Wednesday, November 8, 2017

I Vote for Color

I try quite hard not to beat anyone over the head with the whole painted furniture thing, both literally and figuratively. Some people just love a house jammed with dark wood. I get that. Some people love pineapple on their pizza, it's weird, and probably not the best decision, but nor is it *my* decision. That's the beautiful thing about design, there is no right or wrong answer, just the answer that makes you, the homeowner (or apartment renter, or subletter, or guy living in a van down by the river) the happiest. Personally, classic forms in bold colors make me the happiest. It's truly such an excellent compromise- the quality of form and construction of a classic vintage piece, but the updated playful whimsy that suits a modern home. And every home needs some color. I'm counting down the days until the all white and gray joanna gaines fad finally kicks the bucket.
       In celebration of all things fun and colorful, here is an absolutely exceptional 100% solid cherry c.1965 buffet by Harden Furniture Company. I've painted it in a custom color, the exact shade of a bright and crisp November sky. The interior is a custom antique white, and I swapped the clunky lame Chippendale bat-wing pulls for sleek burnished copper cup pulls. I refinished the top, happy to rid the piece of that awful sticky red varnish, and stained it deeper, and far more towards brown.
I think this one's a winner for sure, and probably one of you should take it home!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A China Cabinet in White

Do you know what makes a huge difference? Having my workshop cleaned out. Last week my husband and I spent a full day clearing and cleaning. You could barely walk in the space before, and now it's fully functional once more. It's a massive relief. Then on Sunday I picked up a nice load of fun pieces of fresh furniture to refinish, many of which are now already spoken for! I'm feeling so motivated and hopeful!
       So here's a wonderful c.1945 mahogany china cabinet I just finished up for a client. She opted for white, lightly distressed inside and out, with the shelves refinished for a bit of contrast. SUCH a cool idea, and it turned out so fresh and crisp! I staged it with some pieces of stoneware and a few of my most recent oil paintings of winter scenes. Loads and loads of new furniture to share with you in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Drexel Buffet in Eggplant

Finding balance. November's theme will be Finding Balance. In October I threw myself in several directions with great gusto- painting pictures primarily, but being that there are tragically and irritatingly only 24 hours in a day, other things started to slip faster than a toddler in roller skates standing on a banana peel on a steep incline. Firstly, I was eating like a garbage monster. Seriously, Oscar the Grouch called me up and was like, "slow down on those half stale sour cream and onion potato chips, jesus." And my house was a hot mess, dog fur fluff dust bunnies the size of a cabbage heads, creeping out from under every chair and sofa. Also, dear blog, I neglected you entirely.
      I'm a firm believer in fresh starts. They're a wonderful thing, and any occasion can prompt one. November will be my fresh start.
      Let's start with this perfectly charming c.1945 Drexel Federal mahogany buffet. I bought it at the ReStore last week, and dove right in refinishing it. I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted it in a deep moody shade of plum or eggplant. It's a risky color choice, but it just felt so right for this piece. I went with a reliable favorite, Benjamin Moore's Basalt. The interior is an antique creamy white. I refinished the top to play up the mahogany figuring, and opted to keep the original hardware.
     This was one of those pieces that gave me no trouble during the refinishing process, a rare bird indeed it seemed in October, when every other thrice damned piece was a nightmare. This darling was a walk in the park, I think it has good ju-ju, probably that means one of you should definitely buy it. Guaranteed to bring its good ju-ju to your home and look deliciously festive decked out for the holidays.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Lucky Finds

Dear diary:
        Seriously though, I should start every post like that. I'm not sure if it's laziness, sass, or a need for an outlet, but I write these posts as much for me as you. I suspect most of you scroll hot and fast through the block of text to the pictures below (today it's well worth the scroll!!), but for those of you who stick it out, thanks for reading my diary, you weirdos.

