Thursday, January 6, 2011

Family Furniture Gets A Facelift

I've had my grandparents old bedroom set in my bedroom since my grandmother passed away in 2005. My grandfather passed away first, on a cold December night in 2004, and my grandmother followed shortly thereafter the following July.

Now I am both sentimental and practical, and was also newly divorced, so taking their furniture made sense all around. After using is for years, one of the big pieces lost its front legs. They are bridged together by one long center piece, and one day while my (then) cleaning girls* were vacuuming, they bumped the foot of one side and, BOOM!, down it went.

The piece remained in my room, propped up with old books, and while I was unable to use the bottom drawer, the rest of them were still functional. Then I met Andrea DeMorest. I've written about her in past blog posts; she owns Savannah Hope Vintage. While shopping in her store one day, I casually mentioned the broken furniture to her, and she offered to fix it for me. It took me a few months to get my act together, unpack the drawers, and arrange to have it taken to her, but when I did, I took it a step further. I decided to have her paint it.

Paint vintage mahogany furniture. Yes, I said it.

A sticker that is inside one of the drawers.
The thing is that the bedside tables were already painted yellow, the finish was scratched, pieces were broken. It made sense to paint it. 

First, DeMorest painted and refinished a desk and chair that was part of the set. When I saw them repainted, I fell in love. The transformation was truly magical. Next was a smaller dresser (though still large), and now, she has the third piece in the set of five. Piece by piece it is being redone.

The furniture is manufactured by John Stuart Inc. and has been around my family for about 50 years. Apparently, when my grandparents purchased their red Cape Cod on Benjamin Road in Long Island back in the late 50s, they also bought the home owner's (Belle Angel's) furniture. The very furniture that is now in my bedroom.

A brass badge that is screwed into the side of one of the
drawers, marked John Stuart Inc. New York .  Grand Rapids

For the longest time, it smelled like my grandparents house, a mix of pipe smoke and femininity. After a while, the smell wore off, and I must admit that I've missed it. That smell held so much for me, I cannot explain. 

In the process of having the desks redone, I have found sheet of paper and old handwritten notes. I even found a pack of playing cards from Italy. It's been an amazing experience.

Tuesday, the second piece was delivered. Two guys named Tony and Pat delivered the furniture for me, and took away the next piece that's being worked on. They were so respectful of the furniture, and were quick and efficient. (If you ever need anything moved, call Tony 973-452-8794 and tell him I recommended him.) The piece went into my bedroom and I quickly set it up and moved my clothing back in. Now, it has a few photos on it, of W and my son, and a handful of keepsake boxes. But here's how it looked before I made it mine again... (taken with my cell phone - sorry about the quality)

Turns out, the furniture is worth much more money than anything I may have bought in the store. All the drawers are dovetailed, and the entire piece is made of real mahogany. Quality furniture like this is so hard to find nowadays, and the fact that it's been in the family for over 50 years makes it that much more special.

Savannah Hope Vintage is located at 418 Main Street in historic downtown Boonton. Telephone is 201-707-7447. I was there today and she has some incredible pieces in the shop; you should go check it out. And if you have anything you want redone, Savannah Hope Vintage is the place to go.

*I am proud to say that I no longer have cleaning girls. I do it myself!


  1. I wish I lived near her store she does incredible work! Your dresser turned out beautiful. My grandmother always told me to make things my own that way I would really treasure them and more importantly use them.

  2. It's so true. You would LOVE her. She does amazing work, and repurposes everything that can't be saved whole. She is gorgeous, and sweet, and giving, and creative. I am happy that she is the person saving my grandparents' furniture.

  3. While painting the pieces has killed their financial value, it sounds like the sentimental value will endure.

  4. Monetary value never mattered to me xox

  5. I have a desk that has the same details, legs and plaque inside the drawer. Can you send me a picture of the desk you have in this set?