Tuesday, January 31, 2017

An Empire Chest in Midnight Blue

Every New Englander worth their salt knows what a snow sky looks like. It's an opaque unbroken sheet of opaline white across the whole sky. And I swear you can smell snow long before it arrives. Snow on the air smells kind of metallic, and blue if blue had a scent.
            We have a snow sky right now, and the air indeed smells hard of snow. The little storm is going to plow through the state this afternoon and dump a few inches in a matter of hours. Sadly it's supposed to stay cold the rest of the foreseeable future, so this bit is going to stick around for a while, and turn crusty brown and trampled. I hate winter, and I hate snow. It makes my job SO much more complicated and unpleasant, but there again, Spring is only a month and a half away. almost there.
             This morning I spent an unpleasant hour trying to replace the wick in my kerosene heater in my workshop. I failed miserably and managed to wreck the heater in the process, and now I have a chilly workshop. After giving up the whole kero-catastrophy as a bad job, I zipped up to the grocery store to buy some flowers. At that point the sun was still weakly leaching through thin clouds on the southeastern horizon, and it was juuuuuuust enough natural light to quickly photograph this wonderful 19th century empire chest of drawers.
               Empire furniture was popular in American from about 1830 to 1915. This piece dates to the last quarter of the 19th century, maybe about 1880. It's beautifully built, but as the pine secondary wood dried out and shrunk over time, the mahogany veneer applied to it cracked and chipped (because mahogany, a denser wood, does not shrink at the same rate as pine does). Though the piece was still sturdy as a rock, and the drawers all still worked perfectly, it was an unsightly mess of chips, and loss. Had it been in better condition, I would have left it be, as I did with a very similar one this past Autumn. This one, being such a surface train wreck, was the perfect candidate for a paint-y rejuvenation!
                 I wanted to give the paint surface a layered, time-worn look, so it wouldn't be jarring against the elegant lines of the chest. I mixed up a batch of a brand new color, the deepest darkest shade of midnight blue, and layered it over several initial coats of a powdery blue. I then distressed the final paint coat with 220 and 80 grit sandpaper by hand, to allow the light blue to peek through, especially at the edges and angles. I sealed the whole thing with dark wax for a luminescent satin-y finish. I LOVE how this piece turned out! And now it's ready for a new home!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Vintage Cherry Hutch in Butterscotch and Brass

If you're paying super close attention, you've already seen this hutch refinished once before. I painted it late last fall, and it got aaaaaabsolutely no attention, which is practically criminal- It's solid cherry, made by Temple Stuart c.1960, absolutely flawless. I suspect my initial pictures weren't very good, and I originally had the pulls in a bright pewter that I don't think any of us were really feeling.
       Today I changed up the color of the hardware, re-staged it, and re-photographed. Let's see if we can find this sweet piece a new home!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Curly Maple Tall Chest in Dove Gray

Oh god. I do love curly maple. So much. It's my favorite. I'm a hopeless sucker for it. I really wanted to keep this piece, and put it in my guest room, but for it to match the rest of the decor in the room it would have needed to stay all wood, which wasn't possible since I needed to do a bit of repair work on it.
         Both front feet were missing big chunks out of them, a fact I was not aware of until the moment Carl the Furniture Guy hauled it out of the back of his trailer a couple weeks ago. My heart sank when I saw it. The feet were the best part, so true to the original Chippendale form! When something is that badly hobbled, I can hardly sell the piece, but I neither did I want to keep it for myself, busted feet and all.
         It stayed in a corner of my workshop in furniture limbo until the start of this week, when I happened to open a drawer and make the happiest discovery, some thoughtful person had saved every single piece of the broken feet! Now, rebuilding broken feet from scratch is a tall task but repairing broken feet with all the parts?! No problemo. As a dear friend of mine once said, a good repair is better than the original wood is whole. I meticulously fixed these guys, and they're absolutely flawless once more. Such a satisfying thing, to put a wonderful antique aright once more.
             I kept the drawer fronts and the top in wood, sanding and re-staining them to play up the exceptional figuring of the maple. I painted the case, sides, and base in a pale shade of dove gray. I kept the original pulls but painted them as well, for a little bit of contrast.

An Art Deco Bedroom Set

Whoops! It's been a whole week since I last posted! I am sorry for that. I've been buried up to my eyeballs in furniture since I got back from the Winter Antiques Show, but now we'll all get to enjoy the fruits of my paint splattered labors.
        First up is this spectacular c.1930 Art Deco walnut and mahogany bedroom set. It was brought to me by a new client who was hoping for a fresh look for the guest room of her new home. The set has descended in her family, so we wanted to be sure to respect the longevity of the pieces, while still giving them an updated look. Luckily, paint is extremely non-invasive when it comes to upgrading furniture, so if in twenty years she decides to bring these beauties back to wood, it'll be no trickier than if we'd left them as is. In fact, that paint will add a protective layer against moisture and wear and tear, shielding the lovely woods underneath. It's a win-win situation!
         The client opted for a soft, hazy blue-green for the paint and we kept the original bakelite and brass drawer pulls. I lightly distressed the painted surfaces and sealed them with wax. There's a matching bed too, but beds are a bastard to photograph and never look nice in the pictures, despite all the trouble!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Prepping for the Party

