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what I’m working on…


As I shared yesterday, after a week of dealing with a lot of details of doing business, I was really ready to do something creative.  So, I headed to the basement to work on some pieces that were waiting for me.

The first piece is a great old kitchen cabinet that belongs to Kriste, my online shop manager.  She’s going to start working with me on some creative things as well, which is exciting for both of us.  Anyway, her sweet husband scored this for her at a yard sale for $10.  What a guy, right?

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They are going to use it as a TV stand in their new place, but the blue and the decals aren’t working for Kriste.  She likes white, so we’re going white with it.  I removed the hardware, sanded the piece and then painted it in a base coat of MMS Milk Paint Trophy.  I wasn’t concerned about chipping, so I did not add the Bonding Agent.  I will be painting Ironstone over the Trophy, but I wanted to put a neutral color over the blue first.

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Kriste likes some chippiness, so I left some areas unpainted, so they will show in the final coat.

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We have some pretty milk glass knobs selected for this piece.  We wanted the changes we made on this cabinet to stay in keeping with what it was, but make it more modern.  I think we’re heading in the right direction.


Also waiting in the wings is this gorgeous Empire beauty.  I found it on Craig’s List and my dad, aka The Miss Mustard Seed Moving Co., went to pick it up for me.  It needs some gluing and repair, but I have a clear vision for this piece and I can’t wait to start working on it.

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I also took some time to work on the phonograph I got in a furniture lot this spring.  It was in rough shape and pieces like this usually look worse before they look better.

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It needed a lot of stripping, sanding, gluing, clamping and cleaning.  The bottom 12-18″ was obviously damaged by water, which resulted in the veneer bubbling and pulling away from the piece.  It was splintered and flapping in some places, so it had to be removed.  I scored it with a utility knife, removing the damaged veneer.  The plan is to replace it, but we’re in foreign territory with that project…

The veneer on the doors was intact, so I was able to glue, clamp and sand that.

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Once I had the finish stripped and sanded, I applied Mineral Spirits to clean the surface and reveal the warmth of the wood.  Wiping wood with Mineral Spirits gives you a preview of what it will look like when an oil is applied, but it dries and doesn’t harm the wood.

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When I was happy with how the piece looked wiped with Mineral Spirits, I gave it a coat of Hemp Oil.

Here’s the fretwork before…

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…and after…

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I haven’t decided what to do with the speaker fabric, yet.

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I removed the doors one at a time for gluing and sanding…

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…and then put them back on and applied Hemp Oil.  I’m letting the finish soak in the oil and will keep applying coats until it reaches saturation or the luster I’m happy with.    The inside of the storage cabinet is still a bit of a mess and I’m still thinking about how to tackle that.

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I am so in love with this piece.  I’m imagining phonograph “concerts” when there are power outages or for special events.

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For now, I just enjoying listening to scratchy records like “It might as well be spring” and “If I were the only boy in the world”  in my basement as I work.

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  1. Oh that phonograph is just so special! I fell in love with the piece even though it’s not mine!! It’s amazing how much you have already restored (it’s exciting to see an old antique piece to come alive again!) Looking forward to seeing it when it’s completed. xx

  2. i was at an estate sale this morning (got lots of cool stuff). There was a STACK of phonograph records – in specially designed binders…. – there was actually a STACK of binders FULL of them…
    I may go back tomorrow to see what’s left over from the sale (tomorrow is markdown day…)
    You need some phonograph records for that thing?

  3. OMG Marian! I have your empire chest’s twin brother – only separated by 2,600 miles! Mine was dated by an antiquities expert to be circa 1850-1860. I’ve had it sitting in my garage for a month now wondering what to do with it. Can’t wait to see your vision for your piece!

  4. Beautiful pieces! LOVE the phonograph…reminds me so much of the older generation when I was little. I used to have bunch of 78’s and 45’s. Great music if you don’t mind the scratchy effect. :)


  5. Beth from California says:

    I like your taste and judgment. So glad to see you plan to restore and not paint the record player. Some bloggers only know how to paint – and nothing else.

  6. Carla says:

    I love Empire furniture but you don’t see it much in Kansas. Love learning about replacing the veneer and seeing the difference hemp oil makes.

  7. Jill Butler says:

    Love what you’ve done with the phonograph! We have a Victrola which looks very similar. My kids always enjoyed it when we played it.

    As far as the fabric, try going to and look up grille cloth. I purchased some when I was redoing a 1940’s Philco radio. This might be just what you need!

  8. Carla G. Fisher says:

    Love what you are doing with the phonograph, it is turning out so nice! I have two; a Victrola that I am going to pull the works out of (the govner springs, that make the turn table work right, broke) with a still beautiful cabinet that would make a great bar. The other is an off brand that still works, from the 20’s, with an intact but beat up plain cabinet. Story is that the grandparents (of the guy I got it from) used to put it in the back of the truck and take it to barn dances. How’s that for portable music! Be sure you have plenty of needles for your player. You should change them out every other record or so, and there are different sharpness levels to them. And never play newer records on them, the older the better!

  9. I love the dresser, happy for u and ur phonograph.. My momma has her cabinet like the one in the first photo.. I am hoping to bring it home one of these days.. can’t wait to see what u do w it!!

  10. I have to tell you that your vision of music concerts when the power goes off is not just “pie in the sky”! Years ago we had our grandparents visiting along with our in-laws when the power went out. We dragged out the phonograph records and put them on our old Victor Victrola for entertainment. The grandparents and in-laws started singing along to the crackly old songs that were coming out of the Victrola. It was SO much fun as they remembered their younger days! They are both gone now but it is a memory my children (now with children of their own!) still remember with fondness!

  11. Diane Westbrook says:

    Oh, I just love the phonograph and it brings back memories of my Aunt’s house back in the mid-forties. She had hers sitting in the dining room and I remember how proud she was of it. How wonderful of you to bring this beauty back to life!
    I have a question for you….I have a very old gate leg table that is dark in color. It has what looks like dull finish and I do not think it has a finish coat re: varnish or poly, etc. I hate to think of painting it or refinishing it as I like the color. I am wondering if Hemp Oil is the way to go on this table? Just to bring it back to life…thanks for your help!
    Diane Westbrook

  12. I love the empire piece. The wood grain is so beautiful and the knobs are killer. I hope you are going to work your magic with Hemp oil and let the wood grains shine through! I would LOVE to buy that piece from you when it’s ready. :-)

  13. Patti Mullican says:

    A friend of mine has over 30 boxed classical records she is looking to sell. All are old and in good condition for $20. Let me know if you are interested and I can put you in touch.

  14. Hi Marian, Love the phonograph, I like them even if just the “shell” is all that is left! I have one such piece sitting in my kitchen that I re-done and I love it. I changed another one into a jewelry armoire. Not sure if your interested, but I used burlap on both of mine to replace the fabric. Left one the natural burlap and I spray painted the material for the other one and it worked great.

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