Monday, July 14, 2014

The Secretary That Caused a Traffic Jam

I saw this secretary listed on Craigslist for a reasonable price and had to have it. Never mind that it was located in a beach community notorious for one-way streets and no parking, and that it was a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon - the height of "rush hour" at the beach. My husband wanted no part of this adventure so I asked bribed my son to go with me.

I ran inside to see the desk, with my son driving around Belmont Shores looking for a place to park. The really lovely lady tells me that it was Grandma Caroline's desk that was left to her and she needs to downsize. I agree to purchase it and she informs me it doesn't come apart! Meanwhile, my son parks in a no parking spot in an alley, races to help me carry it out front because it's too big to carry through to the back alley. He runs back to the car and drives around to the front of the house where I'm standing on a very busy sidewalk next to a massive piece of furniture.

Now four months ago, I had absolutely no idea I would ever attempt to chronicle my furniture escapades, or I can guarantee I would have documented what happened next. My son, the lady and I try to get a very long desk into a too short SUV. It doesn't fit, we can't get the door closed, and there are ten cars behind us honking their horns at us because we are blocking traffic. Then a man starts shouting expletives at us so I jump in the back of the car holding a secretary for dear life and tell my son to floor it. I've never held on to something so tight in my entire life! But it didn't fall out, we were able to pull over to a safe spot and angle it in the car so that we could close the door and we arrived home safely. Thank God it wasn't a long drive!

I got it home and started to work on "Caroline". She wasn't really in that bad of shape, the usual sanding, filling, vacuuming, and cleaning that seems to be the norm for the pieces I bring home. I carefully reglued the lattice on her doors because they were loose. And the lady was right - I found glue residue when I was sanding between the desk and bookcase - at some point in time the two pieces had been glued together! I was not going to jeopardize my fragile relationship with Caroline by putting her through more trauma, so I left her alone.

I painted her in GF Lamplight Black, with the interior of the bookcase in ASCP Pure White. The pullout cubby was in good condition, so I just used my magic secret formula (OK, Restore-a-Finish), waxed, and buffed and buffed and buffed her to a beautiful sheen. I kept the handles and just used Brasso on them and they turned out great.

I lined the drawers with some Waverly fabric that I had from a previous project and called it a day. Actually, more like two weeks!

There's a happy ending to this story. The woman that bought this piece went to just as much trouble to get it as I did the day I brought Caroline home. She drove two hours EACH WAY and had to borrow a truck. And so, Caroline made it safely to a great new home.

Did I learn anything from this adventure? Yes. Bring rope and flags to CL appointments. Either for the furniture or to muzzle the man who is honking and yelling at you.

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I'm sharing at:

I'm linking up to the Metamorphosis Monday Party at the blog, Between Naps on the Porch.
Furniture Feature Friday
Feathered Nest Friday
Wow Us Wednesday
Best DIY Link Party at the Handmade Hangout


  1. Oh wow what you went through! Good for you!! You saw something you wanted and nothing deterred you...good for you!

    The secretary is gorgeous and I am so glad she's did a wonderful job Beth:-)

    1. Thanks, Christine! She's not mine anymore, but went to a great home. I have to constantly remind myself that I'm in the furniture "selling" business and not the furniture "hoarding" business! Otherwise, we wouldn't be able to maneuver around our house!!

  2. I just love what you did with this secretary. I am a first time reader here. Please enlighten me and tell me what are GF and ASCP paints. Thanks.

    1. Thanks for the compliment, Nancy! It was a labor of love. GF and ASCP are abbreviations for General Finishes and Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. GF is a type of milk paint that is premixed. ASCP is chalk paint that is also premixed and available in many beautiful colors. They both have different benefits; and I use them interchangeably depending on the type of furniture I'm refinishing and the effect I'd like to achieve. :)

  3. Hi Beth--I'm visiting from Wow us Wednesdays :) What a wonderful transformation! Fun story, too. You do really great work.

  4. She's lovely, you did a great job.

  5. oh such a sweet piece. i love this.