Please help me welcome our second guest blogger for this year, Carol Parker. She has joined us as a fan of DIY and repurposing after learning what she could accomplish with this used bedroom set that she just couldn’t say no to! Please read on to learn her story:
It’s Junk! Junk, junk, junk!!! For many, many years that’s what I would say when I went to garage sales, resale shops and estate sales. I could never see the potential in something at its face value, let alone consider redesigning a treasure found amongst that so-called junk. Plain and simple, the potential in me to recreate something spectacular was just not developed. With a little trial and error though, that all changed. This is my journey.
To give you a little bit of information about myself, I am a self-proclaimed, swing-by-the-seat-of-my-pants artisan, not a professional Do-It-Yourselfer! I stumbled across a few small projects I wanted to try and found a love for creating something new out of something old. Since that day, I haven't looked back. Now when I look, I see not junk, but potential—something I can recreate and make my own. There’s great satisfaction completing a project, stepping back, and with a smile on your face saying, “I did that” (insert pat on back!).
Things Quickly Headed South
Not long after I started this journey, a friend contacted me to see if I was interested in her old Eddie Bauer furniture. I jumped at the chance! Well, I asked the price first—and then jumped! She had a pine TV armoire and a wrought iron and wood queen bed frame and chest. The asking price was too good to pass up so I went for it. Sight unseen. So, on a snowy January morning, my husband Tim, son Jonathan and I rented a U-Haul and hauled our butts up north to pick up the furniture. Upon arrival we inspected the items and started to load them in the truck.
“This is Junk! Just pure junk!!! I can’t believe we’re hauling this home.” Tim’s words resonated in my ear, and I started to think was he right. Tim was not too happy that we drove over an hour to pick up this stuff just to haul it home and, according to him, not be able to salvage it. It was made very clear that he was not going to help or do anything with it. This was all my project and I was to figure it out. Good thing I had a bit of time, since it was January in Michigan and there was still snow on the ground. So, in the garage all these pieces sat, and I stewed over their reincarnation for the next few months.
My Plan – With a Little Help from a Friend
The first step to my research was to ask Tim questions to see if he would give me answers—I figured I’d start with easy answers before hunting for more. Then I researched how to refinish wood and what type of stain to use. I watched lots of online videos to see their technique. And I got more information from the guy who wasn't going to help—and without him having to touch anything. I had never refinished anything in my life. Never even stripped off old paint...never! I had no clue…none! Now, I’ve made a wood countertop out of a raw slab wood—but that’s a story for another day.
Spring came and I could finally go outside and inspect the furniture. Oh!!! There were spots I thought I wouldn’t be able to fix or cover up. For the most part, however, the furniture was in really good shape. The only concern was the bed’s footboard. My friend’s dogs had chewed the legs of the footboard beyond repair—or beyond what I could fix. Tim and I discussed trying to find pieces that would closely match, but I didn't want to spend more money than what I had budgeted. So my stubborn self went to work. I broke down the bed frame into smaller pieces so I could start and not feel overwhelmed. It was a little tougher than I thought. This beautiful wood set had been painted not once, but twice. White then black. I had to go through two layers of paint just to reveal the natural beauty of the wood. I stripped it, sanded any rough spots, then sanded lightly with fine grit paper to keep a rustic vintage look.
Inspired by Twine
It was a bright sunny spring day and the moment of truth. Staining day!!! I was so excited to get out there and test my skills, or lack thereof. Again, I recruited my husband into helping—without him touching any of that so-called junk. I did a lot of reading then just went for it! I had nothing to lose, except for the resounding voice saying “I told you so,” but that was not going to happen. I followed the instructions and kept telling myself I couldn’t make a mistake. But you can. If you don't like it, you can fix it. That was an awesome motivator. The hardest part was stripping and sanding the armoire with all its nooks and crannies. It has a bit of residual paint, but that just adds to the character of the piece. Once everything was done I still had to deal with the bed frame legs. I was determined not to buy new ones. I wanted to keep the integrity of the piece and make it my own. What was I going to do?
Along with this larger project I was doing some smaller test ones—things I had read about or saw online. I had some old twine on a roll and was using that to wrap some old-fashioned soda bottles. I thought, what if I did that with the legs of the bed frame? So, I started wrapping. I wrapped twine to the top of the first ring of the footboard and stood back to see if the legs looked chewed up or not. They didn’t!
Inspired by Tim
All through his process, I could see Tim taking more of an interest in how the furniture was evolving, and I never really let on that I noticed. Every day closer to completion, he would stop by and take a closer look. Then one night when I was out working, he ran his hand across the piece, looked at me and said, “This is really going to be nice; I didn’t see it before, but now I do.” Converted my husband. Check! Converted myself! Check. Converted a basement room to an awesome guest bedroom with furniture I created from junk. Check! Except I don’t call it junk anymore.