Chinoiserie Style: Blue and Gold Vintage Credenza

My favorite adjectives in decorating happen to be: colorful, bright, and gilded. I have been noticing a lot of Chinoiserie style pieces popping up on the design sites and blogs I read. These pieces tend to fit the adjectives I prefer, so I was excited to paint this latest piece with color, brightness and gold!

I got this piece a long time ago, and it was in such good condition that all it needed was color. See? Dull brown wood does not go with anything.


But I couldn’t decide which color until recently. General Finishes, smart marketers that they are, gifted me some lovely Corinth Blue Milk Paint, so from that the Chinoiserie style credenza was born. Of course, I had to adorn it with something unique, like hand-painted abstract panels, gilded accents, and new, polished brass hardware. So, now I have this:

Deep Bright Blue Green Credenza Buffet Media Cabinet

Deep Bright Blue Green Credenza Buffet Media Cabinet2

Deep Bright Blue Green Credenza Buffet Media Cabinet4

For the abstract panels, I used deep hot pink (looks red), mint, green, light blue, and pink. The legs and borders are gold oil paint. I think the piece now has a lot of personality! It even has a finished paneled and painted back so that it would not have to be used against a wall.

I can think of two homes right now this piece might fit into. Jennifer, from The Pink Pagoda, could use it in her daughter’s hang out space, currently being redesigned on Jennifer’s blog (one of my favorites)! And Andrea, from The Glam Pad (also a fave), could use it to go with her new/old Lilly Pulitzer desk! I think both of these ladies have a lot of style and great color sense, and that influenced what I did with this credenza.

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Vintage French Serving Cart: Ooh La La!

This is the piece that turned me around to appreciate French style furniture. I looked upon this vintage serving cart as more of a challenge, really, than something I wanted to paint. It was a decent price at a thrift store, and the old finish was really gummy and grimy. The bones, however, were solid, and the curves were speaking to me. This is how it started:

French Service Cart Before

I wanted something sharp and artistic, with appealing, contrasting colors. I actually picked out these two hues separately, for two other projects, and when I held the paint chips in my hand together, I pictured the French cart in my mind. So this is what I did:

French Service Cart

The two knobs on the “top drawer” had to go because it wasn’t really a drawer. I could see other people come along and try to yank on the knobs to open the non-existent drawer, just like I did. How annoying.

French Service Cart 4

The back and sides got a curvy, moroccan sort of pattern, with small gold dots for accent.

French Service Cart5

French Service Cart 6

Since this cart was so fun to paint, I have collected a few more nice French style vintage furniture pieces that need makeovers!

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Retro Rejuvenated: The Hot Pink Dresser

I admired this terrific retro dresser for months. It was priced too high for me, but obviously for everyone else, too, at a thrift shop I frequent. When it finally went half-price, I decided it was time.

pink dresser before

Bland and baby-room-ish, I planned to go to the opposite extreme with one of my favorite luscious, saturated colors: hot pink. The inserts became bright orange, and the knobs were changed out for a sweeter statement.

Hot Pink Dresser 4

Hot Pink Dresser 2

Hot Pink Dresser

With or without the mirror, it looks like candy, don’t you think?
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Fortuitous Find: the French Baroque Sofa

I have gotten so much braver since beginning my furniture business. I have begun considering purchases that I would not have before. In fact, I would have thought myself crazy for even considering this recent purchase I am going to tell you about.

For some reason, French furniture never appealed to me until recently. All those curves and plump parts looked a little too girly for me. Then, I came across a French serving cart in a thrift store that was a great price, but needed a makeover. I was not at all sure that I could get into it, but I decided to have fun with it, and it came out great. I’ll show you that in another post.

So, after that, I found a gorgeous French bombe-style dresser that needs a redo but I haven’t gotten to yet. I’m savoring it for a color scheme that I can’t decide on. And then one day, I was out yard sale shopping and came across a jaw-dropping piece:

french sofa4

Okay, yes, it needed work. But it was amazing. It used to be gilded and shiny! Parts of it still were! It was old! Shiny! Old! It had burlap on it! Old burlap! Foreign writing! Hay hanging out! How much cooler could it get?? I took photos and chatted with the seller. Turns out she found it in Tennessee and brought it back to sell in the big city. She took the fabric off because it was horrible, which was a good move. It was very sturdy, and heavy. I drooled, imagined, stroked it, and left.

I had been on my way to rearrange my pieces at the vintage market, so I showed the photo to the manager there. She affirmed my attraction to the amazing sofa. I thought about it all afternoon. I had hoped that it wouldn’t be there when I got back because I really wasn’t at all sure of what to do with it. But I had to have it. I didn’t know if I would attempt to reupholster it, have it done professionally, or re-sell it. But I had to have it. Obviously, it was still there, and meant for me!

