The Mother Load: A refinished life

November 24, 2011 | By | Reply More


By Lori-Anne Poirier     

It started with a cradle. A small, swinging, baby doll cradle. My eyes fell on it the moment I walked into the Women’s Emergency Shelter Thrift Shop on Lawrence Avenue in Kelowna, about a year ago.



It was wooden, presumably handmade, sanded smooth but not yet painted, and I was instantly inspired to try one of those fun, rustic finishes that makes things look like they came from an old farm house but were really just painted last week.

You know what I’m talking about, right?

The painted and roughed up cabinets and dressers and picture frames and old doors that cost a small fortune when you see them in the boutique shops.

Even though you know that they were probably salvaged at no cost to the storeowner and all they invested was a bit of elbow grease, you pay it anyway.

This cradle was $10.

When it was finished, I just knew, it would go perfectly with the small, yellow dresser that I had picked up at one of those aforementioned boutiques for my daughter’s room.

I had paid $300 for it because it had such tantalizing chips and wear marks added to it during the finishing process.

I brought it home, that little cradle, gleeful that I had paid only a fraction of that price this go-round.

Of course it took me an entire year to get to fixing it up, but this fall I finally cracked open the paint can and gave that dolly bed a new, old look.

First, I laid down a base of dark brown acrylic paint.

After that dried came a layer of creamy white.

Then, with a sheet of 60 grit sandpaper, I scratched at the edges and rubbed the surfaces until it looked old and worn, like it once belonged to a little girl from a hundred years ago who loved it and used it and filled it with fascinating stories.

So pleased was I with the results that I went a bit off the deep end.

I went to more thrift stores and bought up picture frames and more picture frames and painted them and sanded them.

They look amazing, although I don’t know what I’ll do with that many picture frames, except maybe give some away for Christmas presents.

Then came the old window frame.

One evening whilst perusing I came across a photo of a comfy looking bed with a big wooden window frame over it.

Just the look for my bedroom, I decided, and dug the old window frame out of the basement where it was being stored until I could think of something to do with it.

I gave it the same treatment as the cradle and it looks awesome hanging over the bed, accessorized with a few dried leaves and some old photographs stuck in the corners where the glass once went.

Most recently I transformed a shellac’d wooden headboard handed down from my son’s uncle, from a 1970s relic to a rather handsome, vintage looking black show piece, distressed gently along the edges.

I think I’ve caught the bug.

I’ve even found myself looking around the house, eyeballing what else can be refinished.

The bookshelf?

The rocking chair?

The piano?

Of course, not everything is worthy of refurbishment, and it goes without saying that not everything should be.

And so this little journey has brought me to an epiphany about life and my personal outlook on it.

Right now I’m trying to train my eye to see the right potential in the right furnishing.

My tendency up to now has been to walk by something that would look awesome with a redo because I don’t look past its shortcomings to see what it could become.

And I’m learning that there’s a knack that’s almost a kind of magic to seeing the potential in a thing and then taking the right kind of action to help it reach it.

A little tweaking, some gentle sanding in the rough spots, some loving attention, and something plain or undesirable can become something quite remarkable.

It’s a skill I suspect will be useful in my work as a mother, as well.


Category: Living

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