Thursday, June 21, 2018

An antique European country sofa for the living room

 An old Danish trundle bed, imported by Danish Country Antique Furniture in Boston.
 It found its way to the Salvation Army Thrift shop some fifteen years after it was brought over to the USA from a town west of Copenhagen.  How I know this to be true is an interesting part of any antiquing adventure.  But lets start off by saying I wasn't looking for a new old couch....
it just happened that it was looking for me.  I often think that is the way things work 
out around here when it comes to old things like furniture and decorative accessories.  
 After loading up my Jeep with things to donate to the thrift shop, I took an obligatory walk
through the furnishings aisle and this white painted wooden country sofa was sitting there amidst a bunch of 1970s cast offs.  I stopped.  I brushed the arm of the sofa and looked at the back. 
Then the legs...and then I snapped a picture and went home.  Without it.  
I didn't think hubs would be in favor of a less comfortable sofa, even if it was antique, and maybe from his homeland, Sweden and even if it was really cute.  So I shared the photo with a bestie, who texted me back, " Go get it!".  
And so I did.  
On the way there I worried maybe it was gone, off to its forever home with the wrong person.
Ugh.  
I called the Salvation Army to inquire if an old white sofa with blue and white stripes was still sitting there?  
Yes it was I was told.  Could I put a hold on it?  No, I could not, I was told. 
 Ugh. 
Nerves set in, but I told myself, no one else could see the beauty 
in this old country piece like I could.

 When I got there, she was waiting for me.  For me!
I gave her a good look over. She was an old girl for sure.
I had borrowed hubs pickup truck and as I purchased it, I was told by the manager
that no one would be allowed to help me load it, as they were worried about liability.  
What?? I had a little furniture shop, and I loaded furniture into peoples cars all the time.
The manager asked if I wanted to return with helpers to load it.  No, I would wait in the parking lot
until I saw some other shoppers I could ask to help me put it in my truck.
Fine, the manager said, all business like...and thats when he called two guys to bring it out to the parking lot and put it next to my truck. Not to load it. 
And that is when I realized how damn heavy the thing was.  
OMG it weighted a ton!
That is also when I noticed an upside down sticker on the back of the wooden frame
 showing where it came from: Danish Country Antique Furniture, in Boston.  
The guys brought it outside and without further adieu they hoisted it up into the bed of the truck.
Chivalry and common sense was not dead after all!  
It sat in the pickup truck til hubs and one of my sons got home to carry it inside.
Of course I had to rearrange the furniture somewhat, and I couldn't be happier
with how the room looks now.  My old painted tea table seemed to be the perfect companion for it.
I contacted the Danish Antique guy and he remembered the 
old country sofa.  I wondered if it was Swedish, but he said he clearly recalled getting it west of 
Copenhagen.  It was a trundle bed made around 1860, painted white. 
These trundle beds were  made for country houses. It is a charming piece
of European furniture but it could use a bit of better padding on the bench seat, which
I will do at some point soon.  And one day it may get a bigger makeover when it moves to
our country home in the future!! Of course we have a tiny run down lake cottage, and I could
imagine a piece like this in a breakfast room or on a screen porch overlooking the lake.
One more thing...today is my granddaughter Reeve's first birthday.
To mark the occasion she took her first swimming lesson with mommy and daddy.
I put a big pink tissue ball in the silver punch bowl.
One day I can see little Reeve sleeping in the trundle at the lake house.
It makes me wonder how many other little Danish girls and boys slept
in this charming and cozy trundle bed over the last 150 years.
That is what I love about antiques...the story they carry and the secrets they
can tell, if you know how to look and find them.


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Saturday, June 9, 2018

How to make a French Trumeau Mirror

The ultimate in French mirrors, is the Trumeau mirror.  
 Trumeaus were made in France in the late 1800s, and were made to go on walls between windows. 
A rectangular mirror with two sections, the lower with a mirror and the upper had a decorative carving or a decorative painted scene that was the focal point of the mirror.
I have long admired these mirrors, but authentic French Trumeaus are very pricey.
This large and gorgeous Louis VI period blue and gilt Trumeau was 
sold on First Dibs at just under a very pricey $15,000.  
So imagine my delight when my blogger friend, Jamie Lundstrum,
( So Much Better with Age blog), penned
a DIY book about all things Vintage French style.
 And inside Jamie's book, was a how-to for making a French Trumeau mirror!
It is among 70 projects for adding Vintage French decor to your home.

