Friday, October 27, 2006

the husband's desk

One of the other mothers from Iris's school asked me to refinish an antique, child's rolltop desk in ill repair, with missing drawers, for the school's fall fundraiser. She knew that I had an interest in refinishing old furniture, as we'd discussed it before (most notably, I refinished ~20 chairs for Iris's pre-k in a variety of ways, some tea party themed, some dog and cat themed, some partially metallicized, etc..).

We got the desk over the summer, and it just sat around. I was sick much of August and all of September; I had to focus on first Iris's birthday party, then fundraising for Lola's school's auction and Lola's birthday party, etc... It got to the point where I was obsessively fretting over that desk (which oddly enough did not translate to getting the damn thing done). I did borrow a friend's belt sander and detail sander, but that was the extent of it. I knew things were going too far when I found myself unable to take my mind off the stupid desk while having sex.

So we struck a marital bargain: while I was maniacally finishing my sewing projects for the preschool auction (plus caring for my foster kittens), Anton would sand down, disassemble, and repair the desk. When he removed the rolltop, he discovered ancient children's papers which had fallen in back, preventing the rolltop from functioning. He carefully preserved the shreds. Sanding gave a poor result, so he ended up using a chemical stripper. He did some structural repairs.

After all that, the desk was ready to refinish. I had a couple of ideas. One was to paint the desk white, as white, countryish furniture is popular at the moment (viz. the Pottery Barn Kids catalogues). Another was to colorwash the desk with pink paint, giving it multiple coats so it would have different layers of color. I thought those were both treatments which would suit the desk and be pleasing to a small girl. Anton completely balked. He asked me to simply stain the desk in a natural tone, but I didn't want to. I wanted to do something more creative. Finally, Anton, who had become very emotionally involved in the matter of the desk, said firmly that he would himself stain the desk as he could not stand for it to be painted in any way; he felt "the beauty of the wood grain" must not be obscured. I let it go, finally, as it wasn't worth fighting over and I was happy to have a project taken off my plate. My only participation in the project was locating some beautiful handwoven baskets online to replace the missing drawers

In the end, his desk sold first, before the others which were refinished more whimsically, so perhaps I have to admit that he was right. However, rather than be enheartened by his success, he said, "That almost makes the time and effort worth it" and "I'll never do that again."

1 comment:

Green said...

I love white furniture. I grew up with ugly brown wood furniture that I hated. I would have loved white or pink (okay, maybe not pink, but some other 'fun' color).

Finally when I moved out of my parent's house I was able to get my white furniture. Still love it.

It doesn't look country-ish, and I don't generally like things that are country-ish.

I doubt a little kid would care about keeping a desk true to it's wood or anything like that.