I wish I had a nickel for every time I've wandered around a secondhand furniture market trying to decide on the perfect piece to bring home and refinish. I'd be set for life, sipping fruity cocktails with little umbrellas in the Caribbean. But those dreamy nickels are real, and truth be told I know there's a lot more than a nickel to be had in refinishing each one of those pieces. It's trying to pick the perfect one that can get tricky.
Over the years I've learned firsthand that taking on a furniture piece that presents problems later on in the workshop can derail a project quickly. So in an effort to avoid derailment, I've created a mental checklist for determining whether a piece is qualified to become a DDH Design original.
Is the wood worth refinishing?
Inspect the type of wood you're going to be working with. Older pieces that may have been weathered or exposed to the elements may have hidden rot, or worse yet, original stains that allow oils to creep out during painting, creating a blotchy, un-wanted mess. And if you're going to be re-staining instead of painting, be sure to identify the type of wood the piece is made from. It will determine the type of stain and finish you use.
How bad is the structural damage?
I have the luxury of an in-house "craftsman" at DDH Design, also known as my husband. Every piece I bring back to the shop is thoroughly and annoyingly inspected for structural damage. When you buy salvaged furniture at deep discounts, chances are they're in rough shape. To truly bring a piece back to life, you'll probably need to tackle some minor structural repairs—stabilizing table legs, installing new support braces, etc. So the main thing to remember when choosing a piece to refinish is to make sure it's not beyond repair.
To save the husband time and make my job easier, I always check to make sure the bracing around legs, shelving on brackets and other structures aren't cracked or broken. Loose stuff can easily be re-secured, but if something is straight-up broken, consider the additional costs in having to replace pieces or rebuild parts as well as the additional time and resources that can go into that type of rehab.
What does the architecture offer?
I'm really into mirrors and frames right now. And what sets DDH stuff apart is the architecture and character of the pieces. Mirrors can be deceivingly ugly sitting on the floor of a thrift or antique shop. Keep your imagination open and visualize what it will look like with a complete facelift.
Will it work with my existing home design?
Every girl has her style. Your home is made up of little pieces of yourself and your decor reflects that! Make sure that the period style and accents fit with the look you've already created at home. How will this look in my living room? Will it fit in the space I have in mind? Am I in for a style-clash or is this the perfect piece to complete my space?
Once the prospective item has passed your Quality Test, the only other thing to figure out is whether or not it will fit in your truck.