Tag Archives: mid century modern

A Mega Craigslist Score and a Comparison of Refinishing Techniques

Craigslist everywhere is a hit-or-miss hodge podge, but I’m fairly certain that in Alaska it’s especially bleak.  There’s a lot of taxidermy (don’t try to tell Alaskans that stuffed dead animals don’t belong in the furniture category!), overstuffed ’80s couches, and mattresses so stained they look like crime scenes, selling for the bargain price of $150.   And yet I check it every day, sometimes several times per.  Last week that fiendish madness paid off big time when I came across this ad:

Red House West

I have been on the hunt for new nightstands and a credenza-y dresser for ages, and here they were all in one sweetheart of a package.  Obviously $550 is some serious dough, but if I were to buy just the nightstands from, say, West Elm, it would cost way north of $550 when you include shipping.  Let alone the dresser, which is crazy and beautiful, so needless to say I jumped at this.  Here’s what I ended up with:

Sales pamphlet found here.

Sales pamphlet found here.

Here’s a picture of a dresser like mine (not my actual dresser) looking fine:

Image found on pinterest.

Image found on pinterest.

When we unloaded them from the car the smell of talcum powder was dizzying.  The nightstands came complete with the crocheted doilies that topped them (though did little to protect them) for upwards of fifty years.  There was sort of a dingy, half-a-century-of-smoking-inside pall to the finish, and it was clear right away that more than just cleaning was needed.

Red House West

I decided that I would experiment with the nightstands first to see how little work I could get away with in tackling the dresser.  I chose the most damaged of the two to begin with; it had one leg that looked like a dog chewed on it, and so I decided I would have to go at the whole thing with an orbital sander to smooth it out.  The sanding only took about an hour, but my right hand was a painful claw afterward.  Here is what it looked like post sanding:

Red House West

The bottom shelf and back are a thin veneer and I was worried that they wouldn’t stand up to the orbital sander so I just lightly sanded them by hand.

After sanding I cleaned the table thoroughly and then used Danish Oil in Light Walnut to stain and finish it.

I waited about an hour, and then applied a second coat of Danish Oil.  After letting that dry for another hour (you probably don’t actually have to wait that long) I used Howard Feed-n-Wax to really make the wood sing.  And here is the result:

Red House West

It’s a pretty major difference, and let me tell you, in person the refinished version is FOXY!  I was tempted to give the second nightstand the same treatment, but one glance at the massive dresser reminded me that I owed it to my former-right-hand-now-claw to see if I could get away with a short-cut.

The second nightstand was in better shape than the first, but still pretty beat up.

Red House West

I lightly sanded it by hand, and then had a go with Katie’s beloved Restor-A-Finish in Walnut.

Red House West

The Restor-A-Finish couldn’t be easier: you just wipe-on wipe-off (while Mr. Miyagi’s voice echoes in your middle-aged ear) and call it good.  It took all of 15 minutes to do the whole nightstand and the results are pretty impressive:

Red House West

And here is the side-by-side comparison of them after they each got, to greater and lesser degrees, some TLC:

Red House West

It probably surprises exactly no one that the refinished version looks better than the restor-a-finished version, but I have to say that the restor-a-finish impressed the heck out of me.  I think for the dresser I will probably do a combination of techniques, but that’s a post for a later date.  And speaking of later dates, stay tuned for next Wednesday when I plan to share the nightstands in their final positions, including the results of my efforts at lining the drawers in velvet.

Anybody else gotten lucky with Craigslist lately?  If so, send ’em in to Good Score via email to redhousewest@gmail.com, or on Instagram by tagging #rhwgoodscore.  Check back in with us later in the week for a Pinterest Friday round-up of rooms that make great use of a color I’ve been loving lately–pink!

Katie’s House: Paint colors for the dining room and how I dragged home a(nother) chair

I’m home! And covered in cats, just as I’d hoped! I’m attempting to type this post with the use of only one hand, as the other one is currently pinioned beneath the fat and furry body of Dean.  Carl (aka Tiny Tiger)  is here too – shorn like a baboon after a trip to the vet for a bite on his tail (likely from a raccoon).  It’s so good to be back – baboon butt-ed cats, useless limbs and all.

