Thursday, March 26, 2015

Vintage Bookcase - Chateau Grey & Old White

I buy a lot of furniture to fix and resell. It's a balancing act to know just how much you need because you need to have projects in the pipeline, but you don't want too many in case sales are slow. Some days it feels like my house is starting to look like a furniture store. But still I need more! I'm starting to wonder though if it's becoming a problem. For instance, one day last week my husband came home from work and the following conversation took place:

I won these!
Jeff: "Where did that furniture on the porch come from?"
Me: "What furniture?"
Jeff: "The bookcase and the little chair."
Me: "Oh yeah, that furniture! I won it!"
Jeff: "Won it? Was it free?"
Me: "Well not exactly. I won it from an auction and had to pay for it, but still I feel like a winner!"

I went for the bookcase because I need something for the booth to display small items on. I currently have a (hideous) shelf unit that this will replace.

It's hard to see the brownish paint under the dust. :-)
It's a vintage bookcase that had a good exterior finish, but the interior was previously painted in a brownish oil-based paint that wasn't properly applied. I gave it a rough sanding and painted the interior in Old White and the exterior in Chateau Grey. I added highlights of Old White to the exterior grooves to balance the colors.

I really like this color scheme, in fact this would make a great companion piece to the end table that I recently finished. 

Chateau Grey is a heavy color, but the Old White lightens it up. It is a neutral grey with green undertones and looks lovely with pinks and blues, but it's versatile and pairs well with other colors, too. My booth has white walls which we are not permitted to paint, so having something neutral with a pop of color will help.

Waterfall top.

Distressing added around the edges.

Lots of storage.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Pair of Vintage Mirrors

I feel very fortunate to have a pair of vintage wood-framed mirrors. Especially so because I bought the matching pair on two separate shopping trips. After I purchased the first one, I spotted the match the next week. You bet I snatched it up!


I scored the pair on
2 separate shopping trips!
The finish wasn't horrible, but it bordered on being a slightly dated. And it was a LOT dirty. I don't think the photos show just how much grime there was. I sanitized the pieces both front and back and then scrubbed with soap and water. I used a Q-tip to clean around the tight spots of the appliques. 

After two rounds of cleaning there was still dirt!
It took another couple scrubbing sessions to
get these clean enough to paint.


I considered painting these something over-the-top-fabulous colors, but in the end the business person inside of me said to better stick with something neutral. I decided on a slightly weathered finish using Paris Grey and Old White.  This pair would look stunning hung side by side with a console, buffet, or dresser in between them. Alternatively, an infinity mirror affect (Affect or effect? Hopefully one of my nerdy sisters will spot this and set me straight) could be created by hanging them directly opposite each other, or next to each other on two corner walls which would be great for a large walk-in closet or dressing area.

Beautiful details for just the right amount of elegance.
Curved bottoms mirror the curves on the top of the frame.
The mirrored glass is in excellent condition.
This pair would work great hung in a corner for a dressing area.

Example of the infinity mirror affect.
Let me tell you that mirrors are, for me, tough to photograph! Two mirrors at the same time are even tougher! You need to take into account the angle you are shooting at so you don't end up in the photo. Next you need to take into account the area that will be reflected in the mirror. These mirrors were even harder because the bottoms are curved and they are really meant to be hung on the wall. But I couldn't bring myself to put nail holes into the wall just for a photo shoot. In the end I propped them up against a wall in my upstairs hallway and ended up balancing on my tippy-toes on the top step of the landing to keep myself out of the photos. I'll leave you with a few shots of me trying to figure out that it's not easy to photograph mirrors!

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?
If I scootch over to the side. . . nope that doesn't work.
Lean over, suck in tummy, lose 15 pounds, etc., ha ha!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Vintage Nightstand (Custom Order)

I recently refinished this adorable nightstand for a client. It was previously painted in gloss black many years ago, but the paint was beginning to chip. My client wanted to keep the black finish but wanted to refresh it.


Did I mention the nightstand is adorable? It has elegant lines and charming details. Unfortunately the veneer on the top was deteriorating quite a bit. I would have liked to either sand or strip off the current layer of paint, but the veneer was too delicate for that process. In the end I did some significant patching and light sanding. The finish on the top is now secure and will last for many years, although the wood itself is not as smooth as I would like. On the other hand it has an almost rustic finish which I think adds to the charm of an older piece. One alternative to achieve a shiny smooth finish on the top is to add a piece of glass to further protect the finish. I will discuss that option with my client.

The other trouble spot was the hardware. My client wanted to keep the hardware unpainted. Unfortunately the last time the nightstand was painted the hardware was either painted or glued to the drawers and I was unable to remove them. I did make an attempt to remove the hardware but didn't want to damage the drawers in the process, so in the end I left them right where they were. The hardware had an aged patina, but along with the patina were areas with splotches of black paint. So I removed as much of the paint from the hardware as I could without damaging the drawers.


