Repainting Memories: Confronting Emotional Attachments To Belongings With A Paint Update

The Story of A Table

Furniture repainting, Dapoppins

This magazine table used to be in my childhood playroom. Twenty years ago. Okay, forty years ago. Once a bright a sixties-turquoise blue, I dumped crayons in the pockets, used it as a desk, and colored all over it to better reflect my shining three year old personality. The top is formica or something – it doesn't even fit the base and isn't original to the table.

The table is apart of the home of my childhood, my last piece of the little white house with kelly green shutters. As if I had taken off a door of that old house, or some wood from the molding, or one of the old metal door knobs - this table represents my childhood home as much as any house parts and pieces that require tools for removal.  

That house had two stories, picture windows with glass that rippled and an unfinished cobweb filled basement. It was hidden from the road by lines of conifer and fruit trees. Most of the yard was really just field, with nut, fruit and fir trees all around it. We had 7 and a half acres, (which always seemed like a lot) a big old barn, orchards, and a pond. My dad's horse, Blaze, grazed in the field along with a few cows.

When I was brought home from the hospital it was to this house. We were still living there in third grade when my parents decided to finalize their separation and get a divorce. They were separated sometime when I was in kindergarten but I don't remember it. There aren't any big blow-out fights or arguments stuck in my consciousness from that time. Instead I only remember my dad working in his shop. I remember sitting in front of him while we rode together on the horse, Blaze.  I remember my mom looking out the kitchen window to check on me while she did the dishes. I remember hunting for frogs in the pond, climbing on hay in the barn and scribbling all over the little magazine table. 

Even though I don't recall arguments between them there was enough stress in the marriage that one day my parents sat us down and said, “We can't live together any more.” With the divorce, my dad got the house and Mom got the family boat and custody of of us kids.

We moved out of the little house. My Dad and his new wife moved in.

When we moved out my mom left things behind that she said belonged to my dad – inherited pieces that had come down through both sides of his family: chairs, a grand dining room table and buffet, random things that were a part of my life. My new stepmother moved in and she did what any wife would do – she made the space her own. She refinished or repainted everything she came across. She reupholstered chairs and put wallpaper in the bathroom. The playroom became her room. She turned most of my previous outside play areas into flower beds and mowed lawn spaces. Eventually most of the seven acres became a well respected plant business with a beautiful show yard filled with hundreds of dollars worth of  rare plants.

My brother and I stayed at the house during winter and summer school breaks. Until we were too old to share a space my brother and I slept in our old bedroom, which had been modified into a guest/storage room when we weren't there the rest of the year. From sixteen to nineteen I stayed in that room until I got a job as a live-in nanny.

One evening my husband and I were driving past the house on our way home from somewhere. A for sale sign stood at the edge of the property. I was completely surprised. I knew there was trouble in my Dad's second marriage. I did not know things had progressed to the division of assets. I called my Dad, trying to hold back tears. Emotion overwhelmed and surprised me. He said he was sorry for not thinking to tell me, and by the way, they were selling a bunch of stuff. If I wanted anything I needed to go check it out.

The sale was in my dads “second” shop. A huge, unheated, building about the size of a four car garage that he had built mostly himself. I walked though the sale where tables had been set up with the evidence of their life together. The evening was chilly and I hadn't brought a coat or gloves. This second marriage had lasted longer than the first and room felt like a thrift store because there was so much to sell. A lot of the furniture that my mother had initially left behind was in the sale. An agency had been hired to set up and execute the process and like an estate sale everything was priced at market value, not cheap garage sale prices. The saddle that had belonged to my dad, that I used on two very adored horses and thought of as mine was priced at over $300. The grand old table, also over a hundred. I couldn't afford any of it and didn't need any of it- but seeing those things for sale to strangers was an emotional punch in the stomach.

I could only afford and find space for a couple items.

The magazine table was one of them.

For some kids divorce becomes this fixed place in time, a before point that we consciously or unconsciously spend our lives trying to revisit and set right.  The table holds more than a sentimental connection for me, it’s a direct cord to my past. It’s from that before time, when life was seemly perfect and when I understood everything.  It’s  from that place that I have been trying to recapture in one way or another for most of my life.

