Friday, June 23, 2017

Saving Side Tables

Buying is the best part of the job. Or maybe selling. Choosing and mixing colors is fun too. And waxing is very pleasant. And staining, I like staining a freshly sanded piece.
       But buying is the best part of the job. Let's face it. Shopping is fun. There is a 100% chance I started in this career solely because I ran out of places to put furniture in my house, and still wanted to buy furniture. It's the bit that's full of dreaming, and scheming, and stepping ten paces back from a piece and giving it a hard stare. Yesterday, While staring at a wonderful vintage fruitwood side table at the Waterford ReStore, I had the curious feeling of deja-vu.
        The Waterford ReStore is not my home court, that would be the Cromwell Restore, which I could shop drunk and blindfolded (and still get great deals!). No, I hadn't been to the Waterford store in almost three years, having had a pretty craptacular experience the on my first visit and steering well clear since. Yesterday morning I had just delivered a buffet to the most darling antique home and the client had mentioned that the ReStore was two miles down the road. My workshop had about seven inches of free space (far too much!), so I scooted into the store on my way home, I am a forgiving soul and surely it was time to give this ReStore a second chance.
      Anyway, side table Dejavu- I realized I'd just seen the same table as I was currently pondering, though in a drastically different state than this nearly perfect gem. I went back to the front of the store to check, and yes indeedy, its bedraggled twin was hunched by the door,  priced at $5, a charity case.
       The tables are by Henredon, a tremendous maker of fine furniture, and the form is SO modern, incredible considering these are about sixty years old. And yet, though a matched set, they had lived markedly different lives, a prince and a pauper. They were both quite sturdy, and again, such a sexy form, but the top on the charity case was shot- the walnut veneer looked totally screwed.
       But the price was right, and I figured I'd just sand and fill the top on the pauper, paint the pair, and call it a day. One thing I knew with certainty from the moment I saw them was that I wanted them gray. Being that I had no idea how the troubled table would turn out, I didn't want to offer them up for custom refinishing, but also just that I really really wanted these two to be gray, and if I offered them up for custom, lord knows I'd be painting them pink. Pink is thus far my top requested custom color of 2017. Go figure.
       I got the tables as well as a darling solid maple hutch, and another pair of solid maple side tables that are the bee's knees. While unloading on my driveway I had myself a little debate. The top on the prince table was so damn good- I'd be an ass to paint it. The pauper was a train wreck. Burn the pauper table? Paint the top on one but not the other? Breaking up the set seemed wrong, but so did painting the top on the table in excellent condition.
        A brief digression- there is surely an interesting story here. What on green earth happened to that one table???? Not only was the top water damaged, it was filthy. I had to scrub that sucker from stem to stern before painting it. Had the original owners kept one in a pig pen and the other in their never-to-be-entered formal living room?! Remember when everyone had a living room like that? I think formal living rooms with sofas you're not allowed to sit on and side tables with which one mustn't make direct eye contact died the same year at the rotary phone.
       I decided to try sanding the crap table. I had to get the old surface off to prep for paint either way. Once I had it sanded down there were some bad water stains. I gave it the ole' what the hell and wood bleached them. It worked entirely. Huh. So then I filled some of the tearing in the veneer. and sanded it. That worked entirely. So then I stained it, always a hold your breath moment. Stain reveals all, and unpredictably so. I almost wept. The top was suddenly, and amazingly perfect. Often, the things I do to try to save a piece of furniture don't work. This time, they did. I now cannot tell which was the prince and which was the pauper. The pair sold to a client picking up another piece, who spotted them before they were even done. Today was a happy day for me and the side tables.


  1. The tale of two tables - they are now perfect in gray!

  2. Wow! What a tranformation... Now they are both princes!