Thursday, March 16, 2017

A French Provincial Tall Chest in Green

This was just one of those lucky things. My husband and I happened to swing through the Glastonbury goodwill last week (one of our favorite diversions on date day-Sunday Afternoon). He likes to look at the boards games and see if there's any classical CDs, I'm looking for basically everything. And that Sunday afternoon I struck pay dirt. An immaculate solid cherry c.1965 French Provincial tall chest. The only sad part was that it had a gooooorgeous matching low chest that someone had already bought. Ah well, at least I got this darling.
        A refinished the chest custom for a client to go in her toddler daughter's room. She opted for a cheerful spring of spring green, "Aloe My Love" which is a custom Heir and Space color I used on a hutch about a month ago. I kept as much of the original hardware as possible, but because one of the top pulls was missing, I had to re-arrange a bit. I went with circular solid brass backplates and salvaged brass knobs that had the perfect oxidation to match the patina of the original lower pulls. I kept two of the remaining three backplates, but moved them to the center of the drawers as keyhole escutcheons. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this drawer pull arrangement is actually MUCH better looking than the original was.
          Finally, I refinished the solid cherry top, playing up it's rich deep tones to contrast playfully with the spring green.

Two Dressers and a Desk

It occurs to me that I shared these pictures over on my Facebook page but didn't add them to the blog.  The desk and dresser pair came from the ReStore- c.1940, solid mahogany, made by the Hungerford furniture company. I was not at all sure I could save the tops, but they sanded up beautifully! I painted the cases in Benjamin Moore's Dark Basalt which is a fabulous murky shade of eggplant. Finally, I swapped the pulls out for smart brass knobs.
         The second dresser is solid maple c.1960. I can't remember where I got it, but I've had it for a while now and it was finally time to give it a fresh start. I refinished the top, replaced the clunky pulls with more brass knobs, and painted the case in a custom mixed shade of deep aqua.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Pine Sideboard in Blue

Oh boy.
This one was SO ugly when I first got it. I am beyond grateful to have clients with vision, who trust me to lead them down paths as terrifying as this beast was when I first got it.
This is as heinous as 1970s dark pine can get, and the surface was shot. So shot, like literally I think some hillbilly had been firing bird shot at it for at least a decade... that may be a bit of an exaggeration. But you don't need to hear it from me. A picture's worth a thousand wine induced blogging hyperboles-

Ouch. But when I first saw it, I didn't see all the scratches or that horrible stain job, or those atrocious pulls, or allllllll the scratches in the top that I hoped I could sand out. No, what I saw is that the doors and drawers are carved so that they bow out, and there are columns. You know how many times I've seen a sideboard like this? Zero times. This is the only one I've ever seen. I have never ever seen that treatment on the doors and drawers. I can't imagine how tricky that was to do, and it was very very effective. So striking in person!
         I patched this poor darling up, and refinished the top, swapped the pulls, and painted the case in Benjamin Moore's 'Blue Lagoon'. I actually layered the color over a custom mixed shade that's a tad more towards blue for a nice time-worn paint finish. The interior and the drawer interiors are in a rich navy blue.
        Which just goes to show you, furniture can be saved. Good solid wood vintage furniture can be saved. You know what can't be saved? That crap most furniture stores are selling now.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Garth's Will be the Death of Me

