How to Restore an Antique Table (named Oscar)

There Is a Story Behind Old and Vintage Items

It is difficult to say when our love for thrifting began; it probably started when we were young. Mother would drag us to the thrift shop looking for her treasures -junk, as we NOT so lovingly called it. Surely, what had started with Mother’s coercion soon turned to interest as we perused the large room full of trinkets, gizmos, and gadgets. How could one not be, at least, curious? Perhaps, it was a feigned disdain because truth be told, we always loved to look. We were even more excited when we could afford to purchase a few of the “treasures” we would find.

Today, our society is enveloped in fast fashion, furniture, and decor. For decades, we waited for the next “big thing” from the latest influencer.

We had forgotten the importance of history and legacy -and we had tossed aside the “old” for the new.

History has a way of tugging at our heartstrings as it is intricately tied to our memories. Often, it is difficult to separate the two. A perfect example is when we visit our brother, who now resides on the family farm. Those trips back “home” transport us back decades, to when we were young and would “go to grandma and grandpa’s farm.” I remember the china cabinet, the well-worn furniture, their sparse but eclectic art that hung among portraits of family and friends, and of course, grandma’s mismatched and well-used dishes. Every piece was born of need, yet there was beauty in their use.

Today, when we thrift, we cannot help but hold reverence for the history of each item. More than once, we have softly said, “This used to be someone else’s beautiful china.” or, “This candlestick once provided much-needed light for passage in darkened corridors.”

That history should hold sway over us.

In a society with so much material waste, is it possible to appreciate history?

That is where stories and examples may be important. Maybe through stories, it is easier to connect “junk” to the importance of our history and legacy, and that of our parents and grandparents.

The Story of Oscar

Meet Oscar, “he” has traveled many miles, but “he” has had few owners. Oscar was once my paternal grandfather’s table (the original Oscar) where I imagine many family dinners took place. In my mind’s eye, I see my grandmother in her small kitchen, stoking her firebox to life to boil potatoes and meat. Her hands were adept as she peeled the potatoes, one by one, and placed them in a kettle to boil. She would be in her cotton dress, wearing an apron, and her hair coifed. She would have the table (Oscar) set with a plate, knife, fork and spoon, and a cotton napkin at the side.

Our grandpa (the original Oscar) would appear from a hard day’s work, with my dad and uncle in tow, and be ready for a hard-earned meal. They would sit in both solitude and conversation, enjoying their time together. I imagine the table served them well until it could no longer hold their burgeoning family.

Somewhere through the years, after it had lost its intended utility, it was made into a coffee table. Most likely, at the request of our mother, as “Oscar” had by then passed to our dad. Eventually, Oscar would pass to Carla and finally, to Roxy. Once there, she carefully and painstakingly stripped, sanded, and stained “him” back to life -in the bold black stain (below). She also gave him back his wheels, which had long been lost.

Then, came his name, Oscar.

Roxy has a way of naming her special furniture pieces and thus, Oscar is now handsome while being rich with history. What do you think? Do you have favorite pieces that you have named? Perhaps, you have established “new” family heirlooms, or items that you have picked up at auctions or thrift shops that may now become a legacy in your own family. We hope that by sharing our own stories and homes you find inspiration in piecing together vintage items in your own homes.

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