Month: July 2013

Meet “The Hammond”

Okay, so you know that whole post I made last week…you know, the one about “I don’t do neutrals,” welllllllll that’s not technically true.  I guess I should have said something like, “I don’t usually do neutrals.”

As I have mentioned before, the creative process, for me, is very organic.  I can plan and plan and plan before I actually paint a piece…but as soon as I get my hands on the furniture and start focusing on it… cleaning it, sanding it, touching it…the furniture begins speaking to me and my plans are soon tossed out.  In short, I let the furniture tell me how it wants to “dress” so-to-speak.

And this one…

Before: In good, solid shape, but needed some work.

Before: In good, solid shape, but needed some work.

Don't normally find such detailed mirrors on utilitarian, farmhouse dressers.

Don’t normally find such detailed mirrors on utilitarian, farmhouse dressers.

…said she wanted to wear a classic and sophisticated gray.  Why?  Well, The Hammond wanted to be painted in a neutral tone in order to let her stunning vanity mirror make the bold statement.  I mean, it’s not everyday I come across a century-old, utilitarian, farmhouse dresser with such an ornate vanity mirror.  Usually, if I find the dresser and it still has the original vanity mirror, the mirror is just as utilitarian and undecorated as the dresser.  So I was absolutely thrilled to find this lovely piece.  And she wanted me to create a custom blended dark gray and to use a lighter gray to highlight her beautiful features.

So, I obliged.  And here is what she looks like now:

Perfect balance between chippy and distressing.

Perfect balance between chippy and distressing.

On some pieces, neutrals still make a bold impression!

A view of the side slats

A view of the side slats

Don’t you just love the slatted sides on these old dressers?  I know I do.

Just like with the last piece, I used milk paint on this dresser.  I love how milk paint can be manipulated to create the perfectly distressed and aged finish so that a piece can look like it was painted many, many years ago.  As well as giving a beautiful “chippy” look to furniture, milk paint can also be distressed using a wet rag (as opposed to sand paper).  I like to use the wet rag method when I’m layering colors.  If you use sandpaper, you can unwittingly sand right through both colors and end up with the wood showing through…and if that happens, you won’t end up with something like this:

The scroll posts are so beautiful

The scroll posts are so beautiful

The Hammond

The scrolled posts and the rest of the vanity mirror were distressed using the wet rag method.  For the appliques and raised detailing, I used a sanding sponge because I did want some of the wood to show through as well.

The light gray really shows off these details

The light gray really shows off these details

Those details really pop!  In addition to layering the paint and distressing back to the wood finish in some areas, I also used a heavy glazing application to really add depth and shadow to all of the little grooves and crevices.  This effect really makes raised details stand out.

More beautiful detailing on the vanity mirror

More beautiful detailing on the vanity mirror

And lastly, the top of this dresser was pretty beat up when I bought it.  But that’s okay…because I like the character it adds.  Each piece has a story…and if you try and fix it up to the point where it looks “perfect,” then you effectively erase that story.  The Hammond would never go for that…she loves showing off her herstory.

New aqua ceramic knobs really pop

New aqua ceramic knobs really pop

The refinished top still shows its age and character

The refinished top still shows its age and character

In conclusion, I don’t always use bold, saturated colors.  Every once in a while I dabble in the realm of neutrals.  Never whites (though I never say never)…but gray is such a wonderful and versatile color (and popular color, as this dresser sold the day I posted it to craigslist).  I know there are more than a few pieces currently waiting in The Hoard that are dying to ‘dress’ in gray.  And I’ll gladly oblige them when their time comes.

-Pelham

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The Apollonia: To Be or Not to Be…

Self-doubt.  Something every single artist experiences, almost on a daily basis…and for that matter, it is something that every human faces.  I can usually work through my self-doubt rather efficiently, but every once in a while my self-doubt begins to feel like a huge ACME anvil that Wily Coyote dropped on me.

