My Piano Is Finally Home (Goodbye Huge Yellow Piano, Hello Little Spinet)

Y’all, my piano is finally home! MY piano! A dainty little spinet that has been in storage somewhere in east Texas for the last six years, and that fits beautifully in my little music room (much better than the big yellow piano did).

my spinet piano - before refinishing - 1

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the day that this piano would return to me. And then around Wednesday of last week, seemingly out of the blue, my sister Cathy said that she and her husband Bill were going to head to east Texas this past weekend to get everything out of their storage and bring it here. Including the piano.

I was ecstatic!! After 11 years, my piano was finally returning to me. (I call it mine because I’m the one that played it the most and the longest, and I’m the one who actually wanted to keep it. 🙂 )

my spinet piano - before refinishing - 2

I love this piano. It’s just a little spinet, but I love it. I love the scrolled design on the music stand. I love the pretty fluted legs.

my spinet piano - before refinishing - 3

But most of all, I love the history and the memories of this little piano.

my spinet piano - before refinishing - 4

My family doesn’t have much in the way of family heirlooms. In fact, I can only think of a few. A beautiful chiming clock comes to mind. I’m sure there are a few others I’m not remembering.

And then there’s this piano. It’s not a super nice, expensive piano. Spinets never are. But it has a beautiful story.

You see, my mom and her sister, Gay, were raised in a very small trailer. Their father (my grandfather) worked for Brown & Root and needed to be mobile so that they could travel from one construction site to another. Many of the employees’ families lived in rented homes in each city to which their jobs led them, but many others chose to live in trailers.

My mom’s family chose a trailer. An eight-foot-wide trailer, that is. Here’s a picture of my grandmother (third from the left) with other Brown & Root wives standing in front of the trailer my mom grew up in.

spinet piano - Mernie in front of trailer

But even though they lived in a narrow eight-foot-wide trailer, my grandparents still bought a piano for their girls when my mom was about 15 years old.

On Sunday mornings after they got ready for church, my mom would play and she, my aunt and my grandmother would sing until it was time to leave for church.

spinet piano - mom playing piano on sunday morning

Just for perspective, this is my mom in her beautiful prom dress which was, of course, home made. You can see the piano on the left wall, and the door to the trailer on the right side. That’s the entire width of their trailer…for a family of four. Plus a piano. 🙂

spinet piano - mom in her prom dress

That piano was in my family’s home way before I was born. Both my brother and sister learned to play on that piano. I came along 13 years later, and then when I got old enough to take lessons, I also learned to play on that piano. But even before I started taking lessons, I would “play” on the piano.

And one day when I was about four or five years old, I decided to make my own mark on the piano. Literally. I evidently thought that the white keys were a bit too drab and needed some decorating, because I took a permanent black marker and made a squiggle line on almost every white key. Most of those marks have worn off over the years, but you can still see them on some of the keys that aren’t played much.

my spinet piano - before refinishing - 5

I remember my mom being so upset with me, and I remember being a bit confused about why she was so upset. After all, I had “decorated” the keys in such a pretty way! They were a bit boring before…just plain white…and they needed some spicing up.

I guess that was just a bit of foreshadowing of what was to come for me. 🙂

She tried everything she could to get those permanent black marker lines off of the white keys. She even called a piano store and asked their advice, and they recommended finger nail polish remover. But even that didn’t work, so my artwork remained. Now I’m actually a bit sad that so many of those marks have faded and worn off over the years. So little of my custom piano artwork remains today, but there’s just enough there to make me smile when I see it.

When Matt and I moved to Waco in 2005, the piano came to live with us in the rental house where we lived the first year. Then when we moved into the condo, we didn’t have room for it, so it went to live with my sister and brother-in-law. That’s how it ended up in east Texas. Then six years ago when they moved, they put lots of their stuff in storage, including this piano, and it has been there ever since.

Anyway, she looks a bit rough these days. The clear coat finish has gotten to that stage where it’s soft, and the fibers from the blanket that has been covering it for the last six years are actually stuck to the finish in areas and it won’t come off. It needs to be refinished — a task I very much look forward to taking on.

This piano won’t be painted a bright, crazy color. It will be carefully and lovingly refinished, and will be the star of my music room.

my spinet piano - before refinishing - 1

I’m so glad to have it back again. I’ve missed this piano!

As for the big yellow behemoth that used to be in my music room (and is currently in my sunroom)? My sister wants it. She has grand plans, and a big colorful piano is perfect for what she has planned.



