I AM talking about stripping furniture of course.  Part of my new found life in the mountains has been the strong desire to decorate my new house in a certain way, with particular furniture.  Given said house purchase pretty much depleted every last penny of my savings, I’ve begun to look at ways of recycling and doing things on the cheap.

 On a recent wander through a gorgeous shop in Glenbrook, I noted a fantastic sideboard that I fancied for my own.  It was white and kind of shabby looking but in that French sort of way, not the throw it out immediately sort of way.  I was admiring it when I happened across the whopping $550 price tag.  The friendly shop owner said he’d take $500 for it.  Generous chap.  Anyway, I got chatting to him and he told me that he’d only picked up the sideboard the day before and it had been black.   And off went a light bulb in my head.  Of course!  I can recycle old furniture!  I don’t think for a minute this shop guy paid more than $100 for that sideboard but he had made it look fantastic and would make a very tidy profit on it.

 Last weekend, I went searching and found two wonderful pieces.  A 1940’s (ish) wooden telephone table and a 1950’s sideboard.  Now I don’t think the sideboard is any more 1950’s than I am – I suspect it is more a 70’s model but I love it!  I found some gorgeous glass knobs to replace the hideous ones that are on there, and then I commenced operation restoration.

 I trotted off to the hardware shop where I was assured that my initial choice of a “citrus” non-toxic paint stripper would not do the job and that only the hard core stuff would do.  I briefly entertained doing the stripping inside, rather than dragging the sideboard onto the back porch.  I’m glad I went with the outside option. 

 Let me tell you something about paint stripper.  Wear protective clothing because you will need it.  That stuff is lethal.  I wore gloves, a mask and protective goggles and I still got a tiny splash of it on my chest where my t-shirt didn’t cover.  That stuff burns and burns quickly.  I was able to clean it off but was super careful after that.  Also, it works really, really fast.  You almost have to start scraping as soon as you put it on.  A word to the wise, it can be an arduous task if you happen to own the world’s dumbest dog – although I don’t think you do because my dog seems to be holding that title.  The varnish came up really quickly and as I scraped it off, fell in huge brown gelatinous heaps onto the deck below.  The dog looked in interestedly, clearly thinking these piles were freshly laid barker’s nests instead of toxic lumps of paint and chemicals.  Next time, the dog will be relegated to the shed!

 I am very pleased with the progress so far.  I had to be pretty thorough with the clean-up and I would lay a larger area of drop sheets next time but stripping is far superior to sanding.  Next step will be the sanding and then the painting.  And then I will have a lovely new (old) piece of furniture, the entire project costing me just under $200.  Not bad!