My grandmother had a vanity with an attached mirror and a little stool. It was well made of indeterminate solid wood, finished in dark to medium brown, with tongue and groove drawers and a bit of spooling detail down the front.  I inherited the vanity 23 years ago.  It was well over 60 years old, and not in perfect condition. I thought of turning it into a very traditional vanity with a cloth skirt, glass top etc. which would have worked well in our previous home as we had the perfect spot and decor to suit, but I never got around to it.
Then we downsized, and the vanity ended up like so many of our “can’t bear to get rid of this” pieces in the basement of our cottage. This past fall I brought ‘her’ (funny how we sexify inanimate objects….my grandmother once had a car she called ‘Betsy’) home to our small upstairs hall, hoping to use her as a desk.  She was minus the mirror as I had detached it many years earlier and it now resides in our small master bath at the cottage. But the original finish of Gramma’s vanity was not doing it for me or the space.

A few of my decorator friends were painting furniture and had talked of spraying instead of painting with a brush to get a smoother finish.  Soooo back she went to the cottage, this time to the garage with a new sprayer in tow, to await her eventual transformation.  I proceeded to cover surrounding surfaces in drop cloths then went to work prepping the original finish….sanding, cleaning and priming.
When I’m working on a project, I’m sometimes all about the reveal as opposed to the process.  In this case though, I knew I had to get the spray to the perfect consistency. I’m NOT mechanically inclined…I really like doing things by hand…so I practiced…and then practiced some more.
Then I started to spray….it was awesome how the transformation was almost immediate as much of the surface was covered, albeit lightly in the new colour. I was getting excited….my grandmother, if alive, would have felt ‘discombobulated’ (her favourite word)…she would NEVER have thought, let alone attempted to tamper with a perfectly good piece of furniture.

As I was spraying layer after layer I was starting to fall in love with the colour. She was morphing from a vanity to a desk before my eyes. I was imagining this new and improved ‘desk’ in her eventual new home, with the new lamp that I had bought …accompanied by a funky chair that I hope to purchase to complete the ensemble. I kept spraying.

Now, does it really matter that the garage floor, the trailer hitch, a few hand tools and a snowmobile licence plate are all speckled in blue paint? I think not.

When I brought her home, I just knew that I couldn’t attach the original knobs. I wanted to dress her up with jewlery…so I bought Murano Glass knobs with a cobalt blue centre….they are perfect.
Here she is…..

……isn’t she pretty and much more useful now as a desk than she was hibernating in the cottage basement.

Moral to this story….do not be intimidated to transform a piece of furniture by painting or altering it’s original function.  The value of the piece is what YOU make it.


12 thoughts on “GRAMMA’S VANITY

  1. I love seeing repainted/refinished furniture, and this piece turned out beautifully! It's funny how a fresh new colour can make any piece of out-dated furniture look chic and cool. Thanks for sharing your project (and showing us a photo of her against that stunning red wall!)*Tania @

  2. Although revealing, the image above really doesn't do the space justice! The colours are so much deeper in person, the patterned wallpaper, the splashy illustration…so so rich. This space, for me is a true testament to how you've mastered mixing old and new, glossy and natural finishes. Painting the desk blue was such a supercool strategy for adding lightness to that otherwise dark hallway. It's probably my favourite space in the entire house!

  3. So so pretty! It really did transform with the paint colour and those gorgeous glass knobs. I'm sure your Grandmother would love it – so much better to use a piece rather than let it sit unused.

  4. I LOVE how you transformed your grandma's vanity into a desk šŸ™‚ The colour is beautiful, and the glass knobs are the perfect finishing touch :-)It can be hard to make a drastic change to a piece of furniture that you have a sentimental attachment to. But in the end, it's better to make the change and enjoy the piece than to keep it stored away in a garage or the basement because it doesn't work with your decor.Your grandma would be proud šŸ™‚

  5. Love the transformation and the courage it took! I have an old Singer Sewing Machine inset on a wood console that belonged to my late Grandmother (z'l) and have always wondered what to do with it (other than keeping it in the spare guest room!)! Thx for the inspiration, Maureen! Best regards,Pam, OR DESIGN glassworks.

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