Monday, February 13, 2012

Transforming a Family Heirloom

When my grandmother passed away, she left certain pieces of furniture to each of her grandchildren, all spelled out specifically in a letter that she and my grandfather had written years earlier as part of the will for their estate.  Bestowed upon me were my grandmother’s hope chest and a curio cabinet, filled with various items she had collected throughout the years.

From what I’ve been told, my grandparents purchased a lot of their furniture through the U.S. Army when my grandpa was in the service.  Most of their pieces were very similar – all solid wood with a dark cherry finish and all of them in impeccable condition.

The curio cabinet made the journey from my grandparents’ home to the first home my husband and I bought… then to storage until we moved into the home we built… and again to our current home.  Unfortunately, some of the original glass panels did not survive all of these journeys, which was probably a blessing in disguise as this wasn’t exactly safety glass.  (I cut my hands several times just in the process of installing/removing the glass!)  So, since we’ve moved in, the lonely curio has remained but a hollow shell, waiting to be filled again.

After walking past this piece of furniture for over a year and dreaming of ways to return its function, I finally decided to follow my instinct and… *gasp*… paint it.

I know, there I go again with the perfectly good wood.

It’s funny… I used to be so sentimental about this furniture, feeling as if I was erasing memories if I changed anything about them.  But then I read an article in, I believe, Better Homes and Gardens, about a girl who felt the same way that I did… but decided to not just admire her heirloom furniture but to add to its legacy by painting it a different color that suited her d├ęcor.

And I loved that idea… of building upon the memories already established with something that’s been handed down for generations by transforming it to fit your own generation.

And so I painted the chairs to my grandmother’s dining set, handed down from her to my mom and (by way of my big brother) then to me.

Baby steps, right?

I took a couple more baby steps this weekend and began another transformation…


(I started painting before I remembered to take “before” pictures, of course!)


From dark cherry wood-tone to Annie Sloan Paris Grey.  It’s quite a change, but I love it already.


Now don’t be alarmed… but there are no “after” pictures just yet.  I still have a few more things to do with this baby before she’s ready for a final reveal.  We’ve been a little busy around la casa with Valentine hoopla and party-planning for a soon-to-be-7 year old!

(By the way… notice the new wall color in the background??  Nice, huh?  As for that green trim… not so much.)

I digress.

So how about you?  Are you afraid to transform those family heirloom pieces like I used to be?  Or are you going out on a creative limb and giving these pieces another story to tell?


  1. I'm a chicken when it comes to this type of thing! We recently replaced everything in our living room, and I considered keeping the old stuff to paint & put somewhere else. They weren't heirloom pieces or anything, but I thought I'd at least give it a try. Then one of our students from church was having a garage sale to raise $ for a mission trip, so I just gave her all of it. Maybe one day I'll be courageous enough to paint my grandma's bedroom set that I have in the guest room! ;)

  2. I've awarded you and your amazing blog the Versatile Blogger award! I hope you can accept it - details are at

  3. I have the same fear! I have been left my mother's home (my childhood home) and a house full of 50's Early American furniture. I can't get past the thought of possibly ruining Ethan Allen furniture that is in perfect condition. I am building my courage though! Love your blog.


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