This time, the ACME anvil looked a lot like this:

Before

Before

Not so bad, you say?  I agree.  This antique buffet is like a dream come true for us furniture flippers.  I mean, just look at those legs!  And the apron! And the beautiful routed detailing!  And those fantastic tear-drop-esque pulls on the drawers!  What’s not to love, right?  Well therein lied the self-doubt anvil.  No, I wasn’t feeling guilty about painting this piece…it was pretty bad in some places and would have required a LOT of work and money to restore to a wood finish.  I did, however, struggle with the direction I should take with such a beautiful and classic piece.

Self-doubt was puttin’ on the neon ritz: “NEUTRAL! NEUTRAL! NEUTRAL!” And that seemed like the smart choice, right?  Appeal to as many people as possible by pairing a classic piece with a classic color scheme.  So, time to get started!  Uhhhh, just a tiny little problem…I don’t really do neutral.  One of the reasons I started this business was because I absolutely love the energy and interest that a bold, colorful piece of vintage furniture brings into the home.  And thus, the huge ACME anvil…

Does this dilemma sound familiar to you?  I know quite a few business-oriented artists that have dealt with this struggle many times in their own form of creativity.  We are constantly striving for the balance between unique, bold, inspirational art and practical, marketable, appealing design.  The trick, is to not lose our individual eye…the creative and unique perspective that makes us the artist that we are.

So one day while I was pedaling hard into a fierce headwind and could hear nothing but the rush of air over my ears, I was lost in thoughts of self-doubt.  And as I kept pedaling, I reached the penultimate point of my route and suddenly the headwind broke.  Suddenly, all was quiet, and in that exact moment I achieved clarity on my dilemma: “Create what you love, create for yourself, and the rest will follow.”  What does that mean?

Well…

The Apollonia

It means: “I don’t do neutral!”  I’m BOLD, and I’m beautiful.  Just like The Apollonia!

Even before I overcame my self-doubt anvil, I already knew that I was going to strip and refinish the gorgeous, plank-wood, top of this antique buffet.  There’s just something about the warmth of a natural wood finish paired with the beauty and color of a painted finish…it brings the smiles, for sure.  And this buffet’s top did not disappoint.  The age of the wood created this dark staining/mottling effect that, when paired with Minwax’s Provincial stain, created this stunning almost leopard-like pattern…

The Apollonia

For the rest of the buffet I chose Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint in Flow Blue.  It’s no secret that I’ve been having an affair with blue lately…and this color is so rich and so bold that my affair isn’t ending anytime soon!  Just look at the depth in this finish:

The Apollonia

And those legs…my, oh my, those legs!

So much detail on the legs

So much detail on the legs

And four of them!

And four of them!

This buffet has plenty of storage space for your fine dishes and your fine silver.  Two spacious cabinets:The Apollonia

And two spacious drawers, the top one lined with felt for your fine silver:The Apollonia

Because this buffet has so many points of intrigue and interest, I used a few subtle, and not-so-subtle, techniques to draw the eye to them.

First is the use of white to highlight many of the recessed details and lines:

The Apollonia

Next, to highlight some of the more intricate, recessed and routed details, I used a lot of antiquing wax and allowed it to settle in the grooves:
The Apollonia

P.S. look at those fantastic, original pulls

And lastly, I loved the fluidity of the design on the two drawers…rolling from one right down to the other…so, I used a technique to streak and lighten the blue just on that area.  The effect is this subtle color shift that draws your attention straight to the design on the drawers.  In the picture below you can see the difference in the color side-by-side with the deeper blue that is on the door front:The Apollonia
What do you think?  Do you love it?  Let me know by commenting!

This beautiful buffet is for sale.  If you are interested, please email me for dimensions and price.

