Monday, October 31, 2016

Bin Drawers and Antique White

In all the years I've been refinishing vintage furniture I've only worked on three tall dressers with bin drawers on top. Weirdly, all three have been within the last two months. This one came with a big group of other great furniture and though I'm booked solid with custom work, I couldn't resist indulging myself just a bit and refinishing it just how I thought it should be.

          The color is a custom mixed shade of vanilla that I created for the backboard on a client's hutch last week. I liked it so much I decided on the spot to use it on this sweet c.1920 walnut dresser. I sanded, stained, and sealed the top and painted the case, distressed, and waxed it. I had to repair a foot and fill some dings and scratches, but otherwise this one didn't give me much grief!

All about the Graining

When Carl the Furniture Guy lugged this stunner off the back of his trailer and onto my driveway I just about had a heart attack. What a looker! This c.1920 dresser and mirror had seen better days and was dinged, scratched, and stained, but under the old darkened varnish I could see some absolutely spectacular wood- highly figured flame walnut and burled walnut veneer! But it was so dirty and mucked and faded that you could barely even see it! Now that's a shame. Luckily a client snapped this piece up for custom refinishing and she agreed that we should refinish both the top and the drawer fronts back to wood to show them off to their best advantage! I painted the rest of the case in a custom mixed antique white, one of my most requested colors of the season, distressed and waxed it. We opted to keep the original pulls because they're picture perfect for the piece.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Vintage Pine Hutch in Green

Brrrrrrrr!!!! It is brisk today! Only 9:20am and I've already reorganized my workshop and carried half my inventory back into my workshop before the snow starts in (yes you read that right SNOW!). AND I managed to stage and photograph this wonderful vintage pine hutch already this morning. But once I'm done firing up my social medias with its minty-goodness, I'm taking the rest of the day off!!

          The hutch is about fifty years old, and refinished custom for a client. It was inspired by a sideboard I did for him a couple months ago. I sanded, stained, and sealed the top in a medium warm tone, and painted the case in a custom mixed rich green named "Endless Sea". The backboard is another custom mixed shade, a linen I've named "Pressed Tablecloth". I love that linen color so much I think I'm going to use it on a sweet little antique dresser I'll be working on next week.

            I swapped the clunky dorky faux Chippendale pulls for sleek and sophisticated vintage bail brass pulls salvaged from another project and recolored all the hardware in copper for a bit of sass and sparkle. I liberally distressed the painted surfaces and then sealed it with dark wax. I love how this one turned out!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

One of THOSE Days

        Today started out fine, wonderful actually. I got my kerosene heaters sorted out yesterday, so the workshop was nice and toasty. It was a beautiful crisp morning. I had several delicious gallons of coffee out of one of the gorgeous mugs made for me by my talented pal Rachael at OneEleven Pottery.  And I had two projects nearly done that I felt sure I would finish and have photographed with time to spare enough to spend the afternoon sanding in some new projects.
      "HAHAHAHAHAHAHA" said Fate.

            It was one of those days where everything went wrong. Every little dumb stupid thing that slowed me down. I misplaced my paint brush a thousand times, I lost screws and bail brass posts, I could not get the damn hardware to work on another damn piece. That was actually the climax of the horrible day, around 2pm, hands literally bloody from trying so hard for so long to get the stupid bastard faulty posts to catch the stupid too short machine screws. Sobbing, I finally threw one of the drawers, which of course smashed, and stormed off to take a second prozac chased with whiskey.

        Then I had to go back to the workshop, put the broken drawer back together, windex my bloody finger prints off the paint, and work for two MORE hours to get those six pulls to finally all be attached. Sometimes I hate my job. This was one of those sometimes.

        On the plus side, I'm now knee deep in a delicious martini, I've lost four pounds in the last two days (all from vented rage?), and I only accidentally dropped and smashed one giant jar of olives at the grocery store while buying supplies to re-heat spaghetti and meatballs (I don't cook, but I can re-heat grocery store cooking!). And this sideboard. This sideboard is on the plus side.

         This sideboard is on the plus side the same way my dogs are on the plus side. Just looking at them makes me happy, just thinking of them makes me happy. Same with this darling sideboard. It has never wronged me, not once. In fact, I suspect this sideboard is rather miraculous.

           A client approached me last week looking for just such a piece, and I'd been eyeing this one for a while on craigslist. The price dropped the day she messaged me, so already we've got some serious furniture serendipity.

           I had a hell of time lining my wacky schedule up with the seller, in the end the only day that worked was Friday. Do ya'll locals remember this past Friday? When it alternated pouring and drizzling non stop? Yeeeaaaaaa. It was a white knuckle ride all the way out to this guy's house, in the rain, thinking something along the lines of "shit shit shit, it's going to rain and I'm going to ruin this sideboard before I even get it home". The moment I pulled into the driveway of the modest raised ranch the skies cleared, and stayed clear all the way home I think there were even some heavenly rays beaming down on my truck, possibly a chorus of angels. The skies had parted like Moses parted the Red Sea, I checked the radar it *should* have been pouring, but it wasn't. Even while I hefted this beast out of my truck and into my workshop by myself nary a droplet fell. The second I closed the workshop door it started pouring like holy hell.

         Perhaps even more miraculous, the top of this c.1930 mahogany piece is flawless, the drawers work perfectly, it's nice and sturdy, the doors don't stick, the drawer pulls came off and back on easily. Nothing about this piece made me want to tear my hair out and run screaming profanities up into the mountains to hide from society until the end of time.