It was time for a change in the dining room, I had even been contemplating wallpaper.
After taking everything off the walls, we headed to Home Depot to get supplies. 
I followed along the instructions and got an MDF board along with
some trim pieces for the top and sides.  I decided to use an existing mirror I already had that was
in an ornate carved frame.  In the book, Jamie frames out a cut piece of mirror, 
but I figured by using a framed mirror I already had, it would be less expensive and easier!  
The point is you can do it either way and end up with the mirror of your dreams.
 The top of the mirror can be made two ways, one with a crown molding like the one here and 
the one in Jamie's book.  But I enlisted my husband to do the cutting of the moldings
 on his fancy saw.  One can also use a plain piece of flat backed molding for the top,
 as many of the original Trumeaus were made this way.
Note the lack of moldings on the bottom, and the simple molding on the top.
  The focus is on the mirror and the decorative carving. 
There are so many ways to design your
own mirror, and that is really the fun part! 

The colors and styles are endless, which makes it perfect for personalizing your home.
You could add French wallpaper or fabric instead of a painted scene for your focal point.
 After hubs and I cut the molding and laid it out on the 24" x 48" MDF board, he went to take a nap
and I got out all of my Annie Sloan paints.  I was hoping for a grey, but there was none to be had.  
So I decided to do a turquoise color and then soften it up with some aging techniques.
 A pastoral scene would go in the top decorative part of my Trumeau.  I wanted to add a bit 
of lavender color to the sky scene so it would pull in my purple transfer ware dish collection.
 Next, I painted most of the trim and the entire mirror using
 Matthew Mead's Metallic Gold paint by Fusion.  
The gold was making it look so French and amazing! 
At this point I was getting very excited! 
 The molding was attached using a staple nail gun.  The mirror was attached 
using construction grade glue I applied with a caulking gun.
  All of these instructions are outlined in Jamie's book. 
While not making the exact same mirror Jamie made,
I created my own version using the bones of her instructions.
And I think that is the best thing about creating and decorating~
making it YOUR OWN!
 I stood the mirror up against the wall ( before I glued on the bottom mirror)
and realized I should probably change the entire room! GAH!
Paint the walls and change the curtains!! 
One little change can have that effect you know...
The next day while Reeve napped, I ripped apart my King sized duvet cover from
Ballard designs and turned it into four panels.  On her next nap I painted the wall behind
the mirror and it seemed when she awoke she noticed the changes!!
Look at her cute face during lunch time staring at the mirror!! hahah!
She is my little unwitting decorating apprentice.
 Without further adieu, I show you the completed mirror!  
Layers of white, olive and pale green paint were dry brushed over the turquoise base color.
  A vintage drapery part in the shape of a Fleur de lis was glued to the top area of the 
mirror for an extra flourish.  Personalizing my own Trumeau in this way, 
with the little painted scene and the drapery part finished it off. 
 A pair of old iron candle sconces were embellished with some blue opaline 
macaroni beads and some aquamarine Creative Candle tapers.
 The mirror has added a beautiful focal point to the dining room, 
with the French Vintage style I adore. 
 The pale green buffalo plaid curtains give it the Gustavian look I LOVE.
 To celebrate I broke out my opaline goblets and found the most amazing bottle of wine
at the local liquor store.  It looked just like blue opaline!  If you are interested search for 
Gemma di Luna Pinot Grigio.  It is about $15, and just the bottle is worth that all day long!
 The antique gilded ballroom chairs were put into service around the table after I 
noticed how perfectly they complemented the gold in the mirror.  
 Someone may not be as excited as I am, but I have to say, this has been one of the most
fulfilling day projects I have done in a long time!! 
Yes, it only took me one day!!
Well, maybe the second day I did fine tuned the paint color 
by dry brushing on a bit more paint....
 Get inspired to create when you turn the pages
 of Jamie's French Vintage Decor book.
From Trumeau mirrors to lavender sachets, 
there are simple to medium skill level projects included in this book.  
 due out June 12, 2018!  Happy decorating peeps!!




