October 22, 2012

heirloom or junk: I need your help!

I recently started up a book club and at our last meeting, as we discussed our book, a friend of mine made the comment that often times when someone we love passes on we make the mistake of thinking if we hang on to their stuff it's like they are still with us.  I realize this isn't the case with everything, but as soon as she made that comment my mind flew to our bedroom where we are housing an unfinished dresser I got after my great grandmother passed away.

In my head it was going to be a fun project for Jeremy and I to work on. We'd sand it down perfectly and stain it a rich color to match Madeline's room and she'd grow up with it and pass it down to her oldest daughter who'd pass it on and on and on etc, etc, etc. 

Reality: It's in pretty bad shape.  It doesn't just need to be sanded down and stained.  It needs to be sanded and have the veneer stripped off.  The drawers are completely falling apart and the back has some good sized holes that would both require partial reconstruction.  We started sanding it and staining it is out of the question at this point because of the glue from the veneer and the cheap wood underneath.  So we'd have to paint it, but do I really want to paint it?

I'm so in the mood to clean out all the junk we have before the holidays (where we will undoubtably buy each other more junk).  But is this another piece of junk?  I know we don't NEED it right now, but we will someday, right?  Plus it was the dresser I used when I lived with this grandma that I really loved.

In the name of giving you all the details, I will also say we paid a small fortune to ship it across the country (along with two couches that don't match anything we own and a washer we ended up not needing... gah sometimes I just want to kick myself!) so for that reason Jeremy says we need to make the most of it.  But in my head it's just more $$$ and more TIME that quite frankly we just don't have.  

So I turn it over to you, dear friends.  Is this another piece of junk or is it a special heirloom? 

P.S. The Wednesday Letters is the book we read if anybody is interested.  I quite enjoyed it.


  1. Hmm... if it has sentimental value to you, then I guess you could keep it. If it were me, I don't think I would. I'm sure it can be fixed up really nice if you are willing to put the time/effort/money into it. But if it's just going to sit there and take up room, I would probably see if anyone else wants it (someone else might be willing to put the much needed work into fixing it up, and that way, you won't have to throw it away).

    1. Thanks Lauren. That's a great idea. *sigh* now i just have to muster up the courage? I don't know if that's the right word ha

  2. I'm not very good at fixing up old furniture (never done it) But I will say that new, solid, quality dressers are not cheap either. We have an old one that we scrounged from right next to the dumpster back at Jeff's grad school, and it's still kind of ugly. I still think I may possibly paint it someday. We don't have much matching furniture or well-decorated rooms at all anyways yet though, even though we just got this nice big house. It's going to take a long time for my untalented non-decorator self to figure out what/how to make this place cute and not so plain white! So my opinion may be completely useless to you because you are pretty clever and GOOD at decorating! Bottom line though, it doesn't have to be pretty to be functional! And there's no time limit--you have as long as you want to fix it up. :)

  3. As a friend tells me, money spent is money gone. Sunk money. Or as my mother used to say, don't send good money after bad.
    If you want to hold onto it, use it for storage in the attic or basement.
    Veneer wood products weren't meant to last the ages...they were usually less expensive pieces that folks could afford for the short term.
    Now if it WERE mahogany...but it is not.
    Can't make a silk purse out of...

  4. Hey Sarah,
    If the dresser has good bones it is totally worth it. Are the drawers strong? Or do they hang down when you pull them open? If it is solid and sturdy it is always worth it. Working with wood is always the easiest way to restore old furniture. A chair covered in fabric - don't even think about it - too much work! But a dresser that is sturdy and strong the sky is the limit. Your dresser is a little harder to fix though because it has spots where the lamenant has peeled off, you will have to think about what you want to do to get around that. But if you sanded it, painted it black, put a crackle finish on it to try to hide the peeling spots, gold harware to finish and it would make a really cute buffet table or dresser. Where did you get it? Did you spend money on it or did you find it?


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