11.20.2008

What Started It All!

One summer during college, I lived with my dad and his wife (my parents are divorced) in northern Ohio.  The house next door to them had an estate sale, and I scored an old, violently green dresser for $20.  The lady even threw in a matching mirror to hang above it which, thankfully, had not been painted the same shade of green!

I spent all summer stripping that dresser of it's green paint, sanding it, repairing the trim that had been damaged, and finally, adding stain and polyurethane.  I can still remember getting finished with the dresser and racing up to the hardware store to pick out new knobs.  (I didn't have any patience, even then!)

This dresser of mine has traveled with me to college, my first apartment with friends, my first apartment that I lived in all by myself, and finally, to the house(s) I have shared with my husband.  It has been 12 years since I refinished it, and it still sits in my bedroom, though now it holds my husband's socks and t-shirts, rather than my girly stuff.  Over the years I have changed it's knobs, treated it with furniture oil and lectured many professional moving men about it's fragility.  I hope it will become a family piece that one of my kids will inherit someday.

To look at this dresser, it's nothing fancy.  But it was my first big "project," and I couldn't wait to transform it from an ugly basement castoff to a pretty little piece complete with scented drawer liner.


So it will always hold a special little place in my heart.  Do you have a first project like that?


46 comments:

Monica @ Writer Chic said...

I don't have a first project like that, in that I don't have a first project that turned out SUCCESSFULLY. (Maybe I should entertain you with a blog post about crackle-finixh gone wrong). But I wanted to tell you the dresser is lovely, and I'm sure your children will treasure it too someday.

Sandy Toes said...

How wonderful!!! I don't have a piece that I refinished with fond memories..But, I cherish this tea cart that I bought when I was first married! :)

Yesterday my Works For me was about the baby t-shirt:)!
Have a great Thursday!
Sandy toes

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

Yeah, I am with Monica....I have never tackled a large piece of furniture!! Little things only....one of these days I am going to do a dresser that has been collecting dust in my basement.....maybe by the time we get "China Baby".....I have thought about this piece and think it would be perfect in her room!!

Your dresser is beautiful....you really have a talent...I think you should start your own little business:)

Lisa

Wendy said...

I think it's wonderful that the dresser created such a nice memory for you! I don't have a memory like that from my first project, but I do have a wonderful antique dresser that the Hubby and I scored for $75. I love it's lines. It's just so pretty...it was in our master bedroom for a long time but it now graces the Princess' room.

Stacey @ The Blessed Nest said...

What a lovely dresser! My husband and his grandfather refinished an antique family dining table that was hubby's great-grandparents when we were newlyweds. This table is large and a bit rickety, but we'll never get rid of it! It will be passed on to our girls one day when one of them marries!

southerninspiration said...

We have a piece that my hubby refinished and it is cherished! It is a bookcase that was his grandma's. Unfortunately one of the wavy glass panels was broken and had to be replaced, but it is still gorgeous. I love your dresser....it is just basic and beautiful...and loved!
Suzanne

The Arthur Clan said...

I don't have a project like that, but my husband does. An awful painted dresser that was stored in his parent's basement. After we got engaged, he spent an entire week of vacation refinishing it for us to use in our new home when we got married. Fifteen years later, it is still the dresser we use daily. And I still love it!

duchess said...

That's a great story. I love it when furniture has a story.
Of course, I love furniture even when it's brand new has no story.
Thanks for sharing it with us.

Jodee Leader said...

That is a fabulous dresser, especially for $20.00! It looks great in your bedroom.

Jboo said...

Oh, that is sweet and what a lovely dresser! When Hub was in law school, I took a woodworking class and built us a kitchen table. It was fabulous and I loved it so. It lasted many years, but finally bit the dust.

Have a fun day today!
Janet

AJ said...