       *ahem*, Dear Diary: today was an awesome day. The tagsale was an unmatched success, despite a heavy London-esque fog that sagged on us all morning. I am absurdly tired. This week I refinished around 25 pieces of furniture. Also, the furniture gods have been kind.
                                                                            Kate (and the martini she earned)

People curb good things. I learned that lesson first back when I worked at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. The museum was right around the corner from some very fancy schmancy neighborhoods, and when I worked Sundays in the summer I used to cruise the side streets in my pickup on my lunch breaks. Summer Sundays are peek curb season- things that are left over from tagsales, and people moving or cleaning out. Sometimes it's just a small thing that doesn't work for you, and rather than the aggravation of listing a piece of furniture online, you lug it to the street, release it back to the wild, like a dovetailed dove. I've done this many times. At least four dining tables, antique chairs, upholstered pieces. My dear friend Amy is especially adept at snagging my curbside offerings, which she then styles into effortless boho elegance in her stunning Victorian.
        It's important to offer curbside treasure to appease the furniture gods, who can be both fickle, and generous. This week, perhaps because of my earnest dedication to the cause, and frequent offerings to other believers in the trash to treasure church, I was favored with two gifts. A fan from facebook let me know that she'd spotted a sideboard on the side of the road in Portland (the next town over). Even though I was dog tired, I headed out, just incase. So glad I did. c.1920 jacobean walnut, immaculate condition (surface not withstanding). And then this week my husband spotted a solid pine dresser while he was out jogging. I was unsure, but when I drove out to see it my jaw dropped. Holy smokes so pretty.
      I had my plate full already this week, but sometimes pieces catch my heart and I just have to do them right away. There are a couple (very very patient) clients who are waiting for custom work, which I swear will be done next weekend. But this week I just gave entirely to refinishing "spec" pieces, for the tagsale today, and because sometimes you just need it. And thank (the furniture) gods I did. I haven't felt this excited and in love with my job in a while. I've been up since 5am. I've worked 90 or so hours this week, but I am SO happy. 
     Here's what I found on the curb, and what I did with it :-)


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Big Tag Sale!

Hey guys and gals! Sorry it's been ages since I posted! I've been busy busy preparing for my giant tagsale this weekend! In just the last four days I finished eighteen new pieces of furniture, and there's more to come, plus all that I already had in inventory, well over twenty of my original watercolors and oil paintings, antiques, antique art, and mirrors. SO MUCH STUFF!!
    Here's a sneak peek at just some of the new furniture that will be available for purchase on Saturday Oct 7th- 8am to 2pm on my front lawn at 14 Edgerton Street in East Hampton, CT!
Hope to see you there!

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Lovely Little Dresser

Boy oh boy did I have a crap day yesterday, to the point of hilarity, or at least, it will very much be hilarious in a week or so. I'm still licking my wounds right now. But, today has dawned clear and breezy, a perfectly miraculous New England Autumn morning. Day's like this- these are the days we earn with bitter cold stretches in February, and thick fat humidity in July. It's actually supposed to get hazy hot and humid again by the end of the weekend, so it's very important to soak up this glory while one can.
      The first order of business today was photographing this absolute doll of a dresser. It's c.1910, mahogany and mahogany veneer, and just immaculate. I looooooove the form. These late empire pieces tend to be low and squatty, but this little guy is long and lean, and ever so elegant. I refinished it custom for a client, playing up the rich graining of the top and drawer fronts, contrasting handsomely with a very lightly distressed antique white. This was one of those pieces that was just a joy to work on from start to finish. The design plan was perfect, the dresser was in such nice condition that the process was a breeze, and I'm tickled pink with the final result!
Happy Friday.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Nine Lives of a Drop Leaf Table

First, I just want to clear up for some of you who read a blog post I wrote a couple weeks ago about getting a bit burnt out, and painting more pictures- I AM NOT QUITTING THE FURNITURE BUSINESS. Clearly I wasn't doing a very good job of explaining myself in the post, I got some many questions, I just went ahead and deleted the entire thing.

     On a brighter note- I am now selling my oil landscapes. You can view the current selection here . I'll also have all my watercolors up for sale by mid October, but I want to wait until after my big tag sale on October 7th, to be sure I have a nice selection for the shoppers.

