Painting furniture: An epiphany

Painting furniture is one way to stretch a meager budget when the new stuff is out of reach.  When my oldest daughter got married she asked if she could take a simple dining room table that we had been using for a desk. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was solid wood and it did the job.   A couple of weeks ago, my daughter and son in law moved into their first home and no longer needed the table.  I’d been wanting to get something a little smaller for my living room, and when she offered, I accepted the table back.

The table came back with lots of coats of thick black paint having been already rolled on.  Lots of coats.

I can not over exaggerate how many coats of black paint were on that table.

At first I thought I’d just bag the entire idea of redoing this desk.  But as I looked closer I realized the legs looked pretty good and all I’d really need to do was re-paint the top of the table. That’s the easiest part, right?  Not even I could mess that up, right?

Famous last thoughts, people.  Famous last thoughts.  And the joys of painting furniture.

I began on Saturday, outside in my backyard.  Sanding and sanding and sanding some more.

spray painted table

I finally reached a point where I felt that the first coat of new paint could go on.  The first coat didn’t look too bad,  but I needed to do some more sanding before applying the second coat.   Another coat later and I considered myself done for the night and that the next day would only require a quick screening of the paint, a final coat and vioa’ new desk for my front room.


Cause in my adventures there are always an except or two.

The next morning I set out to spray on the final coat and and hit a few places a bit heavier than I wanted.  Instead of waiting for the paint to dry so the sanding would be easy and quick, I made the huge mistake of of trying to sand not-quite-dry paint.

It might not seem like a big deal, but when you are painting furniture patience is key.  I spent the rest of the day trying to fix the mistake that had only taken me a minute of impatience to make.

Finally I had the top looking as good as it was ever going to  and I was once again at the point of just needing to put on that last coat.  I was so focused on making sure my spraying was even on the top, I didn’t notice the two small runs that were forming down two of the legs of the table.

Again, I tried to fix the mistake, again I only made it worse.

By this time it was 8 o’clock at night, the legs on one side of my table were ruined and the paint was too wet to sand off.


Suddenly I had the idea to go and grab a flashlight and my blow dryer in hopes of speeding up the drying process so I could sand and repaint.  Sheer brilliance, no?   The pursuit of perfection requires sacrifice regardless of what the neighbors think, I silently declared!

As I was making my way towards my blow dryer, my mind flashed back to last Monday and what my GP thought was a heart attack that thankfully turned out to just be a major panic attack.

I started thinking about what had set that 4 hour stay in the ER in motion and while I won’t go into details here, let’s just say that the pursuit of perfection had a walk on role that day.

What is it about not wanting people to know you’re human.  Not wanting people to know that, no matter how hard you may try,  your life isn’t going to be featured on Pinterest.

I decided to let my blow dryer stay in it’s drawer in the bathroom and not try to frantically fix a mistake that simply ain’t gonna be fixed in the cold and dark.

A black spray painted table.

A few hours later, because of a chance of snow in the forecast, Reed and I drug that table in from the backyard.  The legs on one side of the table are full of runs and bubbles from where it was too cold when I spray painted and then made even worse as I frantically tried to fix them.

It would take only a few minutes this morning to sand out the mistakes and gently make them perfect.  I think I’ll wait awhile though before I do that.  I could use a daily reminder that perfection is nothing but smoke and mirrors.  A reminder that one person can only do so much in a day.  We all have an finite amount of time.  Trying to make a life without any mistakes is one sure way to be eternally miserable.

My home is an eclectic mix of early yard sale and ancient thrift store.  As the years have gone by Reed and I would always tell ourselves that while this was fine for now, one day, when the kids are on their own, we’ll be able to afford the good stuff.   Maybe even a headboard and bedroom furniture that wasn’t used by Reed when he was growing up.

I’m thinking though that the laughter, love and hope that fill our home right now is really what the good stuff is all about.

Are you a perfectionist?  How does it affect your life? Tell me about it!


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