I love Garth's Auction. I fangirl it. If they had posters I would put them up all over my workshop and gaze longingly at them during my frequent breaks to warm my hands over my sputtering kerosene heater. And I'll have you know I've been a hardcore fan of Garth's for years now, being a dork, embarrassing myself with enthusiasm for their incredible Americana sales. Somewhere I have a selfie I took posing with one of their catalogs like seven years ago. I tried to scroll back through my twitter pictures to find it, but uhhhhh, there's a lot of selfies on my twitter page apparently, so you'll just have to take my word for it.
            Their latest catalog for their March 18th Country Americana Sale went live on Saturday afternoon and I immediately dove in, oohing and aahing over all the exceptional treasures they've managed to pull together. Because, here's the thing that sets Garth's apart. Garth's gets it. They get what antiques need to be to remain relevant in a modern home. They get that daring colors and bold forms are where it's at. If anyone can attract and enchant a young buying audience, it's Garth's. Their stuff is So. Damn. COOL.
            So here I am, on a sunny but chilly Monday morning, waiting for my workshop to warm up, chomping at the bit to get out there and get working, because the inspiration tanks are at 'Full' once more, thanks to Garth's. (edit- yes I know it's Wednesday evening now. I started writing this Monday, but these word-heavy posts, well they take a couple sessions.)
You can view the entire catalog here - And HERE are my favorites from the sale!
Lot 1
A mid 19th century pine cupboard.
This sale storms out of the gates! This is literally the very first lot, and look at it! Magnificent! It's such a great size, tall and narrow, perfect to add a bit of height and storage to any room. AND THAT COLOR. Killing me! And the superb curve to the apron. It's just incredible. How can something be this beautiful?! 

Lot 3
A New York stoneware crock, second half of the 19th century, by N. Clark Jr. of Athen's NY.
Now I don't usually go in for cobalt embellished stoneware, but this crock is particularly arresting.  The parrot is beyond charming, and so graphic. I love the coloring, that deep blue against that soft hazy gray- I think I might need to mix two new colors to capture it on a piece of furniture. Finally, there's just something so modern about this utilitarian piece, that's withstood the trials of time and use, and is still so joyously engaging. 

Lot 6
A mid 19th century walnut scrub top farm table.
Absolute perfection. That's what this humble unassuming farm table is. It's so flawed and therefore so flawless. There's a funny splay to the legs, and it dips down into the center. It's beautiful. It reminds me of an old walnut stairway handrail at some illustrious ancient public building, where people have run their hands up and down it a million gazillion times, until that piece of wood is polished and smooth as silk, a slick as ice, as hard and deep and rich as ebony. No short term effort could ever replicate that effect. 
It's a thing that time has made so much more beautiful than it ever was new.
Just picture this table in a country kitchen, with big baskets brimming over with flowers strewn across it, fresh from the flea market. This table is essential for the country idyll about which we all daydream.

Lot 8
An early 20th century sheet metal weathervane in old red paint.
Look at this cheeky bastard!! What a charmer!! Dare I say- Such cockiness!! He deserves to be center stage. He demands all your attention. He should be the centerpiece on a long farm table, or preening over the living room mantel. I love him.
I think I have a crush on him. He doesn't care though, he'll never return my texts,
 he's clearly too cool for that. 

Lot 38
A mid 19th century oil on artist board painting of a street scene.
This little painting is a jewel. That's a term my old boss would use when he'd come across something small that packed a big BIG punch. Look at all the character our artist has crammed into this little vignette. It draws you in, it invites you to speculate, to assign it a story. Signed simply "C.W.", it is a mystery and will likely remain a mystery,
but oh it is a fabulous mystery, and a triumph of folk art.
I'd love to see this placed alone over a sofa or a pair of chairs on a wall far too big for it, forcing you to look at it, and it alone, beckoning you to walk right up to it to inspect and admire.

Lot 40
A flame birch Massachusetts Chippendale chest of drawers, late 18th century.
This little Chippendale chest of drawers is all feet and attitude, like it's about to stomp into a room and tell a bawdy joke.
The feet are endearingly clumsy, and the drawer fronts are beautifully figured. This isn't a fancy schmancy brings $200,000 at Christie's type of Chippendale chest, and that's why I love it. This chest of drawers has Character, and gusto, and somehow a sense of humor. It's my top pick of the sale, I would chop my arm off for it, though last I checked, Garth's STILL isn't accepting severed limbs as form of payment. 

Lot 43
Three peaseware containers, Ohio 2nd half of the 19th century
So I know you think I'm a bottomless font of antiques knowledge (HAHAHAHA), but there are limits. For example, I had no idea what peaseware is, in fact, I didn't even know it existed until I read through this Garth's catalog. So when I saw this darling set of graduated turned wooden urns that all but glow with patinated luster, I headed straight to google. And OF COURSE, the helpful article that came up first was written by my dear friend Amelia Jeffers, of Garth's Auction.
She tells it far better than I can sum, and it's nice a brief- so read the article here 
I love that these have a Connecticut connection. They'd be sooooo yummy lined up on a dining room sideboard, or on an open shelf in a country kitchen!!

