Thursday, December 31, 2015

An Empire Dresser with a French Twist

I spotted this antique dresser at auction a couple weeks ago and thought there was very little chance I would get it. It was clearly in superb condition, and these scroll front empire pieces can bring a lot, and are usually well outside my buying range. Carl the Furniture Guy must have worked some sort of magic for lo and behold, we got it. It was snapped up by a client to have custom refinished. We went with a simple antique white, with sanded drawer fronts for a bold contrast. I lightly distressed the painted portions, and sealed with wax for a flawless finish. The drawer pulls are original, but I painted them with little fleur de lis motifs. I love love how it turned out!!

A Vintage Hutch Gets a Fresh Start

This was a challenging piece that I ignored for a very long time. I was downright scared of it because I knew how much work it would be. Funnily, once I actually got started on it, it was a very straightforward project, and took me no longer than all my other hutch refinishes. The piece is a marriage- a vintage Bassett dresser base and an antique, possibly 19th century solid pine top. The hutch belongs to one of my favorite clients, and has sentimental family value. He had refinished it once himself, but wanted a new, simpler look for it. The drawers were made of particle board, and damaged, as was the backboard. We opted to replace the backboard with stained beadboard, and the drawers with pine shelves. I sanded the piece down as it had many many coats of paint already, and repainted it in a custom mixed Robin's Egg blue. Finally, I added cut glass pulls to the little cabinet doors on the top for just a hint of sparkle.

Here's the piece as it was first refinished by the client.

And the before and after with the sanded and prepped piece.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top Picks of 2015

Tomorrow we ring in the new year. 2015 was pretty dandy, and I have high hopes for 2016. I spent a little while tonight combing through the mountains of old posts from throughout the year to choose some of my favorite moments of 2015 to share with you. Thank you all so much for coming along on this furniture-y journey with me! And in 2016 I may have some big news to share with you. BIG BIG news. stay tuned and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Carl the Furniture Guy found this wonderful Ethan Allen hutch for me. Solid cherry!!  I painted it in an antique cream with a bright blue interior. I remember at the time I was so pissed the vintage watering can was leaking, ruining the shot.
You can view the whole post here:

Oh if I could have stolen one piece from my inventory this year, it would have been this sideboard. My god I love this sideboard. I love the color, the detail, the scale. And I love it because it was lucky. I got it, a dining table, and a server for free off of craigslist.
I drove all the way down to New Haven for the set and moved most of it down two flights of stairs and into my truck by myself. worth it!!
You can view the whole post here:

Funny enough, another New Haven story with this one. I was delivering a piece to New Haven when I saw a great tagsale right in East Hampton. I was already running late and didn't have time to stop, but I spotted this spectacular antique mid 19th century empire chest as I drove by. The whole drive I fantasized about it, and cursed my rotten luck that I couldn't have stopped and snagged it. But don't you know, when I finally made it back to town a few hours later it was still there, and at a damn fair price! I snapped it up right away.
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This was a custom piece for a client with great vision, to the point that sometimes he would push the envelope with his design decisions, totally freaking me out, but always with outstanding results. I never would have thought to combine fairly modern looking glass knobs with classic (be it recolored) oval Federal pulls, but they look magnificent together. I've just done two more pieces for him that I finished today that are going to knock your socks off. 
You can view the whole piece here:

I picked this fabulous and unique desk/dresser combo up off of craigslist last month. My best friend Jess came along with me. It was such a pretty drive through the Eastern Connecticut countryside, and the people I bought it from were SO NICE, which always makes me love a piece even more. The before and after on this one were so dramatic.
 You can view the whole post here:

When a client sent me a picture of the before of this antique dresser that she wanted custom refinished my jaw just about hit the floor. Soooooo pretty. She choose the most popular of my custom colors of the year, Deep End, and the result is wonderfully moody and dramatic paired with the delicious curves of this antique dresser.
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Sometimes when I finish a piece I take a step back, take in the end result, and feel so smug, which was absolutely the case with this magnificent antique mahogany vanity. Granted, I was probably giving myself some unnecessary credit as the piece was terrific to begin with-look at that shield shaped mirror!!! But still, I spent hours and hours on my knees painting all that pale blue detail work with a teensy brush in a blazing sun. This is another piece in my top 2015 custom color, Deep End. 
You can view the whole post here:

There are pieces that come with challenges that absolutely terrify me. I'll see problems that need fixing, but good lord, what if I can't figure out how to fix them, and I have to return to the client with my tail between my legs and admit defeat. Thankfully, this was not the case with this lovely vintage maple hutch. The entire bottom shelf of the top portion was badly warped, bowing down noticeably. After several sleepless nights I managed to create an internal structure that added architectural interest, looked original, and corrected the warp completely. And then I had a celebratory martini. 
You can view the whole post here:

Not all my top moments of 2016 are furniture related. I love to peruse the upcoming Americana auctions, and do a little post on my top picks as I go. Skinner's Americana sale over the summer killed it. They had everything I've ever dreamed of. The most breathtaking group of objects ever. 
You can view the whole post here:

 I loved this desk from the first moment I saw it come off Carl's trailer. It was paneled on all four sides, beautifully built, a vintage solid pine masterpiece by the Bennington Pine furniture company. I love how the custom deep blue green plays against the glass knobs. 
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This was a risky color for me, a really deep bottle green with just a hint of blue. I recolored the original brass pulls to a copper to compliment it. I adored the result against the rich mahogany top. It went to one of my favorite houses I delivered to this year, 
an antique home right on the water in Essex.
You can view the whole post here:

