Is There a Pink Pineapple in the Piano?

A number of years ago  I seriously can’t remember how long it’s been  I decided I wanted a piano.

At that point, I still harbored hopes of my children learning to play. That didn’t work out.

But, I grew up with a piano, and missed it. I’m able to read music, and pick out a basic tune, but that’s about it. Nevertheless, I had visions of Christmas carol sing-a-longs, so I went in search of a piano to add to our home.

My husband was against it from the beginning, as the only place for a piano was the front hallway. He’s a big guy, and doesn’t care to have his walkways constricted. But, as usual, poor man, he gave in.

Also as usual, I didn’t just look on Craigslist for a basic piano. Oh, no. Just as when we got our first dog, I figured  go big, or go home. (Oliver was a St. Bernard, and the sweetest teddy bear puppy ever).

Keys of antique piano
My piano needs more superficial restoration than this one, thank goodness.

You Know People Give Pianos Away For Free, Right?

So I looked around a bit, until I found a couple here in our town selling an antique player piano. And, $200 later and after risk of hernia to my husband, son, and father, the massive instrument was sitting in our front hallway.

In our front hallway, where it continued to sit, for years.

It had been sanded down to the bare wood, which I believe is a lovely red oak. The keys were in disrepair, with many of the ivory tops broken or missing, but they all worked. The mechanics of the automatic player didn’t work, but how hard can it be to restore that? This is the 21st century! We can learn whatever we need to know on the Internet!

But, as many of you will understand, life got in the way. And so, the piano sat. And sat. And sat.

Along the way, there were a few false starts. I did manage to stain the piano bench a deep, rich espresso. And there were home school group teen parties where the piano got some use.

But, mostly, it just sat in the front hall. Until last week.

What the Heck am I Waiting For?

I went to Ace Hardware for a few other things, and was on the stain aisle. And suddenly, I remembered – I’m the “go for it” girl. Why is my piano unfinished? I can do this.

So I bought the stain, a couple of paintbrushes, and a staining pad and headed home.

The garage is my current pink pineapple-in-process, but I thought, “One more pink pineapple is achievable.” First, I had to get the dust off of the piano. With two large dogs, three cats, and six people in our house, dust is an ongoing battle that I’m afraid I’m losing. My son pulled the piano away from the wall, and dusting and vacuuming commenced.

Caramel, Cocoa and Safira asleep on our couch. They love pink pineapples, too.
Caramel, Cocoa and Safira asleep on our couch. They love pink pineapples, too.

I won’t lie to you. It was scary back there. I’m posting no photos of this step to protect both your delicate sensibilities and any sense of housekeeping pride I have left. Finally, though, the dusted and cleaned piano was ready for the next step.

The Quest for the Pink Pineapple Begins

Now, anyone will tell you that staining is a process that should ideally be done outside. Or in a garage. Not in your front hall. There was no way that piano was moving any further, though, so I vigorously shook the can of stain, used my husband’s screwdriver to pry the can open (ssshhh… we’re not telling him about that) and dipped the sponge brush into the dark liquid.

Aside from the piano bench I already mentioned, I hadn’t stained anything since I was a child. Yeah, that’s a hint on how well this is going to go. At least stain wipes up well off of tile floors, and the walls needed to be repainted anyhow…

Also, hint to any would-be-furniture-restorers: Gloves. Disposable gloves. Wear them.

Half-stained antique player piano
Half-stained antique player piano. Don't note the stain splatters on the wall at the bottom right. Oops.

With many splatters and drips, frantic calls for wet paper towels and fingernails that may take a while to recover, I got half the piano stained that first day. I think it looks pretty good. We dragged the benches from the dining room table to block off the hallway to keep the dogs from exploring, and left it to dry.

Another view of the half-stained antique player piano. I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to stain the area around the keys yet.
Another view of the half-stained antique player piano. I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to stain the area around the keys yet.

Oh, Yeah... Read the Instructions

Later that evening, I was texting my mom to tell her about my quest for a new pink pineapple. At that point, I remembered  the Internet! It tells us things. Things like: How to refinish a piano! I did a quick Google search. The first result was literally, “Thinking of Refinishing Your Own Piano? Don’t.” A quote from the article: “The photos showed a nearly five-foot-tall upright that had been sanded down, so all I had to do was stain it, tune it and play.” Sound familiar?

Google Search Result - Thinking of Refinishing Your Own Piano? Don't.
Hmmm... I think the author of this article and I could be friends.

Good thing I didn’t do the search earlier.

The first coat of stain is still drying; high humidity is a downside to living in Texas. But do check back in the coming weeks to see how this project progresses. I’m pretty sure there’s a pink pineapple in the piano.

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This post was proofread by Grammarly

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