Our Mid-Century Dresser: The Beginning.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Ever have one of those days where you wake up, zone in on something and you think ok, that's gotta change?

Yeah, I had that this morning.  Although, it was about the master bathroom wall tile.  I've felt that rip-it-down-and-out-right-NOW urge over that gawd awful tile twice now.  Hmph, unsettling.  'Cuz we all know what that means.  (Seen our sledgehammer around somewhere, anywhere lately?)

I best talk to Mike first about our bathroom plans as they may have changed. Now that we can get hot hot hot water out of the tap for the tub, he may be wanting to keep it after all.

So next visual target as my eyes lolled about in wakey-uppie grogginess was....the dresser.  And really?  I've been on a secret mini-quest to get the master bedroom in semi-close-to-done shape.

But, either way, this has been on my radar for a while, the dresser.  Not too long ago I actually purchased paint stripper even.  What really prompted that purchase though was the gift of two mid-century record cabinets.  My mom's friend offered them to her who in turn offered them to me, so they've been hanging in the garage since.  But they need a-strippin'.  Hence, buy paint stripper.

I'm totally going to get bombarded by creepy search engine-ness due to the word stripper aren't I?

Anyway.

The dresser.

Dresser before.  Looking pretty beat up, tired.  That missing drawer was already in the basement.
As I mentioned a bit ago, my mom purchased this for me at a garage sale, oh, say, eons ago.  Like um, around vaguely twenty.  Ahem.  I either had it when I moved into my first apartment or after I bought my loft, a little fuzzy on that.  I'll have to ask her if she remembers how much she paid.  (Mom?)

I painted it.  Purple and yellow.  Hey, it was twenty some odd years ago and I was big into painting furniture then, so don't get all mad.  I can't remember if it was in rough shape hence the paint or if I just wanted to paint it.  Ask Mom again...(Mom?)

I had since painted it black and taupe-ish beige-ish non-color after I moved into my new condo, post-loft, oy, about fourteen years ago.  And since that time, I've kinda had a twitchy inkling to remove all the paint, find out what's up, what's going as I do not remember at all what it looks like naked.

Today was the day.  To start, anyway.

My original brainchild, based on the premise that the wood is in bad shape, was to strip the drawer faces, paint the handles white, repaint the black top, strip the sides of the cabinet, maybe paint the legs and cross support white.

I've just totally angered every mid-century modern furniture fan out there.  Before you get upset know I have the utmost respect for furniture, especially MCM as I too am a huge fan.  My entire adult life has revolved around furniture in one way or another:  studying it, teaching it, moving it, buying and selling it, repairing it, stripping it, designing a hypothetical museum around it, even designing some itself.  So I speak furniture very skillfully.

I started with that one drawer using uh....hang on, lemme load up that photo....


Ah, Zinsser Strip Fast.  It's water clean up (super key) and, well, that was its main selling point at the moment when I was in the aisle.  Oh, and it said it was paste-like which pffft, is totally not true.  It's a goopy gel that runs.  Runs.  Works generally pretty well though.

I love stripping furniture.  Really, no joke.  Totally serious.  People think I'm beyond weird for loving what seems like such a miserable, stinky, messy task but it's sooo satisfying and it's all a Zen-like thing for me.  Or, maybe it's the fumes.

Anywhooo.

Ooooh, well, lookie at that veneer.
I got the one drawer stripped and thought huh, it'd probably be easier to paint the handles white if they weren't black and several layers thick to begin with and hey, I wonder what the condition of that wood is like too.  Ah screw it, more stripper!

Now, winter is not really the most ideal time (it snowed twice this week so it just does not feel like spring) for this as an indoor activity.  Unless you have great ventilation.  I moved the whole project into the bathroom and ran the exhaust fan.  I do not recommend but hey, what can I say.  (Get a respirator?  Yeah.)  You MUST wear crappy clothes, eye protection, and rubber gloves.  This sh*t burns.


I trundled upstairs to get the rest of the drawers when I discovered this mark inside one of them, normally buried beneath socks.  Looked them up, Bassett Furniture Industries Inc., and huh, interesting stuff.  They made oodles of mid-century furniture.  Oodles!  I found a similar one but in nine drawers.  I am dying to know what that sold for!  Ah, here's mine but it didn't sell.  Wow.  Hooked -- totally going to keep researching the daylights out of it now.

Here's one drawer all nakey:

Walnut veneer, says what I read online.  Wow.  Handle wood?  No idea for certain.
In all honesty, it was not bad off but also not ideal condition.  The veneer face is darn near pristine though, and gorgeous.  The grain of the solid wood handles absorbed the yellow pigment so, yeah, bummer.  I did some minor light sanding with my rotary tool and got some out but I didn't want to go whole hog then damage the wood.  I suspect the yellow got real well in there because the wood and original finish were worn as evidenced by soft rounded corners and well, visually blatant wear.

So.  Decision time.  It came down to this:  spend the next forever several days/weeks trying to get the pigment out and fine-tooth combing to get the entirety of the paint removed, restain the handles and kinda almost restore the whole dresser OR stick with my original plan.

Stuck with original plan.  (Sorry MCM fans.)

Someday, when I've got nothing better to do and I have a roomy workshop with plentiful warm fresh air breezing through, I'll go back and lovingly take care of this puppy.  The value is relatively shot anyway since whatever sealant they used at the time came up with the remover.  Plus, right, painted.


I taped off the handles then painted them with satin white.

No Restor-a-Finish on the top, yes with Restor-a-Finish on the bottom one.  Bad photo, sorry.
Before I completely cleared off the face of the first drawer, I tested out some of that Restor-a-Finish in neutral* that I had laying around and decided it was the best way to revive the faces.  The great thing about using that stuff too was that I was able to put the drawers back in the dresser same day.

Holy cow.  The veneer looks good, yeah?
So this is where it's at now.  Woke up to painted drawers.  Same day I have mostly stripped and redone drawers.  I'll pick up some of the recommended wax stuff that I read about on the R-a-F label too.

The problem with white though?  Dirt magnet.
And here's one side with paint remaining.  The side where cordless chipper/shredder Hailey gnawed up the corner.  The bottom right exposed spot there.  I think I will strip the sides so I can highlight, admire, and always remember where she chewed up the dresser.

And FYI, Mike loves it. Yay!  Finally, after a brief drought, being on the poop list, I did something he loves!  Yay!  :)

*The Restor-a-Finish in neutral is an Amazon affiliate link.  Mwah, thanks!

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