Lot 46
Late 18th century Chippendale blanket chest
SURFACE. That's what we're here for. And don't get me wrong, those big bracket feet are sweet as hell, but UGH, this surface is so great. The softest, sweetest old dry red paint you'll ever see. It's like the ember glow of a dying fire.
Clearly perfect for the foot of a bed, or under the eaves, or in a hallway, or anywhere. 
You could put this beauty anywhere, just don't put it in a corner.
nobody puts baby in a corner. 
*you can kick me out now, that's absolutely the worst joke I've ever made*

Lot 77
A deliciously petite mahogany veneer over pine secretary- New England 1835-1860
I know I already said I have a top pick for the sale, but this is also my top pick for the sale. Both.
I'll take one of each, please garçon.
I love EVERYTHING about this secretary, so let's start at the top and work our way down. That oversized molding across the top is spectacular, the crotch mahogany figuring of the top doors, again, spectacular. The three wee little drawers just above the interior desk portion- spectacular. THE GLASS KNOBS, the figuring of the drawer fronts- spectacular.
 and finally, oh my dear sweet Nellie, THOSE FEET.
I love classical furniture. It's my favorite. And I think that's a very well informed favorite because you have no idea how much furniture I look at every single hour of every single day. Mountains of furniture, enough furniture to fill the Marianas Trench four times over.
This is simply the sweetest, most precocious piece of furniture I've ever laid eyes upon. It's a doll, it practically has ringlets. This is the Shirley Temple of desks. I want to tap dance with it. 

Lot 140
Whimsical ink on paper sketch of a cat mid 19th century, inscribed "Billy"
Truth be told- I'm not much of a cat person. I was entirely a cat person until I got two border collies, and then I realized cat's really aren't much fun, or maybe it's that nothing is as fun as two border collies. They are very very fun.
That doesn't mean I hate cats, I just could take or leave them.
That being said, I am wholly a fan of people who love their pets so much that they feel a compulsive need to draw them.
I absolutely get that, and it's wonderful. And I'm happy for Billy (I'm going to assume that's the cat's name), that he was so loved. Billy was probably a good boy, though doesn't he look cross and sassy in this drawing. OR maybe Billy was a complete jerk, cross and sassy, and his owner was all like, "You know what Billy, I'm through with your shit, I'm going to capture your insolent sulking visage precisely so that in a hundred and seventy years people will be like- Billy was possibly not a good cat!"
Either way. Isn't this just a superb little drawing. Would make such a great gift.

Lot 146
Two American Mallard decoys, dated 1900 and 1901 and signed "FWT Peoria"
Funny story about duck decoys. Before I painted furniture full time for a living, I worked for one of the best antiques firms in the country. Bizarrely, it's ten minutes from our house, in a gorgeous antique meeting house in a quiet little town. The business handled the great stuff, really really top shelf, take your breath away, examples of early American antiques. We regularly sold pieces that were worth as much as my house- usually incredible pieces of 18th century furniture, but the highest price item we handled while I worked there was *drum roll* a duck decoy.
My boss purchased it at auction during antiques week in January in New York on behalf of a client.
If memory serves, that damn decoy was $740,000.
Just. WHAT.
That blew my mind then. It still blows my mind. I just had to take an extra big sip of wine to calm my blown mind.
These ducks are worth a bit less than that one, apparently- but don't ask me how or why, because I like these two way WAAAAAAY better. I've never cared about decoys before at all, but goodness these fellas are handsome as all get out.
They're estimated to bring $500-$800 together, so that's not out of the realm of possibility for me.
They'd look so dandy "paddling" across a long narrow shelf. 