          So let's all raise our martini glasses to this sweet sideboard (I'm assuming you all drink strong liquor on wednesdays too?). She is a beauty with a kindly heart and streak of wicked good luck.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Green, Blue, Green

This post is essentially a photo dump. I finished five pieces of furniture today, making the most of the  last warm and sunny day until May (Just re-read that and shuddered hard). Goodbye summer, goodbye paint and poly that dries with the speed of light, goodbye long days with loads of work time, goodbye tag sales and flea markets, goodbye gardens bursting with flowers for staging, goodbye iced coffee, goodbye not having to wear seven layers while I work.

         I suppose we'll make it through this one like we have every other, though if last year's mild winter is any indication, we're gonna get walloped, three feet of standing snow and another nor'easter on the way style. I should pack up and move this entire business to San Diego, and straight away; Winter is no good for the furniture trade. So while I batten down the financial and emotional hatches, here's the very last harvest from the fruits of my summer labor.

           The little solid mahogany aesthetic movement table was in a revealing state when I found her in the second to last row of vendors at the Elephant's Trunk flea market this past Sunday. Revealing in that it was topless, that is (oo lala). Likely it had originally had a marble top, but it was long gone. I added a new board top, and painted the whole thing in a fun shade of sea glass green that I've named 'Green Sea'.

            The dresser came to me from Carl the Furniture Guy on Monday. It's a lovely early 20th century solid oak piece. I painted it in a custom mixed pale blue that I've named 'Orchard Beach Fog', and refinished the glorious top to play up the fine graining of the hundred year old wood.

           The mirror above the oak dresser is almost exactly the same age, c.1900. I purchased it on Saturday at the ReStore in Cromwell hoping to place it in my own home, but sadly I couldn't find a spot. Good luck for one of you though! It's beveled and beautiful and painted in a custom mixed stormy blue named "Cold Front".

            Last but not least is a vintage handmade solid cedar chest. It's always a tricky wording as some cedar chests are also maple, or mahogany and simply cedar lined. This one is a CEDAR CHEST, front to back and all the way through. It's gorgeously made, but the top of it is really the star of the show. I sanded the sickly yellowing surface off to reveal the spectacular wood below, stained, and re-sealed it. I painted the case in a soft custom green named 'Dying Sage' because after several solid frosts my sage is damn near dead and almost exactly this shade of green, lovely in a haunting sort of way that only October and November ever really capture.

       And with that I wish you all a lovely evening. It's going to be raining for a good part of the next three days, so I'm going to take a little time off to clean my poor house and workshop, and putz around. I'll be back with loads more at the front end of next week!

Gilt-y Pleasure

Oh it's so fun to go a bit over the top sometimes. I personally like fairly reserved, subdued furniture forms; farm tables, antique oak dressers with lots of straight lines, a big chunky hutch. This sweet vintage French Provincial desk is the polar opposite of all those things. It's charming and cheeky and curvy in every possible place. And I JUST LOVE IT.
        I refinished this piece custom for a client to go in her daughter's room. We went with Benjamin Moore's Rose Rococo for the case, and loads of gold detailing to amp the "wow" factor up even higher. I kept the original pulls but recolored them to match all the gilding. I had to do a ton of work on the surface, removing most of the damaged veneer from around the feet, and even replacing one foot. But as you can see, this desk is good as gold now. I refinished the veneer top and stained it dark, but painted the lip of the top in gold. I painted the insides of the drawers in a deeper shade of rose for a little pop of color when you open them.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Bachelor's Chest in Aqua

What, you may ask is a bachelor's chest, or possibly, WHY is it a bachelor's chest?? Glad you asked!

       Bachelor's chests are petite, shallow chests of drawers, generally with a built in writing surface or other thoughtful accoutrement. I've seen 18th century examples, though only English ones, so I'll have to ask my Antiques Dealer pals if they've ever handled an american first period one.

       As to the why, well these easily transportable highly function pieces were meant for the quarters of unmarried men. In their current, unmarried living conditions, out earning a living and setting up what would in the future be a (hopefully) lucrative career, but not yet settled to a stately and furnished home, this was the perfect piece. It provides storage and a writing surface, but takes up little space and can rather easily be schlepped from boarding house to boarding house, or wherever the young man's journey might take him.

        This is a second period bachelor's chest. Second period meaning not an early and rare antique of significant value from the late 18th or early 19th century, when we first see this form, but also not a recent reproduction. It is in fact near earning its own "antique" title, as it's likely about 80 years old, and anything over 100 can be formally called an antique by the discerning collector. I use the term 'antique' a little more loosely, because the only things I'm discerning about are whiskey and company.

         Carl the Furniture Guy brought this cutie to me, along with a group of five or six other pieces of furniture. Would you believe every single piece has already been spoken for? Hot diggity! This mahogany bachelor's chest is going to a local client of mine who just recently purchase a secretary of mine that's almost the same age. We used the secretary as a color inspiration, and kept the original lovely oval brass pulls. Now it's elegant, and demure and classic and on it's way to a loving home!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

It's the Little Things

The quickest mini post for four little items I refinished last week. I got all of them at the ReStore in Cromwell. It's nice sometimes to attack small, easily doable projects, practically instant gratification! I did all of these, and two mirror on Friday afternoon, from start to finish!