This piece was beautiful and unique to begin with, but what made it special to me was what I discovered within, an antique sterling silver pocket knife engraved with the year 1924, and the name of the owner. The knife went along with the antique dresser to its new owners in a wonderful mountainside home in Western Connecticut.
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I got this beautiful Edwardian mahogany dresser at auction at the very start of the year. It's so alluring and delicate. I painted it in a sassy mint green to play off the bright graining of the mahogany top and pulls. It went to a dear friend of mine who lives just down the road in a gorgeous Victorian home.
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This giant hutch was easily the heaviest piece I've ever moved, and it also gave me quite a scare. When I first bought it I had it loaded and strapped in the back of my yellow pickup truck, but there was no great way to secure it. As I took a turn on the way home both pieces tipped, not falling out, and not breaking, though it startled me something fierce. I had to hop out on the side of a busy road to try and readjust the piece to make it the rest of the way home.
Refinishing it was cake after that part.
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 There are times I take on a piece that I wouldn't feel comfortable reselling. Usually it's something beautiful and unique that also has some sort of flaw that greatly decreases its value. Those are almost always the pieces I'll keep for myself, as my house is like the land of misfit toys, furniture style. This secretary had been painted and refinished eight separate times before I got it. The center drawer didn't work well, and it was a little bit rough and tumble all around, but so cute. I had just the spot for it in my guest room and readily took on the challenge, using a 19th century Swedish armoire as an inspiration piece. 
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This was a custom piece for a client, a fine antique vanity in a bold mint green. It's one of my favorite photoshoots of the year. The mirror above is from my private collection, an early 19th century piece purchased from Liverant Antiques. I love how the gold, mint, and huge bunch of miniature daffodils all look together, makes me long for spring! 
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 Another custom piece, for another favorite client of mine, this antique serpentine front mahogany secretary was one of the first pieces I did of the year. We went with two shades of pale gray whose subtlety help to play up the incredible architecture of the piece. 
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If I had to choose one piece as my very favorite of the year, it would have to be this adorable little antique secretary desk in two shades of bright yellow. It was a fairly dark and dreary piece to begin with, bought at auction, but the bold colors brought it to life, revealing the lovely detail work throughout. It took me ages to do since yellows coat thin, but with each coat the piece got prettier and prettier.
You can view the whole post here:

And finally this sweet little antique mahogany vanity. It was part of a set that came from the nicest couple who lived in a spectacular house. I painted it in a rich custom mixed rose and staged it with a bounty of spring flowers.
You can view the whole post here:

Saturday, December 26, 2015

An Antique Dresser Rescue Mission

So one of the things I did in the last week of radio silence was clean my workshop. For any of you who've visited in the last month or so, you know how bad it was- shockingly bad, horrible horrible, I'm certain there were garden trolls living in the back corner.

       Along with the trolls, and to the left of a mountain of empty stain cans was this poor antique pine dresser, which I'd banished back there months ago, oubliette style. I'd gotten it from Carl the Furniture Guy sometime during the summer when it had been on its very last leg. The only thing that saved it from the clutches of my fire pit was the fact that I couldn't even wade that far back into the workshop to reach it. It had a horribly warped top that I'd removed as soon as I got it, and a disintegrating backboard. The lack of a sturdy backboard meant it was wobbly and twisted.

          The thing is, the drawers on it worked beautifully, and were all intact, and I really like the shape and size of it. So when I finally uncovered it this week, I tried the drawers, which still slid like butter, and then took a deep breath, and dove into saving it. I replaced the backboard, which immediately fixed all stability issues (such instant gratification, that). I then added a pine board top. Finally I sanded the case down since it had been spray painted gold (?!). I painted the case in a custom mixed sage green with a touch more hutzpah than your average earth tone. There weren't many of the original bail brass pulls left, so I filled one post hole and went with turned and stained wood knobs to match the sleek new top. And bing band boom, now it's absolutely perfect.

An Antique Chestnut Server in Yellow

Crap. I know it's been over a week since the last time I posted. I'm sorry. I was working on a bunch of stuff at once, and some of it didn't get photographed, which means no posts for those projects. But never fear! I've got lots of new and wonderful things to share with you in the next few days.
      I purchased this sweet antique chestnut server at auction a little less than a week ago. I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted it to be yellow. I was kind of relieved that no one requested it for custom refinishing since I was so determined to paint it in a sunny yellow. It's a fabulous little piece, in beautiful condition. I completely refinished the top, which had seen better days, but otherwise left it structurally the same. Just look at all the carving and detail work! The yellow is custom mixed- called 'Awakening', distressed, and waxed of course. The interior is in Benjamin Moore's Ashley Gray.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Vintage Mahogany China Hutch in Blue

This was suuuuuch a fun and satisfying project. There was nothing really wrong with this gorgeous mahogany hutch, but it was dark and dreary and needed a dose of color. I refinished it custom for a client who basically gave me free reign on the piece so I went with a custom mixed French blue named Blue Bonnet and a custom mixed tan for the interior called Sheath of Wheat. I distressed it and dark waxed it. The pulls are original and so fabulous, and compliment the piece perfectly, so I kept them. I'm very pleased with how this one turned out! :-)