Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Full Circle Story

I have a story to tell you all but before I do I want to make clear to everyone who may read this that I think everyone needs to find their own style. It may not be my style but I will probably still love your style because I just admire people who find their style and go with it.

Having said that I want to talk today about painting furniture. I have some funiture that I have painted but the vast majority of it is what I call "man wood"-unpainted, stained wood. And there is a fascinating reason with possible deep psychological reasons why I like stained wood and that's the story part of this.

I was a teen in the 60's and both of my brothers were in the service. My older brother was in the Army and was in Vietnam for a couple of years and my other brother was in the Air Force in Thailand supporting the activities of the Vietnam war (he fueled planes). There was this one summer I remember vividly that my mother painted most of the furniture in the house. She called it "antiquing". My father hated what she did.

To give you an example,this is a rocking chair that my Mom painted although the paint is wearing off. There's actually a green layer under the brown layer so she did this one twice. I remember her painting it again after reupolstering it. I have plans to re-do this chair someday.

Now here's the full circle part of the story. My son was in Afghanistan in 2002 and I spent that summer stripping the furniture she had painted, to cope with the stress. Somewhere along the line I figured out that she had originally painted the furniture to cope with the stress of having two sons in a war zone. I had a lot of conversations with her that summer even though she had passed away a few years before.

This cabinet was orange. Big bright orange! She also painted my father's desk in his office orage. As I said, my Dad hated the painting jobs. This was a big stripping job and took a long time but it took my mind off things for quite a while.

This little chest was green and when I started stripping it I found this painted design under the paint. I had to carefully use a heat gun to get the paint off. It's a little rough but I love this chest-it's a really warm golden color in person.

Now this table is something I found recently and I plan on painting it. I'm living with it for a while so I can figure out what color it should be so see, I do paint some furniture. There were a few other things I stripped but have since sold but I'll never forget that summer. Luckily my son came home safe. I think a lot about military mothers-it's a hard road to go down. So that's my little story and I'm sticking to it!


  1. What a story, thank your son for the job he is doing (did). Too many don't realize the sacrifice.

  2. What a nice story... and yes, I'll bet your mom did paint all that furniture as a way to deal with stress. The cabinets you have "unpainted" and redone are beautiful! And yes, we thank your son for his service. God bless our military families!

  3. That's what I call a real stress buster. Glad to hear that your son made it back safe. Thank him for us.

  4. those are beautiful pieces of furniture but i love that lamp most of all

    and yes, i would have to say your mom painted the furniture to deal with stress

  5. My Uncle was in Vietnam and I remember my Grandma having all sorts of busy projects. I never put the two together till I read your story. I think it would be the only thing you could do when you're worried sick and not in control and waiting for your loved ones to return home. Thanks for sharing!!

  6. I really enjoyed reading this post, and loved seeing the treasures revealed. I actually dislike 'antiquiing', but I love seeing the true piece revealed.

  7. Funny how different styles come and go - I remember that time when 'antiquing' furniture was all the rage.
    I wonder if these pieces will be painted in the next generation? Let's just hope if they are, it's only to satisfy a decorating need and not a mother's idle hands and worried mind.

  8. Your pieces look beautiful and I appreciate all the work that went into this accomplisment. My husband and I used to refinish furniture in our younger days and man, it was hard work. I too remember the days of "antiquing" furniture, although I must admit, I never much cared for it. Just like the disstressed look they give some furniture now...I just don't get it.

    Its always good to hear about a soldier who made it home physically well. Our thanks to your son for his service.

  9. I wonder how my grandmother coped - besides raising the rest of the family - when my father was in Vietnam. (My father is the oldest of 5 with his youngest brother being 15 years younger.) Too bad I did not take the opportunity to ask before she passed away.

    I prefer the look fo wood - BTW. & That may be because my parents bought unfinished wood & stained it.

  10. Thanks for sharing your story. I wonder if your brother fueled a plane for my uncle. He was a pilot for the Air Force. He was shot down in Thailand a few days before the war ended. Unfortunately he was listed as an MIA. Seventeen years later his remains were returned to his family for a military funeral. It was a very rough time for my aunt to raise 5 young children on her own.
    I'm glad your story had a happy ending. May God bless all those in the service and to the families of service men and women.
    Blessings from Kay in Kansas

  11. Great post! Thanks for sharing it. And thank your son. This is a heart-wrenching truth that so many of us never experience.

    I love that little chest. What a great job you did taking off the orange. Oh my word, I can't even imagine. Orange! I wish you had some before pictures. I really want to look through that china cabinet. All those pitchers looks so fun!

  12. Your story makes perfect sense to me, and I bet you've guessed right about the furniture painting. Mothers need something totally unrelated to focus on.

    Our son was a Blackhawk helicopter pilot in Iraq in 2003--at the very beginning--and I distracted myself by making a quilt for him. I wrote about it in my blog on 4-20-09, or use the search box at the top of my blog and type "Adam."

    Bless our military families, our sons, and our distractions.

  13. This is a wonderful story...and I love these secial pieces of furniture. They are true treasures.
    I think that is exactly what you precious mom did to aleviate the stress...and then you undid to do the same. (Thank you wonderful son for me!)
    When Bill was in the 1st Persian Gulf War, I stenciled around every doorway, above every baseboard, at the ceiling border, in every room of the house. : ) That was MY stress buster!
    SO Glad that the next residents liked it and kept it as we moved less than one month after he returned! : )


I pray that risen from the dead,
In glory I will stand,
A crown perhaps upon my head,
And a needle in my hand.