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Thanks to Pinterest, garage becomes Tammy's Temple of Forgotten Dreams

Tammy Swift, left, and Clem Buzick reclaim a chair during Spring Cleanup Week, May 2, 2010. Carrie Snyder / The Forum1 / 4
Tammy's rescued chair remains in her Temple of Forgotten Dreams (aka, the garage). Special to The Forum2 / 4
Tammy Swift3 / 4
Tammy's Pinterest project inspiration, left, and the card file's reality, right. Special to The Forum4 / 4

I blame Pinterest.

If it weren't for the wildly popular social media site for hobbyists, I would not fool myself into thinking I am Martha Stewart. I would not be aware that there is a whole army of irritating craft ninjas out there who build industrial-style armoires out of Popsicle sticks when they aren't writing their popular daily blog, renovating their Craftsman bungalow with their ever-willing partners and home-schooling their children in three languages.

I would have been perfectly content to buy furniture at a furniture store and to buy art from artists. But Pinterest has given me the notion that every bicycle wheel could become a coffee table and every mason jar must become a wall sconce.

It's DIY or die.

So I've become a collector. I browse flea markets and online auctions and thrift stores and antique shops. I rescue tables that would have a lot of potential — if only they didn't have three legs. Others might look at that broken pallet and dismiss it as firewood. I look at it and think, "Hmm. Shabby chic!"

It turns out I'm really good at the procurement part. But I struggle a bit with the actual "execution" part of the equation.

Now my garage has become a hoarders' paradise. Every time I park the car, I have to shimmy past all my projects-in-waiting. The black iron table that I plan to paint a cheerful blue. The white vintage patio chairs that need rust removal. The bird bath that needs to be adhered to a stepping stone. The unopened kit to make the aforementioned stepping stone. Three banged-up card files, which I plan to transform into a lovely little side table. (First, however, I will need to learn how to operate a power paint sprayer, take a welding class and invest in a miter saw — whatever that is.)

Tammy's Pinterest project inspiration, left, and the  card file's reality, right. Special to The Forum

It's not a garage. It's A Temple of Forgotten Dreams. An Island of Lost Goals. Whatever you call it, it's the place where all my good intentions go to die.

And then there's the granddaddy of them all: The Chair. I found it while out on assignment with some expert boulevard pickers during Clean-Up Week in 2010. Thanks to "Mad Men," midcentury modern was making a big comeback, so I was thrilled to find a vaguely mid-mod chair propped up next to the piles of old mattresses and decapitated lawn statues.

It had simple lines, a real wood frame that looked like teak and green cushions. They were upholstered in the same itchy but indestructible fabric that had been used on my Grandma Swift's couch, so I instantly bonded with it.

Never mind that the wood was badly scratched, the webbing was broken and the cushions smelled vaguely like stew. I was going to transform this into a piece that would turn Betty Draper green with envy.

The chair was shuffled off to a guest room until "I found time to work on it." It was quickly adopted by our aging cat, Sebastian, who coated the cushions with layers of cat hair.

When I got divorced, I left the chair behind. My ex kindly did not throw it in a bonfire, so it just sat there — collecting dust and sadness. Finally, the ex called me and asked if I wanted "that chair." We weren't able to pick a date that worked for both of us, so I think the chair bounced along in the back of his pickup for a month or so.

Tammy's rescued chair remains in her Temple of Forgotten Dreams (aka, the garage). Special to The Forum

At last, the chair returned to its rightful owner. It had been rained on a few times and it was still shrouded in long hair from Sebastian (bless his hairy soul). I had the perfect place for it in my new home. All I had to do was take an upholstery class and learn how to refinish woodwork. But in the meantime, it could be stored in the garage.

And that is where it sits today — still battered, still fur-covered and still smelling like a Dinty Moore factory. Six years have passed, and it is still just a project-in-waiting.

I guess I put the "rest" in Pinterest.

Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at tswiftsletten@gmail.com

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