Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The piece that started it all--Great Grandpa's Chifferobe

I am a lover of antiques. Always have been. That's part of the reason for the name of this blog. You just never know what you might find between the rafters in the attic of an old house. And all of the history. Oh, don't even get me started on the history! Anyway, on to today's piece. How I do wish I had had the forethought to take a before picture all those years ago. It was in deplorable shape! Had it not had sentimental value I might not have taken on the challenge.

See, my dad bought this for me as a birthday and Christmas gift many years ago. It belonged to my great-grandpa. It dates to the 1920's or 1930's. It was a pine color, just lovely. Even then I wanted antiques and not toys! It stayed in my bedroom at my dad's house for years. Well, eventually, I all but stopped visiting on the weekends so it just languished in the corner of an unused room. A leaky roof, a broken mirror, many years and two younger half siblings later, I rescued it. I didn't have anywhere to keep it at my mom's house but I knew I had to reclaim it then or who knows what might happen to it. Since I don't have a before picture let me describe it's condition to you. The large mirror had been broken and removed, The right side of the piece (large mirror side) and the back were warped and swollen from water damage. The bottom had come off from the weight of the clothes my dad piled in it, plus it was rotting from water damage. It wouldn't sit level on the ground anymore. It was horrible. I was devastated, but I was determined I could restore it to it's former beauty.

The chifferobe sat in my Mom's basement for a few more years before I finally decided to tackle the project. Replacing the bottom and the back were relatively easy (I have a handy step-father). The side was more difficult but we were able to find a piece of wood thin enough to fit in the notched space left by the old panel. I wasn't overly concerned with the new wood matching what was already there because I knew going in that I would have to refinish it. Once the chifferobe was structurally sound I set about sanding it. I sanded all of the old finish off (quite the time consuming job let me tell you) and restained it a very dark brown color. I kept the original hardware and had a new mirror cut to fit in the space of the broken one.

It's not a perfect job. There are flaws and I now realize I probably should have put wax or polyurethane on it after I restained it. But at the time I didn't know such things even existed! I was young, I plead ignorance. Besides the flaws I see a piece that very likely would have ended up in the trash bin had I not saved it. Even my mom told me it wasn't worth the effort. But oh how glad I am that I did! Now great-grandpa's chifferobe sits in the corner of my bedroom and every time I look at it I still feel that same sense of accomplishment.  Here she is in all her glory:


  1. This is so lovely! Congrats on a great rescue!

  2. OMG! I have the same piece! It was my grandmother's. She was born in the late 1800's. I don't know how long she had it but it's at least 90yrs old!