A Vintage Oak Buffet in Tuscan Teal

Well. I LOVE how this came out. And a lot of credit goes to the client who commissioned me to work on it. These colors- the deep teal, the pop of coral on the interior, the heavy distressing, the finish with a dark glaze, the silver hardware- none of them would have been my first instinct for this piece. But they are absolutely perfect for it. Spot on. It's never looked better. I think it's my favorite buffet I've ever done.
The gal is going to put it in her kitchen as extra counter/storage space. I also raised the piece up almost two inches by adding a second base to the original, making it a better height for serving and prep. It has a definite Southwestern feel, so I staged it with one of my very favorite paintings that I scored last summer at the Elephant's Trunk flea market, and some antique German mineral spirit bottles, and some succulents. This one makes me so happy. They all make me happy, but this one especially!
       Stay tuned tomorrow I've got yet another buffet to show you!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A Vintage Hutch in Linen and Ivory

I knew I was going to love this hutch just from the initial picture the client sent me. It's a classic form, but with so many thoughtful details that really set it apart, and after refinishing hundreds of these vintage hutches, the details make a world of difference.
          It's c.1960, solid rock maple, just immaculate, well cared for and wonderfully built to begin with. But it was dated, with that orange-y opaque varnish that is always always found on these pieces. It was time for an update so this family piece could continue to bring elegance and storage to its home for generations to come.
          The clients opted for classically timeless elements for the update: linen exterior and an ivory backboard, burnished copper hardware, and a very light distressing, juuuuust enough to make the beautiful lines of the piece pop a bit. Finally we went with a blonde tone for the top- it's the original maple stained with minwax "Natural" and then sealed.
          The hutch is going to a room filled with white, black, and crimson- and I pulled from that palette for inspiration when staging it. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. So fresh and modern!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Vintage Pecan Sideboard in Gray and Mustard

I love a piece with a bit of a surprise interior. It's like the M. Night Shyamalan of furniture flips.
The script would read-
 "Oh look, an elegant vintage sideboard with lovely lines in a soft shade of demure gray..."
*opens doors*
            And it's funny that both this sideboard and the last one I just showed you have that in common. Lady in the streets but a freak in the... color option for interior, ok that one kind of fell apart but let's roll with it. 
       I got this funky sideboard from the ReStore last week. The price was right and I knew that top would be a doll when refinished. I did this piece custom for a pair of clients who have now had Heir and Space in two of their homes, which is super cool! And they have a great eye for design. This vintage beast was so dated before, but they could totally see the potential! It's funny how much more modern a piece can be with what amounts to just a new color scheme! We went with a custom mixed gray for the exterior, which I've named "Blackstock Granite", and a bold pop of mustard for the interior bin drawers, because why the hell not! I refinished the top, it's pecan, it's flawless, I'm pretty proud of it. 

A Mahogany Sideboard in Cream

Sooooo sorry for the long break in content this past week. I've got a workshop jam packed with furniture, but I started all of it at approximately the same time (Sunday) so it's all now going to be finished one after another- which means lots of new things to show you in the next few days (yay!!).

      First we have this magnificent Federal style c.1940 mahogany sideboard. It's the best one I've ever had. The form is a particular favorite of mine, refined, just a bit whimsical, and utterly drop dead-knock your socks off elegant. I got the piece from the MIT Furniture Exchange in Cambridge. My pal Julie essentially used it as a lure to finally get me up there to see all the awesome things they have going on. If you're in the Boston area, there's no way there's a better source for furniture for
refinishing. SO MUCH COOL STUFF!! And the gals that work there are wicked nice to boot.

          A pair of dear clients of mine snapped up the sideboard as soon as I sent them a picture. I knew they'd been hunting for a while for the perfect piece for their gorgeous dining room. And I won't lie, I'm thrilled this wonderful piece is going to live in such a spectacular room, it deserves it.

         We went with an antique cream for the case, Cream Froth, and a bold take-no-prisoners blue for the interior. We opted to keep the original drawer pulls because, I mean really, they're obscenely lovely, and I refinished the mahogany top nice and dark and shiny and smooth. One of these days I'm going to find another of these sideboards and keep it for myself, and I'm going to paint it spicy pale green...and have to redecorate my entire house to make room for it. A gal can dream!