Friday, April 18, 2014

An Oak Farmhouse Dining Set

This was such a fun set to work on. Oak is a lovely material, and this set was one of those diamond in the rough situations, just begging for a new look. Before and afters below. Happy Friday!

And After!

And with the leaf in 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Planning My Workshop

Now that my husband has moved most of his musical equipment into the newly constructed studio, I can finally start to envision the next big renovation project- turning the beat down garage into my workshop. Now when I say "workshop" what I mostly mean is show space and girl hang out place. I like to do 95% of my furniture work outdoors, where the ventilation is better and everything dries faster. This is good though, as it means I can make the space really nice and comfy. I've already snagged a few key pieces for the building, and I thought I'd show you the rest of what I'm planning as well. I'm hoping to have the space fully finished by this time next year, which seems pretty realistic.
Here's the building I'm working with:
This was when we pulled all the furnishings out of it last summer to paint the floors.

And here's the inside. It's not small, the footprint is 19ft x 27ft and the ceilings are 10ft high. But as you can see, it's in the rough right now. Soooo much potential.

First let's talk about the building itself.
I'm going to paint the floors again,
Maybe a huge funky stencil like this
or a smaller stencil that looks like tile.

Or a deep gray with sealant that looks polished and pretty.

To have some continuity between my workshop and the music studio, I'll be doing the same bead board walls that we did in the new structure. They look like this. I might even paint them the same color, which was Behr's Ostrich.

They come unfinished so painting them is a bear.

But we really liked the result in the studio.

The ceilings in the same will be the same tongue and groove pine boards that we did as ceilings in the upstairs of the main house, and will be doing on the second floor of the studio.
Here's a pretty good shot of the ceiling treatment in our upstairs hallway.

The hideous ceiling fans will be yanked out and I'm going to put in something with more style, and that can put out more light.

I like both of these a lot.

As for furnishings, Here's what I already have:

This amazing pair of velvet armchairs

And this terrific vintage velvet sofa

I'll use my antique folk art hutch to site interior design books, magazines, and paint chip books.

And this spectacular Aesthetic movement c.1880 mirror, which is just the bees knees. 

And finally, here's some of the things I want to get when the space is finished:
I always love gorgeous brass sculptures like these.

And I'm going to want a marble coffee table to go with my sofa

I want a pair of marble and gilt side tables like this

Gorgeous pair of industrial stools.

And finally I'll want some additional lighting. I'd like to find a pair of antique lamps with some pizzaz, something like these below:

Monday, April 14, 2014

New Acquisitions and Flea Market Finds

Yesterday was a terrific flea market. Really one of the best. I could have stayed there for hours and spent hundreds, though I managed to escape with at least a few dollars left in my pocket. So here's what I got:
First I got a set of four antique quarter saw oak side chairs for the guest house. They were $5 each. I'll be recovering the seats tonight. 

And how cool are these vintage barstools! $25 for the set of three. I'll be recovered the vinyl seats and they'll be our barstools upstairs in the guest house. 

I couldn't resist this antique fancy painted side chair. I suspect it's first period- c.1810, but I want to do some more research. It was a whopping $8.

Loved the vibrant summer hues of this antique oil painting. I talked him down to $20 for it. 

This dresser was a steal. Ive got big big plans for it. Just wait til you see.

Beautiful antique mixing bowl to add to my collection. It was $8

And the worlds coolest antique decanter set for $10. 

Love the color and all the detail. Now I need a very glamorous drink to put in it.

So I hung the painting with a similar one in my kitchen

And the antique chair is now with my antique bentwood chair in a little corner of the master bedroom. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

On Painting Furniture

About once a year, I'll get a nasty comment from someone all worked up over the fact that I painted a wooden piece of furniture. It always makes me chuckle, these self proclaimed wood advocates, who feel it their personal mission to go out into the world and rescue furniture from the evil clutches of villains such as myself. Why does it make me chuckle? Well, because it shows they know very little about furniture, and antiques, and value. And at some point it's worth mentioning, what kind of person goes on a blog about painting furniture, to complain about painted furniture? Are they also going on Nascar blogs to complain about people driving too fast? Silliness.

For those who wonder. Here's the comment I received today:
"You painted over this beautiful wood?" Horrible."
And here's the piece of furniture in question:



What we're looking at is a tiger oak veneer sideboard. It probably dates to about 1920. When I picked it up at a tag sale two years ago it was in desperate need of attention. I fixed the runners on the drawers, sanded, stained, and sealed the top- and yes, painted the case. The veneer was chipped in several places and was beyond the point of salvation. If not painted, it would have remained sad and beat down. 

Veneer from the 20s is notoriously flimsy. I encounter this issue all the time. Sometimes I strip the veneer entirely to reveal the beautiful pine secondary wood, like I did with this console table- 

And sometimes, if the veneer is not in terrible shape but needs patching, I'll paint it. So yes, that piece of furniture had a nice figured veneer, but it was years of neglect and mis-use that brought it into my hands. I have exactly zero interest in refinishing pieces of furniture that are in perfect condition. And because I refinished that piece it went to a lovely house on a quiet street in Glastonbury, where I suspect the owners are still enjoying it, paint and all.

Don't forget that I do this as a hobby. In my daytime job I work for a high level antiques firm. I have a pretty good idea what's valuable, the age of pieces, and what's ok to paint. And that's the big question.

What is ok to paint and what's not ok to paint.

After about 1850 American entered into a phase that would change the structure of the nation both culturally and economically, the Industrial Revolution. In essence, everyone realized it was way more efficient and cheaper to produce material goods, including furniture, via mechanization and in large quantities, than it was to use the cottage industry of small craftsman run shops. Furniture after 1875 is almost always from a factory. The quality did decline, but more importantly for our discussion, the pieces were no longer unique. As antique dealers we judge furniture on three levels: Rarity, Quality, and Condition. Furniture made in a factory is not rare, and the quality is not comparable to the pieces made a generation earlier by master cabinetmakers.

Let's get back to the tiger oak veneer sideboard. I'd venture it was made in a large factory somewhere in the northeast. It was likely one of several hundred produced in that year, and probably sold by catalog. There are thousands upon thousands floating around the country, both painted, unpainted, in excellent condition, and rotting in a leaky shed. To argue that someone should not paint a mass-produced 20th century piece of furniture it about the same as saying, "Hey, I really like black coffee. You're putting cream in that black coffee? horrible."

Here's a couple more pieces that I painted. Just for good measure ;-)

If anyone wants to take the time to make a piece of furniture like these more appealing, so that it can be saved from banishment of a dark basement corner, by all means, paint it- or whatever else makes you happy. And for the wood-advocates out there, here's my honest advice- I get that your heart is in the right place, and you want to do something to preserve history. Mass produced furniture doesn't need your energy or advocacy. It's not endangered by any means. What does need your support is your local historical society. So go forth and put that passion to good use!

Tomorrow, I'll tell you what you shouldn't paint, and why.