My mother’s table.


My mother bought this table many years ago, not long after we moved to our house on Barrington Road in the mid-’60s. It was her sewing table, and it was already junk when she bought it. It lived in the basement, and it was painted white, although flecks of green were showing through, indicating an earlier paint job.

When I went away to college, not to the dorm but to my first post-dorm apartment, I needed furniture. I got two rollaway beds (how I got a moment’s rest I can attribute only to the ability of 20-year-olds to sleep practically anywhere), a buffet bought at a garage sale to use as a dresser and this table, which was my desk. I was given a can of paint and told to give it another coat. I guess, technically, it was two coats, because I “antiqued” it. What can I say? It was the ’70s.

After I graduated, this table followed me home, and then to my first apartment, then to my second, to my house in Fort Wayne, to my next house in Fort Wayne and finally here. Through all those moves it has remained solid — nary a wobble. With some more painting/decorating in our immediate future, it seemed time to do what I’ve long wanted to do — strip away all that paint and find out what’s underneath, and if it’s worth refinishing. I’ve seen versions of it in antique stores for years, and suspected it might be nicer than just a painted table. If not, I can always paint it again. So today Alan and I carried it out to the driveway, I fired up the heat gun and set to work.

And whattaya know: oak.


And so the project begins!

Posted at 1:19 pm in Same ol' same ol' |

10 responses to “My mother’s table.”

  1. mary said on May 7, 2006 at 7:29 pm

    I’m still using a coffee table someone had put out for the garbage man 25 years ago. I stripped it and found mahogany.

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  2. alex said on May 7, 2006 at 10:30 pm

    Nance, my old college desk just found me! Just this year!

    It had belonged to a great aunt and had been in my room as a kid. It was one of my few furnishings in college and the edges got a bit chewed up when hauling it there and back in a truck. When moving to Chicago from the Fort back in ’86 I wanted to travel light and was such a philistine I didn’t even think it worth storing at my parents’ house. So I gave it away.

    Just a few months ago, the gal I’d given it to told me she was moving to Florida and asked if I wanted it back. She couldn’t believe I wouldn’t want such a great desk. She said it was in the garage of the house of the man she’d just divorced which was in foreclosure. I didn’t give it much thought, but then I was curious and went over and got it. And I’m glad I did. It’s the sturdiest damn thing in the house. And while it’s not particularly in keeping with my modernist furnishings I don’t care. I’m so glad it’s home.

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  3. ashley said on May 8, 2006 at 3:31 am

    Now I see how the “furniture guys” reference tied in. Yes, I had to buy a used copy of their book from amazon.

    I’ve got this thing, and I’d like to restore it to all of its kitschy glamour.

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  4. Connie said on May 8, 2006 at 6:55 am

    My some day project is a big oak library table, original to a Carnegie. Unfortunately in the 50s that library decided to “modernize” and sent all the oak tables and desks to Indiana Prison Industries and had white maple formica applied to the tops.

    Ashley, that thing is quite interesting. And strange.

    And my table still has its Indiana Prison Industries label on the bottom.

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  5. alex said on May 8, 2006 at 7:20 am

    Ashley that thing is way cool. If you ever part with it, I’d love to put it with my four ’70s barrell chairs that, incidentally, came from a library. (I Febreze those a lot and try hard not to think of the homeless. Can’t wait until I save up for new upholstery.)

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  6. Dorothy said on May 8, 2006 at 8:03 am

    That is a cool table, Ashley. Kinda looks like a big ol’ Milkbone to me! But also makes me think of the 50’s or 60’s for some reason.

    We’ve never stripped furniture and re-finished any at our house. But we do buy unfinished pieces and that’s about the only kind of furniture we have in our house, save for the upholstered couch and love seat. The latest piece my husband did is here:

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  7. nancy said on May 8, 2006 at 8:56 am

    Ashley, if you didn’t know already, midcentury is The Hot Thing of the moment. And that’s a lovely specimen. Congratulations on being cutting-edge.

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  8. Michael G said on May 8, 2006 at 9:13 am

    Nance, I’ve got a table that looks a lot like yours in my garage. It’s painted some kind of blue green — of course there must be 50 other coats under it. I have no idea where it came from but it’s graced my garage for years and years. It’s also hell for strong. Could park a truck on it. How did you use yours as a desk? I mean where did you put your feet?

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  9. ashley said on May 8, 2006 at 1:10 pm

    Thanks, y’all. This thing is called a Frankl Cloud table, and is made of…cork. I have a matching triangular side table. Used to have 2 matching side tables, a corner table, and 2 square side tables, but that’s another story.

    The wife wanted to dump it, but I told her to see if she could find it on the web. Sho’ nuff, it’s worth from $1600 to $4k. Go figure.

    Me, cutting edge. Bwaaa haa ha ha.

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  10. nancy said on May 8, 2006 at 11:59 pm

    Usually I put my feet on the little foot platform under there. I do most of my work barefoot, in stocking or slippered feet. But it was a make-do solution all the way around.

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