Monday, 9 December 2013

Treasure Hunting (with abandon)

One thing you will quickly learn during through reading my blog is that I love treasure hunting. 

Love. it.

There is nothing more satisfying to me than finding a hugely discounted designer sofa on eBay or rescuing a battered, once loved, piece of furniture ripe for a makeover.

Luckily, I happen to have a wonderful, long suffering partner in Steve who is well used to receiving mid-day texts detailing a treasure I've uncovered online. This is usually followed by my desperate pleas that 'we have to go to (insert random location, further away the better) straight after work', to collect said mystical item. This formula is usually a success, save for the fact that our only car is Steve's, a 2 seater with no boot to speak of. A sensible vehicle capable of collecting sizeable items of furniture it is not.

I am a very creative but extremely fickle person. I stubbornly maintain that I have a clear vision of what items I want for the flat and generally speaking, I do. I have an elaborate end vision in my mind but so often plans are changed when I see a product that I NEED. The problem being that I didn't know I needed said product before that fateful click of the mouse. With such a relaxed attitude of buy now, think about logistics later, it is fortunate that I have stumbled upon some amazing finds right on my doorstep.

Last Autumn, during our kitchen planning, I was inspired by freestanding kitchen furniture, so I was delighted to find a large Victorian dresser advertised on Gumtree locally. My itchy fingers got the better of me and quick as a flash, I emailed the seller. The best news possible came in reply. Yes, it was still available and collection was from the opposite end of my street! A sign indeed. So, it was easy. No transport required, only some muscle. 

Did I mention it's enormous? 

Pictured in the Studio (Reception 2). At this point the dry rot specialists have treated the bay window and not yet laid the replacement reclaimed boards (hence the wood chip insulation). The bare stone wall and electric heater complete with burn marks on the wall are our take on 'industrial chic'. Ha! The postcards etc on the door are another story altogether so I'll save that for another post!


Chatting to our lovely neighbour, we discovered this dresser had originally been in the kitchen of their 1900's home. Having been built in to the room, the piece was likely designed and built for the house when it was built. Only for sale due to renovation and change of use of rooms, the seller was happy that it would remain on the street and I was delighted to be the new custodian of such a lovely original piece of furniture. The details are so beautiful:

The dresser is stained pine and has beautiful, simple original turnlock catches.

I'd neglected to consider that myself and Steve alone could not move this beast. Luckily, Steve happens to have a long suffering friend, Adam, who is nearly always roped in to help with the tricker projects, like some sort of inevitable domino effect. I think his comment sums it up:

"Steven asked me to move 'something'. It was bigger than the moon and twice as heavy"
Adam showing off his achievements. At over 6ft tall himself, you get the impression of scale hopefully! The wooden baton was fixed on by the neighbour's builders to keep the cabinet rigid and assist with transporting it by hand.

Thanks Adam!

It took these poor guys over an hour to get both pieces of the dresser along the street and up (ahem) three flights of stairs. A kindly neighbour took pity on us along the way and put the boys to shame by lifting it's bulk a good ten metres into the building with ease (!) but they got there in the end as the pictures above demonstrate. By contrast, my involvement was minimal. I did help. A bit.

After all the effort involved, it sadly transpired that the dresser was too large to fit in our new kitchen as we would have been compromising on critical worktop space to accommodate it. On breaking this news, I feared that both Steve and Adam may never speak to me again! Of course, ever the optimist, I insisted I would find another use for the dresser. The truth is, we all knew the dresser was never being carried back down those stairs...

The good news is that the dresser has now been re-located to the living room where it fits perfectly. Whilst I'm sure the purists would love to see the piece left alone or restored to its original form, in reality it's in bad shape and needs a lot of TLC so for this reason, I've decided to paint it. Sympathetically and tastefully of course!  The next stage is to have a joiner carry out the repairs (it needs a new base, back, shored up and some matching cornice added to one end) before it begins a new lease of life as an elegant cabinet. Updates on this transformation coming soon!