      So here's an interesting antique table with a fabulous paint history. The table came down through a client's family, and according to their oral history, was purchased in 1886. I'd say that's about right date-wise for the style of the table. I've seen pieces that were more than a hundred years older than this table that were as pure and pristine as the driven snow, as if time had not touched them. That was decidedly not the case with this table. Time had been very VERY hard on it.

     The table had been ridden hard and put away wet, as the saying goes, and indeed moisture had been one of the critical authors of its near demise. It had been in the basement for decades, and the damp had worked up through its feet and ankles, loosening joints as it went. The thing wobbled worse than a newborn colt when it came into my workshop. One leg in particular had been very badly repaired about fifty years ago, big heavy nails driven straight through the top of the table into the post of the leg, which of course did nothing but split the boards of the top and further loosen the leg. There were a few other...creative... make-do repairs. A fistful of crudely split rulers had been nailed to the underside of the leaves to shore them up. A fruit crate had been used to patch giant 1" diameter holes, that had been bored into the sides of the apron. To call this table a hot mess would be to pay it an unearned compliment. I won't lie, when I agreed to this project, I was not fully aware of just how bad the condition was. So this table, and its two equally woe begotten matching chairs earns the blue ribbon as most challenging project I've ever attempted.

But what made this table truly exciting was the story it had to tell. It had lived a hard life, but it had also been an interesting life, kind of like that cool old biker dude hunched over his cheap bourbon in the corner of the dive bar. Yea, you might not cuddle up in bed with him at night, but damned if he doesn't have a thrilling yarn or two to share.

      Here's what this table told me about its life:
1. This was never a fine, formal, or fancy table. Tables like this were most often used as prep stations in kitchens (the very earliest beginnings of the kitchen island), or as casual dining space in a back parlor etc. You didn't receive guests at a table like this.

2. It's birch, and was originally stained a dark espresso hue. It was probably quite sweet when first made, though the molding across the ends of the apron don't match and are original. I can only wonder if this was a "second" made from spare parts and sold at a discount.

3. It was painted after only about ten years, probably around 1900. The first coat of paint (because there were many) was a fabulous honey yellow, oil based, and had superb adhesion. It must have been quite sweet and sunny in that yellow, and I'm sad that that shade was ever covered.

4. But being that this was still a work a day table, it probably got dinged and singed, and before long needed another paint job. The next one was mint green with red along the edges (how delightfully flashy!). This surface dates to the 1920s.

5. Next the table was painted a cottage-y white and sickeningly sweet basket of flower decals were placed at the four compass corners. I'm going to guess this was done right around 1935/40.

     6. Judging by the way this table was being used, I'm going to guess that the white paint didn't last too long. The next surface was a thick matte black, probably from the mid 40s to early 50s. The client recalls the table being used on a porch (i.e. very casual use). Interestingly, not one of the generations of painters painted either the underside of the leaves, or the side aprons, which leads me to believe the table was almost always used with the leaves down. Also interesting, of the two matching chairs, only one received the matching paint treatments. It had every single surface, identical to the table, but the matching chair had none, just oxidation from 125 years of use and environmental pollutants.
I believe the "make-do" repairs were also done around the time of the black paint. The materials used (rulers and crate) look like late 1940s pieces, and the client believes her father may have been the one to do them.

     7. Shortly before the table was banished to the basement, the top of the table was painted to look like a baseball diamond. The client knows that her brother did this (late 60s? early 70s?).
8. Something in the black paint did not at all agree with the original yellow. Being that the original yellow had excellent adhesion, all the paint surfaces began to slough off, creating a strong craqueluer effect between black and original yellow

So much paint it makes me think of fordite. It's quite beautiful in its own way.

In order to save this table I had to start from the ground up. I repaired the cracked and damaged feet with bondo. I tightened up the frame, removed all the make-do repairs, and properly repaired the loose legs, I patched the bored holes, and added neat and tidy lifts for the leaves, since the rulers were a bit... unruly (LOL).

    I sanded the paint down to the original yellow. The client wanted a deep blue green, Pittsburgh Paint's Shimmering Sea. And finally I hand painted decorative branches and a pair of love birds on the top.