Introducing our first guest blogger, Christina Dubrule! She’s a good friend of mine, fellow interior designer, and DIY enthusiast. She’s sharing her latest project, the story of her mother-in-law’s hope chest.
Hi. My name is Christina and I’m an interior designer at CBT architects in Boston.
I’ve always been interested in the fine arts so I’ve painted my own artwork, reupholstered furniture, and have made festive wreaths. When I’m feeling really motivated I focus on turning old and dated, but well-made and with great history, family heirlooms into functional pieces that can be loved by future generations.
THE STORY OF MY MOTHER IN LAW’S HOPE CHEST
I believe I have a transitional lifestyle and design style.
I like things with character, items that tell a story, but like to do so without clutter. Overly decorated pieces seem outdated to me, clean lines and elegant forms are more successful in today’s ever shrinking living spaces. I do, however, have a soft spot in my heart for family heirlooms.
Do you have that special piece of furniture that has been passed down for generations? That odd rocking chair or hope chest that was given to your grandmother as a wedding gift?
I am a very sentimental person and am honestly outraged when such items risk their future collecting dust in consignment shops or going to the sidewalk with a ‘free’ sign. Wouldn’t your grandfather be rolling over in his grave?! He spent hard earned money on that hope chest for your grandmother! Anyways, I digress.
My point is that you can give them a new home, a facelift if you will, and allow them to live on as that unique piece in your home that tells a story. I’m not saying that you have to drop it into your home as it lived for 50 some odd years with moth ball smelling linens, I’m saying reinvent it. I’m also not going to go all out and tell you to turn it into a cat house or anything crazy, I’m talking new hardware, and a current stain or paint. I’ll give you an example.
This is the story of my mother-in-law’s hope chest. Yes, I do have my grandmothers, but that’s a project for the future.
One afternoon while visiting the in-laws, my mother-in-law nonchalantly tells me that she is sick of her hope chest and is going to put it out in the front yard for free (!). As I mentioned before, I was outraged that she would even consider such an idea. I calmly asked her where it came from and said that I would like to have it. My father-in-law had given it to her, when people still did that, as her wedding gift nearly 30 years ago. I couldn’t let some stranger take that family history! She looked at me like I was crazy when I said I wanted it.
Honestly, she had not taken good care it; she had painted it and let the dogs use it as a perch for gazing out the window (scratches!).
(knobs and cushion already removed):
I decided, and of course recruited my husband for assistance, that we would strip all that white paint, stain it a dark espresso to match our bedroom furniture, add new hardware, and reupholster the cushion (which by the way had about 10 layers of fabric from reupholstering jobs over the years).
My assistant is thrilled!
A few progress photos:
White paint stripped
Stripped, sanded, cleaned. Ready for staining!
I’m applying the poly coat here for some shine.
I found that choosing the knobs are a project in themselves.
You’ll want to make sure they are correctly sized for your piece. I tried these which I had ordered for a different project but found they were too big.
It sat like this for a couple months until I found these at Home Goods. Can we stop and give a shout out to Home Goods! Such a great store!
Finally, the finished product.
My mother-in-law was almost in tears when I showed her.
Goof Off All Purpose Stripper: stain and paint remover was a great product that I used and would recommend. I totally should have done another layer of this icky removal stuff, but grew impatient. I would also recommend a wood repair kit for items that are in rough shape. It was too late for me to use by the time I discovered it at Home Depot. But, it would have helped to conceal all of those pesky pet scratches!