20 August 2012


Well, the trellis on the back porch has fallen the rest of the way down.  I'm over the lung infection, but my asthma's still too hardcore right now to do much of anything, hence the lack of posts lately.  Sorry about that.

In the meantime, let me tell you a bit about my very first DIY project ever.  It was a little 3-drawer wooden nightstand.  I'd had it as long as I could remember - it was my nightstand as a little kid growing up, and when I moved out of the house, it came with me.  I carried it from apartment to apartment, and finally to the duplex I lived in when I was 23.

By that point, the finish was just destroyed.  The bottom drawer was cracked and split on the back, and the middle drawer didn't slide very well anymore.  Not to mention that I was pretty sick of the color after 23 years - it was just a clear-coated natural wood, but it was sort of yellow-y wood.  I don't know what kind it was.  The poor little nightstand had really seen better days, but I just didn't have the heart to get rid of it:  not only had I had it forever, it was one of the very few connections to my past that I had left.

I knew you could refinish furniture, but I didn't know how - I didn't have an artistic or crafty bone in my body (or so I thought).  But spray paint, maybe?  Surely any idiot, including me, could spray paint something.      So I went to the hardware store.

As happens with my projects, turns out I ran into some scope creep at the store.  I saw the spray paint.  But I also saw spray-stripper.  Seeing as how the clearcoat on my nightstand was already dry, and mostly peeled-off anyway, I thought, how hard could it be to remove the rest?  Surely the spray paint will look better if I prep the surface correctly.  I'd seen it done a couple of times on HGTV, and it didn't look difficult, just messy. So I bought a can of spray-stripper, some thick gloves, a plastic scraper, some sandpaper, and some black spray paint.

The paint process went really smoothly, I glued the drawers back together, and the black nightstand looked AWESOME.   A few years later, I got tired of the black, stripped it again, and painted it green.  A few years later, I stripped it again, whitewashed the natural wood, and decoupaged some dried wildflowers on the top that I had collected myself and pressed in a phone book - and repaired the drawers again, better this time.

And then one day, the nightstand was lost forever.   I accidentally left it behind during a rushed move out of an apartment, couldn't get it back.  By that point I'd been refinishing dumpster furniture for my apartments, helping friends paint and refinish furniture for about five years, and had painted two apartments that allowed me to choose my own colors (and painted them back to white upon moving out).

I still miss that nightstand, but more than anything, I'm grateful to it for being the stepping stone to all the various things I can do now, thirteen years later.  I'd never have known I could even try, if it hadn't been for an ugly old nightstand and a can of black spray paint.


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