Little Victorian

I picked up this little beauty at a garage sale. I love the shape and detailing but it needed a little bit more loving.

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So my helper put herself to work sanding.

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It got a couple fresh coats of antique white chalk paint before I discovered a small peeling issue on one of the drawers that quickly turned into a major peeling issue.

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Luckily the problem was only on the inside detailing of the drawers so rather than strip the drawers and start anew, I thought I’d finally get to do something fun and creative with some pretty white and silver paper I bought a while back.

The paper was way too bright to look good with the antique white paint – kind of like using white out on a piece of paper from the turn of the century. Hmm..not a match.

All the paper needed was to be aged a touch. I added hot water to the leftover coffee grains in my French press and soaked the paper for a few minutes. After drying in the hot sun for just a few minutes, the paper was dry and the bright white and silver paper was perfectly muted.

The handles I had spray painted earlier were then far too bright to match the aged paper. I rubbed in a little dark creme wax on them and got the look I wanted.

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I added a little bit of creme wax to the flowers on the bottom of the nightstand to draw out the details.

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The trickiest part was custom cutting the aged paper to fit perfectly on the drawers. A little patience and a little utility knife did the trick. I used antique glue to age the paper just a little bit more.

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This piece has a muted Victorian vibe that I love.

Before & After

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The Jana Project

Jana and I met when we taught at the same school in Seoul, South Korea. We lived the ex-pat life  — nights spent at the bar, days spent teaching ESL to kids who didn’t want to learn English, weekend trips around the country to escape the busy city life and trips to Thai beaches. There was even a trip to visit her in her native Texas between teaching gigs.

We didn’t see each other again after I finally made my way home for good in 2006 but we kept in touch over the years.

When I found out that she died two months ago at the age of 44, I was gutted. I cried for days.

There was no outlet for my grief. The memorial service was more than 2,000 kilometres away and all of our mutual friends are scattered around the world. I struggled to find even a sliver of closure.

Despite finding solace and joy in my children, taking the time to grieve is nearly impossible with two little ones in constant need of food and/or attention.

A couple of weeks after she died, I went to get something in the garage and ended up finding the solitude and space I needed to grieve. I had found my outlet in an old, nearly forgotten, cabinet in the garage.

I had been wanting to refinish it for a while but I could never quite decide what I wanted to do with it. So it sat and collected dust, waiting for inspiration to hit.

And it finally did.

I headed straight to the hardware store and bought aqua paint.

The cabinet would be a bright blue, like Jana’s striking eyes that everyone noticed and loved.

The evenings I spent sanding, painting and sealing were therapeutic beyond compare. I laughed, cried, smiled and reminisced. I listened to music we shared and songs I knew she loved.

It was one of the most cathartic experiences I’ve ever had.

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After

With it’s new (and oh so very blue) paint and new knobs, this little cabinet is the pop of colour my entrance needed.

It’s not the same blue as her eyes but I think of her every time I look at it.

I love how this project helped me grieve. I also love how this cabinet turned out. And I love that a new hobby, blog topic and income grew out of my grief. But more on that soon.

This one is for you, JanaBanana. The world lost laughter when you left.

Be well and take care of each other,

Jill