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Saturday, June 2, 2018

Wallpapering the dining room, Rustic French Chateau style and Monet's Water Lilies



 Monet's Water Lilies, painted in 1907, was just a fingertip away yesterday when I found myself chaperoning my son's high school class to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.  There was an entire room filled with Monet's paintings, and I think this was my favorite.  We were told not to touch any of the artwork, and of course we didn't, but it felt so surreal to have this masterpiece right in front of my face without anyone watching.  It was a private moment, and quite luxurious for my soul.
Monet's purple, green and pink paint colors were luminous, and breathtaking. 
 I was very interested in how he painted his landscapes, as I relate to this stye of painting.
 Monet painted many other things besides his famous water lilies and Giverny gardens, including this "Ships in a Harbor" painted in 1873. The scene below is "The Seine at Lavacourt" painted in 1878.
 My eye was drawn to the French style at the MFA, including this ceiling treatment.
 An unexpected addition to this gallery, it was most impressive and beautiful.  
All in all, a very nice outing and one I should plan to attend on an annual basis. 
 As a college student in Boston,  I studied art, and some of our classes were held in the Museum of Fine Arts itself!  I remember learning many things, like the differences between the columns and capitols:  Ionic, Doric and Corinthian, all which came from Ancient Greek architecture.
A mini lesson for you!  
From top to bottom, Doric, Ionic and Corinthian styles.

 Moving along, I have been thinking about wallpapering or painting my dining room. 
 As I sit in the living room and look past my blue walls I can imagine a color or a pattern that pulls the robin egg color into the dining room.  Or celadon green...as the living room has both blue and green.   This paper by Laura Ashley is Summer Palace and has a background of robin egg.  It also has pink and yellow which would look really pretty with the new opaline glasses I have from the Martha Stewart sale.  But its not so hot with the purple transfer ware....and that is a dilemma.
The paper is fun and whimsical, but I fear upsetting my decorating applecart too much 
if I put it up in the dining room.  Its a paper best used for a space that doesn't need
 much decoration, and my dining room has a lot of decor packed into its four walls!
So maybe I will paint, or visit the wallpaper store in search of something that works with 
purple, green and blue.
Always decorating in my mind, its a pursuit I am passionate about. 
 My home will never stay the same, it will always be tweaked and get facelifts or minor adjustments.
I have seen pictures of it in the past and admired it thinking, oh that was so pretty, why
did I change it?  I know why, I just can't help myself!
I like too many things, and too many styles.  My current style dilemma is liking the 
rustic French country side chateau style of decor but I also am attracted to the fresher
whimsical French cottage style.  Maybe I just have to commit to one and swear off the other.
Let me show you some examples from friends and designers.
 This is the dining room of my friend from Chicago, Betsy Duggan.  She is the one who sent me some blue opaline chandelier parts years ago when I began my opaline obsession, you may recall.  Anyway, this is a dining room from her old house, and I thought it was so happy and welcoming.
A good example of Happy French Cottage style.
I loved her green Lilly of the Valley wallpaper, and the matching painted cupboards 
and  table set with pinks and blues.  Totally up my alley.
All of my opaline colors would fit right in on her table, and you can see what I mean
about them working with the Summer Palace wallpaper, can't you?

 This designer, Leslie Biggley, from thelesliestyle.com,  posted this photo recently. 
 I loved the fresh clean colors of the duck egg blue chairs and the lavender draperies 
with the floral mural wallpaper.
Its a tad too modern for me, but I love the overall look.
 Switching styles to the Rustic French Chateau look, this is a great example of what I LOVE.
But in reality I don't have stone walls (yet) and so that is mostly what is so appealing in this space.
I loved the pink touches and the overall soft French look and of course the arched windows and the genuine French doors.
This is a paired down version of the rustic French chateau look that I find appealing. 
This image is from Peeking Thru the Sunflowers.  I just wonder where all the stuff is kept?
I like a bit more decoration, but I love the rustic table with the skirted French chairs and of course the
French console with the Trumeau mirror at the far end of the room.
Hang up all my purple transfer ware plates and it essentially turns into my dining room!
Right?  I have a rustic table under the purple cloth, and a French console too.
 Imagine sitting next to me on my couch....this is what I look at. 
So I am pondering the dining room walls in my pjs.  Looking through books and old magazines
for something to inspire me...and then changing things up. 
 Two styles, two different approaches. 
 Which way will I go? I don't even know yet.


