that?  I do that a lot.  I actually eat very few avocados but I think I’m supporting the entire industry).  That was the color of this desk in the Craig’s List posting.

Perhaps, I thought, it will look better in person. 

 It didn’t.  

 In person it was a hideous Rotting Avocado Green with an overlay of faux antiquing glaze which made it look like a rotting avocado that had been left near a mud puddle.

 However, it was attached to this really delightful woman who had “loved, loved, loved” this desk and was pleased it was “going to a good home.”  I liked her immediately -despite her kind of dubious taste in furniture color – and felt instantly guilty.

 She assumed I was buying for myself and I felt sneaky not admitting that my evil plan was to strip it, repaint it and then, even worse, sell it. 

 So I smiled.  I said I loved it too (and secretly wondered what she thought a grown man was going to do with a sorta frilly, ugly avocado green secretary desk), hoisted it into my car and slunk (slanked?  Is that a word?) away. 

 Once at home it was stripped, primed and painted.  I cut a small hole in the back for computer cables, fixed the warped drawer and replaced the knobs.

 And after that build up I’ve totally set myself up for someone to look at the finished product and think “good God, who would do such a horrible thing to an innocent piece of furniture?”  It would serve me right.

I’ve also come to realize that green is a really hard color to photograph because I assure you that my wall does not, in real life, also look like a rotting avocado and the desk, in real life does not now look algae green.  But you get the idea.

Linking up to

The Shabby Nest

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