Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A Story About Making Old Furniture Lovely Again

We have a new addition to our family.

Actually, we have two but i'll tell you about this one first; our new Welsh dresser.

Way back in February my other half happened to mention that there was a Welsh dresser for sale.  It was being advertised in the little cafe over the road and he'd had a look at it and thought right away how it could be done up and made to look lovely.  As this is something I have long wished to have in my home I went to have a look at it.  Standing in the corner it was very tired, shabby and 80's looking with it's awful dark varnish, but I could see the potential same as he had and immediately got rather excited, envisioning it standing in our little house adorned with all our favourite bits and pieces.

We bought it for £25.00 and got to work sanding back that nasty varnish...

I'm afraid I don't have an actual before shot of it to show you just how dark and awful it really was, but you get the idea...

However this renovation business was not plain sailing.  After choosing and buying the undercoats, primers and paints we got to work making this old bit of furniture look good as new, but we hit a problem:  Staining.  Yes, the lovely milky white shade of paint we had originally chosen turned a rather sickly yellow as the old varnish leached through.

It was left a while as we worked out what to do.  I contacted a furniture restoration specialist who suggested sanding it back and then coating the whole thing in shellac.  It seemed like there was a light at the end of the tunnel but as some of you may know, shellac is not the cheapest product to buy and we had a heck of a surface area to cover.  Back to the drawing board then!!  My Dad had a lightbulb moment and went up to see his old friend John Carrack (brother of the famous Paul) who has run their family paint business in Crookes for years.  John sent him home with a tin of some special sealant and my Dad took over the project of re-sanding, sealing, re-undercoating and the like, whilst I danced off happily to buy pretty coloured door knobs and some new paint!

After months of hard work and nothing happening, it was ready:

It has moved into our little house and looks as if it's been there forever.  Typically I got rather excited and immediately started to adorn it with bits and bobs...(and did I mention that it needs bunting?  I didn't?  Oh it so does!!)

I found the toadstools in John Lewis recently, they're actually tree decorations but for now I'm liking them just sitting companionably together on my new dresser :)

The paint I chose was Porcelain Blue by the Craig & Rose 1829 paint company.  The door and drawer knobs came from a selection at Chatsworth House and a lovely little shop in Holmfirth called The Gift Horse.

Prior to my Welsh dresser moving in, I finally got myself a proper desk to work from.  For absolutely long enough I have been working and painting away at my dining room table and this has been fine up to a point but I was feeling that I'd really like a little chunk of my home where I could do my computer work and smaller pieces of art; a work space I could call my own, that I didn't have to clear off to serve meals etc.  Now as some of you know we live in a very SMALL house, there really isn't space for an individual studio and so I have chosen my favourite corner, by my inspiring bookshelves and back window for my new desk.

I found my desk in an antiques centre in Sheffield, I saw it just over a month ago and I fell instantly in love.  I saw it in my mind as being the perfect desk;  it was big enough for my bits and pieces, but small enough to fit in our room without overpowering it.  It has an unusually long drawer that opens from the side for keeping all my Important Things in.  I also get to leave my painting stuff on it, and I love doing that.

I think it's important that we cultivate a creative space that makes our hearts sing, that bring us joy.  A good place to work from is good for the soul.

It's also a dream to sit here and work, glancing up to see the birds fluttering about and watch the sun orbit our riverside garden.  Although I'm still in my little house, working in the same room, having my own desk here gives me my own little sanctuary to retreat to for work and painting stuff.  I love it.  It's all mine.

So!  Before I go today, I'd just like to thank all of you for your lovely comments about my crochet work ~ you're so kind and I do appreciate the time you spend reading my blog and writing your thoughts.  I also appreciate all of you lovely folks who read and leave quietly, thank you too for stopping by :)

Well, I have a few Christmas Card orders I need to be cracking on with now, so I'm off!  I hope you're all having a smashing week, sending love and mugs of warm gluhwein to you!

