Thursday, June 30, 2016

An Antique Dresser in Oak

Sometimes furniture comes to me and really all I have to do is slap it with a paint brush a few times and it becomes something new and fresh like magic! And sometimes furniture comes to me with seventy four thousand things wrong with it and I basically have to re-build the sucker from the ground up. This is an excellent example of the latter. This poor antique oak dresser had definitely seen better days, and whatever journey it had been on for the last hundred and twenty or so years, it had left it in a pretty sorry state. Really, the goodwill could have been its last stop. But instead, because a client of mine spotted it and saw through the wear and damaged drawers to the potential, it's getting a fresh new start!
          So, I dismantled and re-glued every single drawer, and replaced the bottoms of several. I sanded, stained, and sealed the top, added a new crest where the original had been, filled the old hardware holes and the dings and scratches, sanded everything down, painted it first in a bluebird teal, and then a white, distressed it to let the teal peek through, swapped the dorky clunky 19802 hardware for antique stamped brass pulls, and sealed the case with wax.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Vintage Secretary in Blue

Isn't this the cutest desk!! I loved it even when it was in its original dowdy opaque shellac, and let me tell you, that honey colored surface was doing the piece no favors. My best friend alllllllmost commissioned me to refinish this piece custom for her amazing new house that she's closing on at the end of July, but she has all these weird ideas about "budgeting" and "self-control". I know, right?!

       It worked out because another friend, who already has her new dream home snapped it right up for custom refinishing. We went with a medium denim blue for the exterior.  It's the color of the hydrangea that blooms in front of my house every year, which I purchased from this friend's family nursery, I've named it "And Sandy's Too". I cut the color with an antique cream for the interior. We swapped the pulls with another set of Chippendale brasses that had a bit more character and substance then I sealed the entire thing with dark wax.

           Every spring  and summer my garden and window boxes overflow with the wonderful flowers and shrubs I've bought from Paul and Sandy's nursery, and every winter my Paul and Sandy's lemon and lime trees fill my home with the heady scent of citrus (and the fruits are AWESOME for cocktails!). Their wares fill my home with joy, and it means so much to me to help fill their homes with my own humble crafted contribution.

           So for your weekend assignment I'm going to gently prod you to go out and support a local business in your community. If you were wondering how to make America (or any nation- shout out to all my international readers!!) great again, that's the answer. Invest in your community. Small business owner's aren't going to go out and buy a hundred foot yacht (I have no idea how big yachts are), or a fifth vacation home in Ibiza, they're going to support other businesses in your town. Give back where you can see the results. Just like with any hard problem, we need to start small and work our way up. I promise you that every sale I make, every client I meet, means the world to me. And I remember every single one of you. I wonder if Walmart can say the same...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Vintage Mahogany Dresser in Sage

The most common question I get is "How long does it take you to refinish a piece of furniture??".
And since this is the most common question I get asked, like seriously juuuuuuust about everyone who picks up furniture asks me this, I have a canned answer which is, "It depends, and it's hard to gauge since I'm always working on more than one piece of furniture at a time...".
        Which is the truth, but for those of you unsatisfied with said canned answer, here's an example. Today I refinished this dresser and the oak one I just showed you from start to finish. I started at 9am, was away from my workshop from 11-2, and then finished them up by 5:30pm. But the caveat here is that these two dressers needed no extra work, just straightforward refinishes. AND I didn't have to replace the hardware on either, which saves several time consuming steps. AND the weather was hot, dry, and sunny, which meant everything dried super super fast.
         So this is a wonderful vintage solid mahogany tall dresser. As I said, it's in excellent condition, but was so dark and dreary so I painted it in a custom mixed new color of warm sage I've named 'Amphora'. I refinished the highly figured mahogany top, and distressed and waxed the case. I kept the original drawer pulls because they do suit the dresser nicely and have the prettiest patina, an almost green.

An Antique Oak Dresser

I got this dresser on Monday afternoon. I had initially planned to turn it into my bathroom vanity, as we're gutting and renovating the downstairs bathroom this weekend. When I started looking the dresser over though, I realized it would never work as my vanity. I mean, it's the perfect size, and just what I was looking for, but it's too perfect. I could never ever ever forgive myself for cutting a gaping hole in that solid oak top, or foreshortening all the drawers when they slide so smoothly, even after more than a hundred years of use. Nope, not gonna happen.

           It worked out for the best, I swung by the Cromwell Restore looking a last minute replacement and realized that I really wanted a pedestal sink after all (it's not a huge bathroom), and found the most stunningly wonderful one for $50. So it's a win win.

           And now here's the glorious oak dresser refinished and ready for a new home. I refinished the drawer fronts and the top, but kept the original stamped brass hardware because it's glorious. I had to re-glue the side panels, which had started to slip, and decided to paint the case in a soft distressed black to really really make the oak pop. I just adore how this one turned out, and the pictures really don't begin to do it justice!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Vintage Thomasville Coffee Table

