'If you have a dog, you will most likely outlive it; to get a dog is to open yourself to profound joy and, prospectively, to equally profound sadness.' Marjorie Garber

Friday, 13 January 2012

A Little Shabby, But Always Chic!

One of the many projects keeping me busy on the run up to Christmas was this old dressing table from 1960, which the previous occupants of our last home left behind. It was in reasonably good condition; woodwork sound, drawers running smoothly, but it was looking a bit tired.  Well, it was over fifty, after all!

This date was stamped on the reverse of the mirror...it's officially antique!
Beautiful detailing above the Mirror

One of the nicest features was the cut glass on the top to protect the surface. It was also great for putting pictures, paper souvenirs and photographs behind to form a collage. Unfortunately, at some point, liquid had been spilt on the top and not wiped properly. It had seeped behind the glass and the pictures had become stuck to the dressing table varnish and the colours had bled into the woodwork. It was a mess!

I had debated whether to keep it when we moved here. I loved it, but Hubby wasn't very keen. And I knew that if I brought it with me and left it in the garage for days / months / years, Hubby would eventually take it to the tip or a charity shop. Now he would claim that he wouldn't do such a thing, but he would and has on occasions!

So instead of packing the dressing table on to the removals lorry to come here I left it for a tenant in a house we rent out. His wife had seen a photograph of it and loved it, so I was happy to leave it for someone who appreciated its curvaceous lines.

Then at the end of September, the tenant moved out and the new tenants wanted the house completely unfurnished. So I had to move the table and quickly. I took it apart and transported it in the back of my car to here. Our garage is already filled to the rafters so I brought it inside - to the dining room to be exact. I exclaimed that I was going to give it a grand make-over and it would soon be glamourous and beautiful! Hubby was not convinced! "It will still be here at Christmas", he protested! So I decided to prove him wrong! 

The original woodwork had a two-tone effect which allowed the grain to show through the slightly bleached teak colour on some sections, whereas other areas were a greyish cream. I quite liked the bleached wash look but the teak  showing through wasn't very attractive - a bit too orange. I set to work...

The camera flash makes the orignal woodwork look paler but it was quite orangey, honest!

First of all, I tried stripping the top with chemical stripper but the stains wouldn't shift. Then I decided the only thing to do was to try and bleach them out. That didn't work either. I wanted to take it back to the natural wood and give it a similar wash effect to the one it already had here and there, but in ivory rather than greyish-cream. I tried sanding the stains. No, that wouldn't work either. The stains had gone too deeply into the grain of the wood. I don't have any pictures of the work in progress, sorry, so you'll just have to take my word for it!

So instead, I decided I would paint the top solid ivory and try the wash elsewhere.

I used an acrylic based matt paint in ivory and diluted it with water for the wash. I dragged a dry brush through the paint before it dried to accentuate the grain beneath. I'm very pleased with the finished result.

So Hubby was right. The dressing table is still here well after Christmas. But now it takes pride of place in my youngest Darling Daughter's bedroom rather than a corner of the dining room and I think it looks gorgeous!


  1. It does indeed, well done!!

  2. You've done a fab makeover - it looks wonderful.

  3. It looks really good, a big transformation actually. I would off loved a dressing table like that in my bedroom as a little girl xx

  4. It does look gorgeous. You did a brilliant job Sue. It's the perfect girl's dressing table too, three mirrors, perfect for checking every angle!

  5. excellent! you have inspired me to get painting too.. the key is to bring the furniture into the lounge! Lovely stuff. Love Helen, Darcy and Bingley xxx

  6. I love it !
    It looks great in the new colour way and I bet it's very much at home in her bedroom :-)
    Well done you!
    Of course you can never listen to the men in these matters because they just don't have the vision to see how items can be transformed, do they?