-Pelham

Oh, and do you love my little elephants?The Apollonia

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Sweet Pickin’s

It’s been a while since I have revealed a new Renewal…other than refinishing this small coffee table, I haven’t had much time to paint furniture.  Not only has real estate been super busy, I have also been spending more time in the saddle of my road bike.  Due to various injuries and inclement weather, it’s been a looooong time since I have had any sort of regularity in my training.  I’m still only putting in around 100 miles per week, and trying to find time to paint, too.  With the onset of Monsoon season here in Denver, the available hours of daylight are limited…short of waking up at 5am to get my rides in, new Renewals are just going to be rolling out a little less frequently.

Another reason for the lack of new reveals is because I have been spending quite a bit of time picking!  Picking is a vital part of having a furniture painting/renewing business…and I love it just as much as I love showing off my latest, beautiful Renewal.  Being a good picker and finding great deals requires some effort…and there are plenty of do’s and don’ts, as well as other tips that I have learned along the way, that I will happily share with all of you in a future post 😉

For now, I’m just going to show off some of my recent finds so that we can all revel in the fantastic history of the items:

Antique Buffet The Apollonia

Starting with these two fantastic, antique buffets.  Later on in this post I’ll show you some progress pictures of the 2nd one.  The first one is currently residing in my own house and is likely going to stay there for quite a while.
Then, I found this beautiful french set with gorgeous veneer inlays from Joerns Bros Furniture company.  My educated guess is that these are from the early 30’s:

Joerns Tallboy Joerns Chest Joerns Headboard

I’m probably going to have the set appraised, and possibly sell it to an antique dealer…I’m not sure I could bring myself to paint those beautiful veneers!  Or, I’ll sell the headboard (I’m just not that into antique beds…even ones as beautiful as this) for more than I bought the entire set for and keep the other two as-is for my future master bedroom.  Clearly, I’m slightly attached to the dressers.  The chest-on-chest has a cedar drawer on the bottom and is just a stunning piece, and the 3-drawer gentleman’s chest comes with the original cuff-links sliding tray and the bottom drawer is sooooo deep.  It’s also the most massive chest of drawers I’ve ever come across; it measures in at almost four and a half feet long and two feet from front to back.  As you’ll see further down, the hoard, at this point, was bulging and overflowing from the garage and there was no way I could just re-stack and leave everything in there, so these two beauties are already moved indoors…the chest-on-chest is in my bedroom and the chest of drawers is serving as the sideboard in my kitchen.

Now, onto everything else.  All of the following is available for customization.  If you are interested in any of them, email me (contact information found at the top) and we can discuss everything.  More photos, as well as more available inventory can be found over on the facebook page, so be sure to check that out, too.

13 drawers!  Another stunning antique French Provincial chest-on-chest. Chicken wire is included :)

13 drawers! Another stunning antique French Provincial chest-on-chest. Chicken wire is included 🙂

Part of a mid-century, french provincial set.

Part of a mid-century, french provincial set.

The mid-century french provincial set.  Beautiful curves on both the chest-on-chest and the triple.  The triple has a gorgeous vanity mirror with rosette detailing.

The mid-century french provincial set. Beautiful curves on both the chest-on-chest and the triple. The triple has a gorgeous vanity mirror with rosette detailing.

Lovely ornate mirror.

Lovely ornate mirror.

Antique farmhouse oak dresser from the turn of the century.

Antique farmhouse oak dresser from the turn of the century.

Lovely scroll posts and cheval pins on the vanity mirror.

Lovely scroll posts and cheval pins on the vanity mirror.

1930's Secretary desk with serpentine front, 4 drawers, and eagle's claw feet.  Beautiful!

1930’s Secretary desk with serpentine front, 4 drawers, and eagle’s claw feet. Beautiful!

Solid maple, vintage buffet.  Available with or without hutch.

Solid maple, vintage buffet. Available with or without hutch.

Wonderful MCM bar cart

Wonderful MCM bar cart

Ice-box reproduction.  Originally a TV armoire. Will soon be a beautiful bar cabinet!

Ice-box reproduction. Originally a TV armoire. Will soon be a beautiful bar cabinet!

1940's telephone table with harp back.  Great condition!

