Picks from the Curb

One day this past June, I was headed to Lowe’s, as is a typical occurrence in my household. I had just driven up there and was getting ready to park the car when I got a call from Dan.

“Get home now.”

“Why? I just got here. I didn’t get the stuff we needed yet.”

“Someone around the corner just put out an entire set of furniture and it’s raining. I need you to help me get it. Come home now.”

With a sigh, I turned the car around and drove back down the highway. When I got home, Dan was in the middle of a trek around the block, dragging a huge mirror with him. Sure enough he was right – just one street over from us someone had thrown an entire set of vintage furniture to the curb. There were two dressers, an end table, a mirror, and a headboard just sitting out in the rain, waiting for the garbage man.


Everything piled into our garage as we figured out what the heck to do with it!

Since we are shameless pickers, between the two of us, the Hyundai, and the Mazda, we drug everything into the garage and marveled at the glorious haul that fate had bestowed upon us. This was absolutely one of the best picks I’ve ever had! Everything had sat out a bit in the rain and it was also dirty and completely coated in cigarette tar/smoke, so unfortunately for the purists out there everything really needed a complete overhaul. There was no saving the original finish on these guys.


Dresser top, peeling, dinged, and with scratched paint



More peeling paint and dirt from being outside. (We aren’t hoarders – it was garage sale day and that is all the stuff you see in the background!)


Closeup of one of the gilded flower details. As you can see, the gold paint had decomposed and started to turn green in places.

Because this project was one that I could do with minimal help, I took it on for the summer. Over June and July I sanded, painted, sanded and painted, etc. etc. for a few weeks. The drawers needed to be cleaned and painted with Killz in order to get rid of the horrible cigarette smoke smell. I needed to use Killz on the inside of the pieces as well, since the smoke had permeated these pieces so badly. One of the drawers was falling apart, so we did a simple repair with wood glue and clamps.


The top drawer of this piece was in multiple pieces when we salvaged it. Also note wholesale damage to the finish and legs.

I chose a creamsicle color scheme which seemed pretty close to the original look, using mostly an off-white color with soft orange as an accent. A brighter orange is painted on the sides of the drawers to add extra whimsy as you are using the piece. Since I didn’t need much of each color, everything was done with sample paints from Lowes (did you know Lowes and Home Depot will mix up small jars of paint for you? Cost per jar is under $3, and you can get any color you want! This is my little secret.) We were lucky enough to borrow a high-quality gold paint that a friend already had, and Dan re-gilded all the worn off gold accents.


The gilding looks like new now!

The small end table, it turns out, actually did not go with the other pieces, so we ended up selling it on Craigslist. The mirror was actually in good shape and, while I plan on touching it up some in the future, for now I left it in its original condition, since the original paint matches well with the new paint. We aren’t sure yet what to do with the headboard, so we are keeping that on the sidelines for now!


The mirror (original finish) hanging with its accompanying refinished dresser

We moved these into the harp room, since there wasn’t much furniture in there and the room needed some extra storage. Even though it took forever to sand and paint all of them, all the drawers on these things really come in handy! Since the cost on this project was “free” plus cost of a few jars of sample paint, considering how much we got for the money and how lovely it turned out, this is definitely one of my favorite picks, and favorite projects.


Finished, with 9 drawers all ready to go for storage!


Companion piece – drawer all fixed up and back in its place! Sadly the faux keyhole hardware was missing from that drawer, so it’s going to have to stay blank.

PS – bonus – We put up a little hand-me-down shelf in the harp room, and it’s a great place to display some of my Roseville pottery collection. It makes for a sweet little vignette in this room. There is also a matching Roseville pottery piece on top of the tall dresser, visible in the photos above. Read up on Roseville – some of the most recognizable pottery of the Arts and Crafts era – here.


With dried flowers from a local floral shop, and the boutonniere that Dan wore at our wedding! 


One comment

  1. Wow, you did such a beautiful job. I love the dresser with the three smaller drawers in the middle and the gold accents are pretty. Awesome find !

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