Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Table Therapy

“Snooze and you’ll loose,” it said. “Renovators delight,” it said.

These were the very words in the newspaper advertisement that described our dream home.

Yes, I said dream home. Maybe not everybody’s cup of tea but definitely ours. A faded old beauty – originally built about 130 years ago. Not renovated for a good twenty years or more. The current (ahem…dated) décor pays homage to the 70’s and 80’s. The walls and ceilings sport cracked, peeling paint with a grotty overtone. The carpet is held together by masking tape. Yes, masking tape (you read that right!).

Slowly but surely we are rediscovering the old girls soul. If only the walls could speak.

This January (our summer break) we are taking on the next project. The next room. The next tree in the forest. This one also requires renovating an assortment of vintage and second hand items of furniture. Something happens deep within me each time we get out the hammer; replace worn out fittings; open a tin of paint. God reaches through to my heart.

Last year when we repaired a table I felt compelled to write the story down. Now as I delve into the healing properties of paint therapy once again, it seems an appropriate time to share it with you.  May you be encouraged and blessed…

Lizzy xx

(ps – it’s kinda longish so we’ll split it in two).

Table Therapy – part 1

The table arrived at my house looking rather forlorn. The top was in five pieces, very nearly six; though it should have been just four. The paint on the detached legs and base was badly cracked and bubbled - in some places non-existent.  A very rusty towel rail, a few little odd chocks of wood, a smaller piece that had clearly broken off from somewhere and a handful of corroded nails and screws completed the collection that arrived that day.

This sorry looking little heap was a piece of my family history - an antique table that had belonged to my great great great aunt, and most likely to her parents before that.

With some gentle encouragement the dovetail joints fit together neatly like a jig saw puzzle. I rested the top planks on the frame to get a sense of the overall picture. Not that this was entirely possible. The two middle boards, which are pine, sat on easily enough. The two cedar ends were a different story. One was completely snapped off. The other was within centimetres of suffering the same fate.  A testimony, of sorts, to having lived the last forty odd years in storage with other unused belongings piled on top. My husband held one of the ends in place and I stepped back to take in the view.

My first impression was that of a table in an old cottage kitchen – like those often seen on display in a historical village or museum. The kind of table that folk like me practically drool over.  The tops of them are dry and well worn from years of use. I tried to imagine the assortment of utensils that once sat on it and the people who owned them. My mind conjured up images of a butter churn, wooden chopping boards and a metal mixing spoon so well used the edge had worn flat…

A voice broke through my daydream.

“I’m sorry it’s not much and is so shabby.”

Sorry? This man was sorry for bringing this to me!

“Don’t be sorry,” I told him “It’s perfect! Just what I wanted.”

Indeed the picture standing before me was not a pretty one. The old polish that peeked out, in places, from underneath the dirty cream paint looked as if coarse sand had been added. The amount of paint that was missing left the viewer with sentiments of misery. The top panels had warped with age and were covered with various scratches along with multiple dents of varying shapes and sizes. A small section containing borer activity and a paint spot or two rounded out the image. Yet it had a depth of character that a newer, smoother, cleaner table could not possibly hope to match. Despite the ugliness there was beauty too; just waiting, longing to be shown again.

Life has a way of becoming hectic all too easily and an opportune time for repairs was elusive. When passing by though I often stopped to contemplate how best to bring back the table’s song, just plain admiring it too.

Eventually we armed ourselves with glue, syringes, putty, paint and clamps. Our first mission was to mend the damaged ends. Carefully glue was pasted onto the broken pieces with an old brush and the raw edges were pressed together. After living apart for so long the two halves of the plank had twisted, no longer able to rest snugly against each other. Clamps became indispensable assistants whilst everything dried. We filled as many of the finer cracks as possible then turned our attention to the legs and base. Ample opportunities for gluing and plugging gaps presented themselves here also. The odd little chocks and broken piece of wood returned to their rightful places and I wondered how long they had been separated. Judging by the paintwork, other misplaced fragments had departed quite some time ago. Despite my longing to continue and remain up all night until the finishing touches were in place, patience was the only requirement at this point. Something was beginning to stir...

Stay tuned for part 2, coming next week…


  1. I can't wait to hear what happens next! I hope there will be a photo of the finished project. I love antiques.

    1. Not long to wait now... definitely more piccies to come :o)


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