Thursday, April 20, 2017

An Oak Buffet in Green

I've been cutting back on my blog posts a bit, they take up a lot of time that I can be using to actually work on furniture. I might posting more once things quiet down around here a bit, or maybe not.
      Either way I definitely wanted to write a post on this unique and wonderful vintage oak buffet. I say vintage because, to be honest, I'm not entirely sure just how old it is. It could be over a hundred years old, or right around a hundred years old, or it could be slightly newer. I've tentatively dated it to 1915-1935. One of the things that's throwing me off on assigning a more specific date is the form. It's kind of an over the top Jacobean interpretation, and certainly we see that quite a bit, especially in dining room pieces, during the 1920s, but I've never seen one so compact, robust, and well built. For those reasons, I suspect it may actually have been made in England, not America. Either way, I'm sure it has stories to tell!
          One of the stories it told me was "someone very stupid left something wet on my top for a very very long period time'. That's one of my least favorite stories, black water stains are a bastard to remove. I tried everything to sand and bleach the water damage out of the top, no dice. And I didn't want to risk removing the oak veneer top, because gods know what's under it. So I tried something new, something I'd never done before but always assumed was way waaaaaaay outside my abilities- I replaced the veneer top. And holy smokes, GAME CHANGEER. It was SO easy to do, SO affordable, and, well, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves in terms of results-

I refinished the piece custom for a client. She used a thistle as inspiration for the colors, very fitting because interwoven on the impressive applied molding are four big stylized thistles! I won't lie. I'm so in love with this piece, and so sooooooo pleased with how it turned out!

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Cherry Sideboard in Yellow

How wonderful is this vintage cherry sideboard in yellow! It's Queen Anne style, all elegant curves and luscious legs, a symphony in cherry, but oh that sticky dark stain was holding it back! I refinished it custom for a client in Benjamin Moore's Hawthorne yellow, with new drawer pulls, and a much lighter and more playful top. Now it's all ready for a modern home!
I also had a fun time staging it, matching one of my favorite antique still life paintings with flowers picked fresh from my garden, and an urn from my pottery collection!

A Bennington Pine Dresser in Blue

I remember the last time I was this frantic with stress and work. It was last August. And then too, it was the blog that suffered, so again, sorry that I'm not updating as frequently as before, but also again, if you're worried about missing any content-every single scrap of furniture I slap with a paint brush gets posted to both my instagram account (@heirandspace) and my facebook page (
          Two new posts tonight though!
So first and foremost. I LOVE THIS TIME OF YEAR!!!!! I mean yes, I'm so stressed and busy that at any moment I may very well burst into tears, and I currently have the focus of a concussed gnat, but BUT everything is blooming! The daffodils, the hyacinth, the cherry trees, the pear trees, the magnolia, the dandelions, the violets, and all the trees get are these wonderful fluffy neon green poofs. It's just perfection. Absolute complete and total perfection.
         And speaking of perfection, how about this c.1970 solid pine dresser by Bennington! I loooooove Bennington, they're one of my very favorite furniture manufacturers. Their stuff is always chunky, and robust, and beautifully built, and SO UGLY when it starts. Perfect for an upcycle. I bought this dresser at the flea market a few weeks ago and a new client snatched it up for a custom refinish for her baby son's room.  We went with a custom mixed deep blue, a fairly light top that really shows off the pine grain, and new (vintage) pulls.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Federal Dresser From the Side of the Road

I'm swamped. Desperately desperately swamped. Have you ever seen a ship get swamped? I haven't in person, but I've seen videos, and I've read multiple books about such nautical disasters  (Perfect Storm is a must read). Anyway what happens is the ship encounters some problem- usually rough seas, and the more angry unrelenting ocean crashes into and over the deck, the more the ship lists, and the lower it sits in the water, which means even more water can flow in at an even faster rate in an exponential sinking curve, up the curve climbs, ever steeper, and down the ship goes.
That's me right now.

I'm so happy to be so busy, and so completely booked with custom work, but my eye has started to twitch, my heart is constantly skipping beats now, and I keep forgetting to eat. I'm at about a 35% list.
I DID NOT need more on my plate... but then, driving home from the flea market on Sunday morning I spotted this c.1940 Federal mahogany dresser AND a 1930s walnut dresser with mirror on the side of the road. How could I not stop, surely I should take on more cargo, list or no, I couldn't leave these beauties adrift. The dresser with mirror is also done, and was custom for a client, but this sweet dresser was not spoken for. So even though I have enough custom jobs to keep ten men busy for thirty years, I refinished it straight away. If I don't allow myself an indulgence every now and then, this stops being fun entirely.

