Family heirlooms

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I'm one of those people who feels a strong tie to the past. I love to see old pictures of my ancestors - hear stories about their lives - anything that gives me a clearer sense of the past.

I have a dining room table, chairs, and buffet that belonged to my great-grandparents. No, it's not fancy - and it's certainly not worth anything to anyone other than me - but I treasure it. My great-grandfather worked in the coal mines in Athens County, Ohio back in the late 1920's - early 1930's. Back then, the miners were paid in script, which they then used to buy whatever they needed from the company store. That is where the furniture was purchased around 80 years ago.

As I said, they're not fancy - but they are well-made. The table has two leaves - each one attached at opposite ends of the table - and they can be hidden under the table or popped up and locked into place to make the table larger. Pretty clever.

My great-grandfather refinished the entire set every few years - so over 80 years, that's a lot of refinishing. LOL! The style is more of what you'd see in a small eat-in kitchen or in the dining room of a smaller house or apartment. But we decided to put it in our dining room, since the room is on the small size and we rarely eat in there.

Gus and Buddy worked for what must have seemed like forever to them - they removed the old finish and sanded each piece until it was smooth - no easy task.

I had a really difficult time choosing the upholstery fabric. The carpet in our dining room is sort of a mulberry/rose color. Ick. It was there when we bought the house. Trust me, I would never have chosen that color. It's custom wall-to-wall carpet with a rose carved into the center. Yeah, that's right. A rose. WTF?? The draperies in that room were also there when we moved in. They're $400 (for two panels!) drapes from Pottery Barn - and they're dark olive green. Just goes to show you - it doesn't matter how expensive things are - if you don't like them, you don't like them. Eventually, we'll change the carpet and drapes, but for now, we decided to work with what we had...

We painted the walls with Behr Cliff Rock - love that color! It's amazing, but I was able to find some upholstery fabric at Jo-Ann's that coordinated with the walls, carpet, and drapes. So I stained the furniture and recovered the chair seats & backs. I didn't want a shiny finish on the furniture, so I finished it with two coats of Tung oil.

So it's not fancy, but it looks nice and there is a lot of history in that room. It's pretty cool to think that my great-grandparents used this furniture - and that my Grammy ate at it when she was a little girl. Hopefully, one of my kids will inherit my love of the past and want to keep the furniture in the family.


Jessica said...

The set looks beautiful!! Nice work! :)

Kim said...

Thank you!

Rachael said...

so beautiful - and what priceless, historical treasures to have. i'm impressed!

[catching up on your blog, so pardon the barrage of comments, lol.]

Kim said...

Thanks, Rachael! And comments are always welcome & appreciated! It lets me know someone is actually reading the blog, LOL! I love comments!