Julia x x x


  1. Wow - the dresser looks so beautiful!! The pretty knobs and bits and bobs on it are lovely too! Gorgeous!! :o)
    Maria x

  2. Julia, the dresser is absolutely gorgeous, I am so jealous! Your lovely adornments look beautiful against the new colour!
    I know it's to late to tell you this but I've renovated old furniture many times and over dark varnish, just sand the glossiness off (Don't worry how dark it'll still look), paint a layer of white undercoat, leaving to dry overnight. Repeat a coat of white undercoat over a few days (about 3 depending how dark is started off))until the surface is pure white, then one coat of the final topcoat and you're done!
    Jess xx

  3. Julia, estoy maravillada con tu trabajo, me encanta todo (lo poco que vi)y de a poco iré hacia atras para leerme completo tu blog.
    la restauración es excelente y disfruto mucho hacer esos trabajos.
    saludos Alita :)

  4. Gorgeous dresser! I brought one a few years ago & still havent got around to painting it!! Its currently a lovely orangey pine colour with stencilled fruit on it. Now, I know what you are thinking: Why on earth would I want to paint it?! LOL. I think you have inspired me to finally get around to doing it!! xx

  5. Ah that dresser is beautiful. The adornments really help to make it even more lovely. Well done! It's great that you finally have your own desk, I would love to have my own craft space but the dining room table will have to do for now!

    Oh and thanks Jess for the renovation tips, while it might be too late for the Julia it's a useful thing to know.

    Helen xx

  6. Your dresser is gorgeous! I can so see why you love your new desk........such a lovely place to sit and work :)

    Jo x

  7. first thing that came into my head really lush

  8. Hi Julia!
    I am usually reading and leaving quietly...but today, I just wanted to tell you how happy I was to hear that you've gone and set up a creative space for yourself. You deserve that...it is so nice looking...so neat and tidy....but you could leave your work sitting out unfinished without having to clear the dinner table. I too have been there in the past...but not any more!

    Ciao Bella

    Creative Carmelina

  9. Julia, I just love the dresser-definitely my kind of thing!! You did a fantastic job with it. And I love your desk looking out to the back. Mine is situated in the den looking out like that, it is so beautiful to glance up and see the birds, etc. Have a most wonderful day! ♥ Kerrie

  10. Hi Julia! Your new dresser is beautiful and I'm happy to see there some candle glasses from Finnish Iittala! How great you got new working table, too!
    xxx Teje

  11. Your new dresser looks amazing! You did a great job!:)
    Have a great day dear!

  12. I love your dresser Julia! It's always nice to find something, give it some love and have a beautiful piece for the home.....even if it did take a bit of work! Love the colour too! I have a tester pot in that colour and painted something crafty with it last week! It's such a pretty colour. Love all the knick knacks too on the shelf. That's the fun part....and bunting?....oh yes...bunting has to be done! ha ha!

    Love your desk too. You are right, just having a little bit of space to call your own is a wonderful thing!

    Have a super week my lovely

    much love

    Vanessa xxxxxxxxxx

  13. OOOh lovely job you have done there Julia, I have a dresser (pine) from years ago that would look good with that treatment, and bedroom furniture too!! Just need to find the time, maybe a job for the summer? Like all the bits and bobs too, that must have been fun selecting those.

  14. Oooo that dresser is gorgeous! It looks so lovely with it's new paint finish and those little knobs.......ahhh! I have some rather fine green glass knobs waiting patiently to be attached to an old chest of drawers which needs a lovely coat of paint(waiting a VERY long time!!!)And bunting yes bunting!
    Enjoy your creating at your new fab desk too. ♥

  15. The dresser looks stunning you put a lot of hard work into it - just in case you fancy more painting have you tried Annie Sloan paint. You don;t need to prime, sand, undercoat etc. I just painted a cupboard and didnt even dust it. It's fab. You do need to wax it though for a tougher finish. Def need bunting and btw love the knobs.

  16. wow you did a good job, loved reading this post, i think we all need a private space to do our crafts no matter how big or small x thankyou for sharing with us x
    helen x

  17. Love the dresser - it's gorgeous :-)

  18. Hello, Julia!
    Your new furniture are just great!! And your creative space is lovely!(as well as your Japanese scarf!! gorgeous colours you chose!)
    (P.S.: I love your blog!)
    Best regards, from Brazil

  19. That dresser looks fantastic, I keep wanting to paint ours but hubby is having none of it! I can feel a handle change coming on though :-) The desk you found is also wonderful, what treasures you have bought into you house x

  20. Such a brilliant job on that dresser. Your chosen pieces prettify perfectly! I too have one living in the garage waiting for just such a makeover - does your Dad take commissions?!
    Becky x

  21. very pretty. I definately like the white and the additions.

  22. You have done such a fantastic job with this dresser!!! It is gorgeous!!! Now I want a dresser like that!!!


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