In case you’ve been hiding under a rock recently, “mid-century modern” design seems to be everywhere these days. CB2, Dot & Bo,AllModern, and Etsy.com.
The thing I love most about the real stuff; the actual vintage mid-century modern furniture is that it’s incredibly well made. That’s the reason people are scrambling to collect it even today, and why it’s become so hard to afford.
One of the best ways to get the most bang for your buck is to invest in one or two vintage pieces that you just can’t live without, and add in repros and updated accessories to keep your spaces looking (and sometimes smelling) like Grandma’s house. Craigslist and local Facebook groups can be a great way to score reasonably priced vintage pieces.
As for the new stuff, Target’s new line Project 62 would make Grandma AND your girlfriends jealous. Finally, finally, finally, some decently made MCM pieces in a price range that many of us can actually afford. Project 62 is touted as being furniture for “smaller living” but there is nothing small about it. Depending on your personal style, you have the option of having both bling and total practicality as far as I can see.
Image Credit: Target
Image Credit: Target
As for myself, when I stumbled upon the new line being set out in my local Target store I actually snagged the Geneva globe desk lamp off the shelf like a rioter-only I ran to the front and paid for it. Happily. Is $50 a lot for a task lamp? Yes for me, it is. But it was well worth it. The Geneva line has a timeless, high-end finish with a sturdy marble base. I imagine it will last me 50 years, just like the vintage stuff.
Image Credit: Target
If your style is more laid-back and you are a creature of comfort, Project 62 has something for you too. You need only look. Esters Wood Arm Chair has gone over so well, it’s currently unavailable online (a/k/a sold out).
Check out the Mid-Century Metal Wall Décor for 54.99. Beats the pants off of investing $300-$1000 for a Curtis Jere sculpture that would likely be your untimely end in the case of an earthquake.
Image Credit: Target
All of the sudden, I feel like my entire serveware game needs an upgrade. I may not EVER have dinner parties, but if I did, I’d definitely need a marble cheese slicer. No, seriously, that might be going on the Christmas list. Maybe if I had the cheese slicer I’d have more parties. Target is the answer to all life’s big conundrums. (Damn you, Target.)
This last photo is actual proof that I can’t stay out of Target, try as I may. I even shove my children into the baskets and make them carry all the things out. I must have all the things!!! Project 62 has given even this vintage-loving gal just another reason to go. You should too.
Let’s talk about mid-century name brands. Branding is important; Don Draper would be the first to tell you. So how do you determine if something is the real deal, or a reproduction? Does it matter? You can find many a heated discussion on the subject on mid-century modern blogs and Facebook Fan pages. I’m here to tell you, when it comes to Dorothy Thorpe, it’s really hard to know. You’ve seen Dorothy’s work…real or reproduction on Mad Men, and you’re probably starting to see it in your friends homes.
According to the only seemingly reliable information I could track down, Dorothy Thorpe sold her interest in her company in 1953. At the time, she was well-known for her floral work and sand etching.
Here’s an excerpt:
Thorpe passed away September 4, 1989 in Carlsbad, California. Based on this revised information, it seems that Dorothy Thorpe only ever did floral and…
This week, a friend posted a link to a very thought-provoking article called, “Screw Finding Your Passion.” In it the author, Mark Manson; tired of getting emails from people asking how they can find their passion, basically pointed to the lack of pursuit, more than the not knowing. We tend to ignore that which consumes most of our free-time not because we don’t know what we like, but rather out of fear, laziness, or avoidance. We tell ourselves it couldn’t possibly make us money. It wouldn’t be practical. The negative self-talk sets in, and we ignore what we should be pursuing, all the while wondering why we’re so miserable. My passion is all things mid-century modern, and I make no apologies. The fashion, the architecture, the furniture; I spend stupid amounts of free time looking at it, implementing it into my daily life, and learning about it. I watch shows like Mad Men and Masters of Sex, read books about Charles and Ray Eames, and the other big designers of the time. Anything to get a glimpse of life back then. I stumbled upon this passion and I’m so glad I did, because for whatever reason, it continues to intrigue me. How many people can say that they get to focus on what they love? Mr. Manson’s colorful illustration was the kick in the pants I needed to finish my “pet bed project” for the blog that was taking too long to complete. It’s not that I didn’t want to do it, it’s that I made everything else in my life a priority while I put my “passion” on the back burner. And that’s okay too. Sometimes you have to choose. Life happens but the point is deep down, you know what you love. You just have to open your eyes. I highly recommend reading it if you need a little encouragement and don’t mind a few strategically placed f*bombs. Find the link here.
