Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Last Year's Projects: Rescuing Jenny Lind

She wasn't a roadkill.  Just a damsel in distress.  Wait, I'm getting ahead of the story.

It helps when you volunteer at the PTA Thrift Shop because you get first crack at the goodies as you unpack them.  Sounds great, right?

Remember that saying "No good deed goes unpunished?"   Lavender-blue dangly earrings--check.  Flannel-lined sleeping bag like the one I had as a kid--check.  Vintage Jenny Lind bed--check.  Jenny was a find with a capital F and more than a bit of a bargain at $7.50 but still dangerous to those of us with more vision than sense.

Still, there are times you grab the deal and hold your breath until you're safely away.

In my defense, I didn't price it--some other volunteer mom did and the finish was disastrous.
On the other hand, that was in 1987 dollars and she's been stored since, so maybe she wasn't quite the bargain I'd intended? 

Tell me that I'm not the only one who's held on to a project for eons.

I always meant to re-stain the bed, but the thought of all those turned-wood posts meeting sandpaper effectively discouraged me from starting.  Then we moved Nevada from SoCal and she's been tucked away in our garage ever since.  Waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting.  Not unlike a princess asleep in her tower.

A very messy, garage-like tower with large gargoyles office desks lurking in the shadows.

Pinterest to her rescue.  A very playful, adventurous yellow or red or aqua rescue--I absolutely knew no white knight paint would suit her.  As a bonus, if I painted rather than re-stained her I wouldn't need to sand even one spindle.  That's a win/win, in my book.

I fell in love with this bed from Land of Nod currently "on sale" for five hundred down from five hundred ninety-nine (allow me to interject an exclamation mark at both those prices here). Inspired, I bought a subtle Robin's Egg Blue paint sampler from the Paint Mart and was ready to begin the transformation.  Sort of like a fairy godmother. 

That was the plan.

It always seem easy at the start, doesn't it?  Then reality interrupts that pleasant easy DIY daydream.

I was NOT pleased when I wiped off all the dust and spider webs and found my damp cloth was brown.  And not from dirt either. I had not bargained for bleed-through at all. (I did think it was odd though, since the old stain wasn't of the reddish/mahogany variety and I wasn't dealing with veneer.)  But the second cleaning gave me a brown towel again.  ARG!

Bear in mind that I worked on this project as a way to avoid the elephants in my garage (aka the two huge office desks that take as much space as a Mini Cooper)--not trying to give myself another headache. 

This story has a happy ending though.  Turns out the original finish was in such poor shape that I was actually wiping it off with a washcloth.  Crazy good!  I was able to use a medium sandpaper and "flick" the entire bed, spindles and all, down to bare wood without breaking a sweat.  Might have taken a whole hour, at most.

The only way it could have been easier was if the finish disappeared when I gave it a stern look.  Or waved my Fairy Godmother wand.

The result may be my favorite painted piece of furniture of all time! 

It is just the most perfect color possible.

 Pictures don't do it justice. 

The ironic part is that after all these years I don't intend to keep this sweet bed for myself!

   Why?  Well, I don't foresee a vacation cabin on a lake in my future.  Or a home with a loft where I can put multiple beds covered in homemade quilts for all the grandchildren. Some dreams you just have to let go.  And I already have a cutie-pie red iron bed in our guest room. 

So next summer (sniff, sniff) I'll take some evocative photos of an aqua Jenny Lind dressed in lace and ruffles in our flowery backyard and then with a great deal of reluctance (sniff, sniff), I'll post her on craigslist (for a bit less than the Land of Nod price).  Somewhere out there is a sweet little princess who needs the perfect bed for her tower.

The other happy ending...I was so happy with this project that I did actually finish the  two gargoyles elephants desks before the snow flew!

Stay shiny,
Party Central:  My Romantic Home
French Country Cottage
Miss Mustard Seed


  1. Amazing blog and very interesting stuff you got here! I definitely learned a lot from reading through some of your earlier posts as well and decided to drop a comment on this one!

    1. Welcome and glad you're enjoying my posts!

  2. You did a nice job, it's a beautiful color and there must be a Princess awaiting. I guess we all have projects that have been sitting around for years, tooooo many! I used to be a real fanatic about keeping the "natural" wood look on antiques but have changed my ways. I find myself looking at our antique cupboards and tables and thinking; "That would look much nicer in a mustard yellow or a country blue". In fact, I just went wild on our "Maple" Kitchen cabinets after tiring of the same dull wood stain.

    1. I'm picky about what I will or won't paint, Jeri. I really love wood best but some pieces just want to be painted.

      Now you've got me itching to see what amazingly creative way you changed your cabinets! Pix?