blame the used furniture

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, Antiques, Favorite Finds53 Comments

This story involves Jeff finding a snake in our kitchen, but that’s not where the story starts.

Last week, I purchased a beautiful antique dresser off of craigslist for $50.  I was cruising the furniture section on a whim and spotted it.  I could tell from the shape and finish that it was an oldie and, since it was less than a mile down the road, I decided to jump at it.

This isn’t the spot where it’s going to, by the way, but we just put it there until we find a permanent home for it (there are several spots in the running.)

The wood has the most lovely patina on it…

…and I love the unique details, like the shape of the feet.

I even like the patched-together top.  I believe this originally had a marble top, but perhaps even had a hutch top.  Although there is no pull-out writing surface, it could’ve been a part of a secretary desk or a two-piece highboy.  I think it’s lovely as is, though.  It just needs a little MMSMP Hemp Oil to hydrate the wood and bring out the luster in the wood.

The drawer pulls and key escutcheons are old, but I’m not sure if they are both original.  They look a little disjointed to me, but sometimes that’s the case with old piece.  I like both of them, but I’m not sure if I like them together.  I might try removing one escutcheon to see how that looks.  The raw wood keyhole might look more fitting for the age of the piece.

Anyway, so the day after we bring this dresser in the house, I’m working in my studio, blissfully unaware of the fact that Jeff found a 12″ LIVE black snake coiled on the floor of our kitchen.  Fortunately, he’s not afraid of snakes, so he calmly picked it up in a wad of paper towels and threw it off the deck.  I didn’t find out about the snake until hours later.

As we were puzzling through how the snake could’ve gotten in the house, Jeff said he was sure it came in the dresser.  Oh sure, blame it on the used piece of furniture!  In reality, I suppose it could’ve been possible since it had been stored in a garage prior to pick up, but I found it unlikely since we removed all of the drawers to move it.  I feel like the snake would’ve made an appearance then, but maybe not.

The funny thing about this is that this is not the first time Jeff blamed something on a used piece of furniture.  I had moved another piece of furniture not long before the dead mouse was discovered in my van last summer and Jeff thought it was the culprit.  Not from the plants I bought at the garden center or one of the many mice scurrying around our yard.

A used piece of furniture just needs to be prepared to be the scapegoat for critters when it comes to the Parsons’ house.

blame the used furniture

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53 Comments on “blame the used furniture”

  1. This is a great story, and I can’t wait to read all the replies you get on it, like the time I found a shed snake skin in our basement, but we never did see head nor tail of a snake down there, before or after. Some mysteries are never solved.

    1. Love the piece and the story. To me, it feels like the pulls are too small and don’t fit the scale of the piece. I love them and would find a use for them elsewhere. I am excited to see what you do with this. I’m not afraid of snakes either but I’m sure I’d still scream to find one on my kitchen floor.

  2. haha. my husband blames every critter and most natural disasters on the cast aways I drag into the house! We have several looooong black snakes in our yard and they seem to hang around the doorways so maybe yours scooted in that way.

  3. I’ve lived in the Le Sueur/Minneapolis/New Prague area my whole life and all I’ve ever seen is garter snakes. And then, only when I’m mowing. If I had a snake like that in my kitchen, ummm, I’d probably have to move. You are a good woman.

    1. I agree you are indeed a good woman! Just reading the story gave me the creeps. I live in Georgia and there was a black snake on our porch last year and I thought I was going to die. My step-son came and got it and took away. A few days later there was a snakeskin. Had I not seen him take it away in the pillowcase, there would be a for sale sign in my yard. My front porch is all brick so he says they come for the rough surface to help them remove their skin.
      Love your blog, I recommend it to all my friends. And I love the brush soap. Getting ready to order more.

  4. What an incredible buy on the dresser! The color and look is so perfect for your home and I actually like the hardware together on it! Love the snake story.

  5. That dresser is just perfect! But yeah, the pulls aren’t quite right. I’m sure you’ll find just the thing 🙂 And the snake. Hahahaha. Well, as long as husband doesn’t mind handling the snake, he can blame the dresser.

  6. Great find..just lovely as it is…but I’m excited to see it with your touch. The snake story is a fear of mine. I have purchased many pieces of furniture from auctions…where I didn’t know where the piece had previous been…so I make it a practice to leave the piece outside for 24-48 hours to give a possible critter an opportunity to escape. Your husband is awesome for not telling you right away.

  7. I am just happy there was no picture of said snake. I may never be able to read the blog again…..hahahahaha just kidding.

  8. What a lovely piece! I can never seem to find such amazing deals. 😀 I agree there may have been something above like a hutch – maybe with glass doors? The hardware looks nice but the hand pulls seem smaller than the keyholes. Is this common?

