I received a message from Jocelyn a while back asking if I’d be interested in painting a bedroom set for her 5 year old niece, Eleanor. The furniture once belonged to Jocelyn when she was a little girl and she wanted to pass it along to Eleanor. The process of rejuvenating the furniture turned out to be more meaningful than I even knew.
Jocelyn, Eleanor and Eleanor’s mom, Melissa all came to drop the furniture off at my studio one day. I remember the day being so hot and humid, kind of one of those gross days when you just want to be in the a/c all day. We pulled all the pieces out of the car-a dresser, a nightstand, headboard, and a bookshelf. I remember standing there looking at them, they hadn’t been used in a long time with a yellow finish kind of dirty, broken pulls, a few of the drawers were not sliding well. There were small decorative flowers and leaves on each drawer originally painted a light pink and green for the leaves. The set was purchased in the 80’s and kind of just looked like that. You could tell though that they were solid and had already lasted through so much. They had a lot of potential to be restored.
As we talked about the set and what we wanted to do, little Eleanor’s personality began to come out. She was dancing around, twirling, clearly excited that these were going to be hers. They pulled out some pink/mauve gem-like knobs purchased from Anthropologie that were going to be the new knobs on the dresser and nightstand. We talked about pink. Pink has never been one of my favorite colors (although I am really warming up to it now that I’m having a baby girl, lots of gifts tend to be pink it just so happens). Eleanor was a big fan of pink and wanted to make sure there was a little pink painted on the drawers to match the pink/mauve knobs. She was so happy about it all, between dancing and talking about pink I think I saw her do a few kung fu chops and kicks perfectly content with herself and proud of her new furniture.
Jocelyn and I continued to stay in touch as we narrowed down our colors. I painted the body of the dressers a color called Cottage White (originally a Behr color, but I had it mixed by Sherwin Williams), the leaves were to be Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint Mora and the flowers, MMS milk paint Arabesque (a pretty dusty pink).
Here are some photos of the process:
Dresser painted in only Cottage White with new Anthro pulls added next to original finish on the nightstand:
When they were done, I don’t think me or my two shop mates could believe these were the same pieces! The whole set felt put together and so refreshed, it was like a breath of fresh air for these dated pieces and now they could live on again.
I sent this photo along with others to Jocelyn for her approval and feedback and what I got back from her one of the most heartfelt emails I’ve ever received that brought me to happy/sad/maybe pregnant emotional tears. I don’t know, but her words just touched me and I guess I never really knew what I was doing for them all along.
From Jocelyn in her words:
“The furniture looks beautiful! Better than I could’ve imagined. I cannot wait to see it in person!
This whole process of rejuvenating this set has meant a great deal to me and us. Probably more than you know. Last summer my mother died unexpectedly. It has been an extremely hard year. To be able to give Eleanor the furniture that my mother once picked out for me, keeps her close to all of us and helps keep her love alive in yet another way. what you have done for us is more than painting furniture…it is creating an heirloom set that keeps memories alive and my mother close.
She was a very particular woman and I know she’d be thrilled with how they’ve turned out
I cannot thank you enough.”
I was too excited for Eleanor to see the set of furniture and asked if we could do a little photo shoot of the reveal to her. I asked my friend Beth of Beth Skogen Photography, who takes amazing lifestyle photos, if she could come to document the reveal of the set to Eleanor and her mom, and she happily obliged!
Thank you so much to Jocelyn, Melissa, and Eleanor for allowing me to work on this set to give it a new life while also keeping memories of the past present.
And of course thank you to Beth, who’s camera lens always captures the moments and memories that you sometimes just don’t want to ever forget.