{renovating backstory} how it all began

In the midst of pulling everything out of the back bedroom -- to refinish the floors and paint -- and then putting it back in, I took a good hard look at what I use as my sewing table.

This table looks innocent enough, right? But this table, friends, is the start of my love for DIY. 

Story time! :)

I grew up in a family that bought everything new. And if we couldn't afford it, we didn't buy it. Or, we saved up and bought it later. My parents are not so much lovers of second-hand goods. But, my roommates and I were losing our kitchen/dining table at the end of our junior year of college (and the roommate that owned the table ;), so we needed something for our new senior year apartment (we moved apartments each school year -- so much work, now that I think about it!). 

That summer I was living at home and had a this brilliant idea that I wanted to MAKE a table. Specifically, I wanted to TILE a table. I have no idea where this idea came from. I've always been *crafty* and used to tile frames back in the day, so maybe from there? Or maybe it was the 90s? Enough said :). Anyway, I went on a mission to find a good, inexpensive, table to tile. After all, I was on a college-student budget and had no idea if this would work. So I set out one  Saturday to hit garage sales. You guys, looking back, this is hilarious. I had NO idea what I was doing. I actually think this is the first time I ever went to a garage sale, and I had not taught myself to look past initial appearances to see the hidden potential. 

I went to a lot of garage sales that day. Eventually, I found this little table with a brown laminate top. It was hideous. The best part, though, was that it had leaves on both ends, so it opened to a long rectangle. It was a great size, which was a start. I actually left the table there (good thing it didn't sell!) and brought my mom over to look at it :). Which made two of us who didn't know what we were doing!

I ended up buying it for like, $15. Then my dad secured the table so the leaves always stayed open, and I set up shop in my parents garage. On my first solo Home Depot trip, I had a lovely conversation with an employee who explained to me how to tile. I picked out tile and proceed to break it into small pieces. Obviously. I remember having to glue all the pieces to the table, once I liked the layout, to make grouting easier. Then I grouted and painted the base and was done! It wasn't until after this was all done that we picked it up. Guys, this table is HEAVY.

The table has served me incredibly well. I was obsessed with it our senior year. It was so cute in our college apartment and I had CREATED it! Then it moved: first into my first post-college apartment and next into a house my roommates and I rented. We took a break when I moved to Boston, but were reunited when I moved into my next apartment post-Boston. Then I met Chris. Who didn't HATE the table, per se, but didn't see it as fitting in with his style at all. So we compromised and bought a table we both loved, and this little table became my sewing table. 

And so this is how it all began. I remember is being such a rush to discover I could take something ugly and make it lovely. I haven't always had a lot of room to take on projects like this, but now that I do have room, I've taken on a few (here and here, to name a couple) and have plans for so many more. 

Sadly, this table is not cutout for sewing. Waaaaay to small. While I wouldn't ever tile a piece of furniture now, I do feel very emotional toward the table -- after all we've been through a lot and it basically launched my love of renovating furniture, and now our home -- so I don't think I'll part with it anytime soon. I'm thinking it'll be an excellent little kiddo craft table. Someday.

I'd love to hear from you guys! Do you have a piece of furniture you just can't part with? Do you remember your first trip to Home Depot?? :)


  1. This is a great post--I love learning the history behind pieces of furniture :)

    I had to laugh because I remember moving every year in college too--this past year was actually the first year since 2008 that I haven't moved at least once--talk about a nightmare!

    Here's hoping we don't move again for a while!

  2. god I love stories like these. Also, since I'm new to your blog, I loved seeing that your kitchen table was a DIY project. I had admired it before and now I appreciate it even more (so cool).

    I have an ironing board that we bought cheap that I don't think I will ever get rid of, yes. It is probably going to college with me, even if it does just sit there folded up, and to my home after that.

  3. Love that that table started it all.

    Can't remember my first trip to Home Depot/Lowe's by myself but my first major project was staining and finishing a table and chairs. It is definitely my pride and joy. When John and I moved in together and we talked about what we'd do with our two sets of apartments full of furniture I told him I was not getting rid of that table. Period.

  4. Such a good story. You should definitely hang on to the table!

  5. What a great post. I have a chair that my mom gave me. U just can't seem to part with it.

  6. So many good memories at that table! And so many memories of drinking beverages resulting i n no memories. :) I cannot part with a little white stool. I have no idea where my parents got it, but it was always just for me - as I was the youngest and shortest member in the family. I remember squeezing it in at the end of the table for holiday parties and dinners and I remember learning fractions with my dad on it at the kitchen table. I remember keeping the phone on it and talking for hours as I painted my nails hot pink (there is still paint on it) and I remember helping my mom repaint it every few years. I now use it at my vanity table to put on makeup and jewelry. It's not very comfortable, but it is oh-so comforting.

  7. Oh man, what a great story!! I have a few pieces. It's best to hold onto them :) Sadly, I have a kilim rug with a backstory that makes me happy, but Ryan HATEs - I mean, HATES - the rug. Le sigh. . .

  8. That table has some serious history! =) So cool that it was the DIY project that launched 1000 projects! haha or something of the sort <3

    Hold onto it for. ev. er! =)

    Jenn @ Peas & Crayons

  9. Thanks ladies!

    Val, soooo glad you read this post :) You are very much apart of this table's memories!

  10. I love the story of your cute table, i can see you two have gone through a lot together! explains all the love :D
    and by the way im following you now, cute blog!


  11. I read this story earlier and had to come back and comment!!! Love it so much! Fantastic story!!! It made me try to think back to the first time I refinished or re-did something but I was having trouble remembering! hehe I guess that's a good thing!


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