It started with a text message.
My sister sent me this text one night in August. I had just gotten home from work and once I saw this I immediately called her for more information. After grilling her about it, confirming it was in fact an actual card catalog, and asking exactly where on the street it was, Zac and I hopped in the truck to go take a look for ourselves.
We located it at the end of her neighbor’s driveway. It was a little rough looking but I figured if I couldn’t save it, all I wasted was an evening hauling around an old free piece of furniture. The owner came out to tell us a little about it, help us disassemble it, and load it up.
I cleaned it off, removed the hardware and then it sat in the garage for about a month while I waited for a free weekend to start my new project.
My free weekend came and I started sanding with a detail sander which was a huge mistake. Three hours in and I was covered in sawdust with little progress to show for my effort. After doing some research, I figured out I needed a different sander. Turns out a lot of other people also felt the sudden urge to sand something lately because it was slim pickings in the tools department when we got to Home Depot. I picked out an orbital sander, headed home and got to work.
Three hours later I was DONE sanding the entire card catalog. Way faster and easier when you have the right tools. All twelve drawers and six sections were down to bare wood. I knew I wanted to stain it, so I evaluated my options.
For some reason, every section was a different wood tone. Almost as if it was pieced together from several different units. That meant light stain or just a poly was out. I don’t have any dark wood tones in my house and I wasn’t about to start now, so I chose a black wood stain.
I brushed on a thick coat of stain, let it sit for longer than the recommended amount of time, wiped off the excess and then…ugh. No matter how much black stain I applied, some of the wood was still showing through making the card catalog look like I was going for an espresso toned wood finish. Definitely not what I was going for so time for plan B.
Say hello to my little friend, spray paint. I sprayed on two beautifully even coats of this flat black enamel and we were in back in business! Also, who ever invented this spray paint trigger handle is a genius. It’s the best- especially when you’re spraying something large scale like this furniture piece.
While the cabinet dried, I cleaned up the brass hardware. Did you know that ketchup cleans brass? It’s for real; thanks Google.
I put it all back together and stepped back to take a look. SO good, right?! I literally cannot believe that this was free! (After the new sander, failed stain and spray paint it ended up being more like $75 – but still!)
Side note – I have looked for years online and at antique malls for a vintage card catalog for our house. I love their character and all their little drawers. We have never found one that was this big, or in this great of condition for a price we could afford. To find one like this, a couple neighborhoods away, hanging out at the end of someone’s driveway, truly blows my mind.
I found it a new home in the middle of our living room so that I can stare at it everyday. It meant rearranging the entire living room and front entry, but in the words of Tim Gunn, “make it work”. And for a piece this special, you better believe I did.
Thanks for reading,