Three years after buying my house, I’m finally getting around to some interior decorating. I’ve hung a some paintings here and there, and I have curtains in two rooms. But really, if you didn’t know better, you might think I’ve just moved in.
I’ve been meaning to paint the walls since I moved in and have been talking about it ever since. But talk is cheap. And it certainly doesn’t get paint on the walls. Now, I’m putting my money where my mouth is and am going for it. I even bought the paint.
But decorating a home is more than just slapping some paint on the walls. It’s about creating a living space that reflects the personality of the place. For some people, that means minimalism: white walls, empty shelves, streamlined furniture. For me, it means crowded book cases, sketches and water color pieces in frames that don’t match, and spruced up furniture passed down through the family.
Recently, I spent a Sunday afternoon refurbishing a couple of old chairs given to me by my dad, who also had gotten them second hand. Though they probably once sat around a dining room table with four others just like them, in my home they have always just been extra seating in the living room or office.
These chairs are very sturdy, but they’ve never been much to look at since I got them. The legs and back of the chair were stained to look like a luxurious dark cherry, but since they been schlepped around my various apartments and house over the past several years, the scuffs have revealed a wood of a different sort. And the seats had been obviously RE-upholstered with a material that looked more like a shower curtain. In my undecorated home, they were fine. But now that I’m in the process of an upgrade, they needed a change.
I decided that I would put new fabric over the seats and paint the rest black. I bought some fabric I could afford, and decided to use the rest of a can of black spray paint left over from another project. Though I am not really skilled a furniture restoration, I figured I couldn’t mess them up too badly.
I began stripping off the fabric from the seats. When I finished with the first chair, I found an amazing green striped upholstered fabric underneath in perfect condition. Little did I know that this beautiful material had been under there all this time.
After the luck with the seats, I was very excited about continuing the project. I took the chairs outside to refinish the wood. But soon, the project took a turn for the worse. As I was sanding, I realized the sandpaper I was using was too coarse and was leaving grooves all over the wood. Then, when I began spray painting, I remembered that the paint was a flat finish, and I really wanted glossy. But the real problem came as I was running out of paint I realized there were patches that I had not gotten covered completely. Apparently furniture restoration isn’t as easy as I thought.
Later, when the paint had dried and I went out to assess the damage, I had a renewed spark of hope. Through I had done three things wrong, they seemed to be working together to produce a finish I couldn’t have achieved even if I tried. What I found were trendy, distressed chairs that I would actually have paid money for. Especially after I reattached the seats, I couldn’t believe how well they turned out after all.
I marvelled at my three things wrong, no two of which could have produced the same result. But by finishing the project even while making a third mistake, I ended up with a treasure.
Now, when I look at those chairs, I see a picture of redemption in those distressed legs and surprisingly beautiful seats. Life isn’t about a single disappointment or a single success. It’s about what God can do with the sum of all our experiences, both our failures and our feats. And it’s also about moving on, even if the next thing we know to do doesn’t seem much better than what we have just finished.