Restoring Woodwork.JPG

There is a job I have been putting off for a very long time. I think I keep pushing this job to the back burner because it seems like it will never be finished. I should probably give you a little background on what I am talking about.

Waaaaaay back, when we started redoing the house we are now living in we knew we wanted to find some really neat old woodwork. The kind of woodwork that was wide, substantial and whispered of talented craftsmen of days gone by.  The kind of craftsmen who took pride in their work.

We found old houses, long abandoned and spoke with their owners. We spent days, and more days that added up to what is probably weeks taking out everything from trim, wainscoting, wood flooring, doors,railing spindles to beaded ceilings.  Everything went into the barn till we were ready to work with it.

Over the years, whenever the mood comes over me, or we are hosting a large holiday gathering such as this Thanksgiving; my husband journeys out to the barn and brings me some more trim to work on. I have no idea when this project, called our home, will be finished.  At the rate I am going it will be a long time!

The trim we are using on our main floor is a  mission style and came from a local high school that was demolished. The trim is wide and is made of beautiful oak boards that were stained black walnut and are true to size (definitely old woodwork).

These boards have been laying in the barn for quite a long time. When my husband hauls them out they are filthy!  In the summer our barn is home to a flock of barn swallows who have nests everywhere. I love the barn swallows as they consume a ton of mosquitos; but their bathroom habits in the barn leave a lot to be desired. Needless to say the boards need a lot of cleaning up before I can actually get to staining, sanding and varnishing.

I have spent some time the last two afternoons working on baseboards. It is a lot of work but the end result is always worth it. The wood goes from dusty and dirty to smooth and gleaming. The boards proudly display the beautiful grain of the wood.

It is always a little amazing to me when I put the stain on the wood. You would think since it is all the same type of wood (oak),  the stain would all “take” the same. It doesn’t. Some areas of the wood stain darker than others. The nails holes, scratches that would not sand out, places gouged by students long since graduated……..some would say flaws….become more pronounced because of the stain. Each piece is so unique.

To me those “flaws” add so much character to the trim in my home. They speak of real people who have impacted my trim boards. I think that our lives are a lot like those boards. We are impacted by those around us in ways we don’t always even realize.

Some of those around us, leave us hurting, scarred and scuffed.  We think we will never get over those hurts. Others are like the sandpaper that softens the edges of those same hurts and gouges.  They can’t always remove the gouge or scratch but they can help get rid of the slivery rough edges.

I am so grateful that God places people in our lives that can be grace like sandpaper. It is not always a comfortable thing but the end result is well worth it.  Like beautiful pieces of trim we are sanded smooth, healed with the varnish of God’s love and the people He sends. We are, once again, restored into something of beauty.

The nail holes may still be evident…. there may be scratches left from a life lived fully, and there may even be gouges that speak of events and circumstances in our lives that were painful at the time. I like to think those same “flaws” testify to hope, to love and to grace and that the imperfections make for a restored life that is even more beautiful.

There is a lot to be learned when refinishing old woodwork. While the job can be tedious….I am glad for the life lessons.

“God can turn your biggest flaws into your biggest cause.”
Mandy Hale,
The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass






35 thoughts on “Restoration

  1. kindergartenknowledge says:

    Of all your amazing posts, this one has to be the best…maybe it is because I like to think of old pieces of wood or pieces of furniture. I imagine what the people were like who also touched these items. Were they happy? Were they resourceful? Were they faithful? Every board and every piece of furniture has a story to tell. Your boards are absolutely beautiful. As you finish the boards, you are honoring all of those people…and building a legacy for your children. I love that idea!

    Liked by 3 people

    • thechickengrandma says:

      I love that same fact! I sometimes wonder what happened to those students who scratched into the wood.
      In our upstairs every bedroom has different woodwork that came from different houses. The history is wonderful. I have it written down where each type came from. I am hoping to put a scrapbook together with photos and that information.