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  1. What a wonderful story! I love how the little trailer was decorated just like a real house. Tiny houses are nothing new!
    I’m happy for you to get your little piano home and how nice that your sister can use the yellow one-your labor was not in vain!

  2. So wonderful that it has come home to you! Such good memories (and that prom dress is amazing!). I look forward to reading about how you restore/refinish it as I have one to do too.

  3. Kristi, I’m crying as I post this comment. I had a similar piano I just donated to The Restore because I’m moving to a smaller place. The guys that came to pick it up saw my teary face and they did their best to console me. I hope another child can enjoy it as much as I did when I was playing. I’m happy you got to get it back. And thank you for not painting it.

  4. What a surprise! That is a lovely story! Your grandmother (and the rest of the wives) must have been formidable women to embrace such a mobile lifestyle (and before Amazon prime!). I love it! Tiny houses are nothing new (like the poster above said)! And, I LOVE their dresses. So beautiful!

    Glad you got your piano back. The daintiness of it suits your room well! I love the fluted legs and the lower profile. Whatever you do on the upper part of your walls will have more room to shine.

    Will you be keeping the wainscoting in that room? I love it and think it’s perfect for a music room. And, now that you removed the picture frame molding in the living room, the wainscoting stands out more in this room. But, I was wondering if your plans had changed.

  5. I rarely comment but this is a beautiful story. I loved reading the history. So happy for you that it is home.

  6. Sure enjoyed your story… those things which evoke memories of good family times are the best, yes? Great way to start my week 😀 Thanks!

  7. What a delightful story!! Has your Mom seen the piano since it’s been out of storage, and do those keys make her smile too?

  8. What a great story! And your mother’s dress – simply stunning – right down to her shoes. The piano, to me is one of the best pieces to keep – those that have a sentimentality attached to them!

  9. I love those type of family stories! Every time you play it you will smile. And your mom’s prom dress. Gorgeous! What a great photo to have.

    About my prom date, let’s just say I’m so glad powder blue tuxes with huge ruffly shirts and big bow ties are out.

  10. Love your story! My piano doesn’t have a family history to it (we picked it up in a thrift store) but it has the same look and finish problem. Hope you share the refinish project so I can learn how to salvage mine. I loved the yellow piano and am so glad it will find a home to brighten!

  11. I also have “decorated” keys on my piano. My daughter thought they needed the notes written on them to make it easier to teach her friends to play!

  12. What a treat for you! I’m tickled you got your piano back. I have the piano my husband learned on in my kitchen. It’s the ugliest spinet piano ever made: it was covered in Formica! Ugly Formica! Hubby mixed his own chalk paint and it turned out beautifully. I’m eager to see yours refinished!!

  13. This post brings a smile to my face. We just upgraded from a spinet to a grand piano. When the movers took the spinet away I surprised myself by almost crying. Four of my five kids learned to play on that piano, I have so many beautiful, and not so beautiful, memories of them playing. It was a little easier to give up because now my little nieces are learning to play on it. The first day it was in their house my little five year old decided to write the letters of her favorite song on each key.

  14. I’m so excited to see how you will refinish your piano. I have one that looks very similar that needs quite a bit of love as well. I was planning on doing in sometime in the future but wasn’t sure how to go about doing it. I look forward to seeing your upcoming posts about it and to try tackling my piano as well.

  15. This makes my heart sing! I LOVED your story 😻 My childhood piano is now in my daughters home and my granddaughter is learning to play. We’ve all
    played on it and there is no better gift than that of a home with a piano!

  16. Such a heartwarming family history story about your piano and the trailer that you can pass down through the generations. Your mum’s prom dress is gorgeous and the shoes too! You are so fortunate to have such special photos like these, what a treasure. I have a spinet piano too, the one I grew up with and learned to play. It took several years to finally make its way to me having to travel from eastern Canada to Oregon. I look forward to watching you restore your piano as it will help me with doing mine.

  17. wow, that old saying of….”what goes around, comes around”, is so true, isn’t it? I guess it can be applied to just about any concept.
    I know you will make that piano look new….almost.
    Glad you have it back with you again.

  18. So glad you are reunited with your friend, the piano. I know you have missed her terribly!
    Also, my husband, 3 other kids and his mom and dad lived in a 825 sq. ft. house with 1 bath. We had a 1000 sq. ft. house for 5 of us, but it was horribly built, with no insulation.

  19. What a lovely story. Really enjoyed the images from a bygone era. Young women were so petite and graceful back then! Those tiny little Scarlet O’Hara waists….