In the end it's not a dramatic transformation, but the new finish is fresh and clean and will last for many years to come. Here are photos of the "final" product . . . I am letting the paint and wax cure but am considering a glaze to further darken the finish. I'll see if my client agrees before I proceed. P.S. The finish is actually a little shinier than what it looks like in the photo. I'll blame that on either bad lighting or bad photography :-)


Sweet hardware.

Refinished top.

Back view.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Oh-So-Dainty Tea Table!

This gorgeous tea table came to me courtesy of The School of Hard Knocks. Seriously, I made so many bad business decisions on this project from start to finish. On the bright side I hope I learned some valuable lessons. Let me explain:

1. I bought it sight unseen.(Only saw a photo.)
2. I paid too much. (I need to resell for a profit.)
3. The glass was badly scratched and required replacement. ($)

So the only thing I could do at this point to save the project was a super quick re-do to minimize the time involved (labor expenses) and hope to make a small profit . . . 

4. I fell in love and couldn't stop at a quick re-do and kept working until I had it just right.


It's a lovely antique tea table with a removable glass tray. The shape of the legs are so dainty! The front two legs and center are adorned with brass decorations. I think the back originally had the same decorations, but they are now missing.

Repairs in process. I took the photo!

Overall it was in decent condition except for being a little wobbly due to a loose leg. My husband helped me re-secure the leg (he did the work and I took a picture of him). And the veneer on top was loose and a little warped. And the glass tray was badly scratched. OK, so maybe it wasn't in such great shape.

I had a local glass company, Sam Smith and Son, Inc., replace the glass. Initially they were a little hesitant if it was do-able due to the old time construction underneath the tray. But they were amazing and figured it out. It looks wonderful now and the glass is nice and secure. They also took care of replacing a mirror for me on an upcoming project.


As I mentioned before, I planned on a quick re-do:  Paint, lightly sand, wax, and take it to the booth.

After: Paris Grey and Old White.

I chose a color combination of Paris Grey and Old White (Annie Sloan Chalk Paint). Because of the lighter paint colors and the older wood I knew before I got started that the tannin would bleed through, so I went ahead and gave it a coat of shellac before I got started. Unfortunately, there was still some bleed through after the first coat of paint. So I gave it another layer of shellac. And then another just to be sure. That did the trick! 

I applied 2 more coats of paint and sanded between coats. Next I planned to salvage the time/labor quotient by giving it a quick and lightly distressed finish, but as I was sanding I thought how pretty it would be with heavier distressing. I took a break and came back to it the next day. At this point I figured I will never get my money out of the table, so I went all-in and just kept working with the sand paper until it had the look I wanted. After waxing the entire piece, I decided to add hints of dark wax to further age the piece. The dark wax was applied all over except for the top portion that is protected by the glass tray.

I will take it to the booth and mark it for sale, but I will have to price it a little higher than I normally would for a side table. On the other hand, this is a unique and one-of-a-kind table. But if it doesn't sell then I will use it for my very own. Yeah me!

So many lessons learned. Well sort of -- I've got some new bids out there now for some other items. . . 

Front view without the tray.

Back view without the tray.

Friday, March 6, 2015

End Table; Chateau Grey & Old White

My latest project is an end table manufactured by Mersman. It had seen better days, but I hope it will see many more fabulous days to come. The new color scheme has a hint of color while still remaining neutral.


Mersman was known for its quality manufacturing and production of end tables. This table didn't require any repairs, but it needed a good scrubbing with soap and water, steel wool, and a razor to get it ready for painting. (Actually I sanitize all the items I buy used with Lysol, too.)

Lots of dirt that needed scrubbing off.
More dirt and what-not.
Stickers, too!
Manufacturer's mark underneath: "Mersman 35-22".


The "before" was a nice looking table, but it needed more than a good scrubbing to bring it back into service. For the base I choose Chateau Grey which I would describe as a muted green. The top and accents are painted in Old White. I almost chose black for the top, but I chose Old White at the last minute. I think the white helps brighten the grey. I painted the hardware in Graphite for contrast.

I sanded the entire piece and lightly distressed around the edges. The top seemed a bit plain, so I gave the border of the top a medium distressed finish. For the last step I applied soft wax and buffed it for a shiny smooth finish.

The table has a deep drawer which offers great storage.
I love the details of the corners and legs.
There is medium distressing around the edges,
but it doesn't show up well in the photo.
Deep drawer for storage.
Side view. There are panels around each of the sides.
Top view.
Here's a close up of the distressing on the top.
It's subtle enough to give it just the right look of a well-loved piece.
I finally bit the bullet and purchased business cards!
I am using the cards to tag items in the booth.
I am always curious what everyone else prices their items at.
So in case you're curious, I am asking $75.00.

Dimensions: 28" deep x 24" wide x 21" high.