Oh goodness! Only one more day until I'll be at the Opening Night Party of the Winter Antiques Show!! I've been to the Winter Antiques Show somewhere around five times now- always a treat as the art and antiques are the very best in the world, and that is not hyperbole. It's the pinnacle of the entire antiquing year. I've even been to the Opening Night Party three times- though I was there working, on the selling side, not the attending side. This is the first time EVER I've gotten to actually attend the party and thoroughly take it all in! I'm beyond excited! Look at all these exclamation points!!!!!
         Two weeks ago I bought a dress at Nordstrom for the party - which is fancy/cocktail- but it never sat right with me. I can't quite put my finger on what's wrong with the dress, just not quite what I wanted. So then I bought a second dress from Nordstrom, ordered it online, and it was HILARIOUS when it arrived. You know what Shirley Temple wears when she's singing 'Good Ship Lollipop'? It's that dress, but in blue. Whoops.

         Last night, in desperation I went to TJMaxx thinking maybe I could find something there. They had about four dresses total, and all were awful. Finally, as a last ditch hope I wandered into the Goodwill. JACKPOT. I found the perfect dress. It's green, my favorite color, it fits like a dream, it's fun and playful and fancy but not too fancy, and I think I can wear it for other occasions too, AND it was $6. Which, the Nordstrom dresses were $146 and $96 respectively, I'll be returning them both tonight. Not only did I find the perfect dress for the Opening Night Party, I found another perfect dress to wear for the lecture I'm giving at the end of April in Ohio. Score!!

          None of this is surprising. Of course I'm more comfortable is a budget friendly secondhand dress. To thine own self be true, eh?

           I bought the shoes I'm wearing to the party at DSW last week for $8.50. They were marked down 80%. The necklace is vintage costume jewelry, a $1 flea market find that looks so smashing with the dress, and the bag, well I'm still trying to decide whether to bring a gold bag I found at the goodwill years ago and never used, or a vintage clutch that's a flea market find- both were $5 when I bought them.

            So that means I'll be schmoozing with movie stars, academics, and Manhattan's elite in an outfit that cost a grand total of $20.50. That's how we do it!

          Probably no one will be looking at me, or my outfit, or how killer I look in said outfit (I've been hitting the gym and living on cereal and irritation for weeeeeeeks). Everyone will be looking at the amazing antiques that pack every single booth of this singularly incredible show.
My dear friend David Schorsch, who puts together a spectacular booth for the show every year, has been posting teaser pictures on his Facebook page, and they're making me batty with anticipation!

          If you want to follow along with the fun tomorrow- I'll be live tweeting the entire experience from the train ride to the city, to trying to figure out how to do my makeup so I don't look like a gutter troll, to all the spectacular objects at the show, and the drinks, and the yummy foods, and all the famous people I meet. My twitter is here ---->twitter.com/tagsalegirl

          When I get home on Saturday I'll also be putting together a blog post chock full of photos of all the gorgeous antiques I spot while touring the show!

If you're anywhere in the Northeast, or don't mind a bit of travel- The Winter Antiques Show runs from Friday Jan. 20th through Sunday Jan. 29th at the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan. It's a wonderful and worthy way to spend a winter day!
Check out their website here for more details! http://winterantiquesshow.com

This is what I'm wearing tomorrow night!!

plan B vintage flea market find clutch. 

Taken from inside my changing room at the goodwill- I'm all about these easy colorful dresses!

Some of the amazing teaser close-ups my friend David Schorsch has been sharing in the lead up to tomorrow night's Opening Night Party at the Winter Antiques Show
You can see more of his amazing objects here!
And finally- to whet your appetite (and mine!) here are some of the incredible antiques I saw at last year's Winter Antiques Show!

Monday, January 16, 2017

A Vintage Federal Mahogany China Cabinet in Gray and Linen

I've done a few pieces in this palette over the years, and I've done a few of these sweet vintage Federal china cabinets as well, but I've never been able to get a proper picture, either of this color scheme, or of this style of cabinet. FINALLY I'm pleased with the pictures of this one. Yay!!!!
      The cabinet was brought to me by some new clients who live in a stunning house in town. They're filling their home with antiques, which is about the most exciting thing ever! They scored this stunner from an antique shop down near the shore, and I can hardly blame them for snapping it up.
It's So. Elegant.
        They admired a piece I finished for another client a few months back, so we went with the same colors, a soft true gray, a linen interior, and light distressing to highlight the architecture of the piece. I staged it with big bunches of pink mums because I'm all the way ready for Spring!
         I'm going to post the before and after on my Facebook page even though I know this is going to be one of those pieces that gets the nut jobs all riled up and squawking "I can't believe you painted that!!", but that's ok, I rather relish shutting down the trolls :-)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Color is Where It's At

Let's stop painting all our walls white. Let's stop filling all those white rooms with white 'shabby chic' furniture, or worse, junk from ikea. Let's stop buying monochromatic mass produced art posters and fake chippy paint black and white signs that say "Live! Laugh! Love!".
        I believe in you. I believe in your ability to fill your home with amazing, unique, challenging objects that speak to all the colors in your soul. And I'm here to help. Always pleased to push the limits, to paint a piece of furniture in a color that makes your guests do a double take, and makes your great aunt Hettie fret over the unbridled boldness of your style.
        Make 2017 the year you live more colorfully.