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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Hunting for Vintage French Patio Furniture


 This is a story about a certain kind of old French patio furniture.  
That I was obsessing over, ever since it came on my radar after
 my obsession with Grey Gardens.  
I saw a chair in the dining room at Grey Gardens 
during the Edie years, and it just fascinated me.
 I thought I saw some at Martha's house too, on a porch, 
and even in her bathroom as a vanity chair.
(Martha Stewart's bathroom dressing table and chair)
It's also a story of how things come full circle sometimes, 
and you learn to embrace what you had and lost, when it comes back to you. 
 Francois Carre Sunburst chairs, also known as Pinwheel chairs.
These iconic chairs have graced patios and sunrooms of the rich and famous, and the just plain rich, ever since they were created by French designer Francois Carre, who patented the design in 1866.
They were made in both France and the United States until the 1940s.
 They have a spring mechanism on the seat and backs. This seems to be the source of failure 
and why so many are in disrepair today and need restoration. 
A garden antique friend of mine, Laurie of Fine and Elegant Antiques, spotted these chairs (above)
on a buying trip, then sent me this pic and then told me where to find them....
but she also mentioned that they had been repaired, and the
repair job wasn't very good.  However the price was good,
 for these sought after Sunbursts at $395/pair.

If you do some hunting online at the various websites after googling Francois Carre Patio Furniture,
or Sunburst Chairs, you will see eye popping prices!! And that is just not how I roll. I want to find them, and I want the price to be soooo good, it makes me giddy.  
I love the hunt, and I love a steal. 
And I know I'm not alone on that one.
 At the Martha Stewart Prop auction in Beverly Massachusetts, I spotted this set of original Francois Carre chairs in a heavy state of rust.  They belonged to the auction house owner who is holding onto them.  Seems like a lot of antique dealers hold onto them, as another dealer messaged me saying she had a complete set (also in bad shape) and if I wanted to purchase, she might be ready to let them go.
 At the beginning of the month, I spotted this pair of freshly painted Carre chairs at Brimfield and they had price tags of $550 each.  Three hours later they were gone, so someone was likely thrilled to find a pair, even at that price.
 I spotted this pair with replaced bottoms selling for $160 a pair in Rhode Island.
However I wanted a whole Sunburst chair, not a half....but the more I saw, the more
I realized they weren't chairs that stood up over time, and if I got some, they would 
likely be more garden ornaments than garden seating.
So as I considered other options that were popping up,
it seems the universe had another idea for me.
 Three summers ago, I found a wire furniture set on Craigslist that had two chairs, a settee and a pair of end tables.  They were fanciful looking, and I learned they were called Peacock Wire Patio Furniture.  The had been painted blue and were peeling, so I sprayed the settee and the end tables,
and they looked very lacy and pretty.
The pair of rusted blue chairs never got sprayed. 
We had just started creating our courtyard 
and had so many other metal chairs, that I decided to sell the Peacock chairs.
The pretty Peacock settee and end tables stayed behind to live with me.
They joined other storybook pieces, like my Marie Antoinette linen press that sat in the yard
under a tarp until she could be hoisted through the second floor window with hub's skid steer.
Fast forward three years, and now I have a complete set of Peacock Wire patio furniture.
Hubs found a table and chairs at a job site he was doing some excavation at, and noticed that
the owners didn't seem to want theirs.  It was lined up holding sticks and lawn debris.
So he inquired if they would like to sell them as his wife would love them.
And they said YES.  

One very happy wife I was, after having seen so many rusted out Sunburst chairs, 
I was more than ready for a plan B. Or Plan P:  Peacock!
Now I am debating about painting them....should they stay white?
(Martha's garage full of furniture and how she paints them: click here)
 Martha Stewart Aqua (above)?
 Its in the Peacock color family....
(By the way, Martha repainted them in a camel color that I wasn't too thrilled about.
I loved her signature aqua blue color that used to be on her trim and fencing.)
But back to the Peacock set paint color...
 Classic black...a French garden green?
Or stay shabby garden chic in rusty white?
I'd love your thoughts!

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