The end result of a very special mother-and-son project. (Photo: Wendy Goldman Scherer/TueNight)
I love junk. I like old stuff. Interesting shapes. Putting together odd combinations and using items for something other than what they were intended to be used for.
I was also an obsessive flea marketer and garage saler before it was considered stylish. (Is it considered stylish?) I was an upcycler before upcycle was a word.
My husband, Andrew, is an enabler like no other. He humors me on early weekend drives while we follow signs to the next sale or as I pull out my phone to scope them out using iGarageSale and Garage Sale Rover. My teenage sons? They tolerate it. Sometimes.
My oldest son just finished his freshman year of college. He’s an art major. He’s quiet and he likes his solitude. But I really wanted to figure out a way to spend time with him — something that involved a shared goal.
And then it came to me! This kid has the best taste. He’s always decorating his future home in his head, and I am often the delighted recipient of links to gorgeous furniture he’s found online, as well as unusually beautiful ensembles and fabulous homes. Plus, my son knows his way around tools. The natural conclusion was that we make a sofa table together. I’d been looking for one for some time and could not seem to find what I wanted. And much to my joy, when I asked if he would help, he was all in.
So one Saturday not long after, when my fabulous sister-in-law Liz asked me if I wanted to go barn sale-ing, I jumped at the chance. And I brought my son along, too. We took measurements for the table and started the hunt.
We found an old door at our first stop, which was a cute vintage marketplace called Sweet Clover. The piece was leaning unobtrusively against the wall with a $50 price tag. It had lots of personality, in addition to lots and lots of splinters. But hey, we have a power sander.
Fifty bucks seemed a little steep, especially in light of the fact that we were simply planning to take it apart and use a third of it, but before we even had a chance to haggle, the vendor told us she was pulling all her merchandise out that day and “how does $30 sound?”
It sounded great. Sold.
The door fit easily in the minivan and the three of us talked about what kind of legs it might pair well with as we drove home. We decided to order midcentury iron pin-style legs from eBay that night. And the next day, my son and I started disassembling. We pulled nails. We struggled to get the rusty hardware off. It wasn’t easy, especially since we wanted it to stay intact so we could put it back together once the wood was finished.
We sweat. We cursed. We cut wood. Together.
My son and I thought about finishes and tested different ones. We strategized and struggled. We cursed more. But we sure did laugh. And it’s amazing where the conversation can go when you’re not trying to make a conversation.
And did I say we sanded? Oh yes. We sanded and sanded and sanded. Then came the polyurethane and even more sanding. And more poly.
Then we put it all together.
The result was the best five days of my summer. We didn’t just make a table; we made a memory.