Hi there! How’s your week been? I’ve been working on a project that I think some of you are going to love–it’s all about 50 things that I KNOW will sell at antique booths. I can’t wait to finish it and get it into the hands of all my vintage and antique sellers.
But meanwhile, I’m excited to share today’s post: how to decorate an upcycled antique drawer in a way that tells a story. It’s part of a monthly series I participate in with fellow Thrifty Chick bloggers that is always based on a theme. This month’s is drawers.
You’ll find links to the other blog posts at the end of this one–I hope you’ll take some time to visit each one. Other Thrifty Chick posts of mine you might enjoy include: a junk angel for the garden, a farmhouse style Spring wreath, and a farmhouse sign from an old chair seat.
The Antique Drawer Before
After learning this month’s challenge was drawers, I began rummaging around my garage and workroom, looking for just the right piece, and I found it!
I picked up this workbench drawer at a garage sale SO long ago. It’s been sitting in my work room waiting for inspiration to strike. And it finally did.
I don’t have a “magic makeover” project for today because my drawer happened to come from an old workbench and contained built in “separators,” making it the perfect piece to turn into a small shelf.
But I do have some tips for cleaning grimy surfaces and some ideas on how to tell a bit of a story by filling the shelf with small family heirlooms.
Cleaning the Antique Drawer
On the left you can see how filthy the drawer was. I keep a small brush on hand to get into small-ish places and nooks and crannies. On the right you see how much better it looks after I finished brushing it out.
Next I wiped the entire surface with a wet rag, and then let it dry (center photo). On the right you get an idea of how a little wax can literally transform a piece, making it look healthy and rejuvenated. It really came back to life with the wax.
I used a wood salve (wax) product that I make myself, which you can read more about here. After letting the wax soak in, I removed any excess with a clean, lint-free rag and then buffed it until it was smooth and dry.
Because my shelf is relatively small and its “cubbies” even smaller, I searched for vintage pieces on the smaller side. This American Thread Co. spool was my first find.
I use it a lot in photographs because I just love the star graphic. This is the piece that gave me the idea to tell a story with the main thread (pun intended!) related to sewing.
The spool came from a sewing box I inherited from my dear grandmother. She raised three boys, including my father, so I suspect she had numerous rips and tears to repair for many years. With my son, it seemed like every day he came home from Kindergarten and 1st grade with another hole in his knee 🙂
My great grandmother Estella died when I was just five, but I have strong memories of sitting on her lap with a button tin on my lap as we sewed buttons one-by-one onto her sweater.
She would remove them when we were done so we could sew more on another day. The buttons in this cubby came from that tin.
More treasures from my grandmother’s sewing box: a tomato pin cushion and brass thimble. I remember her wearing the thimble one summer as she replaced a button that had fallen off one of my tops.
My mother, also an avid seamstress, made matching jumpers for herself, my sister, and me one Easter. We were quite the sensation.
Not too long ago, my sweet daughter and I began to make some sewing memories together. She is a huge Comic Con enthusiast, which means she regularly puts together costumes for various characterizations.
Sometimes this involves sewing, and so we do that together. She’s learning from me as I learned from the loving and generous women who taught me.
This empty spool with beautiful graphics and thimble are recent estate sale finds, unrelated to my family, so I guess they are my additions to this “story.”
And lastly, another spool, picked up with the one above, but the skeleton key (notice the heart-shaped top) I discovered in a piece of furniture I inherited from my grandmother. It was a special little surprise.
To complete the vignette, I placed a couple of larger spools on one side of the shelf and a rattan-wrapped bottle on the other.
All the wood, along with the pleasing textures of the bottle, nest, and twine combine to create an evocative scene. Or at least I hope they do(!).
Along with this collection of sewing notions, I own three quilts–prized possessions–one made by each my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. How blessed am I to possess such beautiful artifacts from the precious women in my life?
And that’s the beauty of treasured antiques, whether they are inherited or found, they elicit a feeling or memory that helps keep the ones we love alive in our hearts, even after they are gone. And as Martha would say, “That’s a good thing.”