On to the fun stuff. This week, I decided to depart from my usual purist tendencies for an upcycle project. I took a useless old remote speaker from the 1960’s (once part of a larger unit) and turned it into a pet bed. I own a fat dog who would much rather fart in my lap, but I do think this piece would make a fantastic cat bed. You decide.
So unlike the usual blog…I created a YouTube video to show the transformation. Keep in mind, this was an experiment. I’d do a few things differently next time, but I am pleased with the final product.
Did you watch the video or just skip ahead? Stop being lazy. It’s like 1 minute long. Geez.
If you’re thinking I’m crazy, and you’d rather spend $400- $600 on a custom pet bed, I am as always, here to help.
No seriously. Some people love their fur babies more than their actual blood relatives. I’m not here to judge. If you’ve got major love for your dog or cat and a case of the MCM fever, check out these other options:
A frenchie sitting on anything gets my vote:
As it so happens, my passion is not making pet beds. I appreciate them, but I’ll leave it to the experts.
That said, my cute little custom number will be available for purchase in my Etsy shop AND at the 1st Annual Murrieta Valley High School Flea Market on November 7th.
Come and see me! I’ll have all my pieces on display and for sale! More info to follow next week.
Evolution…it’s what Madonna is famous for. One of the best parts of my job is that I get to evolve too…only in a less controversial manner. Naturally over time my needs change, and that of my family; one room becomes a nursery… another gets repurposed or renovated in some way, and everything shifts. I get to reexamine what we have and if it still works for us; constantly curating, not unlike Madonna and her ever-changing style.
Then there are those times when there isn’t a specific catalyst like a mid-life crises or nasty public divorce- you just need a change. Most people aren’t comfortable with change, but I love it. Probably a bit too much if that’s feasible. It’s exciting and fun to play with new possibilities. For example, I always wanted a Sputnik lamp over my dining room table. Always. We just weren’t able to make it happen for a very long time, so we found a compromise to do for the time being. It’s a beautiful fixture that looks like floating paper. Gorgeous…but not Sputnik.
Cut to my birthday. The hubs wanted to do something big. I had just the thing. A custom Sputnik fixture from Lucent Lighting.
You’ll notice a couple of things are different here. Let’s first pause to drool over the new fixture. It’s got a dimmer, ya’ll! Next, I sold my dreamy atomic Lenoir dining room set for a few reasons. One, it took up too much space visually when I really thought about it. Two, we have 4 people in our family, not 8. Thanksgiving and Christmas aren’t a good enough excuse to feel burdened by your own stuff. (I mean, have your read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”?!?!?) I wanted something lighter in color that matched the tone of our wall unit – and when a friend at SeasonofChange posted her set for sale, I jumped at it! The table is thinner and takes up less space in more ways than one….but with the two leaves in place, it actually becomes longer than the previous table; a bonus at the holidays.
Before the baby was born, I had picked out a beautiful Nelson Bubble lamp to grace his nursery. It did just that…until summer came, and I became certain if we didn’t get a fan installed in my son’s room really quickly…he’d cook overnight. So that beautiful bubble lamp laid around the house, unused, and quite sad looking – until very recently, when we were finally able to get an electrician out to help run some lighting in our den.
These photos were taken at night…purposefully, so that you cannot see the kid toys in the yard everywhere behind our tiny living space.
This is the room we live in. Don’t judge. It’s not fancy – but it’s where we spill stuff (read: baby pees during diaper changes) watch t.v., play games and do kid stuff. The Nelson bubble lamp gives it a sort of grace it wouldn’t have otherwise. I think the room says, “Hey, We’re really cool deep down, but we have kids and shit…so our style is somewhat cramped. Come in….commiserate about your sloppy children. Let’s be friends.”
Speaking of messy kids….naturally when the baby came, I had to do the Target thing to organize the kid crap. Target FINALLY got with the MCM movement and introduced some pretty decent pieces. It meshes surprisingly well with the vibe we have going on. Right now, it’s full of toys and baby books and baskets full of whatnots I’d rather not be hauling back up to wee man’s room. Someday, it will hold other stuff like spare pairs of boob tassles (I can’t leave her alone)…or go up in a bedroom. Either way, we needed something functional that wouldn’t break the bank…and something that I wouldn’t be all upset about if it got scratched. Which it will. Inevitably.
So that’s how I’ve evolved over the past few months. It’s not finished by any means….there are so many things I’d like to do – like wood floors, and fig trees, and geometric rugs, a kitchen reno, and a bar cart somewhere. But for now, that’s all fantasy. Reality requires that we must use what we have…and be thankful.
Please stay tuned for the next blog. I’m really excited about my very first repurposing project. I’m going to turn an old, worthless 60’s remote speaker into a dog/cat bed. I’m such a purist….I usually demand things be left to their original uses, but in this case I finally found something that begged to be converted – and applicable for today. Like Madonna. Bahahahahahaha.
So…I’ve been busy. As in, I had a baby busy. If you’ve ever had children or been around children, you probably know that life shifts from being all about you and what you have to get done each day to whatever they need. Days turn into months, and you don’t have anything to show for your time except bigger kids, and larger messes. Add to that the insanity of summer and no school? Well, you probably get it.
It’s fantastic and exhausting. This is the best explanation I can offer for why I haven’t been blogging.
Here’s the new addition in his super cute mid-century modern chair we recovered for his nursery. I love his moobs. They’re the best.
It hasn’t been all kids and no furniture though.
Since my last blog, I’ve been busy with the MidCenturyObsession Facebook page, and sourcing new vintage finds. With help from the husband, I’ve figured out a way to sneak out from time to time during naps to thrift.
Here are just a few new items from the past week that are going up for sale via Etsy.
Can you believe it?! Initially, part of me went, “Ew. 80’s.” The other part of me fell in love. My second thought was, “Holy Crap! Those pieces are gorgeous and totally relevant today!” Used together or separately, these beautiful pieces made by Lane are functional and fantastic in all their glam glory. If you ever read Emily Henderson’s blog…she’d probably tell you that you need to buy these. Like now. Metallics on cream or white? So on trend.
And then, there was the very rare Torring Mobelfabrik of Denmark find…which will have me smiling for years to come. I just love finding teak. I love it even more when it needs work. And these pieces did, but it was nothing a little sandpaper and some teak oil couldn’t fix, though. (Also during nap time. I am a busy girl.) They are in miraculously great shape….and the TEAK.JUST.GLOWS.
I have a few bites on these guys already as they clean, handsome and are priced to sell. I will be sad to see them go, but happy for them to live in a new home where they will be appreciated.
That’s all for now, folks! Stay tuned, because there is so much more to share.
I can’t wait to tell all about our weekend away in an MCM ranch home in Palm Springs!
I don’t think I would be up against much opposition if I were to claim that people are getting ruder and ruder as time goes on. As a whole, we’re less patient, we see more planes being grounded due to ridiculous outbursts from unruly and inconsiderate passengers, witness unprovoked viciousness on social media. A general lack of refinement is rampant, and it disgusts me to no end. I think one of the things that draws me to that mid-century period among a million other reasons, is that etiquette was more often than not observed. People actually went to classes and learned about proper etiquette – and imagine this: they put it into practice! These days, I am reminded how much of that has gone away – just as so many other wonderful mid-century standards; buildings, cars, furniture – have all been trashed to make way for the new, which is not always better.
Craigslist and Etsy, and some of the people on those platforms have been really testing my patience as of late. I spend a lot of time running quotes for people who “JUST HAVE TO HAVE IT!” and then don’t ever respond to my quote. (The quote they’ve requested that is often less than what I had on the listing to begin with.) That’s the nature of the business…and to some extent, I can understand deciding not to purchase something – it’s the lack of response or disregard for my time that gets to me. Today, I was let down yet again after spending time working with a buyer who wanted to purchase my Brown Saltman Dining Set.
She’d seen it on Craigslist, and Etsy, and had been watching it on Ebay – I know this, because she emailed me to tell me so, and that she’d been “lusting” after it, but it was above her budget. Since it hadn’t sold in the two weeks she’d been watching, she’d decided to give me a low-ball offer. Between emails and texts, I could see she was serious about her interest. Being motivated, and less than a week away from delivering my son, I decided, “why the hell not?” It was less than I was wanting to accept, but if it meant clearing out my living room before baby – well, I’d just give her the deal and everyone would win.
We agreed on price, discussed whether it would fit in her SUV, and decided on a date and time she would be driving down from Claremont (over an hour away) and I cleared my schedule to be available to this person coming from so far. I don’t know about you, but I’m not driving over an hour for anything I’m not sure I want. Then two days after we settle on these details, my beautiful set gets featured on an Etsy “Treasury.” For those of you not on Etsy 1.you should be, and 2. a treasury can really help to boost your sales. Most Etsy users have “followers.” These followers see what that user “favorites,” or adds to a “treasury” (a/k/a a collection of beautiful pieces with some theme to it). When one of your pieces is selected for a treasury, your views on that item can soar. And so did my Brown Saltman Set, as it was featured on a popular treasury on Thursday. Noticing the peaked performance and increase in views, keeping my “buyer” in mind, I asked her Friday to confirm for me that she would still be coming, and still wanted the set so that I may reserve the item for her online. (Reserve meaning mark the piece reserved so that no one else would buy it out from under her…..and her low ball offer…..God, I’m too nice.) She assured me she did want it, and would still be coming on Saturday.
So, today she walked into my home with her husband who immediately asked me where the 4th chair was. There was never a 4th chair, and the buyer knew this. I figured he was running his “game” as so many Craigslist buyers do….immediately picking out perceived imperfections, feigning some disappointment aimed to bring the seller down in price. I know your game, jerk-off, and homey don’t play. “What’s this?”He says, pointing at some miniscule thing I didn’t even have a response to.” “So you’ve had it refinished?” Yes….Yes….Yes…that’s what it said in the listing. 3 chairs, 1 table with a leaf, original table pads, extra fabric the ENTIRE FREAKING SET PROFESSIONALLY and PAINSTAKINGLY refinished….just as outlined – and none of that has changed. Was I rude? Of course not. I kindly and patiently answered all their questions as they circled the table like a couple of vultures. I was under the impression that they were there to pick it up….not pick it apart. I excused myself just as the woman I’d been dealing with asked me to give them some time to “think about it.” I replied, “Of course, take all the time you need,” thinking to myself, “What is there to think about? It’s killer. Buy it or get out of my house.”
Did I say that? Of course not. I did dishes as they took their time. Then much to my surprise, the buyer hollered for me, and offered a hand shake. “Thank you, but we’re going to pass. It doesn’t fit our needs.” Fit your needs? It’s a dining table and chairs….What exactly did you think it would do? You had dimensions, detailed photographs, and an exhaustive list of what had been done, and you insisted you had to have it. I reserved the item for you after re-confirming that you were still coming to pick it up, and all of a sudden it doesn’t fit your needs? I fart in your general direction. Are you kidding me? What a huge waste of my time and effort. What a huge waste of your own time. Unbelievable, really.
So here’s a very simple lesson in etiquette when dealing with Craigslist and Etsy or Ebay, for that matter.
