“Tree of Life” Buffet
So why is this project named “The Tree of Life”….I don’t really know except that my eye is always drawn to pictures of barren trees with branches reaching every which way. When I look back at the pictures I took on my trip to Paris (during winter time) I realize that many of the photos I took of the Eiffel Tower from the ground, have barren winter trees in their compositions. There is something beautiful about the way the branches reach and twist and turn.
As for this buffet…it was once stunningly beautiful with a glossy cherry finish. When I purchased it at a yard sale it looked as if it had been left outside on someone’s back porch. It had gouges and pen marks all over the top, duct tape residue on the side panels, and missing trim pieces. The veneer was either missing , bubbled and split, or water damaged. I don’t often feel badly for an inanimate object, but I felt like this buffet had been abused and neglected. The phrase…”crimes against furniture” kept rolling through my head. Unfortunately, the before pictures were a casualty of my iphone upgrade. I struggled over what to do with it. I had been dying to make over a serpentine front piece…but I really had to think about restoring it because I knew it had once been a beauty. Restoration would have required all new veneer on the drawers, replicating and replacing trim, and replacing missing original hardware. Obviously a make over with paint won out!
I started out by removing all of the damaged veneer from the drawer fronts (very labor intensive), gluing lifted trim pieces, lots of sanding, and then some wood putty to patch up the gouges and splits, and then more sanding. I have never used so much Gorilla Wood Glue and wood putty in my life. I think I had every clamp we owned on that piece at some point! By this point I was questioning my sanity!! How could I possibly make this thing look beautiful again?
Well, I just decided to jump in and continue on to see what I could make of this. I knew that I wanted the drawers to be stenciled or hand painted with some sort of design, so I started by just painting them in Annie Sloan Pure White. I then decided to paint the body a color by Valspar called “La Fonda Nights”. Before dark wax, it resembled Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint color Kitchen Scale. I knew the contrast between the dark body and light drawer fronts would make for a good canvas for whatever I decided to paint on them. The top was sanded and stained with a mixture of cherry and dark walnut, and sealed with 3 coats of hemp oil.
As with many of my projects, the first attempt on the drawer fronts was a “no go”. After I stenciled them with a “morrocan” styled stencil, I posted a picture of the results on Instagram and asked for some feedback. Well…my best friend was the only one brave enough to tell me the truth…she said it looked “giraffe-ish” and I totally agreed. Back to the drawing board! After a little sanding and a fresh coat of ASCP Pure White I was ready to try again. This time a new inspiration struck…a barren tree in silhouette.
I have an account at Shuttterstock so I pulled up an image of a tree and started sketching on the drawer fronts with chalk. I drew it free hand and let it develop organically. Once I was happy with the basic drawing, I started outlining with a Oil-Based Sharpie in black. I just kept outlining and filling in until my eye was happy with the way it looked. Honestly, this took a few days because I would work on it and then look at it and decided there was a few lines or branches that needed “tweeking”. I did not sand the drawer fronts much at all because it would have ground the white chalk paint into any grooves of the black oil-based paint. After I was sure that it was “complete” I put a few coats of Fiddes Light Wax on the drawer fronts and both Fiddes Light and Rugger Brown wax on the body of it. I then had to figure out what to do about the hardware.
I had 9 of the original drawer pulls which left me with 5 that I needed to find. I went to the one place that I knew I would find some, Ken’s Olden Oddities in La Verne, California. I asked Ken if he could hook me up with 4 drawer pulls that were a close match to the one’s I already had. He was happy to, but I had to buy the “lot” of drawer pulls he had of that style. So I ended up with 7 drawer pulls and spent more on the drawer pulls than I did on the buffet at a yard sale! Oh well! I painted them an antique bronze and added 4 cut glass reproduction knobs on the small drawers (I really wanted to buy the black cut glass knobs (the real kind) that Ken had but that would have been stupid!!
It turned out better than I could have imagined, and has received quite a lot of attention. Now she just needs to find a permanent home…my garage can only hold so much. If you have a place for this beauty in your home, please contact me to purchase it. She is very heavy and will require a few people to load and unload, but I will deliver locally.
Could you give this rehabbed beauty a new home?
Thanks for stopping by!