I bought the magazine table home not because I needed it, or thought it was particularly special.  I dragged it with me through two apartments and into my house not because it has important purpose.  I have it because it is apart of my past, apart of something lost that I can never get back.  

The off-white color that my step mother used to repaint it doesn't go with anything and holds little appeal, but it never occurred to me to bother to paint thing.  Until now.  

The Paint
As a design team member my last order from Canvas Corp Brands contained a some lovely extra goodies. They sent me some of the new Tattered Angels Decor and DIY paint.  I have never, despite my love of crafting, done any home DIY. That might surprise you- but it’s just not a challenge I had taken on.

It took me a few weeks of looking around the house to think what I might want to do. .  First I tried an unfinished wooden tray.  The paint went on smooth and easy and quite fast.  I set the tray aside, deciding to use the Decor and DIY paint as a base coat for a later multi-media project.  The smooth, flat paint will blend beautifully with other Tattered Angels products and I can’t wait to make something fun.
Furniture Repainting, Tattered Angels Decor DIY Paint, Dapoppins

However, painting the tray used hardly any paint, and got my courage up to try something bigger.

The magazine table has been in the guest bathroom since we moved here.  It’s not great in there, but for lack of having anything else, it works for holding extra hand towels and toilet paper.
I decided to paint it.  

I might need to watch a few furniture painting tutorials.  I probably should have sanded some areas smoother, painted section by section, and used a better paint brush. I've never done this before, so that’s my excuse.  Despite my kind of careless way of going about it the Tattered Angels Decor DIY paint needs no mixing and glides on to most surfaces.  It’s pretty Dapoppins proof.  

The Result

Furniture Repainting, Tattered Angels Decor DIY Paint, Dapoppins

Furniture Repainting, Tattered Angels Decor DIY Paint, Dapoppins

I picked the blue because it was opposite of the color my stepmother had painted it.  I know that is not a great reason.  Nor is buying something because you scribbled on it when you were 3.  But I had the this lovely rustic blue, and it works in the bathroom.  So much so that I re-did the white shelf above it that held a mess of bathroom items.  

Furniture Repainting, Tattered Angels Decor DIY Paint, Dapoppins

In re-painting the table, something strange happened.  It was cathartic.  Picking the color.  Spreading on the paint.  Each stroke brought me ownership of the table as an object and weakened the hold it had as a memory.  

I'm not sure if that is what always happens when one repaints an object. But when my step mother moved in - she consciously or unconsciously put her mark on everything and erased the former occupants of the house - she made it hers. She took this thing out of my playroom and made it hers but I had never bothered to make it mine again.

This designer challenge for Tattered Angels gave me a chance to do that-

And now this table has a new story.

I just made an order from Canvas Corp Brands for more Tattered Angels Decor-DIY paint. This time I am getting Scarlet. I can't wait. What do you have in your house that you might repaint? Are you like me, carting around stuff from your past - stuff that you don't "own?" I have a few more things in my home I could put my mark on - much to my husband's dismay. What can you put your mark on?

(this post contains affiliate links, sorta. I might get store credit if you buy something I link to, but I don't think it's "set-up" so then again, I might not. I share products because I love them and use them, not because I'm paid to share them.)



  1. Thank-you for sharing yourself with us Dana!
    I really love your story and totally understand how you feel about reclaiming or putting your stamp upon things! *hugs*

  2. You are a wonderful writer...and this was a wonderful story of redemption. It took a lot of courage for you to write about these painful parts of your past. Just a gorgeous post! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Lovely, heirlooms mean so much!

  4. That you for sharing your story. I love how the whole process helped you reclaim your past. The color you used on the table is so nice.

  5. what a wonderful story, written so well, and with a prize of the finished table at the end! Thank you for sharing with us this piece of your childhood turned into a piece if your journey... (Hugs)

  6. Lovely story, and I love the pretty blue of the repainting.

  7. Fabulous, Dana - reclaiming your past is such a powerful thing, and you've done it beautifully here!


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