Monday, April 19, 2010

Old Furniture part one~~

Twenty eight years ago David and I moved into our first home - a little ranch starter of block and a brick facade; I think the heated area was around 1000 sq ft - but it had three bedrooms and two baths and a garage. The opportunity to buy the house came up as we were planning our wedding and looking for a place to rent....the monthly payment would be less than rent so we jumped on it...moving up our wedding date because in those days, you had to be married to co-sign a mortgage ......we intended to stay there about three years before selling and moving on - three years later we had a toddler and one on the way and three years ended up being eight instead.

Like all newlyweds, I dreamed of filling the house with beautiful matched pieces but the reality was that in the beginning, the house was filled with the cast off furniture of others -most of it in its last days - the couch and chair used to leave a trail of stuffing behind us after we'd sat there for a time - Dave's parents gave us one beautiful antique dresser but most of the things were beyond restoring and would only last a short time - we had places to sit and were newly married and owned our home so we didn't complain - but I could hardly wait to pass them on to the next person who needed them and replace them with new things. That green bureau was the only piece of furniture in that house that I loved and in my eyes, made everything else look cheap and ugly.

As time went on, we did buy new furniture but with our tight budget, those pieces were certainly not top quality and we quickly learned that we were wasting our money; we were now dreaming of moving into an old farmhouse one day and time and experience saw the beginning of our love affair with old, (perhaps abused) quality furniture. We began to haunt garage sales and flea markets and eventually snapped up another couch and chair from an estate sale and slowly we began to fill our house with new old things that held up with constant usage or looked as if they had a story that could be told. When we moved into our second house 8 years later, we had more room to fill and stepped up our search for previously loved pieces. Pieces have come and gone over the years replaced by inherited furniture or pieces more suited to our needs at that particular time, but that green bureau still stays on.

Today, twenty-eight years after we moved into that first little starter home, 90% of our furnishing are old castoffs that we've reclaimed from old barns, front porches, flea markets, garage sales or antique stores. Certain things like couches and chairs and mattresses are "new" and a few pieces are inherited family pieces but many of them are reclaimed, restored and loved for all the nicks and dings...I'm a long way past wanting a house full of matching brand new furniture and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I've been meaning to do a series of posts on the beauty of old furniture. ever since I started blogging....and this week I'm going to try to actually do them.....let's begin with that beautiful antique bureau from David's parents all those years ago...........

What you can't see in this photo is the gentle curve of the front -
try as I might, I just couldn't get the right angle to show it off.

That bureau was left behind by the folks who owned my in-laws house when they bought it in the 1960's; my mother in law refinished it adding an antique technique shortly after they moved in to the house. In 1982, they gave the piece to David and I for our new home. While I have always loved it, it seemed to always be overlooked in our other houses even though it was always in the public living areas - when we moved in here, it suddenly became a conversation piece.

We were literally moving our things in as the previous owners moved theirs out - they'd already rented a place until their new house was completed because of the last minute termite tenting of this place; the weekend before closing, they'd agreed to let us in to do some prep work (plywood put in the eaves among a few other things) and move some of our more precious pieces in - and this was the first piece. Joan said to me when she first saw it "you must have known you'd one day have an old house". Over the weeks as folks came down to visit and see the place - everyone of them commented on the bureau as if they'd never seen it before. Perhaps that's why my in-laws previous owners had left it in the old house when they left - it just belonged there - for 19 years, it languished in our "new houses" just waiting to once again live in a setting that suited it best.

That chair beside it? That was Papa's chair; it was the chair in which he sat holding my children while he read them "The Night Before Christmas" every Christmas Eve until he passed away in 1997. Its a recent addition to our home with the passing of my mother in law last August. Of all the things in her house, this was the one thing our children wanted most. It, like that green bureau, has a story to tell................

Christmas Eve 1996 - Big Ed or Papa as the grand kids all called him,
passed away on January 10 1997

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