  9. I would have died on the spot!!! Beautiful piece though!! I would have died happy after such a great and beautiful deal!!

  10. Interesting about the snake. I just had a run in with one this morning in front of our house I was putting down our Yorkie so she could take care of business. I used two long poles and picked it up like I was using chopsticks and carried it to the woods nearby. It was identified as either a corn snake or a copperhead, finally deciding it was a corn snake so am happy I didn’t kill it. I hate snakes, but couldn’t automatically assume it was an enemy. Certainly pumped up the adrenaline!

  11. that is so funny, (by the way I LOVE that piece of furniture!)
    also, I’m glad to hear it was only a 12 ” snake!!!! people in my home town I know found a fox snake coiled up under their refrigerator, (they’re usually HUGE, and another couple I know found two of them in their camper under the front console, a perfect place to mate!
    They found them after investigating what they noticed as a stench)
    I have snakes in the garden all the time/but they’re only garter snakes. harmless and I kind of like them (wayyy better than a mouse!)

  12. I actually love this story. Last summer I had a rather large snake coiled in my living room, and I couldn’t figure out how it appeared…the fire place damper (which I think was closed) or somehow thru a screen door?? I actually thought it was a hair headband lying on the floor that one of my cats was playing with…until it moved under the watchful eyes of a cat. Eeeekssss. However, I too rescued the snake from the death of my cat (or vice versa), and my cat was upset that I gave the snake another chance. But, old furniture…yes, there could be a possibility of that! Thanks!

  13. The dresser is lovely! I agree with a previous post that the pulls seem small for the dresser. It may look nice in the entry foyer. Nice find!

  14. LOVE that piece!

    Funny, you sometimes paint something and I cringe because the wood is so beautiful, On this piece I think it needs some of your masterpiece paintwork – to resell your boxwood green or even a more sagey green or black would be incredible – and I love the drawer pulls- but they do see a tad small on it. Usually I agree with almost everything you plan. Not this time, but that’s ok – I understand carting snakes and dead mice around could be confusing, haha. JK. Great chest of drawers, great price – whatever you do will awe us.

  15. Was there a dresser in this story??? All I keep seeing/ thinking about is a black snake in the kitchen! Oh hope the goose bumps go away soon! 🙁

  16. I love the legs, they are so unusual, great find. I will be looking closer to pieces i buy, i live by myself,lol!

  17. A 12″ snake is very young and good to have in the yard to control vermin. But I’m guessing the small size doesn’t correspond to the reaction of finding one in your home? 🙂 And how in the world do you find such beautiful pieces for such a small amount of money? $50????? geez. So jealous … annd weren’t you on the hunt for a larger piece (s) for a nightstand (s) ? Is this one too big? At any rate, it’s beautiful.

  18. Love the piece and would be hoping, if it were me, that it did house the snake. Otherwise I’d be wondering if the snake source still existed! I’d probably not be walking around barefoot in the house in the dark for a bit!

  19. Love this story! And I just have to say I loved the phrase “when it comes to the Parsons’ house”. Maybe I have been reading too much Jane Austen this year but I just thought it was such a cute and fitting phrase with you being
    a Parson by name, married to a Parson, Lol. Yes, I am a period geek. lol

  20. I’m can’t say I enjoyed the story, I live alone in Virginia and snakes are a fear of mine, realistic as we have all kinds, I inadvertently killed a whopper rattler while mowing brush, I’m pretty hard of hearing and with my aides out, and ear sound mufflers on with the motor revving the sucker’s rattle sounded very loud. Of course it was hamburger when I realized what was going on.
    As for the chest of drawers, I like it very much and for $50 I’m proud of your quick and great eye, kudos! It looks like elm to me but that’s a guess, as for the pulls while they seem small for balance with the drawer size, I do not see any evidence of earlier pulls having been present and there are usually telltales one can spot. It make be that who ever made it did not have quite our esthetic and just wanted to pull open the drawers and had these pulls available. The feet while interesting are more of a conundrum to me.
    Stay snake free, for my two cents the wood is pretty, not the everlasting dark wood we see, so I wouldn’t paint it, too much painting is going on with all respect as I know it’s an important part of your business, leave it alone except for refreshing the wood and enjoy the piece until you are ready to sell or trade it.

