Friday, 14 June 2013

P is for Project

A few weeks ago on a nail forum I'm a member of, someone posted about furniture they had been revamping with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  Lots more members added to the post saying that they too were chalk painting anything that stood still long enough.  Initially I looked at the forum thread with the view to getting my Mum in to it.  She always said she'd like to do something creative, having been a knitting and tapestry extraordinaire in the 1980's, so I thought that this would be right up her street.  All she had to do was to make sure that Dad wasn't around as he has a tendency to take a painting project over, just ask my sister about our ceramic watercress pots we painted when we were kids, well Dad painted actually.

Anyway after seeing the various masterpieces, one was a beautiful old upright piano, I thought well why can't I do it too.  The fact that I live in a lower ground two bedroom flat that already has it's hallway converted into a nail studio, should have been enough to tell me that we just don't have the room.  However I have a bit of an anything's possible kind of attitude (without much thought for the reality) so I took the plunge a couple of weeks ago and I put an ad on Freecycle asking people for any old preloved wooden furniture that they didn't want anymore.

Speaking of my anything's possible attitude, I think that largely comes from the legendary trip Mum and I took to Ikea once. Somehow we managed to get a double futon in to her Fiat Cinquecento, drove it across the Dartford Bridge and home to her house in London.  I recently bought a second hand Cinquecento and to this day, I still don't know how we managed it, but we did.  That Ikea trip alone has pretty much set the benchmark for my anything's possible kind of attitude towards pretty much everything that has happened in my life since then that I thought wasn't possible.  That Ikea trip has also caught me out a few times too mind, but at least I can say that I tried if nothing else right?

Anyway having not heard anything from Freecycle, I'd pretty much given up on the idea that someone was going to contact me, but that all changed on Tuesday.  A lovely lady called Irene emailed me to tell me that she had an old 1960's dressing table and she wondered if I would like it.  I said I would and she kindly text me a photograph through, telling me that her parents had bought it in 1966 but her Dad had recently died and she was clearing out all the old furniture that he had in his house.  When I told her what I wanted to do with it she sounded really pleased, so I arranged to collect it from her this evening.

My poor long suffering husband, who I swear wonders what hair brained scheme or idea I'm going to come up with next, dutifully obeyed agreed to using his Picasso to come and help me pick it up despite the fact that the photograph Irene had sent through made it look it was a huge piece of furniture. He was rather worried it wouldn't fit in the car and so was I to be honest, but then for the hundredth time I told him the futon story and said "come on anything's possible, let's at least go and see if it will fit"... and that's exactly what we did.

We took both cars with us to collect it, along with a tool kit as we knew we had to remove the mirror to be within a fighting chance of getting it in to the car.  When we got to the house Irene invited us in and took us to the room where the dressing table was kept and after falling in love with it all over again, I stood back and noticed a beautiful old telephone table very similar to one my own grandparents had when I was growing up. I was so grateful for the dressing table however, that I didn't dare ask for the table as well, but luckily Irene asked if I would like to take that with me too.  I immediately told her I would love too despite the fact my husband was giving me that 'Jesus Christ Laura' look (again), but give him his due as he turned to face Irene to thank her, his smile never wavered once.

Once we loaded the two items in to the car, Irene told me again that her parents had bought the dresser in 1966 and that originally it had been kept in their house in Welling before it had been brought down to Ramsgate when her parents had moved.  I asked her again where the dressing table had been before, just to make sure I wasn't hearing things and sure enough she told me that it had been kept in her family home in Welling.  The reason why I was so amazed was that I'm originally from Welling and only moved with my little family to Margate, which is just up the road from Ramsgate, six years ago.  Irene was just as gobsmacked as me, she knew where my parents still live to this day and I knew where her old family home was too.  Welling is about 70 miles from Thanet (the collective name from Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate) so it was even more of a buzz that here I was with my family collecting these two beautiful pieces of furniture, ready to upcycle and breathe some new life into them. Irene also told us that the people who are buying her Dad's house also happen to come from Welling as well.  It's things like this that just remind you what a small and beautiful world we really do live in.  

Irene was so pleased that I was taking the furniture with me and asked me to keep her number so that when both items are finished I can text her a picture through of them both and I gladly agreed too.  I told her that I had to do them justice now, but she told me that it doesn't matter how they come out, because she just loved the thought that someone was at least trying to make them into something new.  She knew they were too wonderful to just take down to the local tip, but she needed to get rid of them in preparation for the new home owners. I'm just so pleased that I have been lucky enough to be able to bring them home with me. I feel that my furniture pieces now have some beautiful history attached to them and I'm off to Sandwich tomorrow to look at a shop that sells the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, wax and brushes, so that I can decide how I want my 'new' furniture to look.  Chalk paint is amazing, there is no need to sand or prime, just put the paint straight on and wax to seal.  I am going for a more modern look, as opposed to a distressed look, but my new project is something I can't wait to get my teeth in to.  

As the saying goes... one man's junk is another persons treasure... and a treasure these pieces will certainly be.

Dressing Table

Telephone Table


  1. Looks great! I have been thinking about jazzing some cheap furniture up by painting it, and then trying to age it with sandpaper? Anyway, it was fun to stumble on your post with that on my mind.

    1. Get cracking Katie it's great fun! Using the chalk paint means no worry about sanding or priming and you can have a new look finish or use a 100 grit sandpaper and create the distressed look. I am loving my little project so far. :) xx