  20. What a wonderful story about your family’s love for that piano. I am so happy for you that you can now have it in your forever home. And your sister can enjoy the big piano. It’s a win-win and that’s the best kind of situation. I love your piano, too, and can’t wait to see how the needed refinish turns out. I’m sure it will be lovely, and the legs alone are worth it! Then on to getting it tuned and you will be set! I think the proportions of this piano will look even better in your music room. And you will be able to hang a much larger piece of art or grouping above it, too. Congratulations!

  21. Lovely story. I would tuck those photos and your story somewhere on that piano (maybe in a plastic sleeve on the back side that will be up against a wall). It will be a time capsule for where ever it lands in the far distant future.

    1. I like this idea. I was thinking of something similar; that the story, the photos, etc should all somehow be kept with the piano. In my cluttered house I would probably have them displayed, lol!

  22. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story. It sounds as though the value of spending quality time together was imperative to your family. That little piano played an important role to a few generations.

  23. As soon as I read that you will be refinishing this piano, I thought of one my brother secretly bought and refinished for his ex-wife. They are great friends and she had taught him to play a bit. He painted it a pearlescent white and in a few select places embedded some small faux blue gemstones and pearls on it. He covered the music rack with peacock feathers fanned out. It may sound crazy and flamboyant, but it was really very attractive and unique. The colors were so you.

  24. I lost my grandmother’s spinet in a fire years ago. I enjoy my current piano but it’s not the same. Never tho’t of a piano in an 8′ wide trailer! “Love grows best in little houses” looks true for your family. Your mom is lovely. You look like her.

  25. I love your family story, and enjoyed the pictures of your lovely family. Most of all, I love how positive and loving your story is. I feel sure that is where your positive and stick-to-it attitude developed its roots, and it carries you through all of your projects. I look forward to seeing your refinished treasure.

  26. Kristi,what a lovely story and a treasure of so much love in the family. I have been travelling and have missed your post. So how lovely to coverage again. So happy for you.

  27. I’m so glad that your piano will live with you again. I love the way your family, like mine, passes furniture and treasures around. My parents bought their dinette set in 1949. I refinished it and had it in my first apartment, my sister used it, friends reupholstered the seats and used it in their apartment, and now it lives with my niece and her family refinished and reupholstered yet again. Family furniture has stories to tell. I love the bedroom you created for your niece. You are continuing all the stories of the pieces that started their lives in someone else’s home. It’s nice to think that, after the lights are turned off for the night and the humans are tucked up, your furniture can share their life journeys with each other. This was a lovely post– keep ’em coming.

  28. Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself & of your family in this post. What a beautiful story, I’m so glad the piano is back home.

  29. Kristi, I can’t believe you neglected to tell that I had already “decorated” the piano many years before you came along!

    I, too, am glad you have the piano now and you will restore it and lovingly use it in your home. It’s nice to keep it in the family, and with your history with it, it’s perfect that you are the one who ended up with it. And, one of these days when we get our big gameroom/kitchen/gathering area/bunkroom built at the ranch, that big yellow piano will fit right in and be the perfect size! And our 18 grandkids (or however many we have by then) will LOVE it! I even plan to learn to play a fun, rousing song (TBD at a later date) on it to play for the grandkids!

    1. Woohoo! I’m looking forward to that, Cathy. 😊

      You failed to say that you decorated it by scratching your name into the wood. You and Kristi both left your mark on that piano.

  30. How fun to hear from your sister and your mom!!!!!

    Random ?: I mentioned last week that I am going back and reading old blogs, and I am in October 2013:)
    What happened to your Turkish kilim?
    What a gorgeous rug!

  31. My cousin and her family also lived in a trailer..similar to the one your mom had..I remember their’s well and we loved it as kids…such a unique piece of Americana..I’d loved to have one in the mountains somewhere..

  32. I have a similar piano with a similar story, and a similar sticky, not so lovely any more, wood finish. I can’t wait to see what you do with yours, so I can do the same!

  33. Kristi, I know that you are going to think, “huh?” I have a question totally unrelated to the conversation on your lovely piano! My husband, and I, are going to screen in a portion of our existing deck. A fireplace will reside within. You will be able to view this fireplace from our family room. The fireplace in the family room is stack stone, and I have grown weary of stack stone. Due to the vantage point of the both fireplaces, will it be necessary to have the new fireplace be made of the same material? I will be forever grateful for any input!

    Kind regards,