Friday, June 20, 2014

The Life Cycle of a Coffee Table

When Troy and I entered into the wedded bliss of holy matrimony almost eleven years ago, my generous grandparents gave us a monetary gift that put us well on our way to dumping some of our mismatched hand-me-down furniture and buying new.

Our family room, dining room, and bedroom furniture remained an almost comical blend of things we'd had since we were children and things other people gave us when they bought something new. Two years ago we finally bought a new bed and mattress--after nine years of sleeping on a recycled number. The dressers we use to this day are the same ones we had as kids. Our dining room table and chairs were purchased by my parents before I was born, probably, and eventually replaced the table we'd been using that belonged in my husband's bachelor pad. Our family room furniture was purchased sometime in my growing up years and handed down to me just before we moved to Utah, taking over for an even older couch that had been permanently damaged by our teething puppy.

But the furniture in our "formal" room (HA! Formal! We are seriously the least formal people I know.) was purchased after we got married. Back in 2003, it was basically the only thing we owned that was brand spankin' new. Aside from all of our wedding gifts, of course. Which, speaking of. I think married people should get to register again when they hit the fifteen year mark. In four years I'm definitely going to need some new pots and pans.

We bought an off-white couch and matching love seat. In hindsight, this was a ludicrous color choice given our desire to start a family. But we'll buy the sealer that allows us to clean it easier! we said. It's going in our "formal" room so the kids won't be allowed on it! we said. We were stupid. We knew what it was like for OTHER PEOPLE to have kids. We did not realize the amount of running liquid that comes out of children on a constant basis. That furniture doesn't look horrible. The fact that it's almost eleven years old and has withstood baby vomit, slobber, two moves, and a cat who insists on sleeping on it when we're on vacation and no one's looking, is proof of the existence of God. You have to look closely to see the stains. And, in all honesty, they're really more like gray smudges. There aren't any chocolate pudding, grape juice or blood stains so...SUCCESS.

That was a really long introduction to say, we also bought this table.

It was really pretty back in the day and I get that the above picture doesn't look too terrible. But, if you look closely, you'll see the tiny dents that go all the way around the lip on the top of the table.

How does one dent the entire top edge of a table? Well, since you asked, it was THOSE BOYS. Those two tiny boys learned how to pull themselves up to a standing position and then they decided that it would be a smashing idea to cut a mouthful of teeth. Garrett had a deep affinity for wood. He gnawed the side of his crib to the point that, when I sold it two years ago, after deciding that, yes, we are for sure done having babies (Which, incidentally, was a decision that 99% of the time I am thrilled with and 1% of the time causes deep mourning that comes complete with the wailing and gnashing of teeth.) I had to tell the guy that bought it, "It's in perfect condition except for this panel right here where all the wood is dented because my son's itsy bitsy baby teeth were really more like destructive razors. So. Crib destruction times 100 was what we had with this table. Because neither of them gave a single darn about teething rings. It was all about the table and, despite how often I chastised and redirected, the situation proved hopeless for the wood. I had managed to both breed and adopt woodchucks.

Also, the vacuum rammed it approximately 20,000 times and the legs were mangled, dented, pocketed and sad. Several months ago, I fixated on this one piece of furniture (in a house in desperate need of some paint, new carpet, and a shopping spree to somewhere with well built furniture) and decided that it simply had to be refinished.

I mentioned to my husband that I thought maybe it should be painted.

He did not go for that idea.

I waited. A few weeks ago I broached the subject again. This time I got serious. "It's a mess. Just...look at it. I will not take that table if we ever move," I said. (And, okay, so we have no actual plans to move but, you know, it's a solid argument.) "I will throw it away and we will have to buy a new one. Think of how much that will cost when I could just slap a coat of paint on it." 

And the thing is...he didn't say no. He just kind of looked at me long and hard. Because if that man knows only one thing about me it's that once I get an idea in my head, it's really rather impossible to divert my attention. The plan is set and needs only to be executed. For me, there's really no difference between "alright we'll think about it" and "alright we'll do it." So, Troy's silence is as good as an enthusiastic YES!

I went to the Internet, educated myself on how to refinish a coffee table, went to Lowe's, and the rest is yesterday's history.

I wish I had taken some "during" pictures but during the "during" process I was convinced that I was doing everything wrong and did not want to document all of the failure. I plugged in my husband's electric sander and sanded the life out of that sucker. I sanded. And sanded. And sanded. In my front yard. I also talked to myself. Loudly. Over the sound of the sander. "Am I doing this right?" "How should I know if you're doing this right?" "Well, does it look right? How come that part is bare wood flying up and that part still looks stained? Why isn't this sanding evenly?" "I don't know. It's too late to stop now. Keep working." Because, you see, there are at least two identified people inside my head. Whether or not there are more remains to be seen. That's up to the medical professionals to decide.

I washed it.

I painted it with primer.

Then I had a paint fiasco involving the color I wanted to use being all dried up. I decided to switch to another color which ended up, actually, being a second can of the first color so all was not lost despite my momentary temper tantrum in the garage.

Then I sprayed it with two coats of polyurethane and....ta da!

There were a few growing pains involved with my first furniture refinish. I'd do a few things differently in the future (WHEN I REFINISH MORE FURNITURE! Hi, Troy! Love you.) It's not perfect. But, then, nothing really is.

I love it. But I have a confession to make. I kind of miss the teething marks.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed a similar project. There were solid, well-built shelves on the wall with that terrible veneer fake wood finish. I so did not want to sand that junk, but i needed to paint it. My friend who is so much more domestic than me told me i just needed to prime it with 'that primer that has a bulls eye on it'. It worked great, and someday i hope to do the kids' primary-colored play table into a nice chocolate to match their dresser.
    Way to go with the power sander!