Traditionally Upholstered French Dining Chairs: More Horsehair and Burlap!

DSC_2683 copy
French painted and traditionally upholstered vintage dining chairs

I have discovered that I love making upholstered furniture. Not, by the way, with foam stuffing. Using traditional methods of upholstering furniture is like sculpting with stitches. You are not at the mercy of the materials, but the materials are at the mercy of your hands. Horsehair, cotton, and coiled springs–a great combination for truly stylish, refined furniture with longevity. Kind of like putting yourself out of business!

These began on a Craigslist whim, as most of my purchases do. I loved the curve between the front legs on these antique mahogany chairs. I knew the frames would look amazing in black, topped with some velvet. And pink. Pink was required. They were so sad and neutral. See:

IMG_0248
As found, these are the Craigslist chairs. Vintage carved mahogany, with loose joints, nicks and dents.

Since my new favorite thing to do now is upholstering, I knew that six of these babies would provide me with adequate practice to get it right, and they did. After ripping out the old guts, including the old zig-zag “springs”, sanding, and repairing every lose joint, I painted them black and put a satin topcoat on them. That was the easy part! To upholster, I did them in phases, perfecting my technique: webbing, springs, burlap, horsehair, muslin, cotton, velvet. And the seat backs: fabric, stuffing, support, stuffing, fabric. I’m really having a hard time preferring any other way to spend my time!

Some highlights of the process:

IMG_0355
Eight-way hand tied coil springs–takes a few hours, but so worth it in the end! Gives the chairs longevity and a very nice crown on the seat.
IMG_0367
Plenty of horsehair bridled in and fluffed–it compresses and becomes very comfy.
IMG_0372
Nice sculpted seat-the edge roll inside protects the fabric from the wood edge and keeps the horsehair contained on the frame. The muslin gets stretched and pulled to get the shape of the seat. The holes are where the regulator is stuck in and rotated to get rid of lumps and pull unruly horsehair into submission.
IMG_0492
In this photo, I haven’t cut the fabric around the seat and back yet…but you can see how nicely they are shaped! And they feel firm, yet resilient.

The pink floral seat backs got tightly woven burlap to keep their shape, and layers of cotton. This floral fabric has a very linear weave, so it was important to keep the weave straight, and tight as a drum.

DSC_2813
Two of the French girls. The set of six went to a buyer in Kentucky shortly after I listed them.

Yards and yards of double welting made from the velvet brought the whole look together. I was actually sad when they were done. But they made someone in Kentucky very happy!

DSC_2707

DSC_2747
Everyone should keep some chairs on their table, don’t you think?!

Visit me on facebook to comment, if you like.

There are some nice furniture pieces in my Etsy shop, as well. Check them out here.

 

South Beach Inspired: The Blue and White Dresser

Okay, so I may not know when to say when. I probably held on way too long to the pink and orange color combination that I loved so much. No one else did. 😦 Actually, I should say that it was favored many times on Etsy, and got many nice comments on the original post and on facebook, but remained unpurchased. That is the telltale sign. I finally got it.

I thought this would be a great color combination. No one else did.
I thought this would be a great color combination. No one else did.

So, after a trip to Miami, I was inspired by the sun-bleached colors and the architecture of the South Beach area to repaint this pink piece blue and white. Now it’s a soothing, glossy, sea blue and white piece with the great original knobs.

How do you like me now?!
How do you like me now?!

South Beach Dresser3

South Beach Dresser2

This piece is available in my Etsy shop.
The painting is by me.
Join me on facebook.
Please feel free to comment. I respond mainly by email. I enjoy your feedback!

Vintage Eggplant Henredon Dressers: Spanish Revival Revived

A lot of mediterranean design went on in the 1970’s. Chunky, clunky, and massive seemed to be the look of the day, with a reference to Spanish style motifs and patterns. Many companies made these Spanish revival pieces, but not all of them withstood the test of time. Now, 40+ years later, the good ones, like Henredon, are ready for their makeovers.

This Henredon Alvarado set, found at a thrift store, was really well treated over the years and functioned just like new. The finish, however, would never see the inside of a modern room. Scuffed, scraped, scratched, speckled, yellow-brown, and sporting super ugly, chunky hardware, it needed to be revived. The before, as usual, looks a whole lot better in photos:

Vintage Henredon Gothic Mediterranean Alvarado Spanish Dresser Before

Vintage Henredon Alvarado Highboy Gothic Mediterranean Spanish Eggplant Violet Purple Dresser Before

Now for the fun part. What to do? Eggplant seemed to be the best color–dramatic, modern, edgy. The wood tri-foil motifs would stay, but the hardware needed to go. I designed some laser-cut wood quatrefoils to echo the tri-foil design, and searched for weeks for the kind of hardware that would be eye-catching but not conflicting to go on top of them. The quatrefoils painted metallic pewter, like the pewter hand twisted ring pulls (each one is different), brought the zing I was looking for. To tie it in, the bases of the pieces, under the bottom molding, are painted metallic pewter, as well.

Vintage Henredon Gothic Alvarado Mediterranean Eggplant Violet Purple Dresser2

Vintage Henredon Alvarado Highboy Gothic Eggplant Violet Purple Dresser

Vintage Henredon Mediterranean Gothic Eggplant Violet Dresser Front

Vintage Henredon Gothic Eggplant Violet Purple Dresser Top

eggplant gothic Henredon dresser

In the evenings, the purple looks almost black. In the sunny daytime, it brightens up. It’s really a dramatic difference, this makeover, and makes me want to keep them. They are for sale, however, in my Etsy shop. Thanks for reading, and, as always, I appreciate your comments!

Abstract bird painting by me. Pear painting by Domi Willliams.
Follow me on facebook!

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.

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!

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.

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.

DSC_0930

Esperanto Dresser2

Esperanto dresser 3

Esperanto Dresser 4

Not surprisingly, it did not hang around long. Another teal dresser quickly found a home!
Follow my adventures on facebook!
See my other pieces in my Etsy shop.