Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thrifty Storage

or, What happens when you go off and do Army things and leave your restless mother in charge of your household.

 For the past five weeks, I have been holding the fort here in Clarksville, Tennessee, while my daughter-the-Army-sergeant was away for training. Her own Handsome Husband is also away, busy serving his country as a medic on his third deployment to sunny Afghanistan.

Which left me some spare time on my own in their home while the seven year-old was in school. Uh oh.

Like most of us these days, this busy military family has a storage problem. On a cruise through the local Goodwill, I spotted this lovely credenza. Okay, it wasn't so lovely just then, but for $24.99, it had my attention. Then, because it was senior day with twenty percent off all purchases, the price to me was just $19.99. How could I pass that up?

There was one downside. This thing is heavy. I'm talking piano-like heavy. It took three strapping men from Goodwill to load it into my son-in-law's Equinox.

One of them eyed me and said, "How are you going to get this into your house?"

Ah, details, details.
After thinking about that overnight, I did manage to get this beast out of the Equinox and into the garage. Those details are best left untold. (Don't worry, Jason. No harm came to your car.)

Next step: cleaning it up. After a good scrubbing, I surveyed the web for some ideas about improving the looks of this thing.  Since the furniture already in this home is dark wood, I thought re-staining might make the piece look more like this new credenza I found online, as pictured below. The new one was priced at
$1,159 so I was learning to like my thrifted version even more.

After further online research, such as at blogs like Centsational Girl and on the Minwax site, I decided to give Minwax PolyShades a try in Bombay Mahogany.  Below, you can see the credenza taking on its new look.
The Minwax product worked well, adding stain and polyurethane in one step. I did have some problems with the finish, but that was mostly because I was working in poor lighting for this kind of a job. Also, working with the garage door open (to try to preserve the few brain cells I have left) meant that even little breezes brought in bits of stuff that got stuck on the tacky surfaces.

Despite my amateur efforts, the piece didn't turn out too bad (if the lights are kept low, anyway.) Here is Lexi, posing prettily by the finished credenza.
And here she is, happily moving in her games and craft supplies, where they can be close at hand but out of sight in the living room.
As for how that piano-weighted piece of furniture got into the house, well, think I Love Lucy with a working knowledge of the Eighth Grade science simple machines curriculum (ramps, levers, etc.). That, and a strong seven year-old assistant.

The total cost of the Goodwill credenza plus refinishing supplies (stain, sandpaper, good quality brush, mineral spirits, sanding mask) was about $50. The savings compared to the cost of buying one new? About $1,100.  And that is why I love both thrifting and DIY projects.