Thursday, August 13, 2009

Just Refinishing Furniture?

Eleven years ago, my grandmother bought my finance (now husband) and me this beautiful solid maple table and chair set from an antique auction. I'm going to guess that the set is at least 50 years old, so it's more retro than antique. I'm not an antique nut, but I do appreciate well crafted furniture. While not exactly my taste, It's a sturdy piece of furniture with a classic design. After about 10 years of marriage, 2 kids, multiple dinner parties, craft projects, homework assignments and 3 moves later, the table set is looking a little shabby. It's a very nice piece of furniture, so I doubt I'll ever get rid of it. However, it needs to be refinished.

At this time, I considered doing something I've always wanted to do-paint the chairs and table base black and leave the tabletop stained/varnished. I love that look. It looks "farmhouse style" to me. And I know it'll look great in our kitchen painted black. I just know it.

So, I pulled out my trusty sander and went to work sanding a chair. Sanding the chair took only a few hours. When I came to the priming step, I just couldn't do it. This chair has such a nice grain that I couldn't bring myself to cover any of it up with primer. I left the chair in this unfinished stage for about 2 days. Then, I decided to see how it would look just stained. I figured if I didn't like it, I could still just prime and paint it. Again, the wood grain was just so pretty, I couldn't do it. I know that a coat or three of polyurethane will only make it look better. So, I gave up the paint idea (this time) and went on to start the polyurethane coats.

Surprisingly, this simple project has taught me something new about myself. Turns out, I'm a wood purist. There has been hints of this, but I ignored it. For example, all our mouldings are stained wood, not white. It's one of the few things in our house my husband and I loved when we bought it. Even when people suggest we paint the mouldings and interior doors white, I quickly reject the idea. Another example was my niece's toy chest. I was tasked to paint it white. I couldn't bring myself to paint it white. I compromised and white washed it. Years later, my sister painted it which is fine. I just couldn't do it. Oddly enough, I love the look of painted wood. It's the painted wood tables and cabinets at the home stores that I admire. So what is my problem?

When I think about it, my tendencies toward the unpainted wood make sense. I like my life and all the things in it to be simple. Stained furniture is simpler for me because I don't have to worry about paint chipping and it's easier to re stain or repair than painted furniture. Often, I can repair using some Old English Polish. Lastly, I think, deep down, that I cannot possibly complete artistically with woods natural beauty. So, I just don't.