I love when my client's have vision. In fact, sometimes they astound me with the amount of vision they can have for a piece that I had initially thought was a bit underwhelming.
        This client in question I've worked closely with over the last eighteen months, he's a darling and a damned good designer in his own right. So I should be surprised that he rocked my world with his plans for this coffee table. It's nowhere near the first time he's blown my mind with his furniture design dreams.
        The coffee table in question started in the humblest of settings, cast off on the side of Rt. 66 in Hebron. I was on my way up to Manchester when I spotted it, but even free I wasn't sure how into it I was, so I drove on, figuring if it was still there on my way back I'd hop out and grab it. And clearly other drivers shared my ambivalence, because lo and behold it was still awaiting its fate two hours later. So I grabbed it. I was pleased to see it was in damn nice condition considering its curbside banishment. The top was ugly as sin, but not badly scratched or gouged. The frame was sturdy as a rock, and the whole thing was actually pretty clean too. But so ugly, fugly really.
          Then I posted a picture of it and my client spotted it and saw at first blush the potential I'd failed to recognize. And trust me, I'm only telling you how ugly this poor coffee table was because it is stupid ridiculously over the top gorgeous now. I want to like run around and yell and flail my arms, that's how smitten with it I am. We went with a dark stain for the stunningly figured mahogany top, and Essex blue for the frame. Aqua in the interior of the cupboard provides a pop of whimsical color. I swapped the pulls out for chunky handsome nautical pulls colored to match the original brass casters, and the client suggested sanding and staining the surrounds of the paneled center cupboard doors. Great idea, Sooooooo pretty!
This is one of my favorite before and afters in a long long time. I really need to get an "I brake for furniture" bumper sticker for the yellow pickup.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Mahogany Dresser Set

SHUT UP. How much do you love this antique mahogany three piece dresser set? Is it hard love? It's hard love for me. Ugh, so hard. If I had the wall space, this set would be mine. I have a massive master bedroom but since it's tucked up under the eaves of our cottage there's no big, wide, tall walls, like this set needs. And I love the versatility. The nightstand could so easily be a side table, or get tucked into a hallway for a little pop of color. And the low dresser would make a dandy sideboard or media console.

      I got the set off craigslist last week. Has anyone else noticed that craigslist is getting a bit stagnant  these days? It's all about those buy/sell/trade pages on Facebook now. So I was pretty surprised to score such a magnificent set. It's Federal in style c.1940 made by the White Furniture company. The tops of all three pieces have superb, highly figured mahogany veneer tops. The drawers are 100% mahogany and the secondary wood throughout is tulip poplar. It's just so well built. As a serious furniture enthusiast I found myself groaning with delight as I worked on this set. It's just so well built. I know I already said that, but not all furniture is created equal. This, this is the good stuff. And the proof's in the pudding. These pieces are almost a hundred years old. LOOK AT THE TOPS!!! And the drawers? They run like butter. And the cases-sturdy as a rock.

        So first I sanded the tops. When I get these pieces they're always dinged and scratched on top. With veneer I have a slim margin for correcting scratches and mars, so I'm always in a state of panic as I sand, desperately hoping that none of the irregularities are too deep, and that they will sand out. As you can see, these came out perfectly. Absolutely flawless, as they're meant to be. I custom mixed a new color for these. It's not quite blue, or green, or gray, it's the best of all three worlds. I've named it 'Hazy Vista'. I kept the original Federal oval brass drawer pulls because they're the best thing ever.

A Set of Antique Cottage Chairs

I've said it before, and I apologize if I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but one of the best things about my journey with Heir and Space has been the friends I've made along the way. I'm so grateful for all the wonderful people I've met and some of you have become good friends of mine. This set of chairs was for a good friend, a lovely gal who lives in town and shares my passion for the arts, and is also a small business owner. Last summer I re-did a cute little antique oak table for her and we'd been on the lookout for a nice set of antique chairs to compliment it ever since.

         A couple weeks ago she stopped by and spotted a sweet pair of c.1890 press-back oak chairs I had just scored. She had another pair of her own, and together as a set of four, they're cute as a button. We matched the yellow from the table I did last year, and I refinished the chair seats because you got have at least some oak showing when it's this pretty!!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Fine Figure

I've known one other little table like this one, and she sold for $7,500 to a couple from Massachusetts. But that was an 18th century table, and another world entirely, when I worked for Liverant Antiques selling some of the finest early American furniture that exists.
        You can imagine my shock when walking through the aisles of the Elephant's Trunk Flea Market last month I spotted the twin to that valuable table tucked away behind some ragged vintage suitcases and a broken wheelbarrow. Jess and Amanda and I had already been at the flea market for several hours and I had bought everything that Jess's absurdly small SUV could possible haul (my truck was in the shop). She hilariously insists on referring to her mini SUV, which has a hauling capacity slightly less than a Radio Flyer wagon, as a "truck".
         So I knew I was already maxed out on space when I saw this sweet curly maple table, but I needed it. My first thought was JACKPOT, because had it been a first period 18th century table, it would have been worth its weight in gold. Sadly for my bank account when I flipped it over I saw that it was 20th century, branded by the maker. At $15 though, it was still a hella good deal, and I threw my cash down and awkwardly stumbled towards the exit under the now combined weight of the new table and an oak console that Amanda and I were already carrying together. I'm sure we made quite the spectacle.
         The whole magic of this table is in the material. Figured maple, tiger maple, curly maple, Whatever term you prefer, it's miraculous. The striping is caused by a mutation in the maple tree which results in the uniquely bold striation of light and dark tones in the graining. It's highly valued by wood workers and for good reason; it's show-stopping.
            The cabinet maker who built this table some fifty years ago knew that and did a wonderful job showing the figured maple off. He heavily referenced the design and construction of 18th century tables, and the result is so beautiful, the wood so breathtaking, that I would be a serious ass to paint it. For the record, I had no intention at any point of painting this jewel, or selling it. The old surface was worn, scratched, chipped, and water stained, so I meticulously sanded it entirely down, stained it, and sealed it. I put it at the top of our staircase so I can admire it every day.