Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Furniture Transformation: Color Choice.

If furniture could talk my desk and dresser set could weave tales any old war veteran would be proud of.

After I graduated from college in 1999 my living situation was unstable at best.  During those uneasy years I acquired a matching desk and dresser from a friend who knew he would never get around to refinishing them.  I am carrying on in his legacy.  If they needed work all those years ago they certainly still need it over ten years and three moves later.

They are well-worn and ugly.  Fortunately they are built solid or I would have replaced them long ago.  For years I've been wanting to do something with them and continuously weigh my options.  The idea of new furniture is appealing but, by and large, most newer furniture is poorly constructed, very expensive or, in some cases, both.  I've previously written about an ergonomic desk but it's difficult to justify the cost when what I have is adequate.  And the discomfort in my hands and wrists is simply a reminder to take more breaks.

I am hesitant to share photos because they are that ugly.  They have some original faux-aging elements  which look even worse with the added actual aging.  The original hardware was horrid and made loud clanking sounds at the slightest touch.  They were removed and lost long ago.  With no money I made due with what I had, old black hosiery and an ugly gold-tone chain belt.  Please, no judgement.

My Mom would paint them in a heartbeat.  She is the handy-woman in the family and will paint anything.  I have strong reservations about painting over wood because the thought of removing it after changing my mind is haunting. The cordovan-esque finish is in poor shape but the color is nice which is why I've left it alone for so long.  However pleasing the current color is it does not make up for the horrible design and as much I hate painting over wood, a real color is the best way to distract from it.

This leads to the next stumbling block, the color.  If you know one thing about me it's that I love color and settling on one is challenging.  Earlier in the year I was focused on selecting a color and spent some time reflecting on our current home furnishings in order to maintain a cohesive palette without feeling too contrived.  We have a casual mix of warm and cool tones in woods and textiles with vintage pieces and sleek electronics.  It's a look that reflects both of us without leaning too much toward one gender and we are very comfortable with it.  

Taking this all into consideration I decided to seek a color in the blue/green range that would work with warm and cool tones.  Effectively, a neutral color that was actually a color.  I went to a home improvement store and selected quite a few paint chips ranging from blue to green in various tones and tints.  At home, I spread them on the dining table that sits between the living room and kitchen, this way I could see them regularly throughout the day and night in different lights, at different times and in my various moods.  As I would sit to eat I would also look over them and after a few weeks realized my eyes regularly rested on one color in particular, Bayside.

I purchased the tester-size tub and painted the frame of a mirror that I could move around the house to view in different light and decide if I truly wanted to commit to this color on a larger scale.  Currently the mirror resides over my computer desk and I do still like the color.

The photo is a pretty extreme crop taken at a high ISO so even with noise reduction the quality is poor.  If your viewing screen has somewhat decent color calibration you should get a good idea of the color from the photo and the link I placed above.  The wall to the left is a standard baby blue if you need a basis for comparison.

The reservations I still have on painting are paint durability and possible color choice remorse. I do take care with my belongings but I also actually use them and this obviously results in wear and tear.  How easily will chipped areas take touch up?  We likely have numerous moves ahead of us and no furniture makes it through unscathed.  What happens if I don't like the color on a larger scale or if the color <gasp> enhances the ugly design?  On top of all this, I am currently using both pieces and have nothing to take their place while I'm working on them.

I have never refinished furniture in this form before and welcome any advice, opinion and experience.  This is only the beginning of what I see as a long process.  My next important point of consideration for this furniture transformation is hardware, but that is for a new post.

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