Weekend Thrifty haul, and do-up projects – art deco frenzy

Hi, yesterday I found two bargains I could not pass up.

I got the OK from the hubby and snapped up two art deco pieces of furniture that were in need of a little loving.

The first piece, brought for $40 NZ, was this gorge little dresser unit. I thought it was a beauty with it’s book matched panelling in a chevron pattern on the cupboards and vertical grain on the middle drawer it had a classic style. It was minus a mirror but that didn’t bother me at all.

The dresser unit is made of NZ native timbers Kauri and heart rimu and NZ pine in places. The condition is a little ratty, the top veneer has a little piece that has come away. Luckily the previous owners saved the piece and taped it to the unit for the next owner to repair. Here are the before photos.




After hours of oiling and polishing the dresser was ready to come inside. It still needs a lot of care but at least the restoration has started. The tape on the right hand side of the pic is temporarily holding the veneer strip in place whilst the glue dries.



What I used:

A good linseed rich furniture oil and a soft cloth.


I was curious what sort of $$$’s this piece would normally go for, I did a cheeky search on Trademe (NZ’s Private Auction Site) and found this item for sale, which is the closest in style and form. It is a 1929 dresser, made of NZ Oak. Has wear and tear and vanish has worn through in some places and sports Bakelite fittings.




Yay, I did alright then…. 🙂



The second piece I acquired was an art deco double-door armoire, truly a beauty in it’s own right. It looks to be a similar age and style to the dresser unit with a difference in wood, detailing and condition.

The beading trim that runs up the centre front of the piece has been broken and needs replacing. The top panel has had bora at some stage and is need of replacing, it’s a small panel and is largely unseen so shouldn’t be a problem to replace it. The interior is ok, just needs a little spruce up and the hanger rail needs to be replaced and maybe shelves or a drawer constructed. Rails are already in place for shelving planks so some of the work is already done. Woo woo.



This project will be carried over through the next few posts. It may take a few intensive sessions to bring this piece back to a shade of her former glory. I have a do-up vision in mind similar to what I did with the 50’s campaign desk but keeping the art deco theme and detailing.  Luckily my holidays have started and this can keep me out of trouble for the next wee while. Stay tuned!

What a fab couple of Christmas presents for us on the cheap. I have often seen second hand art deco pieces coming through the thrift shops, but the are generally around the $150 price or upwards to $450 which is well outside my budget. Even on trademe Art Deco pieces are crazy priced, or is this normal in this crazy world????

What does trademe have? well, I did a 20 second search and brought up this armoire which is very similar to the one I’ve purchased  – for $540?? *gasp*, I think somebodies having a laugh right??


The $540 armoire is made of honey oak and is dated 1932. It has wear and tear, a few chips and dents…………  and borer in the back panel, (wait does he mean the largest panel in the piece?).

The seller remarks are “There is some borer but this is limited to the backing board. This is due to the age of the piece, and adds to the authenticity of the piece” authenticity, what??? this guy can’t be serious.

This seller’s greed and audacity offends me.



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  1. Wonderful, Pepper, and KUDOS on the polishing job! I’ll wait patiently for the armoire do-over! There’s nothing quite like ‘real wood’ furniture, is there?

    Have a Merry Christmas, both of you, and a Happy, Healthy New Year!


  2. The dresser vanity is beautiful! I have some veneer missing on a couple of dresser drawers but I don’t know how to fix them. Would you write up a veneer step-by-step? Your deco finds look wonderful! Cheers!


    1. Hi Storybook, It’s easy to repair veneer if you still have the piece like I did with the dresser. You just need to clean both areas – turps would be ideal and then apply the smallest bit of PVA, or contact adhesive (I only had PVA handy so used that) then carefully pat a piece of tape down over the piece to keep it in place and keep the dust off etc. 24 hours later remove the tape carefully and it’s all done.

      If you don’t have the veneer piece I imagine it will be a whole lot trickier. I noticed the Armoire is missing a piece of veneer on the inside edge of the door trim where the doors meet and I don’t have the piece. So I will sort something out and let you know what happens there. Watch out for the next few posts on that reno. 🙂


  3. Oh my GOD, that armoire is beautiful. I can’t wait to see it when it’s finished!! Great job on the dresser so far – and, wow, I’d forgotten how enormous that skull is lol


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