Part One: In Which I Refer to a Chair as a Female Person

Yesterday my mom – who had been visiting us in Walla Walla – and I drove from eastern Washington to Eugene; from the wide open sky of ranch country and into the heavily forested valleys of home.

Through the windshield

A couple hours into our journey we pulled into a tiny, windswept town in search of ice cream, and – by the grace of the generous chair gods high upon their bentwood throne – also found the chair of my dreams. Or maybe a chair of my dreams.

Chair in situ

Ah, she may not look like much.  The poor girl is weathered and worn, and those dirty orange cushions could make even the prettiest lady look dated and dumpy.  She was crying for rescue – hollering that she was better than this one-horse town, that she was gonna be somebody, that she could be a star.  I heard her cries, saw her potential, and decided that this little Norma Jean had a destiny (less tragic, but no less beautiful than her namesake) to fulfill.  It almost didn’t happen–my car was already packed to the gills and she squeezed through the back door with less than a millimeter to spare. It took plenty of willpower and some serious Tetris skills to make everything fit and I really wish I’d taken a photo of the contents of my car strewn about Main Street, but I was so intent on jamming it all back in that I didn’t document it.

So you might be reading this story, looking at that sorry photograph, and thinking I’m a nut.  That the old girl is too far gone. But please take a moment and remember this picture I shared last week of one of my dream rooms:

Take a good look at those chairs, and then take a look at my girl once I got her home and freed her from the orange vinyl:

Side view of road trip chair in front of garage door

Pretty similar, right?  Once I hydrate her parched bones with oil and love, this little honey is going to be the beauty she was meant to be.

Part Two : Turning my Dining Room into a Cerulean Grotto

After I dropped my dear mom off, my chairs and I (the McCobb, ready for its new seat cover, was in there too) stopped by the hardware store to pick up paint samples for my dining room.  I am dreaming of deep blue walls, and – after considerable online research – chose four Benjamin Moore colors to try:

Paint swatches with text copy

As you can see, the dining room walls are already pretty dark.  They are a shade of purple – Benjamin Moore’s Cabernet – painted by the previous owners.  Purple is not my jam, but I’ve now lived with this color for two years and I am confident that this room, and the adjoining kitchen, can not only handle a heavily pigmented color during the relentlessly gray and dreary Oregon winters, but actually look better with it.

The kitchen is currently painted a darker shade of purple – the accurately and evocatively named Dark Purple, also by Benjamin Moore (their creative-name team must’ve been taking a break).  The east wall (on your right in the picture below) has white cabinetry.  The door at the end of the room in this picture leads into the laundry room.

I love the greeny-blue tones of the peculiarly named Gentleman's Gray.

I love the greeny-blue tones of the less accurately named Gentleman’s Gray.

The other side of the dining room leads through an arch into the living room, which will also be getting a coat (or -more realistically- five) of paint soon. I’m looking at whites and very light hues for that room, which I think will contrast nicely with blue in the dining room.


The cabinets in the dining room are cherry, and the countertops are black granite, so any paint color will need to play nice with both of those (because of this I’ve pretty much ruled out Hale Navy, which is too flat and too dark of a color in this context).

comparing color with cabinets and countertops

Cameron's dad built the table as a wedding gift.  He also built the bench which is acting as a dining chair until I can round out our motley crew (if it were Crue the McCobb chair would totally be Vince Neil) of thrifted chairs.

Cameron’s dad built the table as a wedding gift. He also built the bench which is moonlighting as a dining chair until I can round out our motley crew (incidentally, if they were a Motley Crue, the McCobb chair would totally be Vince Neil) of thrifted chairs.

Today, in this overcast light, I am leaning toward either Newburyport Blue (far left in the picture below) or Newburg Green (second from left) for the dining room walls. Tomorrow the sun is supposed to emerge and perhaps a clear paint color winner will emerge with it.

I definitely plan on changing the curtains, but I haven't yet decided to what.

