Remember my musty-smelling bedroom? Well, now it smells of freshly laundered sheets and spring flowers. Hurray! The culprit was a hundred-year-old oak chest of drawers in the corner, which was stinking up the whole room. My plan was to clean it up and restore it to its former un-smelly glory. Well, that was the plan…
I got off to a good start. I emptied all the drawers and wiped them down with a 50/50 water-vinegar mix. They came up beautifully clean, and I even started wondering whether I had imagined the musty smell. Then I moved onto the inside of the chest, which was filthy. In my defense, it's not often you dismantle a piece of furniture to clean the inside. Here is a before picture, though it doesn't really convey the level of dust and dirt.
I vacuumed the interior, then washed it down several times with warm water and vinegar. Hiding under all those layers of dirt, I found the source of the smell – black mold. It's nasty stuff. Not only does it smell bad, it is linked to a whole raft of health conditions including coughing, wheezing, and worsening asthma symptoms. Well, my son has asthma and there is no way I wanted him or any of us put at risk, so my husband and I hauled the chest down to the garage.
But, I wasn’t going to let a few spots of mold beat me. My next line of attack was a homemade spray of warm water and clove oil, which is a natural and effective mold killer. I used half a liter water to two drops of clove oil and got spraying. A word of warning: if you are working with mold, wear a face mask. I didn’t, and I had a hacking cough the next day. Once the vinegar and clove oil smell had dissipated (it took a couple of days), we were back to square one with the funky furniture smell and the mold as black and speckly as ever.
By this time, I had taken a strong dislike to the chest and I was getting pretty fed up with having nowhere to store my clothes. My husband was all for trying white spirits applied with soft wire wool as advised by a furniture restorer friend, but I just wanted the thing out of the house.
I scoped out the January sales and found a simple white chest of drawers from Marks and Spencer. It was delivered and assembled this morning and I love it! And my husband finally got around to building the ‘new’ bed that has been stored under our old pine one for a year or more. Yay! Two more things ticked off my project list.
Here it is, our lovely, clean, fresh bedroom. I’m not sure yet what to do about the old chest. Clearly I can’t pass it on to someone knowing it’s a health hazard. For the moment it is living in the garage, which has become a no go area. Furniture disposal issues aside, I am glad I chose this project. The Cure is about creating a happy, healthy home, and this feels like a big step in the right direction.
Rebecca's January Cure: