Home of the Free (Stuff)

Starting in late spring, something new starts popping up in our neighborhood. On street corners and next to curbs, old recliners, entertainment centers, even sad leather couches appear, all wearing the same sign -- "Free." It happens every year.

Someday I want to photograph all this free stuff and interview the people giving it away. What's the story behind each piece? Why are they being abandoned, now? Will they ever find a good home?

Well, on a recent morning walk, I found something I couldn't pass up -- a solid wood shelf. 
Wooden shelf with art deco details
What caught my eye were the shallow shelves. I'd been looking for something to store reams of paper. This looked perfect. The cool details on the side and shelf edges told me this was something special. I returned home for my car, and then I wrestled the shelf into my trunk. (My husband was impressed that I'd managed it myself.)

The wood was nice, but I couldn't commit to the mega sanding required to re-stain it. My husband suggested the whimsical color of bright yellow, and I agreed. I still had to do a bit of sanding. Luckily, the weather cooperated.
Sanded shelf
I suppose I could have stopped here, and go with the distressed look. But I'd already bought the paint! First came the primer.
Shelf with primer
Already, I was happy with the yellow. The guy at the hardware store suggested tinting the primer with the same color I was going to use for the paint itself. He said it would make the color "pop."
I was surprised that when I went to apply the paint, it took three coats to cover all the wood. I'd hoped the primer would mean only 1 or 2 coats. I guess that's what happens when you paint dark wood (or perhaps the wood gods were angry with me for not re-staining). Finally, I was done.
Painted shelf
The yellow does pop, doesn't it? I decided to paint the art-deco detail on the side orange. I liked it so much, I added orange to other details.
shelf detail
shelf detail

I'm pretty pleased with the final result, but I think I still have lots to learn about painting wood furniture. Is this "upcycling"? Or maybe "refashioning"? I don't know, but I did give this shelf a second, more colorful life.