I haven’t yet decided on new curtains, but these will definitely go

It feels so great to be home and I’m excited to be tackling this room! Once I decide on a color I’ll get rolling and will definitely share the result. What do you think? Do any of you have a deep blue color you’d recommend? Mera and I will be back on Friday with some DIY inspiration – thanks for reading along!

Paul McCobb Dining Chair with Hand Printed Fabric

I am really excited to share this project with you, both because it has been on my to-do list for a while and because I had a lot of fun doing it. I found this Paul McCobb dining chair over a year ago, and it is responsible for setting my thrift store expectations way too high–I consider it my gateway drug for compulsive thrifting. I found it in a corner of the thrift store, not with the other furniture, but with the washers and dryers. I didn’t know who Paul McCobb was at the time, but I knew I loved the angles of this chair. And even though it was in disrepair, I brought it home. For $1.99.

Paul McCobb chair before

Since finding this chair, I’ve become a big fan of Paul McCobb and spend more time than I should on Ebay looking at furniture he designed that is way out of my price range.  This style of chair is called the bowtie, and I love its depiction in this mid-century ad (as the owner of this chair you too can lounge, in a suit, beneath your wall display of wind instruments):

I need to point out, right up front here, that the following series of pictures are taken outdoors because I’m not, in fact, currently residing in my red house west. This summer – for work – Cameron and I are living mostly up in Washington State (in Walla Walla specifically – if you know the area and have recommendations, please tell me in the comments!), and we have friends living in our house. This is mostly a good thing – I’ve always loved moving and living in new places – and spending a few months in a place is a great way to get to know it without worrying whether you’ll still like it in a year, or five or ten. I am missing our house, though, and my fevered house project brain can’t rest, so I’ll be sharing a few smaller projects then heading down next month for some frenzied (blissful!) painting and home repair.

Back to the chair (which I loaded into the car on top of all the other things we moved here with while Cameron looked on askance). Structurally, it is in good shape. No wiggles or cracks in the wood. However, it looked like somebody used it as a notching post to record the passing years of their life in exile–there are cuts and gouges all over the finish.

Chair before with marred finish

I knew I wouldn’t be able to make this chair look like new, but I did know I could make it a lot better. I washed it down with wood soap, gave it a light sanding, then pulled out my favorite one-two punch of Restor-A-Finish and Howard Feed & Wax.

Restor-a-Finish supplies

Somuch better

It looks so much better!

The cushion on the chair was torn and beyond repair and, as with the upholstered stool I shared here before, I knew I wanted to try printing my own fabric.

To make the stamps, I used a soft rubber carving block I got at the craft store and Speedball carving tools. I doodled some possible designs and then used a pencil to draw them freehand right on to the carving block.

carving stamps

I tested them, first on paper and then on fabric, carving away any raised areas that were marring the printed image. I ended up cutting out the fern stamps (rather than leaving them in a square shape), so I would have an easier time orienting them on the fabric as I stamped.


test fabric

I set up a printing station on the floor (doing this type of project in a rental house posed some challenges — I didn’t have a dropcloth or any newspapers, so I tore sheets out of a catalog to protect the floor). I used the ruler on my transparent cutting mat to help keep the lines straight.

printing triangles

The triangle print took a while. For expedience, I wish I’d carved a block with four columns of triangles instead of just a single one. Overall though, it was an easy process. I put on a podcast and happily printed away. The ferns went much faster and though I started with a measured grid carefully marked in pencil, I quickly abandoned that and just eyeballed the spacing.

fabric printed

Now here’s where I need your help! I can’t decide which print I like better on the chair, the botanical one or the triangles. Please take a look and cast your vote! Whichever one I don’t use, I will make into a pillow or find another use for it.

Keep in mind that when the decision is made about which fabric to use, I’ll staple it on and the fit will be much better than in these pictures. So which do you prefer? The triangles…

chair after outside with triangle fabric

chair after outside with triangle fabric side view

Or the ferns…

fern fabric after from front outside

fern fabric after outside side

Cast your vote and I’ll finish ‘er up and take some photos when I’m back in my red house next month.

Thanks for reading this post and for weighing in on the design decision! You’ve still got two days to be entered to win the Good Score giveaway–we’ll announce the winner on Friday!