I made a deal with the seller, brought it home, and Mr. City Girl nearly had a cow. He thought I had gone completely nuts. But that’s why he has the 9 to 5, right? I took it over to the market, and most of the vendors I asked there had an opinion. Interestingly, it was split down gender lines: Men who thought it was cool: Zero. Women who thought it was cool: All. Validated.

I’m no forensic scientist, but there were some clues as to its history. A friend had the Arabic writing translated. It said, “Made in Syria” along with the name of the company, which no longer exists, and their phone number. It was obviously old, with old school furniture upholstery methods, like hay for padding. So it may be pre-1943, since France occupied Syria from 1920 until 1943, and may have had some influence over the styles in that country at that time.



french sofa3

Since I didn’t have any room for the huge piece at my house and workshop, I put a price on it for the market. I really didn’t expect to sell it, nor did I really want to, but I thought I could think about it for a while safely. Within four hours of opening that day, a couple fell head over heels just like I did, and couldn’t leave it there. I was happy to have them take it home and do something wonderful with it. At least I had it for a little while!

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Golden Goodness: The Black Arrow Cabinet

It is always so hard for me to resist those signs. Yard sale, estate sale, moving sale, it doesn’t matter because even though most of those turn out to be a bust for furniture, there is always a slim chance I’m going to find a really nice piece. So I was on my way to the bank one day, not even thinking about raw materials, when I saw the moving sale sign. I wasn’t even sure there was really a sale because it was unclear just where the arrow was pointing, and no cars were around. The garage door was open to a fairly empty space, but I parked and went in when a woman came out and waved to me. Turned out she was selling some things in the house that were actually still in use. How about the overpriced dining room buffet packed with office supplies? Some ugly light fixtures that were still installed? That was my sign that she wasn’t too committed, so it was time to leave. On my way out, opposite the door, in the mostly empty garage I passed through before, I spied a battered, half primed old china cabinet, its hardware and doors removed and stacked against the wall. I saw these:

arrow front cabinet before

When I asked about it, she told me she had started to paint it but never finished. It had some veneer issues at the bottom from water damage, and I couldn’t tell if all the parts were there, but I took a chance because it was obviously a very good quality wood piece and she was asking very little. As I was loading it into my car, she handed me a container with all the hardware she had already removed! Even though that hard part was done, I did have to learn to use a router on this one because the doors did not close properly. Now they do!

The crossed arrows seemed to indicate a very formal theme, so I chose jet black with a golden interior. The arrows, the knobs, and the button-like medallions got some gilding wax to make them stand out. The whole look is very striking to me, and obviously to its new owner, because it sold fairly quickly at the Brocante Vintage Market, proving that you can’t always tell what that arrow is actually pointing to!

Black Arrow Cabinet 4

Black Arrow Cabinet 5

Black Arrow Cabinet

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Desperate for Teal: The Esperanto Dresser

Teal seems to be the color of the year where I am. I sell some of my pieces at the Brocante Vintage Market here in St. Petersburg, Florida. Some of us Brocanteurs (as we call ourselves) were speculating that it seemed whatever teal pieces came to the market sold pretty much right away. In order to try out that theory, I bought this piece.  Made by Drexel around 1970 from their Esperanto line, it was in pretty good condition, but dull, brown oak, which, as you know, I am not fond of. I thought it was perfect for a teal makeover.

Esperanto Dresser Before

The top was practically pristine, so I chose to temper the very bright teal with a refinished wood top. I toned the teal down just slightly with some stain wiped on and then off. The pretty, solid brass drop pulls polished up beautifully, and the white trim defined the carved wood on the drawers. A little distressing gave it even more interest.


Esperanto Dresser2

Esperanto dresser 3

Esperanto Dresser 4

Not surprisingly, it did not hang around long. Another teal dresser quickly found a home!
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Antique Acanthus Wreath: Ring Pulls to Bling Pulls

The antique dresser was really nice. Very well constructed, with roomy drawers, interesting legs, and no repairs to be made. It was scratched and dull brown, as they generally are at that age when they’ve been well-used, with dirty, dull hardware. It had been listed for a while, so I made the seller an offer, and she agreed. I picked it up at a very small run-down house that contained, very surprisingly, many antiques. Gorgeous ones I definitely could never afford to purchase. But I would not have been able to paint those, anyway; I was happy with this one.


I didn’t think much of it when the seller fussed about how nice the pulls were, but when I took them off and cleaned them they had a wash of silver over the original brass and were actually acanthus garland wreaths. Each one was slightly different, so they were obviously hand cast. Way better than I had expected!


So, since the hardware was now the star of the show, this piece needed an outfit to showcase the acanthus wreath jewelry. Milk paint was called upon–Miss Mustard Seed’s Flow Blue, Ironstone, and some black–to make a sweet steel blue. Just the right amount of chippiness made the chest look classical and elegant, just like its rings.

Medallion Dresser

Medallion Dresser 2

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