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Karen Fuller: A different kind of column

April 14, 2019 GMT

Over the past 21 years, I’ve created over 1,000 columns, but the one I created last weekend was a first for me.

That column was made of wood.

How I came to build that column happened in a roundabout way.

Last year, Don and I were bumming around the North Georgia mountains when we came across a cool old beauty shop chair in an antique mall. It was turquoise and chrome, with the original domed dryer still attached — along with a good bit of dirt and a price so low it was soon in the back of our truck, bouncing around with a collection of other things most folks wouldn’t dream of carting home.

Once scrubbed to a shine, that chair looked perfect in my odd little home office. And then Don and I went bumming around the West Virginia mountains and came across an old optician’s chair in an antique mall. It was red and chrome, with the original head and foot rests still attached — along with a good bit of dirt and a price so low it managed to displace that other chair in my office.

We decided to sell the dethroned throne and carried it onto our front porch so a prospective buyer could more easily see it, except once on the porch, decided it looked kind of cool there. Gave our dull porch some color. Not long after, we were shopping in the mountains again and ran across an Adirondack-style bench made from the fenders of an old ’57 Chevy. It was the same shade of turquoise as the beauty shop chair.

We put both on our porch, and then stepped back to admire.

Which was when we noticed our brick-colored door. Which didn’t at all go with the chairs.

Off we went to Lowes, the first trip of likely a dozen, as we got paint for the door. And then paint for the floor. Next came paint for the trim, and then wood to cover the old metal porch railing. Culminating in more wood to box in and then trim out what was once an old metal column.

The chairs were a bargain. The rest wasn’t cheap. Especially considering that the snow ball we started is still rolling downhill and gathering speed. Our little redo threatens to evolve into a complete renovation. Cracks we once overlooked are now screaming, as is faded paint. This one little success has us chomping at the bit to take on another.

This was hardly my first renovation, but it was by far the smoothest. I measured twice and cut once - before changing my mind how to do it, so often still ended up cutting again. Even so, the project was almost entirely mine. Don was tied up on a big freelance job, so I took my time in a way I don’t normally do. And enjoyed every minute.

As I was nearing completion, I had this moment where I’d been up so close for so long I hadn’t yet seen the whole thing. Don stepped outside and gasped. He took me by the arm and led me up the driveway and then turned me around.

“Look,” he said.

I puzzled a moment, thinking something must surely be wrong; that my column was crooked or the railing went wonky. Don recognized my confusion.

“Look what you did,” he said. “You made this.”

By a carpenter’s standards, the project was dinky. But for me, armed only with a handheld $15 jigsaw, it was an achievement.

One I stumbled into. And one that has me looking forward to when I can stumble again.

Karin Fuller can be reached via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.