After I graduated college and was moving into my first house with friends I didn’t own any furniture. Along with having no furniture, I also had no money. The upscale Chicago suburb I lived in had a once a year “trash day” where people put their used belongings on the side of the road to be picked up. Those of us with smaller budgets and empty houses marked our calendars to go treasure hunting. I furnished a majority of my first house this way. I gathered coffee tables, chairs, and bookshelves from those hefty donations. Many of the items I found were made of wood, but were no longer in great condition. But, I soon realized that paint would cover a multitude of flaws. I covered that wood furniture with coat after coat of paint. Covering up was easier than doing the work to expose the original beauty of the wood. It was a cheaper, easier and faster process to slap on layers of paint and be done with it. I wanted my furniture to be used quickly. I opted for a quick-fix to get the result I wanted.
One of the afternoon projects included spray paint. I just kept adding layer upon sticky layer in hopes that it would adhere and completely cover the wood. To think of it now makes me cringe. I didn’t leave myself margin to do the job well.
I would like to report that this halfway approach to furniture face-lifts ceased once I was married, but that would be a lie. Our first year of marriage, we were given a beautiful set of bookshelves. They were mostly made of wood and stained a light cherry color. They worked well with the decor of our first apartment, but once my style got an upgrade they no longer went with my color scheme. Once again I opted for paint. Since I always seemed to be in a hurry, although I’m not quite sure why, I decided to paint them without priming. The paint appeared to be adhering nicely until after it had dried. While moving them inside the house the paint scraped right off when rounding a corner. Shortcuts don’t payoff.
When the coffee table and the shelves lost their luster in exchange for scars, they eventually were sold for pennies on the dollar at a garage sale. I thought about doing the work of stripping the paint and restoring the wood, but I lacked the vision to see those projects through to completion. I moved on.
I moved on because I didn’t see the value in them anymore. I would venture to say that I never experienced those pieces of solid wood furniture the way they were intended to be used and displayed. By the time I had them in my possession I wasn’t willing to do the work of restoration. I often wonder if I would still own those pieces if I had partnered to expose their true beauty. They would have been great conversation starters. And today they still can be.
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