I can see why you love that dresser, especially since you transformed it yourself. It has great bones! I'm embarrassed to admit that my first furniture redo was with Fleck Stone in the early 90's. It matched my black and white comforter in college. Cool then, not so much now:) That dresser has stayed with me though, tucked into closets to hide it's outdatedness. Just a few months ago I sanded and painted it black but I'm still not happy with it. For some reason I just can't part with it though:)

tidymom said...

I LOVE that piece!! And would you believe dd#2 and I just did our first piece yesterday! - I'm going to blog about it today or tomorrow.

We just painted it, so we didn't have to strip, but it was still a fun first project!

My Dad was a furniture builder, and my girl (and my home) is filled with furniture he built) But he passed away before #2 ever got a night stand - so her and I found one over the weekend at a resale shop. We painted it white and distressed it to match her bed - I bet my Dad would have been so proud of how it turned out!!!

~Tidymom

Ms. Tee said...

Very pretty, Carrie!
I can't remember my first project - I think there have been too many!
Love your dresser, though. You did a great job. :)

Sarah said...

My grandmother had a green velvet wingback chair in her living room when I was growing up. When she passed I got the chair. I wish I could take credit for recovering, but I'm just not that talented. I did pick out some fabric and it was the first time I "decorated" in my apartment with something that I picked out instead of a hand-me-down piece.

Sit A Spell said...

Love the dresser and story that goes along with it! I have a quilt rack my in laws gave us for our 1st anniversary...been married for 16 yrs now...stained it a honey color...oh my. A few yrs back a friend was watching our dog while we were on vacation and re-did the quilt rack for me while we were away! She knew I hated the honey color. She had a huge bow wrapped around it...it's in our family room right now!

Shannon said...

It is so pretty! I love that style and color. You did a good job! My project like that would be a full size iron bed that my dad and I sanded, sanded, sanded, sanded and painted the summer before I moved into my college apartment. I can't part with it eventhough it practically takes up the whole room that it is in. :)

Emily said...

What a little beauty with so many memories with it. I have painted many furniture items, but have never done a whole refinish job like this. I'm impressed!

Joanna said...

That's great and such a wonderful piece to pass down. I don't have a piece like that. But, I do have the memories of doing all the little things I have done.

Chris said...

I have been in search of a dresser JUST like this for weeks now on Craigs List. I have had NO luck. Yours is gorgeous!

The Golf Widow said...

That was quite the find.It's a nice classic piece. I wish I had a fab first project. I can still hope.

Stephanie said...

Beautiful dresser--you are very talented! Good luck on the house!

jennykate77 said...

What a cool story! I'm sure that the dresser is something you will treasure forever. I have something like that...well HAD. It was this ugly 50's style pleather couch...yeah, pleather...black. I actually got it for free, because I was willing to take it off their hands :) I recovered it in this cute Waverly fabric. I loved that couch. Unfortunately, it weighed a TON and when Isaiah came along, it was replaced with a crib!

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

ANd it's a real beauty too! hold onto that one forever. I've got a few things that I've had for many years, but I didn't have to refinish them.

Sweet Simplicity said...

I'm hoping to do this to an old dresser over Christmas break. I just need to get the husby on board...

Lisa said...

What a great first project! : )

My in-laws are in town until Monday...let's get together soon! Maybe after Thanksgiving? Talk to you soon.

coco said...

What a great piece of furniture! I had a small desk that my parents purchased before I was even born that stayed with me (and had many makeovers) until it just finally fell apart a few years ago (one of the hazards of moving so much). I know things are especially busy for you but wanted you to know I have an award on my blog for you...love your blog!

Ally0005 said...

What a pretty dresser!!
I don't have any projects like that.

Faith said...

That's a great piece. I can think of several things that my husband and I did when we first got our house, but I don't think they will be something that lasts forever like that. It is fun to work on things though and make them your own!

Erin said...

Beautiful dresser! Great for a first project. I love taking something old and making it new again. Makes life fun!

Our Complete Family said...