      Liked by 2 people

      • kindergartenknowledge says:

        A scrapbook is such a good idea. You are a true historian to have written down where everything came from. I will show the pictures of the boards to Mike…he will be so fascinated. Collecting items from old buildings would be his idea of a very fun time! I have two old wooden school desks that are just about my favorite pieces of furniture. Honestly…the only new items that we have bought for our house are a sofa and loveseat for our living room (a long time ago) plus a red leather chair in our den. The red chair doesn’t really match anything in particular. It was at a Dillard’s outlet store and I desperately needed it! Otherwise, everything else is either from my parent’s house or estate sales or consignment stores. At the farm, two or three years ago we bought a new table with a lazy susan in the middle and tall chairs. Plus last year we bought a leather sofa and matching chair for the den. That is all that is new at that house! Our friends were totally shocked that we bought something new!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Shattered in Him says:

    I love old wood and have always dreamed of building my dream house in the country with old wood. My husband and I were out in the country looking at his deceased grandparents abandoned house and wondering if there was any hope for it and what it might take to bring it to life again, flaws and all. I love this post!! This was so heartwarming.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. thecobweboriumemporium says:

    What a BEAUTIFUL post!
    I love learning about you and your home, and how Mr. Chicken and yourself breathe new life into things which others would over-look and discard. (I do that too – coffee tables, dining tables, bits of old wood, scaffolding boards make the most incredible shelves and look amazing when cleaned up, rubbed down, stained and waxed).

    Then, towards the end of your post you show us how we aren’t ever discarded. We may be worn, scuffed, and even have great scars or gouges, but we are still beautiful. And, like you say, sometimes we have people in our lives who are like sandpaper, and it is they who can make our beauty show up again.

    Life can be the wear and tear of our everyday lives, but those days of wear and tear will have (hopefully) taught us lessons which we can later draw on. Sometimes for our own life, and sometimes in the lives of others.

    I love this post Chicken. Thank you for the lesson, and the peep into ‘you’.
    Sending love ~ Cobs. x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bcparkison says:

    Beautifully said. I love “old” houses and always wonder what went on between the walls. We moved our house 20 yrs. ago from the little town of Madden to my family property. Cut in half and put back together …still work that needs to be done but now with just me it may never really get finished the way I “saw” it in my mind. But it is home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thechickengrandma says:

      Our oldest son was our biggest motivator to getting our home done. He got married 11 years ago and then moved 4 hours away……the renovations take a lot longer without youth and expertise to push them along.
      I do know it feels like home and that is good enough for me. I love hearing about your moved home. Our neighbors just did the same thing two months ago and it has been fun watching the progress on their home.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A Nenes Life says:

    Very thought provoking post. I was just thinking of someone who is…oh let’s say…a little rough around the edges. I often wonder what made this person become so gruff in their daily life and always know that is has something to do with how they were treated by someone else. People aren’t born surly, they learn how to be. So I try to have more patience with this person than others would. I guess you would call me the sandpaper because this person softens a bit whenever around me now.
    I do love how you describe your home and incorporate different items in different rooms. The fact that you are keeping a scrapbook of it all is a great idea and something I wouldn’t have thought of and I’ll bet the many people will appreciate all the hardwork, dedication and love you’ve put into your home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thechickengrandma says:

      I got the scrapbook idea from my daughter-in-law. They are in a constant state of renovation also.
      People do respond, eventually, to sanding with love. I am glad the person you know is beginning to soften.
      I love the variety in my home. Every upstairs bedroom has different woodwork from different homes we have salvaged. This may be why my brother-in-law refers to them as the east wing, south wing and north wing LOL


      • PaperPuff says:

        Your comment made me pause for a minute because the line break came after ‘Murphys’. As I am a Murphy I had a bit of a double-take!! Haven’t heard of it though, so yes, lets add it to the Walnut Whip pile….

        Liked by 1 person

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