Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Shelf

I don't know if this qualifies as something I made, since it is a "found item." And I don't know if it qualifies as a "found item" since I had my stepfather pry it off a hearth in someone else's home with a crowbar. But it sure was a project!

old hearth shelf

This shelf came from an old house that has since been burnt to the ground. It stood on my grandfather's property in southern Illinois, on one of his fields. He had purchased the land from the Hawf family, and came to own the old house. It was in serious disrepair, and only squatters had lived there recently (or meth addicts, if you like.) The house was so old you could see through it; it had no plumbing (just an outhouse), and a potbelly stove heated the place. We went through it and salvaged what was left, then it was burned, and my mom built her new house where it stood.

I fell in love with the hearth shelf, and my stepfather pried it loose for me. He flattened the rusty nails on the back. I didn't change a thing on it. I just scrubbed it down with a bucket of soapy water on their front lawn and let it dry in the sun. Then, when I finally hauled it up here, I was just faced with how to hang it up.

old hearth shelf

First, I attempted to drill through it, mark the holes, and screw it into drywall anchors. That was a miserable failure, and nearly led to divorce. The wood was so incredibly thick and sturdy, and it took forever outside in the hot sun to drill through it. Then, because the wall in our spare bedroom turned out to be more plaster than drywall, I only succeeded in putting several large holes in it. I patched them, repainted over it, and tried again. I finally succeeded in mounting a couple 200-lb. hanging hooks, and mounting hooks to the back of the shelf, and simply hanging it up like a large picture.

old hearth shelf

I love the old decals along it. It has held up very well, and I have to say it was almost worth all the work of dragging it up here, washing it, and mounting it while pregnant and crying hormonally. Almost. Just don't look at the wall behind it... It needs to be sanded down and repainted one more time!!


Natalie said...

Love it! Shabby Chic at its finest!

nicole said...

I would totally put that shelf up. Very good find!