        Here is my little indulgence. A piece that practically fell in my lap and had SO much potential. I mixed a custom blue for the piece, and then highlighted all the trim in an even paler shade of blue. I lightly distressed and sealed the case, I refinished the top back to a deep rich mahogany, and swapped the drawer pulls for salvaged brass knobs that I colored a patina'd dusky shade.
        I love this piece. I'm not sorry for playing hookey from other more pressing things to reinvent it. But now I have to work doubly hard to bail out of my ever increasing list. If I make it to May with my sanity intact, it's going to be a miracle.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Vanity in Black

Another spot on set of design choices by this client for this c.1920 walnut veneer over chestnut vanity. It's a miraculous piece to begin with, all the glorious carving and detail work, but the charcoal gray highlighting, the glass knobs, the sophisticated satiny black- perfection.
      This vanity is a family piece- the client's grandmother's, and had been stored in a garage for some time. Moisture exposure had done a bit of a number on it, and the veneer was shedding off it in chips and chunks. Before painting I had to remove all the damaged veneer from the sides of the case, and patch a few chips in the drawer fronts. It worked out for the best because, under the tired walnut veneer, is solid chestnut. Painted a smooth black, the light still catches the graining of the chestnut under the paint, and the effect is sooooo pretty in person.
      After I painted I highlighted all the raised floral detailing with a little paint brush and a pot of charcoal gray paint, then gently sanded with 220 grit before sealing with wax.

A Slant Front Desk in Crimson

This desk was the perfect candidate for painting. The surface was absolutely shot, but the structure was sound, and the form spectacular. Even better- the client went bold with color.
          I don't always agree with client's color choices. I bite my tongue since at the end of the day, I will see the piece, and the color, for a week maybe two. The client will live with it for years, and tastes differ, thank god. If we all liked precisely the same thing, this would be a boring old world indeed, and my job would be unrelentingly dry. Without clients to surprise me and challenge me with their choices, I'd paint everything green, and we'd all be sick of it well before now.
          That being said- I was on board with these design choices from the word go. I WOULD NOT HAVE EVEN CONSIDERED THIS COLOR. Rhubarb, by Benjamin Moore- the interior is also Ben's- Smoke Embers. I wouldn't. Not because I don't love a coral (I do!), but because it's never the first color to pop into my head. As soon as the client suggested it, however, I thought "Yep, that's perfect, abso-f*cking-lutely perfect" (my internal monologue would make a sailor puke, then faint...then maybe go to confessional. Either way, the sailor would be traumatized).
          Rhubarb, Smoke Embers, and we opted to refinish the teensy drawers in the fitted interior in mahogany. Fun fact though, where as the rest of this desk, which was made c.1940 by the Maddox Furniture Company, is mahogany or mahogany veneer, those little drawers are poplar! Charming and cheeky. I kept the original pulls on the interior, they're gold painted turned wood, not brass (I see you maddox, cutting corners you thought no one would spot), as well as the Chippendale escutcheon plate on the lid, and sourced a set of eight bail brass pulls with a matching patina to the escutcheon plate. The client choose to do no distressing, which let me tell you, ups the difficulty level by about 99%, but also looks mighty fine on this desk. And finally I sealed the whole shebang with my homemade dark wax.
        The desk is staged with a collection of vintage and antique brass objects including a mortar and pestal, a pair of wick trimmers, and an ash tray. The wine glass is antique, and the book open on the desk is a bound lady's magazine with hand colored prints and dated 1809. The portrait over the desk is one of my very favorites, an unknown sitter, but is signed "Lois Taylor 1956". I snagged it for $35 about ten years ago, at a flea market in Plainville, CT. Someday I hope to find the young lady sitter, and give her back her portrait.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Weensy Walnut Dresser in White

Everything is white right now. Seventy four million requests for white- all in a row. And then I go out and pick up a new MAGNIFICENT hutch tonight off craigslist- solid mahogany, and on the long drive home I'm thinking about what I should paint it- and all I can think is, white? Definitely white. Clearly I've caught the fever too.
        I'm not sure I could love this piece any more in any other color. It's a late 19th century solid walnut petite chest. I actually have a nearly identical one in my master bedroom. It's a lovely little piece, and the drawers work nicely on it. The client wanted light and bright- so I used just a clear coat on the top- and just like the Art Deco walnut sideboard I just showed you- it pulled pretty dark. But oh so delicious. The white and the gentle distressing bring the details of the applied moldings out so nicely, and contrast perfectly with the top.

Art Deco Sideboard LOVE

There are all these phrases that people claim stereotypical white suburban girls say. They include:
"Can I Just"
"I can't even"
Welllllllllllll. For this c.1930 art deco sideboard- all of the above, but hold the ugg boots and starbucks latte. Seriously though (which I know is also on that list), this sideboard kicks some serious bookend matched mahogany and burled walnut ass. It's so effing terrific. It make's the furniture-ista in me want to do the charleston.
       This was custom for a client. She wanted light and bright but old woods can be as stubborn and willful...which is likely their right if they've managed to survive use and abuse for a hundred or so years. So I sanded the top, and drawer and door fronts, but when I added a clear coat to prep for poly (minwax natural), this is what happened-
It kind of took my breath away. It looks like I'm using a dark walnut stain on pine the difference is so dramatic- but the stain has no pigment, it's just supposed to bring out the luster of the wood. Well...ok then.
Luckily, the client was still pleased with the effect!

I painted the case in linen white-not distressed, but sealed with my patented (not actually) dark wax. The interior is a fun twist in Benjamin Moore's Balsam. We kept the original brass and bakelite drawer pulls but re-colored them for a bit more modern spin.
I think this one is absolutely enchanting. Suuuuuuch a fun and different piece to work totes. ;-)