Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Before and After - Vintage Thingies Thursday

It is time for Vintage Thursday Thingee - and I've got some great things to share. Please join us at Coloradolady, where Suzanne is our hostess, to see vintage thingies!

And stop over at Bloggeritaville for Thrifty Thursday! You know you want to see all the wonderful thrifty buys.



When we lived in CA we had a friend who lived in a wonderful old house. The yard was full of wondeful flowers and trees. Lucille had gardened all her life and the yard was wonderful.
A lovely spirea that had grown horzontally along one fence . . .


Wysteria that scented the town for blocks around . . .


And a bush that grew the biggest snowball flowers I'd ever seen . . .


Lucille had lived there for years and years and now she was alone in the house and soon it became apparent that she no longer was able to stay in her home. Her niece decided that instead of selling the home, she would rent it out, giving Lucille the hope that someday she might be able to return to her home.

The house was full of lovely old antiques - used by Lucille all her life, and I asked her niece, since she was renting out the house, if I might buy the small china cabinet from Lucille. Her niece said she thought she would leave all the furniture for the renters.

Not long after, we were jolted awake by the fire siren going off in town - and as we looked out our window we could tell that the fire was near Lucille's house - in fact it WAS Lucille's house. The fire department was only two blocks away and they reached the house in time to save it - but not before major damage was done.

The cause of the fire - the renters had wanted to save money by not using the dryer and had piled their wet clothes over the large intake grate to the furnace. When the furnace could not get enough air to circulate through the house because of the wet clothes on the intake grate, it caught fire and the fire quickly spread to the attic over the kitchen. Most of the house was saved, but many wonderful antiques were lost.

The next day we walked past Lucille's house, and the smell of wet, burned wood, and the drip, drip, drip of the water still there from the fire hoses was the most dismal sight and sound I'd ever seen or heard. It broke my heart to think of Lucille's house burning.

Soon after, her niece called me up and offered me the china cabinet for free. Here is the reason it was free . . .



The lovely little cabinet was burned, and wet, with broken glass and smoke and fire damage. I took the cabinet anyway and put it in our back yard. Then began weeks and weeks of sanding and scraping, more sanding and more scraping. The top was burned so badly from the fire being in the attic that I had to replace one of the boards on the very top.

After the scraping and sanding and cleaning was done I painted the whole china cabinet white, added some pretty knobs and it was ready to use. For several years bits of fine ash would sift down - from nooks and crannies that could not be reached to clean - it has finally stopped - 20 years later.


In our new living room . . .


Filled with my pine cone dishes, with a flock of chickens below . . .

We are thinking of painting the back of the open section white, so other dishes will show up better. Thinking - that's all for now - just thinking about it.

Have you refinished a piece of furniture? Was it more or less work than you anticipated?


35 comments:

concretenprimroses said...

What a great story and a beautiful cupboard. People do the dumbest things sometimes with disasterous results.
A real labor of love on your part, to refinish.
BTW your white chickens won't show up better against white. I think things show up best against a warm color.
Kathy

LV said...

I truly enjoyed your post today. That is a remarkable story, and sorry to say happens to a lot of people. I am glad the cabinet found a good home and one where it is wanted. You did a super job on refinishing it. What a terrible loss for the owner.

Postcardy said...

Your cabinet turned out great, and I love the way the chickens look too.

Linda B said...

How precious that china cabinet is to you. I like it with the white AND natural wood.
I hesitate to take on refinishing anything because it IS alot of work.

P. said...

Wow! Like a phoenix rising from the ashes. It is gorgeous! I've refinished (faux finish painted) two side tables. It was a lot more work that I anticipated, but fun.

Sharyn said...

I spent six months refinished an 1888 Gate City piano in my front room...about 1977ish I think. It had been painted white with orange tole flowers. It was the most gorgeous rosewood underneath...
Sharyn

viridian said...

Your refinished cabinet is so lovely. I haven't refinished any furniture - I'm a real chicken in that dept. :-)
Happy VTT!

Patti said...

wow, hard to believe that it is the same piece - great transformation

Coloradolady said...

amazing transformation, hard to believe it is the same piece.....I like to think of saving things from the dump and fixing them up...this is an amazing job! Happy VTT!

Maureen said...

Your cabinet looks beautiful. You should be proud of such a great rescue.

