Once upon a time, there was a very shiny, brown, plastic-y kitchen cupboard.

Naturally, I fell in love.  Y’know, as you do when something is–ahem–shiny, brown and plastic-y.  With fake gold handles.

Did I mention that it was also $15.00 (CDN)?

That’s practically free in many parts of the world (like England, where I paid an outrageous $38.00 for a one month supply of contact lens solution in 1996 but I forgave England because her chocolate bars were so cheap and Wispa love cannot be measured in mere dollars/pounds/euros because Wispa love is forever.  Especially, when it’s a bargain.)

But I digress.   I was in love with a brown, plastic-y thing.  Said plastic being manufactured during the last decades under a variety of monikers, which shall remain nameless–except for Arborite.  Did you know that quintuplets can basically ice skate down an Arborite table surface and it will lose none of its durability or give even a hint of the real wood underneath?  That stuff is practically indestructible.  And, oh-so shiny and plastic-y with its fake wood grain.

What’s not to love?

Oh sure, there are people who go for the obvious lookers of the furniture and decor world, all gleaming teeth and hair (or as they say in furniture and decor and seemingly every single show on HGTV:  granite you-know-whats and stainless steel blah, blah, blahs.)

There’s no challenge, no thrill of the hunt, no wallflower’s revenge in that!

I tend to find the least desirable thing at the auction/flea market/thrift store/garage sale and suddenly, my heart is overwhelmed with desire for, um…shiny, brown, plastic-y-ness.

Who knew?

Practical Man, that’s who.

As soon as we entered the shop, he immediately started sidling, as if drawn by an invisible magnet or the force of my slight hyperventilation–towards the most downtrodden, bits-missing, unloved, dented, moth-eaten, fake wood grained, shiny, brown plastic-y, ugly ducklings of the lot.  He knew that it was only a matter of seconds before I honed in and it has become a race between us–to see who can leap on the most pathetic specimen of all, first.

I won, this time.  MWAH, HA, HA, HA.

This ugly duckling had pristine, original 1950s etched glass sliding doors and perhaps most important to a co-dependant, against-all-odds,  happily-ever-after gal like me:  POTENTIAL.

Tra-la-la!

Practical Man had that look on his face:  the one that said “wee-hoo, that is one ugly specimen, as usual” and then he had the look on his face that said, “and where, exactly, is she going to put that thing?!” but then, magically, his face transformed into the face that said, “well, it does appear to have lots of practical hide-y holes for useful stuff like levels and flashlights and lock washers” and then, most compellingly, he got the look on his face that said,”at least the darn thing is cheap.”

Then, he went to work with his superlative haggling skills.

I love Practical Man.

Then, not unlike Cinderella, our shiny, brown, plastic-y cupboard got some:

  • sanding (ugh) to scuff the shiny, brown plastic-y-ness,
  • priming (double ugh) to make the shiny, brown plastic-y-ness more receptive to paint and
  • painting (by which time Practical Man had swooped in to rescue me from the ughs) to hide and transform the shiny, brown, plastic-y-ness and

Voila!  Presto-Bongo!  Abra-Cadabra!  Our ugly duckling was further bejeweled with my collection of vintage Pyrex and suddenly, it turned into a vintage swan.

Finished dresser - sage green with vintage pyrex inside

Kind of a green swan and to my new friend, Disney Dancer, who I recently met in Colorado, I know that I’m mixing Disney/Hans Christian Andersen metaphors a little, but you get the idea.

Whatever the story, one thing is not in question:  Practical Man is like a real, live, fairy godmother for my shiny, brown, plastic-y cabinet.

I’m sure he’ll be thrilled.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2014.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet         You might also like my latest book.

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