Typewriter Table Transformed

For all of our growing-up years, my younger sister and I shared a bedroom. We painted two of the walls apple green and two of them buttery yellow. We slept on sturdy old metal army bunk beds, which we spray-painted sunshiny yellow and alternately bunked or un-bunked throughout the years as we rearranged furniture to try to squeeze more real estate out of our tiny room.

Thrift store scavenging and one-of-a-kind flea market finds were family obsessions, so when I was in high school and I found an old metal typewriter table at a yard sale for less than $20, I was stoked. I spray-painted it pink, and together with a print of my favorite Claude Monet painting, it perfectly accented our little green-and-yellow room.


When Mark and I moved into our house, I dug the beloved typewriter table out of my parents’ garage and brought it with me. But the pink color didn’t work with the orange and blue color scheme that carries through our kitchen, dining room, and family room, so I knew that I needed to re-paint it. I decided on a deep, dark, jewel-toned blue.

When I carried the table out to the backyard to spray-paint it, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia for years and years sharing clothes and pedicures and silly dance parties with my sister in our little green and yellow room. I almost couldn’t bring myself to paint over the pink.

But it had to be done, so I sanded the table, wiped it down thoroughly, covered the casters with painter’s tape, and set it on a plastic drop cloth on the grass.


After applying one thin coat of paint, the table looked…like an Easter egg. By the second coat it looked more navy blue, solid, and industrial. The way a typewriter table should look. Not like an Easter egg. You know?


Why is my shoe in the picture, you ask? Because when you’re spray-painting furniture in your backyard and the wind kicks up, you don’t stop painting to grab some rocks. You just kick off your shoe and use it to hold down your plastic drop cloth. Obviously.

All finished, the jewel-toned blue of the table complemented perfectly the bold orange accessories in the room.


I even got around to cutting foam board, ordering glass, and hanging up the vintage 1936 “Visit Palestine” poster I bought in Jerusalem six years ago.


And the best part is that on evenings when Mark and I are both writing, we can drag the typewriter table anywhere in the house, perch a laptop on it, and…type on it. That’s what it’s for, after all.

I love seventies fixtures.

Seventies style sometimes gets a bad rap. Avocado-colored refrigerators and dark brown thick-piled carpet aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and city recycling programs have pretty much made trash-compactors obsolete. But can I tell you a secret? I love seventies style. Our house was built in the 1950s but later received a snapping seventies renovation. I love love LOVE my orange kitchen cabinets. I love that we have an old intercom system that no longer functions, so that when we push the buttons it emits a screeching noise that Mark calls our “pet baby velociraptor” and introduces to any kids who come to visit. I love it all.

And I really, really love our light fixtures! Old school fixtures just have so much personality.

This one hangs in our bedroom over the foot of our bed.

Mark has lovingly christened this the "Deseret disco ball" for its honeycomb-like design. I love it for its West Elm kind of bold yet understated style.

Mark has lovingly christened this the “Deseret disco ball” for its honeycomb-like design. I love it for its West Elm kind of bold yet understated style.

These hang over the mirror in the master bathroom.

I love the way the heaviness of these contrasts with the light airy aqua color I painted our bathroom. And I love having a lot of light right by the bathroom mirror!

The rubbed brass and heavy chain contrast perfectly with the airy aqua color I painted the bathroom. And I love having bright lights right by the bathroom mirror!

The orange chandelier is my favorite because it's just wicked cool.

The orange chandelier is my favorite because it’s just wicked cool. Once someone asked me what we planned to do about our orange chandelier and cabinets, and I just laughed because I LOVE THEM so much. They are what I would choose if I were building my dream home tomorrow.


Like every other aspect of our house, these fixtures were an enormous amount of work because of how filthy they were. There was a yellow-brown film of tobacco smoke stain over every surface imaginable. Cleaning each fixture took several hours (and I could probably clean them better still).

To give you an idea, see the white candlestick parts of the orange chandelier? Yeah, before I cleaned them we thought they were orange, too.  The orange parts themselves? They were the color of rotting fall leaves, and when I scrubbed off the grime I was tickled by the bright orange revealed underneath.

The big round fixture in the bedroom was one of the worst, since the previous owner of our home smoked so much in her bedroom (she smoked so much in every room of the house, but the bedroom was one of the worst). We actually thought the fixture had brown stained glass; then one day when my mom came over she took the fixture down, scrubbed the whole thing with hot soapy water in the sink, and POOF! It was actually translucent white glass under the nastiness all that time.

I’m so glad that under all the filth there were bold bright designs with enduring style and staying power. These guys are stayin’ alive.