Refinishing furniture is hard work but also so rewarding. Taking a piece from so so to beautiful is what we try to do. Sometimes we find pieces that aren’t just so so – they are unloved. When we find the unloved pieces-pieces that don’t just need paint but work to bring them back to life, it’s almost like you can hear them sob at being rescued. We rarely make much profit on unloved pieces because they require so much work and time but they are by far my favorites.

Yesterday Tracyne and I set out to look at several items in two different neighboring towns, that had been posted on line. The first piece was housed in a cramped side porch so full of furniture and so lacking in light that it was hard to really get a visual. The ad stated solid wood (it wasn’t) and in good condition (it wasn’t). Sadly this piece was beyond my scope for repairs and we had to leave it behind. We drove 20 minutes to only come away empty handed.

After a quick stop for soda, a potty break and a thorough hand scrubbing at a nearby Subway -we were back in the truck heading to our next pick. GPS directed us to the cutest little brick house and a beautiful piece of land. An elderly lady tentatively came out the front door as we turned off the truck.

“Hello, are you Barbara? I’m Aimee, I’m here to see the dresser.” I said.

She shook her head and I realized we were at the wrong house. I apologized for bothering her (and maybe frightening her a little) but as we turned to get back into the truck she said “You’re probably looking for Barbara XYZ just down the road. Take your first left and then she’s the first house in. Whatcha girls doing driving around looking for furniture?”

And so we told her our story about decorating and the booth and specifically looking for a dresser for a clients bedroom. Tracyne and I’ve never met a stranger and apparently this lady was our kin in that regard.

“Do you have any need for a King Mattress set?” she asked “Its free and barely used. Thought it had a sag but turned out we had the box spring upside down. Didn’t know until the new set was delivered and it was too late then. Just want it to go to someone who needs it and y’all seem like the kinda folk that might know someone”

And know someone we did. A single mother of one who was squeaking by and sleeping on a passed down 21 year old sagging mattress.

We told her we would take the mattress but we would need to see Barbara about the dresser first and if that worked out, we’d have to come back for the mattress after lunch. We exchanged names (her name was Mrs Elizabeth) and headed down the road.

Barbara had a pretty, long dresser that might work for our client but could also work in our booth. It wasn’t solid wood (drawers were ply) so we explained our concerns and came to an agreement on price. While Barbara’s brother and I moved the dresser from the shed to the back of the pick up, Tracyne was called into the house for some decorating questions concerning a cotton arrangement. We also left a business card behind for future decorating needs.

Once the dresser was loaded and Tracyne was done fluffing Cotton (I’m not at all bitter about the distribution of duties here – it was my dresser after all. Ok, I might have been a little bit bitter). We headed to an appointment and then dropped said dresser off to my work space with the help of my 16 year old. Add heavy lifting to the list of things that go into refinishing furniture. With each step I took, carrying my end of that dresser, it gained 10lbs in my mind! I’m going to go ahead and say it weighs 10 tons!

After a quick bite to eat and some work on our Facebook and Instagram pages we headed back out to Mrs. Elizabeth’s house for the mattress. Mrs Elizabeth had a tote of goodies waiting for us. Antique plates and vases, a 1000 piece puzzle for the grandkids and an offer of Dr Pepper cake and some sweet tea which we had to decline due to time constraints. I’m a tiny bit bitter about the time constraints too because I love me some Dr Pepper cake!

It took us a minute to get the King mattress and box springs situated in the short truck bed and we weren’t 100% confident in our methods. Off we went – loaded with treasures and a precariously loaded King size mattress. You see where this is going don’t you?

Not five miles down the road that mattress took flight and landed smack dab in the middle of the two lane highway and one of the box springs decided to follow suit! Well, crap on a cracker!

I somehow was able to drag the mattress off to the side while Tracyne moved the truck safely to the shoulder (Thank goodness Mrs Elizabeth and her husband had thoughtfully repackaged the box springs and mattress in the plastic sheeting that came off the new set that they had just purchased). I had just placed the box spring in the back bed (flat this time) when not one but two kind gentlemen pulled over to help us. Say what you want about the South y’all but that two gentlemen stopped to help us didn’t surprise either of us. They kindly loaded the mattress and tied it down again with precision and efficiency – all the while teaching us how to do it properly next time. Thank you kind sirs!

30 minutes later we were unlatching the tie downs and storing the mattress in my garage until it can be delivered to its new owner.

So at the end of the day we drove countless miles looking for furniture. Left a sad piece behind that’ll probably haunt me, purchased a new piece and perhaps gained a future client, acquired a free new mattress for a young mother in need and met Mrs. Elizabeth and her husband by accident -turning a stranger into a friend that we’ll see another day when we have time to sit a spell and share a piece of her Dr Pepper cake. We survived a suicidal mattress, had our faith in fellow humans reaffirmed and received a lesson on properly tieing down furniture with straps.

If you visit Cotton and Clay and happen to wonder the history of a piece – know that it could have been acquired in much the same way as this dresser was acquired. One or both of us may have traveled a distance to find it, we may have moved it at least three times before you see it. We probably made some type of repair before spending days painting it just so. It may have been found on a trip that also allowed us to help a young mother in need and we almost certainly passed up a piece of Dr Pepper cake to bring it to you.