Be upfront and honest about your needs. If you’re not sure, just say so. Don’t insist you’re going to buy something if you really aren’t sure.
Feel free to ask questions, but be sure to respond in kind. If you ask for a quote, take a moment to say, “Yeah, thanks but no thanks….I decided not to go ahead.” At least then, you’re not leaving anyone hanging.
Ask your husband BEFORE requesting the seller jump through hoops. It’s really annoying to answer questions, send more pictures, run shipping quotes, etc. etc. only to hear your husband doesn’t like it. If I asked my husband to like everything I bought, we’d be sitting on the floor in a house with empty walls, eating with our hands and wiping our asses with old sponges. (But there would be t.v.).
Say thank you. “Thank you for your time.” It doesn’t take much. This goes for just about anything. Let people know you appreciate the time they’ve spent.
If you’re a seller….beware. Flakes are among us-and they shop on Craigslist. The world is rife with people who say they’re going to do something, then disappear into thin air. Despite this, always be kind, and take vacations – because you will need them. Don’t count your chickens until they hatch. Be honest yourself, and hopefully more often than not, you’ll deal with delightful buyers. They are out there too-and if you maintain your integrity, they will find you.
I feel better already. Thank you for your time and thank you for reading my post.
Do you ever get the feeling as you peruse Etsy.com or Ebay.com or any of those sites that things are getting out of control? I’m talking about shops and sellers that feature the sale of certain mid-century and mid-century modern furniture, etc. I’m going to be brutally honest, because if you can’t be brutally honest on your own blog, what’s the point of having one?
Having become a shop owner myself, I now have a better understanding of what it takes to score these vintage finds, how much time, driving, gas, and effort is required. The time for sourcing, unloading, refinishing in many cases, cleaning, photographing and listing. Most of my work and time isn’t compensated. I’ll be honest. I do it for the love of the hunt…the thrill of getting something completely unique and cool into the hands of someone who I know will appreciate it. I have been so snarky in the past about pricing being thrifty myself, but since becoming an Etsy shop owner, I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut for the most part. This “job” isn’t easy.
One required task I didn’t mention is research. The more research I do, the more I get this feeling that there are too many delusional sellers out there. Fab.com, 1stdibs.com, even some people selling via Craigslist….I’ll be honest: I LAUGH OUT LOUD at some of the prices I’m seeing these days. Who in their right minds would pay those kinds of prices? I realize that there is a lot of work required in finding these things….and refinishing, and cost associated with outsourcing if the refinishing is beyond your scope or ability. BUT SERIOUSLY. I live in one of the most expensive MCM markets in the country, and I don’t get it. I do, however, get the sneaking suspicion that people are trying to pay the mortgage with the sale of a single chair, for example. Do you feel what I’m puttin’ down?
Allow me to paint a picture. I found a rare Brown Saltman Dining Set….John Keal was the designer, and the set is totally atomic, straight out of the 50’s. Being pregnant, and not able to mess with things like now powdery-foam chairs and refinishing wood with nasty chemicals, I outsourced the refinishing of this piece to a professional. He did such a beautiful job it actually took my breath away. I wish I had an adequate before photo. The seat material was ripped to shreds, and every time you moved the chairs, orange powder spilled out of them (what used to be foam). The wood was scuffed and the finish had seen much better days.
So I had the whole thing refinished….keeping only the maker’s mark and string chair backs untouched. My guy even reattached the Brown Saltman manufacturing tags to the underside of the newly upholstered chairs.
Okay, so are you with me so far? Stunning. The seats are actually a chartreuse color. The photographs give it more of a lime tint, but I assure you the seats are quintessential mid-century mod pops of chartreuse. The wood is a warm and cheery (but still sophisticated) pecan color. Everything is working perfectly….the table pulls out for the leaf extension seamlessly. The chairs. I mean….the legs, the shape. Could you just DIE?