1940’s telephone table with harp back. Great condition!

Great MCM peg leg chest.

Great MCM peg leg chest.

As you can see…I’ve been a very, very busy picker lately!  The downside, if there is one, to all this productive picking is that the Hoard, which was already consuming more than half of my garage and workspace, was swelling and overflowing!  I could barely close the garage door!  What’s not so funny, is that all this picking occurred in two waves and the Hoard outgrew it’s quarters not just once, but twice!  Within the span of one week I had to pull it all out and re-stack it TWICE!

Re-Stack 1Re-Stack #1 was a complete overhaul.  I have a few custom orders coming up for pieces that were all the way in the back…so on the Sunday after the Fourth, I enlisted the help of a few friends, pulled EVERYTHING out, and then spent another hour or two playing Tetris with massive pieces of furniture.  At the end of the day, I had a beautifully stacked Hoard and lots of space to work in, as you can see.

And then came one of the most unexpected and best picking weeks of my life…which led to Re-Stack #2:

Re-Stack 2

In the span of 5 days, I had the wonderful fortune of adding 7 new dressers and a beautiful antique telephone table to my Hoard.  It was all very spontaneous…and I actually felt a little guilty while running around town picking everything up…I simply had NO room for it all.  In fact, I turned down some great pieces, too, because I knew there was just no way I’d find room for them (and while they were good deals, they weren’t smokin’ hot deals like everything else I bought).  After it was all said and done, I convinced the boyfriend to help me out for an hour (he’s not a big fan of manual labor) and we were able to stack a few things higher and higher, move the gorgeous dresser set into my apartment, and make enough space for me to be able to work…on one piece at a time…

And so, finally, after an amazing couple weeks of sweet pickin’…I’ve been able to make some lovely progress on The Apollonia, one of the antique buffets.  I’ll leave you with some progress shots…a full reveal should be up by the end of the weekend or early next week!

The Apollonia The Apollonia

A Summer Stroll Through Denver’s Botanic Gardens

One of the best things about living in Colorado is the oh-so-abundant access to some of Mother Nature’s most beautiful creations.  Now, it is no secret that my main motivation for moving from Florida to Colorado, back in 2009, was living at the foot of some of the most majestic mountains in the US.  While I frequently venture up into the high country, it isn’t always easy to do so.  You know…being an adult and all, work often gets in the way.

Sometimes, this is pretty problematic.  I have learned by now (I learned the hard way, of course) that I crave nature and solitude to re-energize my soul, and if I don’t get into the mountains at least once a month, I get very cranky and mean depressed  and life spirals out of control.  When things get like this and I don’t have the time to escape west on I-70, I find that the Denver Botanic Gardens is a suitable little urban oasis.  Suitable might be an understatement, because the Botanic Gardens are absolutely beautiful, inspiring, and they offer stressed out individuals the perfect respite from the ho-hum and noise-pollution of urban living.

Located in the heart of Congress Park, Denver’s Botanic Gardens cover approximately two square blocks and are absolutely packed with amazing gardens, water features, sculptures, and a great little amphitheater where they hold concerts all summer long. There is literally something for everyone.

One of my personal favorite areas is the Japanese garden and traditional tea garden (where talking is strictly frowned upon):

Japanese inspired garden

Japanese inspired garden

Not the best of photos (I always forget to bring my SLR) but it gives you an idea of the beauty of the Japanese garden.  All of those pine trees are actually native to Colorado…they are little Ponderosa Pines.  It took me a bit to realize this because my prior knowledge of Ponderosa Pines are of the huge, fire-retardant variety where the lowest branches are a good 30 feet up the trunk.  These aren’t just small Ponderosas though…no, no, no…the gardeners actually use Bonsai techniques to prune and shape these beautiful trees in order to manipulate and drastically slow down their growth.  The result is this absolutely mesmerizing and stunningly beautiful tree, no taller than 8 feet, that looks like it comes from an entirely different continent.  Love!

