My favorite renewal

Those of you who have been following my little journey through the blogosphere for a long time already know that I’m a painter. I’ll paint just about anything, really. I even have an old, sadly ignored little painting blog called Stuff I Painted which chronicles some of the work I’ve done for clients and for myself.

Of all the projects I’ve done, I think restoring and painting furniture is the most rewarding. It’s also the most time consuming and labor intensive. But perhaps that’s part of the reason why it’s so rewarding.

Some projects start with new, unfinished furniture right out of the box:

A kids table and chairs set is a great blank canvas.

and I've been blessed with clients who give me a concept and let my imagination take over. From flowers and bugs...

to a nursery rhyme table all about Jack.

from Jack & Jill to Little Jack Horner to Jack and the Beanstalk.

As much as I love painting new furniture–especially children’s furniture–there’s something really great about reviving an old piece of furniture.

I love seeing beyond what most would consider ugly and useless...

with the knowledge that with a little care and imagination, an old table can be given a new life.

My favorite furniture renewal project is the one which currently sits in my dining room.

It started with a dresser which had seen better days.

My neighbor’s elderly, live-in mother had recently passed away. They had a garage sale and had managed to sell most of her furniture, but at the end of the day, the dresser remained.

I didn’t need a dresser, but my neighbors thought it a shame that such a good piece of furniture should go to waste. I agreed, so I bought it for $30. It sat in my garage for at least a month.

Then I happened to be looking around at a local charity resale shop and stumbled across a hutch. A very nice, cherry hutch. The only drawback to this hutch was that whatever it once sat atop of was nowhere to be found, which is no doubt why it was only marked $30. I suppose I took the $30 price tag as a sign that an old dresser made to hold clothes in a bedroom would be a good match for a hutch who had somehow lost its mate. They were not a perfect match. One was cherry. One was maple. But I was determined to make it work. I knew both could be useful, I just had to figure out how.

The result was a rather unconventional place to store linens and display a few treasures.

The hutch is hardly a perfect fit, but I like it just the same.

I don’t think you can tell from the photos, or maybe you can, but there are spots on that dresser where I sanded through the paint to let the original wood surface show through. I like that it shows its age. I wanted a bit of its history to peek through. Besides, perfection is sort of boring, don’t you think?

As to the items displayed in my Frankenstein furniture renewal? The pewter and silver pieces are mostly gifts. Watership Down is one of my favorite books, which is why I have a fondness for bunnies.

Nothing really matches. I like it that way. The reds and the greens (opposites on the color wheel) cause the other to stand out.

The plates were all rescued from the clearance aisle at Marshall's.

What I love most about my collection of mismatched things is that while each hold value for me individually, I appreciate their beauty more when I see them all together.

To be renewed is rarely easy. It’s often dirty, back breaking work. It requires patience and a willingness to see beyond what most others see. To be renewed, someone must be willing to invest and sacrifice in that renewal. But I can tell you from experience, it’s worth the effort.

And if you don’t believe me, just ask Jesus.

He’s all about renewal.

This post is part of the One Word at a Time blog carnival: Renewal hosted by my friend Peter Pollock. To read more posts on this topic, please visit him at

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31 Responses to “My favorite renewal”

  1. Peter P February 7, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    Wow. You jumped the gun a little!

    Before long, people will be posting their blog carnival posts on Sunday nights 😉

    • katdish February 7, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

      Sorry, Peter. I can’t stay up that late!

  2. Jeanne Damoff February 7, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

    You’re so creative! The improvised hutch is fabulous, but I especially love the whimsical children’s furniture. Delightful!

    Look forward to seeing you Saturday. (I hope, anyway. I’m learning not to count my chickens before they . . . hey, look!)

  3. Peter P February 7, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    You’re so multi-talented!!!

  4. Jake February 7, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

    Kathy, my parents used to do a lot of this. For some reason, they stopped, but I used to love sanding pieces of furniture for them. I think that’s all I ever did, but you completely just took me down memory lane. What a ridiculous place 🙂

    I love the point you made though, because renewal is a crappy-hard task. It means getting rid of the old and bringing something new in while maintaining something that should be there- otherwise, we’re just replacing, right?

    Either way- great job sharing.

  5. A Simple Country Girl February 8, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    Are the table sets from IKEA? And I thought I was creative in using 3 different colors to paint my son’s table-chairs set. So, just what did you do with all the old drawer handles?

    Kathy, I love peeking into your home. I reckon there isn’t a white wall in the place.

    (I lied–accidentally–I have one more question: What does your little doggie think of your bunny fascination? Some folks keep bunnies indoors, sorta like cats, for house pets.


    • katdish February 8, 2011 at 10:57 am #

      Yeppers. Both of those are IKEA tables. And no, there’s nary a white wall to be found in my house.

      My bunny fascination does not extend to the desire to actually own a bunny. Buddy Love already has a love/hate relationship with the cat. A pet bunny wouldn’t last very long in this house.

  6. Hazel Moon February 8, 2011 at 1:37 am #

    My household is miss matched too, and I have a few wonderful furniture pieces that we refinished and RENEWED that we secured from an old hotel. I love your photos and all the different colors. The children’s tables you painted would be loved by any child and I am happy your clients allow you to be whimsical.

  7. connie nylund February 8, 2011 at 5:33 am #

    Enjoyed your post very much! How creative you are!

  8. Glynn February 8, 2011 at 6:57 am #

    Great post, Kathy. Sometimes I feel exactly like that – an old, discarded piece of furniture that’s been made new again — to serve a new function.

  9. Janet Oberholtzer February 8, 2011 at 6:59 am #

    Love this! Love your creativity.

    The vision renewal pictures of the dresser speak of hope in any situation.

    • Janet Oberholtzer February 8, 2011 at 7:01 am #

      Geesh … to early in the morning. Should say *vision should be *visual.

      • Janet Oberholtzer February 8, 2011 at 7:03 am #

        Third times a charm … right?
        It really is too early in the morning.
        *vision should be *visual.

        • katdish February 8, 2011 at 11:00 am #


  10. Lisa notes... February 8, 2011 at 7:52 am #

    This is beautiful and I am in awe of your gift of seeing beauty where there appears to be none. So thankful God sees that way, too! “But I was determined to make it work. I knew both could be useful, I just had to figure out how.”

    A great post on renewal; you’ve touched me today.

  11. Michael February 8, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    My parents used to be antique dealers. This would break their hearts. I recently painted a pie-safe and you would have thought I killed someone.

    But He is all about renewal and breathing His breath into us. Very beautiful Kathy.

    • katdish February 8, 2011 at 10:59 am #

      In my defense, the dresser is not technically an antique. I’ve got a few antique pieces that I wouldn’t dare paint.

  12. Candy February 8, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    Boy, do I have some projects for you – this is awesome! Love those plates with all the contrast in textures and color.

  13. Stacy Small (Stacy From Louisville) February 8, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    I love what you have done. I especially appreciate how the hutch does not fit the dresser. It makes it interesting. I love hodgepodge decorating and the clearance aisel of TJ Maxx.

    I have a question. Getting ready to paint a large piece of furniture turquoise, but I want it to look distressed, with the dark wood showing through. Suggestions? Or books that will teach me?

    • katdish February 8, 2011 at 10:43 am #

      Well, hey there Stacy! For the dresser:

      1) Sand the dresser.
      2) First coat of turquoise paint (I use satin finish wall paint)
      3) Sand. In some places, sand thru to the wood (I typically hit corners & places you would typically find wear from use)
      4) Second coat of turquoise paint.
      5) Repeat Step 3.
      6) Seal with minwax paste finishing wax (I use the special dark because it ages the piece) Here’s a link to the product:
      7) Buff the first coat. Let it set and then repeat the process.

      I use the clear paste finishing wax about once a year to help protect the finish. Hope that helps!

  14. A Simple Country Girl February 8, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    Oh my land, Kathy. Do you really have to do all those steps? And two times? I know these directions weren’t for me, but I thought I’d take a peak anyway… ya lost me at “hey there.”

    You are order. I am chaos. It’s a good thing God handles both types with finesse.


    • katdish February 8, 2011 at 11:13 am #

      Like I said, there’s nothing easy about painting furniture. At least the way I do it. The process takes time and patience, which I never really thought I had much of. I sort of surprised myself.

  15. Melissa Brotherton February 8, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    We had that same Ikea table/chair set…I was not nearly as creative as you with it. 🙂 I love your pictures of renewal! And I really like your hutch dresser combo. I want one for my house. 🙂

  16. jasonS February 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    Love it. Love the artistry and the message. Thanks Kat.

  17. Helen February 8, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    I love the way you repurposed that dresser!

  18. Kirsten February 8, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    Renewal is rarely easy. SUCH an important caveat. Change is uncomfortable, isn’t it? But the promise of being remade, whether it be furniture or my heart? Pretty compelling stuff.

    LOVE what you did with the hutch/dresser. I have dreams of doing handy stuff like this someday. The spirit is willing, the attention-span is weak. Sigh.

  19. Sandra Heska King February 8, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    I love finding new uses for old things. We have what we fondly call the “rat cupboard.” My husband’s great-great grandparents brought it when they moved from New York to Michigan in 1854. It was their kitchen cupboard, but my FIL moved it out to the barn to store cow medicines. I don’t know if rats actually chewed the holes into it. My MIL couldn’t believe I wanted that “nasty old thing.” But we sent it out to be refinished and brought it back inside. She was so astounded and proud!

  20. Amy Nabors February 8, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    Wow! You are so talented. I love the old dresser in the dining area. And you are right. Renewal is never easy, but worth it in the end.

  21. Larry Hehn February 8, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    Ok, my turn to be impressed. Those are some amazing pieces, and an awesome lesson tied in to boot. Great job!

  22. Annie K February 8, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    I had a bright idea a few years back and took one very large early 80’s entertainment center and painted it all black. It was a painstaking labor of love(actually more hate than love) that took me several days of sanding, cursing, priming, cursing, painting the first coat, cursing then painting a second coat.

    The next time I get one of these bright ideas I’m hiring you. (Regardless, it did turn out fabulously and I’m so glad we live in a ‘high’ dust area, because nothing shows dust like black furniture.)

    Oh, nice plates.

  23. Mari-Anna Stålnacke February 9, 2011 at 1:48 am #

    Inspiring post, thank you. It reminded me of a Charles Stanley quote: “Renewing the mind is a little like refinishing furniture. It is a two-stage process. It involves taking off the old and replacing it with the new. The old is the lies you have learned to tell or were taught by those around you; it is the attitudes and ideas that have become a part of your thinking but do not reflect reality. The new is the truth. To renew your mind is to involve yourself in the process of allowing God to bring to the surface the lies you have mistakenly accepted and replace them with truth. To the degree that you do this, your behaviour will be transformed.” BLESSINGS!

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