The death of a small project

You know what they say about the best laid plans. Much like those wacky ideas I had about putting 20% down and starting an IRA after confirming that my house didn’t need much work, the furniture painting project was not to be. In this case, the culprit is once again old, beat-up, and painted red. You may have seen my grandmother’s armoire in photos before. Last summer I pretended it was a refrigerator in my kitchen mock-up.

kitchen mockup

Much like all the furniture I’ll be using, it came from my grandmother. She bought it at a flea market and directed my grandfather to paint it distressed red. This is proof that interior design trends always progress in circles, not in lines. He lined the interior with fabric to hide the crude construction of the piece, fitted it with shelves, and then my grandmother used it as a curio cabinet. I found you a before picture where you get a bonus view of my surprisingly attractive parents, circa 1984.

Mom and Dad with red armoire

So on Saturday we pulled off all that fabric to get it ready to paint, and I started to notice things. The whole thing is kind of rickety and the shelves were crudely done, just perched on corner braces. It would never do to load them with heavy things. And the shelves aren’t made of good, flat wood. Plus, all shelves should be adjustable whenever possible. Don’t you agree? And then there are drawer fronts at the bottom just nailed on. Isn’t it a pity to waste all that space that could be drawers? And the panels on the doors are nothing special, just flat sheets of thin oak plywood nailed onto the backs of the doors. If it’s ever to be a curio cabinet, it would be easy enough to knock them out and put glass in. The doors with the scalloped detail at the tops would remain.

And… once we take it back to the suburbs there will be no Irish carpenter next door to make quick work of all this. Mommy agrees; it would be nice to turn it into a functional piece right away if we can. But I want to be ready to paint Sunday. If we can get the Irishman’s help, fitting out the inside of the cabinet shouldn’t be a problem. But the drawers will have to wait. For now, I’ve decided to knock the drawer fronts and door panels off, paint the piece, and reattach everything so it’s removable if we want to change things around later.

Hopefully this doesn’t mess things up too much because I have that other bigger, more expensive, more beat-up red painted thing to get back to. (Yes, my original Victorian brick is painted red. For now. I long to fix everything that’s wrong with this, but we’ll get to that in like 2 years.)

The house. Facade restoration to come.

The house. Facade restoration to come.

And a bonus question. Back to that other bedroom set I’m repainting along with everything else, let’s see who can guess why these holes are drilled into the tops of this dresser.



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