Empire Dresser: Meant to Be For Me (to paint)

The style is well-known. The chunky red mahogany curved massiveness of American Empire style. Always veneered, almost always chipped, sometimes irreparably. Many of them handmade, but so old and well used that they end up in the garage, thrift store or picker’s storage unit with broken or missing hardware, drawer runners or backs. Can’t even really sell the nicer ones because no one really wants that large-scale, mottled red book-matched veneer look anymore (I’ve tried). There are so many of them that they don’t really hold value unless they have an exceptional provenance or are in immaculate condition (as with most antiques).

The sad are the ones I find. I have three right now, so I know they are not rare. This dresser had so many issues that I watched the price go down, down, down over a number of weeks to the point where I picked it up. It was even sorrier in person. See?

photo 2

And this was after I had replaced missing and broken drawer runners so that the drawer boxes would even have something to sit on! After all the repairs were done, I used some dark grey milk paint mixed from black and light gray. I wanted some natural chippiness, so I didn’t use the bonding agent. The wood was so old and dry that paint would certainly bind nicely, but I also sanded most of the surfaces. And I got what I wanted from the milk paint. Perfect accompaniment to to the chipped and missing veneer: perfectly chippy paint.

Antique American Empire Dresser Seal Grey Milk Paint3

Some of the typical wood knobs were missing, so I replaced them all with some very old stamped steel bow tie shaped pulls that are about the same age as the dresser, late 1800′s. I had picked them up at a junker’s paradise called Shupp’s Grove in Pennsylvania during some travels last year. The pulls seemed to match the escutcheons the dresser already had, so they looked right at home. I cleaned them up and sprayed them with several different silver tones for interest.

Antique American Empire Dresser in Seal Grey Milk Paint

Antique American Empire Dresser in Seal Grey Milk Paint5

The drawer boxes were sanded and stained and made like new, really. They fit now, and glide well.

Antique American Empire Dresser Seal Grey Milk Paint4

Can’t you see this in a modern entry hall or bedroom? A little industrial, a lot antique? Massive and moody? Meant to be.

Feel free to leave a comment, visit my facebook, or find this beauty in my shop.
Linking with Miss Mustard Seed.

Posted in Painted Furniture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tur-key to Tur-quoise: Antique Oak Dining Table

My husband comes up with most of these titles. He’s quite punny.

This table was part of a package deal. A buffet I spotted on Craigslist that had me salivating came with this non-matching beat-up table. I always think it’s odd when sellers refuse to separate pieces (and risk losing a sale), even though the buyer might have no intention of keeping them together. I tend to wonder if the seller intends to visit his pieces someday to make sure they are still keeping each other company.

I agreed to this arrangement because the table had lots of curvy legs that I thought might look good in a wild color. First thing I had to do was remove the 1/8 inch thick layer of gloppy ambered polyurethane that had accumulated over the years on the tabletop. Here’s the before, under the shroud of shame (paint stripper cover):

photo 2 (1)

Since I didn’t have the leaves, the sliders were useless, so I removed them. This made the table a little lighter and easier to manipulate. When I put the two halves back together, they dowel into each other and lock with a lever.

Milk paint was the perfect treatment for this piece. The legs were not oak, and had a finish on them that might resist, so they were rubbed with deglosser. The newly stripped top was very dry, so I smeared tung oil on some of the edges and spots that I hoped would then resist and chip. For once, milk paint did what I told it to do. The legs chipped a little and the paint resisted soaking into the oiled spots! This is, to me, the perfect level of natural looking wear.

Turquoise Antique Dining Table2

Before Hemp Oil Finish

Before Tung Oil

After Hemp Oil Finish

After Tung Oil

Turquoise Antique Dining Table4

The finishing touch was tung oil, which actually gives the top some water resistance. More than that, though, it mellows the color and deepens it, darkening the wear spots as well. Makes it look like it’s always been this color, and certainly not a turkey anymore.

Your comments are always welcome, and I generally reply by email.
This gorgeous table is in my shop.
I’m on facebook, of course, for more daily adventures.
Thanks for visiting!
Linking up with Miss Mustard Seed.

Posted in Painted Furniture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mirrored Bar Cart: A Reflection of Hospitality, Beauty, and Time

Picture yourself at a party. There’s the hostess, with a smiling bright face, leading you to a cart brimming with luscious cool drinks and adult beverages for you. Picture a big lucite ice bucket with silver tongs. Lemonade in a big pitcher. Then look down at the cart.

DSC_1099

Yuk. You suddenly lost your desire to partake of anything on that cart. But wait! You whip out your mitre saw and your paint and your glass cutter, and, in no time at all, you have this!

mirrored bar cart1

Ha! I wish I could have waved a magic wand and mirrored all those panels in an instant. Cutting mirror, I discovered, is not as easy as it looks! It takes a lot of cutting to get just the right size panels. You think you’ve measured, but your hand moves, just a bit. Ooops. Start over.

And what’s with that fake-slate formica under those hinged top panels? Can’t keep that. Rip those off. Take more time. Need to build a new top–mitre the wood, with ledges and gallery rails. More time. Oh, and paint it aqua! Yes! Many coats for perfection. Done!

Longest running project ever, but it turned out so pretty. Put an ice bucket on it now! Better yet, a glass of wine will do nicely.

mirrored bar cart 4

mirrored bar cart 3

mirrored bar cart 2

mirrored bar cart1

I am always happy to read your comments. I generally respond by email, because who keeps track of where they left comments to come back to see any reply?!
I’m on facebook, of course, with daily adventures.
This piece is in my Etsy shop.
Thanks for reading! If you never want to miss a post, put your email in the box at the top right.
Linking up with Miss Mustard Seed.

Posted in Painted Furniture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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.

before

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.

This sweet piece is in my Etsy shop.
I’m on facebook, of course.
Please leave me a comment! I love to read them.
Linking to: Miss Mustard Seed, The Pink Pagoda

Posted in Painted Furniture | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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!

Are you fond of French furniture? Bright colors? I’m happy to read your comments, and I generally respond by email. Thanks for reading!
You can find me with my fun stuff on facebook, and on Etsy!
Linking with Miss Mustard Seed, Elizabeth & Co., Chic By Tab, Finding Silver Pennies

Posted in Painted Furniture | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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?
Check out this piece in my Etsy shop.
Follow my furniture adventures on facebook.
I love reading your comments, and I generally reply by email. Thanks for visiting!
Linking to: Miss Mustard Seed

Posted in Painted Furniture | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

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.

frenchsofa5

frenchsofa7

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!

Leave me a comment? I appreciate comments and generally respond by email.
Check out my Etsy shop for some nice items.
I also have furniture adventures on facebook.
Linking to: Miss Mustard Seed

Posted in Artistic Life Experiences, Painted Furniture | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments