Painting Furniture

The coffee table will be painted Sapphire Blue. Chris will also put a coat of Lime Ricky Green on the kitchen table. Although their manufacturer, Sherwin-Williams, calls these colors Number 6963 and 6717, I prefer their more fanciful descriptions.

I need all of the "fanciful" I can get. Once my house is sold, these two pieces of furniture, which will be jazzed up to disguise their scuff marks and worn spots, will accompany me to my eventual apartment. I figure the bright palette will add a bit of fun to smaller rooms.

Like judges in some weird beauty contest, my friend Karen, the interior designer, and Chris, the decorative painter, have joined me at my three-bedroom house to decide which pieces will fit in a very down-sized space.

When I move out, and bring with the Sapphire Blue and Lime Ricky Green tables, the furniture I'm leaving behind will be part of a modest estate sale. Because I will gain some needed income, and buyers seeking bargains will benefit, the ache I’m feeling during the furniture competition is lessened.

As we tour, I wonder, do the pieces not making the cut feel wounded, like the two Room & Board living room couches that face each other? "Humph," I imagine them saying, "the measly coffee table she takes, but us she leaves behind."

To soothe the duo, who I picture with their upholstered arms crossed in defiance, I send a silent message: "Listen, dears, Tommy and I absolutely loved you. But, you're too big, you'd overwhelm the room. Even just one of you -- and you know I could never split you up -- wouldn't fit."

I feel better when the Secretary Desk is among the finalists. Not my style, but brought with by my husband 16 years ago when he moved in with me. "Nice, honey," I recall myself saying. As I ran my hands over the embossed design on the desk's front, I thought, "Where can I put this? It doesn't match anything else in the house."

The quaint desk did win a spot in our guest bedroom, and that is where I once tucked myself away to write. I imitated a Victorian novelist, and lowered the desk's panel to reveal tiny cubby holes and shelves that I filled with lined yellow pads, a variety of pens and pencils, books on “How to Write,” and draft after draft of heartfelt attempts.

"No paint," our trio of judges conclude as we eye the Secretary Desk. "It looks nice as is." It will go in my new bedroom next to a window, and I will use the fold-down desk to hold a MacBook Air.

Alas, the various pieces of country-style furniture Tommy and I bought for our one-year experiment in Geneva, IL., will remain for the house sale. Did we really believe that the lovely home on one acre in picturesque Fox Valley would suit a couple who had lived their entire lives in the city? Perhaps my husband, a gardener who immediately started planting, believed that. As for me, I discovered I could convince myself of anything, for a time.

Oh, if our furniture could tattle! The dining room table, with its one leaf extension, would tell of the evening my daughters Faith and Jill and their families, my ex-husband, and various friends and relatives, joined us for a Passover dinner.

Tragically, three of those at the table have since died. Surprisingly, two partners have been exchanged for new ones. And shockingly, one member has undergone a complete transformation. We knew none of that back then as we sat at the stretched-out table, laughing as the youngest guests performed in a Passover play. Would the table remember this rare, beautiful moment when my entire family was all in one place? Will it forgive me for not bringing it along?

One box spring and mattress, of three sets, will make the cut. Likely not the one Tommy and I slept in as it is deepened on his side, and indented on mine. Our Crate & Barrel dresser and one smaller bureau -- both in their original wood finish -- will move to the apartment.

The chest of drawers on my husband's side, which still holds his exercise clothing, practice golf balls, broken alarm clock, and other items with his imprint, will be sold. First, though, I will remove all, and pack into a special box that will go with me. Perhaps Chris will paint it. Sherwin-Williams, Number 6911, also known as Confident Yellow, sounds about right.