  21. OMG for 2 reasons; 1-SNAKE!!!!!! 2-You’re not going to paint this???? HMMM are you turning into a wood lover?

  22. I really love this dresser! Such a good deal! Its interesting that you mention this piece may have a top because I have a similar cabinet (top pieced together) and it has a top cabinet. I was told it is French in origin. And for the record I’m going to check any furniture that I bring home from now on!!! I mean just in case your husband is right! 😆

  23. So glad I live in New Zealand as there is NO wildlife in this country that can kill you! No snakes, bears, wolves, wild cats, poisonous spiders etc, etc. I’m sure lots of you will want to emigrate to NZ now!!

    1. Raewyn, that is such an interesting fact about New Zealand. No wonder people think of your country as a very special hidden gem!

  24. What a lovely find! After many years of collecting dark Victorian furniture I find I am increasingly drawn to these buttery lighter woods. You’ve definitely got the knack for spotting a great find on Craigslist!

    I live in Virginia on a small mountainside in a house plopped down in the woods, so finding a snake in the house is something I’ve a few times in the last 24 years and it is definitely not my favorite thing about living here. Several years ago I came downstairs in the middle of the night to take some medicine, uncharacteristicly I turned on the light. I thought I saw something moved and looked down just in time to see a snake scoot under the dresser I was using for an island. I tried calmly calling my husband to come to my rescue but he sleeps very soundly so I finally had to bang on the walls and scream, all the while keeping an eye on my unwanted late night companion! Finally, my sleeping beauty was awoken and came to my rescue, covering the intruder with a large Tupperware container before sliding a thin cutting board underneath to remove him. I’m positive I brought him home in a box from an estate sale that morning. It took me a long time to sleep again that night and weeks before I walked around in the dark at night.

    Funnily, I am taking a break from cleaning a dresser I bought out of a barn this weekend, the thought had just occurred to me as I pulled out the first drawer, ” we forgot to check for snakes”. I am happy to report I found no snakes when I opened the drawers, but it’s been sitting here in my kitchen floor for two days already so I’ll probably be up all night wondering if one has already crawled out now! And I will definitely be turning the lights on for any middle of the night walk about!

  25. WOW such a beautiful piece for only $50. I love brown furniture ! Marion, will you please read the July/August 2019 issue of “Yankee” magazine about the demise of antique dealers and brown furniture especially in New England. It is so refreshing to know there are younger people that appreciate antiques the way you do.

  26. Talk about a MAJOR score! WOOT WOOT! It is a gorgeous piece and would love you to share a pic once it has the hemp oil application; I JUST LOVE YOUR HEMP OIL!


  27. Great story and dresser find. In my house that poor dresser would forever be known as the “snake dresser” whether it deserved it or not!!

  28. Totally agree regards the key escutcheons, they look a bit busy for your style.

    I enjoy the simplicity of the plain escutcheons or the ones with that tiny edging of brass on old dressers.

    Take them off & see if you prefer it – easy enough to put them back on if you don’t. 🙂

  29. I don’t think I’ll sleep well tonight after that story!

    I have a similar-but-different snake tale. My college roommate and I both worked at a camp during the summer, and we lived in a lodge on the grounds of the camp. This was in the late 80s/early 90s. Neither of us had many possessions back then, but I lovingly carted my stereo, complete with turntable (I TOLD you it was a long time ago!) to each location where I was living. We had just returned to our college apartment and my roomie was getting ready to put a record on the turntable when she discovered a snake perfectly coiled around the circular turntable. Fortunately she kept her cool and was able to get the darn thing out of our apartment (I don’t remember how …. ). It was a garter snake, so we were in no danger, but, ewww!

  30. Love the dresser, don’t love the idea of a snake in my house! I can’t believe how calmly everyone is talking about snakes around the yards! I’m 72 years old, have lived in Michigan my whole life and never seen a snake and hope I never do!

  31. Haha! So good that Jeff found the snake and took care of it. I am not terrified of snakes, but I would not want one in my house! My boys tried to talk me into getting a pet snake and I very firmly denied that request. Said snake definitely did not come from the dresser since the removal of all the drawers previously would have flushed it out for sure. =). But this is a good story!

  32. I found a similar size snake in my 2nd floor bedroom in my first house I owned. I was single then and it was 11:00 at night. I.DON’T.DO.SNAKES. What does a a mature adult woman do in such a case? Call Dad! At 11pm. In my case I blame the basket of laundry I brought in from the clothesline.

  33. I hate snakes! I grew up in Southern New Mexico. In the fifties my parents bought a new house on the edge of town. Behind the house was huge arroyo, canal and the desert was our playground. Daily my mother told us to watch for snakes, rattle snakes as we went off to play. As a child I had nightmares of thousands of snakes climbing over our cinder block fence, into our back yard. In the late 80’s-90’s I restored antique furniture in my garage, leaving the garage door open a foot for ventilation. I had one wall of shelves to store all of my refinishing supplies. I went out one day to work and noticed a small snake slithering over cans of varnish. I did not go back out in the garage until my husband assured me, I had scared it off, with a pair of long handled pliers.
    I love the dresser, it has that Norwegian? look, which would fit in the state you live in. Yes, oil will bring it back to life. I’m sure you will figure out what hardware would be suitable for it.