Right next to the Japanese garden is an area that looks as if it just naturally grew there.  Essentially, it is xeriscaped and bountiful with semi-arid and arid vegetation that is natural to Eastern Colorado.  What I love about this area is how wonderfully beautiful and full of color it is.

Cactii, succulents, and desert stones!  My favorite!

Cactii, succulents, and desert stones! My favorite!

With native vegetation like this, and the severe drought that Colorado always seems to be in, it makes one wonder why so many people waste thousands of gallons of water (per week!) to keep their Kentucky bluegrass green.  Well, not here at Pelham’s residence!  No…I’ve opted for the no-water treatment.  Sadly, I haven’t had the time or the budget to create a beautiful, native, xeriscape like this…so, my yard currently looks like a mound of dirt, some struggling-to-survive crab grass, and rampant dandelions.  I’d rather have an ugly yard than waste our precious natural resources…

One day, hopefully before next summer, I’ll have the time and resources to overhaul the yards…and when I do, I can assure you there will be plenty of this:

An oversized pot of succulents

An oversized pot of succulents

Ground covered in beautiful succulents

Ground covered in beautiful succulents

Succulents!  Oh how I adore them.  Beautiful and lush.  Colorful and unique.  Weird and resilient.  Clearly, a perfect combination for me and my yard.  The Botanic Gardens are literally covered in succulents.  Large areas are dedicated to just letting them sprawl out and cover the ground.  Other areas use them more strategically, like the photo of the pot above, to bring color and texture into more structured landscapes.  If you are a fan of succulents and are ever in Denver, I highly suggest you pop into the Botanic Gardens.

And lastly, my favorite water feature in the Gardens:

One of the many water features.

One of the many water features.

This fountain/sculpture looks like it is straight from the Soviet bloc.  A massive, utilitarian, concrete megalith rising up from a beautiful lily pond.  With the 60/70s era high rise in the background, it’s hard not to absorb the elements and sights here and just feel a sense of awe with the beautiful juxtaposition we as human beings create in Mother Nature’s landscapes.  We are constantly carving up our forests and mountains and grasslands to grow, build, and develop spaces that are useful for us as humans…some places/governments/communities are more aware of our destruction than others.  I’m extremely grateful to live in a state and a city whose citizens are passionate about our beautiful nature and environment and have taken large measures to ensure the protection of it.  It’s also wonderful to live in a city that has a large and well-maintained park system.  Just because we live in a high-density, urban jungle does not mean we can live without nature and green space.

So, next time I’m feeling overwhelmed and stressed out by my urban surroundings, I’m heading over to the Botanic Gardens.  If you’re in Denver, you should too!

Meet “The Lars”

Once upon a time there was a sad little coffee table that hailed from the countryside.  It was truly a country-riffic little table.  He looked just like this:

The Lars

He had such cute, little, turned legs and a rack looking thingy on his topside.  With more turned spindles.  He found his way to our shop when someone (presumably from the countryside) brought him with them when they moved to an urban den.  But I guess they decided that poor little Lars didn’t fit into their new, city-slicker lifestyle so they abandoned him on our doorstep in a dumpster in the alley across the way.

Well guess what?  That little Lars sure did clean up nicely!

The Lars The Lars
Poor guy.  All he needed was a little savvy advice on how to fit into his new city-slicker life.  So we helped him out.  We painted him in a rich, bold, blue that is somewhere between royal and navy.  We then gave him some new, crisp, white feet.  Isn’t he dashing, now?  The Lars

After painting him, we carefully distressed him, ever so slightly, around his edges and on his turned legs.  After all, he’s of a distinct and mature age and we wanted him to look like it.  He’s ready for a close up:

The Lars The Lars

The Lars is very happy with his new look and he’s ready to share his happiness with a new, loving family.

Dimensions:

35 3/8″ L

18″ D

18″ H

Please message us (you can find our info above under the “Contact Us” tab) for more information and price/shipping options.

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