CC said...

What a rescue you did. The little cabinet stands tall and beautiful with you..it knows it's home where it's loved. I'm so happy you have something of your sweet neighbor. Happy VTT

Elizabeth said...

Instead of painting, you could put in a light-colored paper with a small print. Use scrapbook paper and sticky-tack and it's not permanent.

Ann Creek said...

Your refinishing is truly remarkable considering the shape the cabinet was in. Looks great in our living room.
Ann

Patriotic Mom said...

Thank you for a touching post and for reminding me again that some "things" do matter. I'm sorry for passing judgement but I do not think Lucille's niece believed "things" matter. I wonder how many pieces Lucille had in her home that meant something special to her. I am also reminded of the story of "The Giving Tree". In any case, God bless you for the lovingly beautiful restoration of the china cabinet. Joan

Beth said...

I love your milk glass chicken collection. I have one my mom gave me in my china cabinet, along with a few other pieces of milk glass Love the cabinet after you restored it.

Fearless Nester said...

That is one gorgeous makeover and labor of love. I so enjoyed reading about your former neighbor Lucille and seeing all those photos of her garden. I'm glad you have this piece of furniture to remember her by. Love how you have the dishes displayed too. And I love those chickens! ~Lili

jennifer said...

Seeing the new life you gave that cabinet makes me happy! It is so pretty.

Charlotte said...

You have done a beautiful job restoring this china cabinet. If you want to paint the back white, you go right ahead. You are the one who loves it and lives with it everyday.

fitty's pinky rose cottage said...

was there a saying, good things come to those who wait.. welp, your waiting seems to be fruitful!.. you did great with the restoration.. who knew the cabinet was once burned?!.. hehehe.. the cabinet turnout beautiful in your living room..

Crispy said...

What a wonderful save Jo!!

Crispy

Pink Roses and Teacups said...

What a sad story, with a happy ending. People do the stupidest things don't they? My husband is a fireman so I have heard it all. The cabinet turned out great!

Debbie

Julie said...

What a story! The china cabinet looks lovely now and I like the two colors on it. We have a piano from 1895 that needs refinished, but that is very daunting. My grandmother traded cows for it in 1910.

JoyceAnn said...

Sad story , but I'm glad someone who could appreciate the beauty of that cabinet ended up with it and it wasn't trashed. It looks so nice with your dishes and covered chicken collection.

~ Many Blessings ~

Nancy Jo said...

What a nice and SAD story. The cupboard came out perfect. What a nice thing to have from a friend. Did she ever see it finished?
Nancy Jo

Diann said...

Wonderful redo of a great old cabinet!

ThriftyAnnabella said...

So great that you managed to restore it's beauty from the ashes.

Stephanie said...

That is a very sad story. She had such beautiful wisteria and other flowers. Glad you could restore the cabinet, but still so sad about the fire. I have never really restored any furniture...just spray painted some old, non quality stuff. I have an end table that was spray painted black and I want to change it, but don't know what I should do with it. Peace, Stephanie

Christine Thresh said...

I loved this story. The cabinet looks very good.
The pictures of the white flowers are beautiful and brought scents to my mind.
I refinished a few pieces of furniture years ago. It was a lot of hard work.

Sandra said...

Beautiful cabinet and glad you were able to give it a home with lots of TLC. Restoration of anything always takes three times as much money and about five times as much time as one things. It's just one of those facts of the universe -smile-.
Visiting via Vintage Thingies Thursday.

Tara Beaulieu said...

What a wonderful story and I'm so glad for Lucille that someone like you cared enough and still saw the potential in a piece that she probably cherished dearly!

CollectIn Texas Gal said...

I'm sure Lucille is smiling even now at the retelling of the story about her china cabinet. Thanks for sharing. My DH and I refinished a hand made pie safe type cabinet that belonged to his grandmother. Many layers of paint scraping and restoring nail punch tin on the sides and doors, and we now have our family heirloom.

Laura said...

Wow! Seriously. That is something else. Beautiful job.

Debbie said...

I love seeing furniture rescued. And this hutch is so pretty, you did a great job. It's fun to have a story behind it too!

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

I have come visiting via Better After. The hutch and Lucille brought tears to my eyes. I adore when a piece has history and is truly loved. I too am a rescuer. :)

whitey said...

Love the story!