A couple of weeks back, Brad and I were driving in an affluent nearby town when we came across just about everyone’s favorite thing: really awesome furniture up for grabs on the side of the road!
“Stop!” I yelped, and Brad circled the block to come back around to the house, reluctantly (because, strangely, road furniture isn’t his favorite thing) but willingly (because I had just gone out and done something that HE wanted to do for a couple of hours).
We pulled up, and were rewarded with this:
“What treasure!” I exclaimed, and against Brad’s better judgement, it was loaded right into the car. It must have just hit the curb, because I just can’t imagine that many people would have driven by something so awesome.
“WHERE is this going, exactly?” Brad asked as we drove away. I assured him that I had plenty ideas for what do with it. (And even though I was lying then, I pretty quickly figured it out.)
You may remember that my house doesn’t actually have an entryway or mudroom; what I call the entryway is really just a small strip of wall next to the door in my dining room/kitchen. When you last checked in on this space, I had done an “until I find something better” upgrade by putting a small cabinet by the wall where there used to just be a messy pile of shoes.
Looks amazing, right? The cabinet was useful but it really didn’t solve the issue, because now there was just a messy pile of shoes AND a cabinet against that little wall. On most days, it looked more like this:
This was really putting a damper on all of my awesome dining room progress, because the shoes jutted right out into that space. We’d also end up leaving our coats slumped over the dining room chairs, because we’re apparently too lazy to walk across the room to the coat closet in the hall. We really needed a proper entryway.
My curbside find would be the solution, incorporating some controlled shoe storage and adding in a spot to hang a couple of coats, so we have a handy spot for the ones that are currently in use, and a convenient place for our guests to put their stuff. It would only need minor fixes and adaptations.
The generous furniture donors were kind and included all of the hardware and even the broken leg piece when they put it out on the curb.
This made it an easy job to just glue it back in place.
I also reinforced the drawer with some extra nails because it was falling apart, and reinforced the back of the piece, as well.
With structure taken care of, I turned to aesthetics. The wood was truly gorgeous – beautiful aged oak that glowed in the light – but it was a little banged up. At first I was going to go out and get an oak version of Restor-A-Finish (affiliate link – read our policies), which I’ve raved about here and many other places. However, when I tested a bit of the Walnut one that I had, it actually blended in well with the wood.
This stuff really works wonders:
Yeah, that was just from about 15 minutes of wiping on the stuff, and those photos aren’t edited at all. No one would be fooled into thinking the wood is in perfect condition, but it looks 1000% better.
The final step was to install some hooks in the back to hang coats from. I did a quick search online, and ended up buying a cheap set of 3 from Knobs.com, timing it so they’d get here in time to finish this piece for today’s blog post. However, disaster! When they arrived I was really disappointed.
What I thought was a black metal hook was actually plastic, and didn’t include any hardware to hang it with. Shame on me for not reading the labels.
I would have just used them if I thought I could stand it just so I could get the piece done, but the thought of putting plastic hooks on this pretty old piece was bumming me out. Instead, Brad and I headed out to Ace Hardware to see if we could get something usable last minute.
None of the hooks were right (all were either white or silver, which I thought would look strange on this) but then Brad spotted an interesting choice among the cabinet knobs:
The new one is on the left, and you can see how it speaks to the original knobs for the drawer on this piece without being a perfect match. The knobs also are flat, so they have a good edge and work just about as well as a hook for hanging coats or bags. They were only $1.79 each!
The one catch was that the screw provided with them only screwed in so far since they were made for something substantial like a cabinet drawer, and the backing of the cabinet is very thin. I added a few pieces of thin plywood to allow them to screw in tightly.
That was it! Really, a very quick makeover. Here it is in place (and not exactly beautifully styled, but enough so that you get the idea):
It’s a huge improvement in functionality for the space. Having a place to tuck away the most commonly used shoes and coats, where they are accessible but neat, is already making such a difference. We can also store mail on the top shelf, and I think I’m going to get a pair of nice trays to keep it all tidy.
The only thing I regret about this swap is that I had to move my Shoe Poster. I LOVE this poster, and I loved having it over the shoes 🙂 However, I have to prioritize function over art for this small space, and I know I can put the poster somewhere else that is almost as prominent.
It is similar to the style that my Mom has a lot of in her house, and she loves old oak pieces, so there is something homey about it. I also love that it is a different style than the mainly MCM pieces in this room: it helps the space feel eclectic and not period!
This was more of an “update of opportunity” than a planned part of my dining room project, but I’m Type A, so I’m going to add it to the list so I can cross it off, anyway:
Buy and/or re-hab a statement china cabinet or other storage for the corner, in a dark or medium wood tone and preferably with a lot of closed storage. Buy a dining room table and chairs. The ones I’ve got in there were free with my first apartment out of college because the people moving out didn’t want them any more – and I’m still using them nearly 9 years later. Re-organize. I need a lot more function out of this room. It currently stores wine/alcohol, cook books, the watering can for my plants, and a few other miscellaneous things. Given how cramped our kitchen is, I need this room to also store overflow food that we buy in bulk, appliances that we infrequently use, serving dishes, and hopefully a whole lot more. Maybe the board games that are currently jammed in the top of our coat closet? Resolve the “ugly pile of shoes” issue with a new entryway piece to keep everything under control.
- DIY or buy a solution to bird seed storage – Brad currently keeps the bird seed for his feeders in this room in a bright green bin. It is functional, but not the look we’re going for in the long run.
- Add some character. I want this room to hit you over the head with fun, so I want to work in some strange art, cool craft, and/or funky details.
Next up, bird seed storage!
(Updated to add: see it in the finished dining room here!)