But there are only 3 chairs. Insert sad music here. A bit of a bummer, but I priced accordingly, thinking in today’s market mixing and matching complementing chairs is all the rage anyway. All things considered, this set is currently in my Etsy shop for an affordable and practical $1500.00. So guess what I found AFTER pricing my table and chairs? A set exactly like this one, (I’m not sure how re-finished) only with 4 chairs on 1stdibs.com for……wait for it….wait for it……$4500.00
Excuse me? I’m sorry, what?
I can’t speak for 1stdibs….but the chair pads look original, as does the dirty material they’re finished in. And they want HOW much for this?
Most people don’t spend that kind of money on their first car. No, really – they don’t. And I wouldn’t spend that kind of money on ANY dining room table and chairs. I don’t care if I had enough money to wipe my a** with. It’s just WRONG.
Am I alone here? Hello? I hope I haven’t offended anyone. It just baffles my mind and all I can think of is The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen. I’m all about making a little cash-but this is a fleecing, 1stdibs. I hope at some point this MCM mania dies down a bit, and we can all come back down to reality. This stuff should be affordable; just as the original manufacturers and designers intended it to be all those years ago.
I just can’t wait any longer to post this mid-century modern-inspired nursery reveal. I have my reasons: exhaustion, feeling completely brain-dead at this point, and/or the fact that I’m measuring about 2 weeks ahead. That means baby could be here within just a few weeks (or less.gulp).
Refresher: Baby’s room is the smallest room in the house, and was formerly a guest room. Just as the nursery rhyme about the old lady that swallowed the fly, so too went the office. The nursery ate the guest room, the guest room ate the office and the office is now eating a small corner of the master bedroom.
I had the molding removed and the walls re-textured and repainted. We added a light fixture where there was previously none…and splurged on a Nelson Bubble Lamp from Modernica. With all the downsizing and shifting around, I had to sell my Adrian Pearsall Chair. Adrian Pearsall funded George Nelson. I’m so happy with the fixture, I could eat it.
I wanted to go with a neutral paint color again because I knew I’d be working with a pretty wild color palette.
A wonderful aunt of mine sowed the curtains…
Drum Roll please?
Grandma gifted us a teal lava lamp which will work as a little night-light! Not a bad idea!
The side table above was found on Target.com (thanks to Elena!!). It brings some warm and earthy wood tones which you simplymust have in mid-century modern design. Wink.
The gray ottoman pouf is from Walmart.com. (The vinyl ottoman I blogged about buying for the space was too large, and clashed with the rocker. It is now providing a pop of color in our den.)
I had a very loose forest animal theme. I started by designing a mid-centuryish room I wouldn’t mind living in, then added a few kiddie touches here and there. The diaper basket was a very thoughtful baby shower gift-and perfectly compliments the changing table.
We had the art in our old office…I think it works pretty well with the space…
Tchotchkes to be added to the Target floating shelf later on, when I’m feeling less spent creativity wise..
That my friends, is all she wrote. Minimalist, but ready. Small, but functional. I love how much of this room has history. The reupholstered atomic era rocking chair, the Ikea crib (that belonged to my son, then my niece, and has been repainted for the baby), the flea market-found credenza. The bookshelf was a Goodwill piece that I repainted and even the toys were inherited from my eldest. I think the mix of old and new came together pretty well! I hope you enjoyed it. Now all we need is the newest and most important addition of all. If you’re interested, resources for the room are listed below.
Well, we’ve done it. Our MCM baby shower has come and gone. I have my mother and sisters-in-law to thank for all of their incredible efforts. You always worry about things coming together, people having a good time, and they really made all that happen beautifully. It was a fun time had by all and the shower was gorgeous. I’ll dive straight in, and share a few of the sources that were used.
It started with this mid-century modern-inspired invitation by EmilyAnnDesigns:
I mean….I’m not Katie Matthews….but that IS my nursery. Down to the gray crib and Nelson saucer light. Heaven.
We got to put my newly-refinished bar cart and Dorothy Thorpe collection to good use before it all sold! (Silver rimmed punch bowl and cups still available here)
The menu consisted of punch, finger sandwiches and veggie cups. And of course, a summery mango cake (that was OMG good).
