I love the feeling of exhilaration I get when I see an old, paint-peeling, dinged-up piece of furniture on a curb, at a garage sale, or in a thrift store that someone else has deemed too pathetic to keep. I see past its current state of ugliness right through to all the shining possibilities it holds. I love the tediousness of salvaging a piece of furniture and finding a unique way to repurpose it or bring it back to life. The multiple highs and lows I go through while working on a project are all just part of the process until I finally reach the end where I bathe blissfully in a self-made euphoric high. Since having kids, I’ve noticed my projects have crossed the line of being mere time-consumers and money-savers, to an actual form of therapy, complete with real cathartic experiences. In the world of motherhood where the days can be long and often thankless, where my patience is constantly tested and my battles are not always picked, where I sometimes feel overwhelmed, overworked and undervalued, DIY projects provide a welcomed escape. I use them to get my creative energy out, to rethink my day, make plans for the future, and meditate or pray. Even though not every project I attempt turns out as I originally envision, I have learned that it’s the process, not the end result, that’s important.
My DIY days began when I was a senior in college and needed a new dresser, but, as is the dilemma of most college students, had no money. My boyfriend’s parents offered their daughter’s old dresser to me for free so I jumped on it, thinking I could slap it with some paint and it’d be as good as new. But, again as is the case of most college students, I was ignorant to the ways of the real world. The dresser was old (it was the original dresser from when the then 26-year-old was a baby) and so nicotine-stained that it was in serious need of a complete overhaul. The incredibly tedious project became a labor of love as I first tried (unsuccessfully) to strip the paint before sanding and sanding and sanding every inch of the piece in my garage for months. I became familiar with the different types of sanders and papers, wood fillers, stains, and topcoats, as well as hand salves and cuticle creams to soothe my blistered fingers and cramped hands. As I twisted the last drawer pull into place, I admired my work with a deep sense of satisfaction and pride. I found it so fulfilling to take the old piece of furniture down to its’ bones and then carefully restore it to its’ natural beauty. I was hooked.
Since then I have refinished tables, chairs, desks, doors and cabinets, turned generic wooden coffee tables into upholstered ottomans, painted mirrors, faux painted walls, and recovered chair seats. I regularly visit my neighborhood thrift stores to see if there are any interesting pieces in need of a little love, though sometimes I am in search of specific items. Currently, I am looking for a bench-type seat to place inside by our front door, but have yet to find one.
Right now, I’m in the process of refinishing this little table. It’s small, a little wobbly, and very pathetic-looking. I noticed it sitting in an upstairs bedroom when I last visited my parents in Dallas. After my mom told me it originally sat by my grandma’s bedside when she was still alive, I offered to refinish it for her. She brought it down a few weeks ago on her visit for Ryan’s birthday and I was able to get started on it last weekend. Since it’s so small, I am already close to finishing it. I’ll post a picture once it’s been fully revived.