You did a great job on the dresser! What special memories, too!
I have one that is in Caroline's room (it was in a pic a few months back) and I move from room to room in each house we move to and change the knobs out, too.
So neat to see someone else have the same love of an older dresser!!!
Happy so close to the weekend day hun~ L

C. said...

My first project was also a dresser, painted green. It turned out to be made of chestnut! So that dated it to be at least as old as the chestnut blight which destroyed all the chestnut trees. So it's at least as old as 1940.

Rae said...

What a wonderful story for a wonderful piece of furniture!

the undomesticated wife said...

It's so pretty!

Ruby Red Slippers said...

It is beautiful! Our "first dresser" we painted cream. It is still cream, and I look at it in my kids playroom and think about what to do to it...I am afraid I could ruin it more. It was my brother's (who passed away, so I am not willing to part with it, but afraid of ruining it...)

Angie said...

What a beautiful and functional piece!

Mrs. Cup said...

It's beautiful! What a great story!

Jules from "The Roost" said...

That is SO sweet. I have an antique chest that my husband bought and hid for 6 months until my birthday and gave it to me. I love it and hope to pass it on.....one day.....a loooong time from now! ;)

Kelli@SassySouthernMom said...

Oh Gosh,

I do have a first project. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of it (on my computer anyway). I actually "crackle" painted my baby chest for a room in our first house. I had a huge mural on the walls complete with giraffes, monkeys swinging from vines, palm trees, and tropical birds...sounds hideous, but it was too cute. I painted the baby chest to go with the theme of the room. It took a long time to do it, but was well worth the effort. I got rid of it unfortunately, and regret it. Hang on to that piece of furniture as long as you can:)

Sunny said...

I don't have a project like that, but I do have my first sentimental piece of furniture that has been with me for 12yrs. It's an antique chair that I got from my BF. We lived in an duplex apartment in a historic area of town (still to this day my fave place ever that I've lived). It was her apartment that later moved into with her so it was furnished solely with her belongings. There was a chair in the living room that I adored. There were memories connected to that chair. She ended up giving it to me because I loved it so. I'm sentimental. To this day that chair sits in my guest bedroom. I was looking at it the other day and trying to decide if I will make a project out of recovering the pillows and possibly painting it. I don't know. Sentimentality may get the best of me. I may well just have a chair with a floral pattern that doesn't at all match is surroundings just because that's the way it's always been. ;)

Amy from Texas said...

Love that dresser. That's neat that you still have it. I paint everything around here and do too many projects to remember the first one. ha! I think I was a little kid when I started getting all crafty, not with furniture, but with scrap booking and making things. I do remember my first real sewing project! I made towel wrap robes for my friends in High School. They were so cute.

Keeper of the Skies Wife said...

Nina will hold this dresser dear to her heart when she gets older I'm sure; because the story behind it is so neat.

AndreaLeigh said...

I don't have any furniture that I've personally refinished, but I'm inspired to after reading your and other decor blogs!

Betsy said...

How special is that! I am sure you LOVE it. I love that Sam uses the drsser I used as a child.

Lisa & Gerald said...

WOW still looks great after all these years! I would be so proud of it to if i did a great good too!

Jenni @ nest to keep said...

I love your story and the dresser is beautiful! I have never refinished furniture, but I do love to paint furniture (or anything really!) The first piece I ever painted was this little side table my husband made for me earlier on in our marriage. It was one of his first woodworking projects, and he made it because I had seen something similar being sold (that we couldn't afford). I will never, ever give it away! :)

Jersey Girl in DC said...

You did such a great job on that! I have an old bureau that my Grandmother gave me that's looking pretty beat up that I'd love to fix up sometime soon. We currently live in a 4th floor walk up, so these kinds of projects aren't easy in our current space. But, I can't wait until we're in a 'real' house so I can work on all these furniture projects I have in mind. Thanks for sharing this! It's inspiring :)