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Making Do & a How To

February 3, 2010

There is an art to making do. Some do it well, and others … well they just don’t. Some can decorate their homes to look like the pages of magazines with thrift & junk store finds, throw in a few key pieces from the want ads and accessories with curb side finds. Others, try and … well, it looks like it. I am definitely a “make do-er” and fall somewhere in the middle, leaning well toward those who look like they “make do.”

What I love is usually too expensive, and so I make do with what I have, find or can afford. Our dining room furniture is the dining room furniture my husband grew up using. It’s the set his parents purchased when they got married in the early 70s.  When it was passed on to us, honestly, I didn’t love it, it was not something I would have picked for myself. It is very 1970s, very dark wood, with only 4 ladder back chairs.

We had plans to replace it, but the money was always needed for something else, and so we made do.

Last year when the heavy paper twine used to weave the rush seats of the ladder back chairs started to break and the seats give out from nearly 40 years of use, again we went shopping. Knowing that we wouldn’t stay in this home forever, knowing we would eventually have a little more space for a table and chairs, we opted not to replace the entire set and just replace the needed chairs. I found great chairs that instantly updated the look of the table at World Market, on clearance for $90/chair. Not the bargain I typically go for, but all the other chair options I found were either $50 and would have snapped in half 3 months later, or were $150. These are solid, heavy, sturdy chairs that can withstand the everyday use they get in our house.

Earlier this year we tried giving it away, we are quickly out growing the set and were ready to start looking for something more suited to our family. So last week we listed the entire set on Craigslist … the hutch, 6 chairs and the table. We had one inquiry … and really, I don’t blame them. The picture was terrible, and the condition of the table, not so great either – would you pay $100 for this table? Neither will anyone else.

The big white spot in the center came from setting a hot pan on the table without using a sufficient hot pad. The tan marks near the end of the table came from me using my ironing mat on the table and steaming the pad to the table finish – dumb.  Add to that all the scratches, etches and dings in the top of the table, and you have yourself one very distressed family dinner table in need of some tlc.

I did a google search to see if there was any way to remove the white mark, and found a great YouTube video (I can’t find the exact one now, but there are lots out there). Turns out you can easily remove the majority of the white marks left by heat or water using a t-shirt and dry iron. See:

It took a couple of swipes with the iron, but it’s gone! Amazing. I love google and all the resources people have put out there!

As for the tan rough marks left behind by my dumb ironing project a couple years ago … I figured I didn’t have much to loose, and tackled it with a green scrubby. I would have used a fine steel wool, but I didn’t have any and this did the trick. With a lot of elbow grease I was able to improve it immensely. It’s by no means perfect, but much improved.

With no takers on the furniture, it looks like they’ll be with us a little longer.  Eventually we’ll re-purpose them … the hutch will get used in the craft room and hold all the kids craft supplies. Eventually, I hope to give it a fun coat of paint too. The table and chairs we’ll continue to use until the baby is out of her high chair. Then it will probably get moved to the basement for use as a game table for when the kids get older and have more friends over. Until then we’ll start hiding a bit of money away here and there so we can purchase my handmade Amish dream table … Or maybe we’ll make our own (LOVE this blog!!) with salvaged wood, and be very happy, making do with something perfectly suitable, easier on the budget, and more in keeping with our lifestyle.

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