Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Old vs. new

Have you noticed anything amiss with furniture lately?  I have. When I attempt to shop for study, substantial pieces that will last longer than a year or two and cost less than say, $500 or so- I strike out.  All of the sweet stuff is WAY out of our price range.  And the rest... well, it usually involves anything made from MDF/particle board/veneer.  No thanks.

I've been jonesing for something mirrored lately (a la this little gem from West Elm) but I can't seem to work it into the current aesthetic in our living room, currently a hodge-podge of styles, sauf moderne.  Also, we don't exactly need a mirrored end table at the moment.

What we do need, however, are nightstands.  We've bought a real bed (our first together and the first real bed either of us has had since college), and I think it's high time to relegate the Ikea nightstand (that I so lovingly assembled a few years back) to the guest bedroom.  So I've been scouring Craigslist for something perfect.  And what I've found, though probably more imperfect than anything else, might just be the next best thing.  I picked up two end tables, painted a peeling puce green on top of a dull yellow on top of what I hope is a good, old-fashioned mahogany, and have braced myself for the task of refinishing them.  

As to my plans for them, I'm up in the air.  Initially, I thought I thought I wanted to gild them in aluminum leaf (cheaper than silver but still gives off the mirrored look I'm going for).  ...with an end result akin to this dresser, that I found on BetterAfter

But now I'm worried that mirrored furniture might not suit us down the road.  Maybe a dark stain is better suited to us?  Once I get the paint off both nightstands, I'll re-strategize.

So far, refinishing has been slow going.  Apparently in order to strip furniture of its paint, you need strong chemicals.  And adequate ventilation.  I, of course, had neither.  I went to the hardware store and returned with an eco-friendly paint stripper, which I applied to one dresser before covering it in saran wrap and leaving it to sit for five hours.  The directions on the paint stripper informed me that 30 minutes to an hour would be sufficient, but to leave it longer if the paint wasn't easy to remove.  When you've never done this before, the whole process is downright funny.  All of that careful work painting on the stripper.  And then the whole business with the Saran Wrap.  Initially, I'd purchased a plastic scraper (after reading someone online that metal paint scrapers often damage the wood)- but, as with the also-diluted eco-friendly paint stripper, the plastic one didn't quite do the job.  Five hours later, the top layer of green paint was largely gone, but the yellow paint wasn't budging (I'll post a picture that hot mess later).

It was back to the hardware store, this time, for something with a lot more oomph (and fumes that necessitate working outdoors).  We've had bad weather in Boston lately and I haven't had the chance to attempt round two of paint removal.  Here's hoping it goes better than the first. +       

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