The shower invitation served as decoration inspiration for the cake! Almost too cute to eat. Almost.
For those of you interested, Callum (pronounced cal-um) will be the baby’s name. It’s Scottish, as are my family’s origins. The Irish husband got the Irish name for the first child, and I claimed the second. The name is Scottish for “dove” and very seldom used in the U.S.- which is the point. So don’t go copying me, or I’ll have to kill you.
Ahem. Back to our shower!
There were games of course, including pinning a cloth diaper on as many balloons as you could while timed, a game where you had to wear a pink foam roller in your hair every time you were caught crossing your legs or arms, and a baby food naming contest. We also had a little Mad Men-type advertising game where you had to guess advertising slogans – and fill in which company ran the ad.
Guests could make wishes and leave sweet notes for baby on this “wishing tree.”
Wishing cards with adorable quotes printed at the bottom were also found on Etsy.com
Another really great idea were the retro-ey aprons and “photo booth” area complete with a Polaroid camera, and scrapbooking accessories. Guests were asked to dress up with the props of their choice, snap a photo, then decorate a page that would later go in a scrapbook for me and baby. A sweet and fantastically thoughtful idea!
Guests got to go home with little sticky note favors and handsome bow tie cookies.
Thanks to awesome Etsy shop owners, the creative minds on Pinterest, and most of all – these three awesome ladies…
Nesting: It is a blessing. It is an affliction. At this very moment, I have about 25 different projects up in the air. Some, the validity of which is questionable. Why do the walls in the garage bother me so? Because I’m nesting. Everything MUST be perfect. Now. I can tell the garage walls haven’t been painted since the late nineties when our home was built, because there are other children’s heights and corresponding dates still on display. Add to that the one million nail and screw holes that decorate the space taunt me as I pull the car in each day. It was livable before this phase…at the current moment however, it is intolerable. Since I’m in the middle of painting and organizing my garage, I thought I’d rewind to a much more interesting subject: restoring teak wood.
This teak desk restoration project has probably been one of my favorites to date. (The only thing perhaps equally gratifying was the rust removal I got to do on my Saarinen tulip table way back when.)
Below are the BEFORE photos. This desk, although completely functional with sliding drop leaf, and drawers that can be moved from side to side depending on your preference, was in pretty rough shape. I can report fading, white drink rings, and what looked to be a burn stain at one side of the desk. I still felt like I was stealing it when I found it at a thrift shop. I mean people….this is TEAK we’re talking about here. Only the most gorgeous wood on the planet.
I consulted a trusted source of mine – someone who I have purchased a few pieces from over the years and who really knows her wood refinishing. I was surprised when she recommended I dilute some ivory dish soap, and clean the piece before deciphering the damage. You can really see the color potential when the teak is damp…
Once the piece dried, it went right back to blah. I was ready to sand!
I happen to have the sander my father so kindly loaned to me – complete with fine sand paper, which I used for this project. Here are some sanding shots:
Important notes…with a drop leaf, you need to have the drop leaf extended for all-at-once-sanding, and don’t forget go with the grain! I used the electric sander for the desk top, which was in the worst shape. For the remainder; legs, sides, etc….I sanded by hand, using extra fine sand paper.
Once the sanding was complete, I again cleaned the piece with diluted ivory dish soap. Once dried, I applied two coats of Teak Oil – about 30 minutes apart. I used Watco Teak Oil. The scoop is, to apply liberally, let it soak in for about 30 minutes, wipe down, and reapply if necessary. Wait an additional 15 minutes for absorption of the second coat before wiping the excess oil away. Two coats were all I needed to completely transform this piece and bring it back to life!
After 8-10 hours of drying, your teak is ready to go! See how the drawers can be moved side to side? Fantastic.
I don’t think there is anything more gorgeous than oiled teak. This desk sold almost immediately, and I was a little sad to see it go. I hope to find another piece like it in the future – until then, I’ll be readying our garage for the next project.