A couple months a go I found the skeeviest, stickiest, ricketiest cart imaginable at the thrift store for $5. Still haunted by a beautiful brass and glass cart that got away during my early days of thrifting, I snatched it up before any other lunatic could get her hands on its faux-everything awesomeness.
I quickly went to work scrubbing it down. Before long, I'd spray painted the wheel covers, the trim, and the cool woven sides a subtle gold. Gorgeous!
Next, I applied two coats of chalk paint in a creamy white to the shelves and the sides. All was right in the world until I woke up the next morning to this on both sides:
Ugh. Yes, I knew there was sticky residue there. Yes, I know I should have cleaned it off with something stronger than Dawn, but hello, if that stuff gets grunge off of a duck's feathers in an oil slick, I thought it was adequate for this situation.
It seems like a previous owner must have applied contact paper to the particle board sides at some point. After pulling it off and finding the sticky sides were collecting all manner of dust, debris, flora and fauna, the owner likely pitched it on the donation pile.
The paint was so peel-y I'm sure it would come off easily. A little sanding? No big deal. I probably could have done it with my fingernails. Except I was SO OVER IT by this point. Every time I sat down to watch HGTV and its numerous home makeovers involving glass tile, "open concept living spaces" and "man caves," the bar cart taunted me, nearly blocking the path of my remote.
Contact paper? I mean, who does that?
Oh yeah. My mom.
I know I've told you the story of how no sooner had our brand new white fridge been delivered in the mid-80's, than my mother covered it with a faux bamboo contact paper. A year or two later she "updated" it with a wooden plank contact paper design. VERY realistic.
Mom knew that she just couldn't look at that bright white fridge surrounded by our lovely dark brown (!) appliances ONE. MORE. MINUTE. She was a take-charge kind of person who didn't over think things. Case in point, which you may recall: When she wanted to paint the wainscoting in our dining room late one night, and she had no one to help her move the china cabinet, she just painted around it. It stayed that way for 10 years, and no one suspected a thing.
She wanted it done.
She got it done.
And it was good enough.
A sweet teen aged girl came to stay with us for the month of June. Every few days she'd ask me about the cart as it sat in peeling glory on a piece of cardboard in the family room. When was I going to finish it? What were my plans for it? I had no real plans unless it involved the woodpile.
Finally, I rolled its chipping butt into the laundry room and tried to forget about it.
I mean, what did I need with a "bar cart" anyway? Unless you were in Key West with me for spring break 1991, you've mostly likely never seen me consume a mixed drink. So if drinking is not really a big part of my life, why was I so eager to have a little drinks station set up in my living room?
Was it my obsession with Mad Men? But by last (ugh) season, Don Draper/Dick Whitman's drinking has surely not been something to be celebrated or emulated.
Was it my dear departed mother's Waterford decanters, packed away for decades in basement after basement as we've moved houses? It's not as if they ever had liquor in them anyway. I grew up in a dry household, so my mom (yes, she of contact paper fame) filled the decanters with food coloring to make them look extra k-lassy.
I was close to throwing the cart back in my car and re-donating it (no shame in that, right?) when I got together with our teenage friend this past week. I hadn't seen her since the end of June. "So, how's the bar cart coming along?"
Oh geez. I'm in a funk. I don't feel like sanding or painting. It's already so shoddy that I'd never be able to sell it. It reeks of my failure and shame.
I wanted to have a better answer the next time she inquired about the cart, so I asked myself, "What Would Margaret Whiston do?" Then I drove to Home Depot and inquired as to where they kept the contact paper. I had three choices: Faux Granite in light peach, floral with grapes (!!!), or textured black "leather." I went with the black.
Last night I slapped that stuff up right on top of the peeling paint, bumps and all. I kind of like it, and I kind of hate it.
Tonight, my empty decanters have a place to sit. I also put my mom's brass turtle ash tray there, as a nod to the woman who taught me that sometimes good enough is good enough. At least for a while.
I think that's a mighty good life lesson.
Get 'er done.