  34. I wanted to add this story, in the 2 decades of refinishing antique furniture, I did alot of work for two senior ladies that owned a huge antique shop. Meticulously scraping off layers of white paint. I asked one of the sisters why did people paint everything white? She explained to me, that during the depression, people could not afford new furniture, so they painted the old furniture white. I made perfect sense to me. Fast forward to the present, a can of chalk paint, or milk paint in hand, I have painted so many pieces of my hand me down family pieces. My husband just shakes his head and says “I can’t believe you are painting that piece, after years of stripping furniture. I think of these two ladies so often, long since passed away I’m sure. Great memories!

  35. Great looking dresser for next to nothing. What a bargain.! Glad the snake was found during the day! Can you imagine if it wasn’t and you all were sleeping? YIKES!!!
    I just bought a vintage dresser. Hmmmm, I’m thinking now my husband needs to take out the drawers and inspect things before I start refinishing it!

  36. I like the drawer pulls although they do look a bit small for the size of the chest. I’d keep them if they’re original.
    My husband is terrified of snakes, he wanted to move after he found a snakeskin in our basement. We’ll a real problem if a snake ever gets in our house. 😁

  37. What a GREAT find! Love all details of this chest. Great hardware, interesting legs, beautiful wood … a real beauty!

  38. A SNAKE IN THE HOUSE?! Sorry, I’d probably STILL be running down the street screaming my head off! Or I’d have to just move out and leave the house to the snake!

    The dresser is gorgeous. Love the pulls and the escutcheons, I’d probably just leave it as is unless I could find vintage or antique pieces that’d fit and be more cohesive as a group. She’s beautiful the way she is though.

  39. Beautiful chest, Marian! The wood is just right and wants to be itself. Craigslist is your go-to thing. I happen to love Do any of y’all have that where you live? Everything for sale or free, plus comments, questions, alerts about your neighborhood. We’ve been talking a lot about snakes this summer (Atlanta is very green and has lots of creeks and rivers). Black snakes are Good News! People love them and ask for their relocation b/c they keep varmints under control: moles, voles, rats, mice – critters that eat our perennials and are impossible to catch. The snakes’ well-fed bodies look like beaded necklaces, so this must be true! (Yes, people proudly post photos.)

    (n.b. My Mom used to blame my summer returns from college dorms for the unheard of presence of COCKROACHES in her Dutch-clean home. She would make me unpack the station wagon and leave everything in our driveway for 24 hours after it was doused with RAID Ant & Roach Killer. Ahh, the ‘70s…😱

  40. Mom sent me Dad’s old chair and it arrived with a mouse in it. The cat found it and was so happy! I think the moving van must have delivered it.

  41. Things stored in garages have things in them… LOL… but the best is when a mouse got into my sons hockey breezers (the padded shorts). It jumped out in the locker room and a dozen middle school boys came out screaming and running… too good…
    and speaking of “too good” HOW? How in the world do you find such good deals? Luck is definitely on your side! I never see such things on craigslist (or anywhere for that matter).
    Cheers – Kelly

  42. Last year a bat got into our house. Very exciting! Poor thing was so scared. Only the second time in forty-three years and both times easy to get it back outdoors into the night. Just a reminder that we live in an old farmhouse that still has surprises!

  43. I’m a lover of wood finishes on especially nice pieces such as your newest addition. But I also love the milk paint finishes on furniture that has seen better days. I really love your artistry. In everything you do.

    I moved into a 100 yo farm house in the hills of NW Illinois. Very rustic but I’m working on fixing it up. Since my only neighbors are fields of cows and corn, I have many tiny livestock trying to join me in my home. Mice are a constant battle in the colder months. The first Christmas I found a black and white snake in the basement. I live alone and didn’t know a soul here so I took a few pictures and turned to google. Couldn’t figure out what it was. I asked around town if anyone could help me and found a handy man who was very excited to help me out. Seems his little daughter loves snakes. He put it in a bucket and took it home. Didn’t even charge me! He said Merry Christmas! Gotta love living in a small town. I still keep finding shedded snake skins in the basement so I have just accepted that it’s a fact of life in the country. I think it was a rat or milk snake. Just wish they were big enough to take care of the mice!

    Very interesting about how the critters can come in the house via antiques. Never occurred to me. Will definitely do things differently in the future. Thanks for sharing!

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