As one of her Christmas/Birthday presents this year, I promised my kid I would remodel her room to update it from a kid’s room to something more suitable to a teenager. She’s been waiting on pins and needles to turn 13, I myself could have waited another ten years at least. Where the hell does the time go?
We made a lot of small changes that made a big difference, like taking down all those little projects hanging on the walls that we had done while at the library’s summer reading program years ago. 😥
My friend Marianne gave us several really framed wolf posters that she’d stored in her attic- they had hung in her son’s room when he was a teenager. Seems like HE should still be a teenager and not 30-something now with his own family….
So we hung the wolf posters, her dad installed a flat screen that we had stashed after upgrading our living room TV and hooked up the old Xbox 360 in there along with the legacy Nintendo thingy- forgive me gamers, I am and painter and gardener, I don’t know all the systems and terminology. I found a day bed (she wanted a “bed that I can sit on like a couch”) in deep blue velvet with silver studs that reminded me of furniture I saw when staying in the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. The effect is doubled by the fact that she now has at least 4 guitars hanging on her walls in between the wolf posters. She is the guitar player that I dreamed of being, but never took seriously or put the practice in to become. She even got special permission from the school band teacher to play guitar with the band, though they had never had a guitar in the Middle School Band before.
The one thing this room is seriously lacking is closet space. Like me, she tends to favor older furniture over the new pressboard stuff. We went out and scoured antique stores until we found an end-table with a drawer. It had a really cool sliding hidden compartment that we didn’t even discover until I was putting in the truck and strapping it in to bring it home. We did not find the armoire I was hoping for.
It’s not my first choice of places to buy furniture, but I went to Facebook Marketplace. We’ve had a good luck picking up a few things from there. I found a toilet for the front house, we found an upright baby grand piano that someone was just giving away. It needs tuned, but it’s absolutely gorgeous and I’d probably keep it even if it didn’t play at all. Real ivory on the keys and everything. I found several armoires online, but most of them were newer, which meant pressboard and put together like garbage- then I came across this:
I swear, it looked better in the pictures online. I don’t remember what she was asking for it originally, ($75 I think?) but as we were driving to Waynesville to pick it up, she messaged us and said, “I was moving the armoire out to the garage and it fell down the stairs in the process. Do you still want it?”
Well *$#!, we were already on our way, so I figured I would at least go and take a look at it in person. I offered her $20 and she took it. At first glance, it didn’t look too bad… I mean it was really scratched up and the base had split, but it was real wood, it still felt solid and I thought for $20 I could work with it.
Once I dug into it, I realized that it had took a bit more damage than was immediately visible. The fall had knocked everything out of true. There were trim pieces missing, a knob was gone, the mirror that originally ran down the front was gone, there was a huge crack in the base, a smaller crack in the center where the mirror had been and the entire back was dry rotted and peeling.
I stripped it down to just the frame, then glued and clamped all the cracks overnight. The next day, it felt much for sturdy and stable. The top scroll work was busted all to hell, but we didn’t want it anyway- where the cabinet was going to sit, it would be too tall and block the view of the TV. I cut the scroll work off and just left it with 3 arches; I did keep the Fleur-de-lis to re-attach to the middle arch when I was finished.
My daughter decided the original handles would be ok in a different color. I had thought they might be shell centers, but they turned out to be plastic, so I took them apart and painted the centers to match the bright blue knobs we’d be using, then sprayed the metal part with a metallic silver.
I spent almost 2 days just sanding off the finish, the extra glue from fixing all the cracks and the deep scratches from being dropped down a staircase prior to us picking it up. I wish I’d remembered to take a picture of it stripped down- but I didn’t. 😦
I used Minwax penetrating stain in Jacobean. I only put on a single coat, because I didn’t want it so dark that it hid the chevron pattern on the doors, plus I kind of liked that the single coat in a dark color really showed off the red and brought that chevron out much better than the original caramel-colored finished did.
I used a polyurethane on it that was specifically for use on furniture and a had a higher durability- this is going in a teenagers’ room, after all. I got in a hurry with the poly and had to re-do one of the doors because it dripped and streaked from applying too much without sanding between coats. If you’re re-finishing a piece of furniture, perhaps the BEST advice I can give you is don’t get impatient when it comes to the finish coat. The first coat of this sucked right into the wood and was gone in about 10 minutes, this armoire was built sometime around 1940’s (I think?) and didn’t look like it had been treated with anything in many, many years. (I couldn’t find a makers’ mark anywhere, so I guessed it’s age by looking up photos online and comparing to other armoires.) The lemon oil I applied after sanding soaked clear through the inside the outside of the cabinet overnight, the wood was so dry and porous. It looks and feels like a different piece of furniture, now that it’s been cleaned, oiled and refinished.
I added new latches to keep the doors closed properly, the old ones had worn out. All in all, I spent about $80 on the entire thing. (FYI, I did have the Gorilla glue, blue acrylic, metallic silver and the two blue knobs and wood stain already on hand. I only purchased polyurethane, a strip of milled trim, a sheet of cedar for new backing and two grits of sandpaper- a 60 for stripping and a 120 for finishing.) If I’d had to purchase stain, glue and paint and the knobs, it probably would have added another $30-$40. Still, $110-$120 is a very reasonable price for a solid wood armoire, considering I couldn’t even find press-wood/laminated versions for that price. Also, this has SO much more personality than a boring white laminated rectangle.
So here’s the finished cabinet. It’s in her room now, she hasn’t decided yet what’s going in it. I did cut a hole through the back so that the gaming system could be stashed inside the upper cabinet, along with all the controls and the TV remote. No more dogs tripping over cords on the floor, yay!
It isn’t perfect, but I think it looks a hell of a lot better than it did and it’s now a useable piece that should last her for years of use.
My next project it going to be the utility room floor. I’m tired of looking at the boxes of tile sitting in our kitchen, so I’m going to try and finally get that accomplished before spring hits and I don’t care about house projects for at least 6 months. LOL
I’ve already been planning garden layout and browsing seed catalogs. 🤩