I’ve been having some fun the last couple of days messing around with the old furniture that I bought the other day. What I’ve been up to I’ve had in mind ever since I bought the last lot, which I’ve now got in my bedroom. It’s unashamed reproduction, but I like it and its style goes well in my house because of the amount of exposed wood that there is; ceiling beams throughout the downstairs and large, solid roof trusses in the bedrooms. Here’s a shot of the ‘armoire’ and the smaller of the two ‘commodes’ to give an idea of what I’m talking about.
It may not actually be that old, but it looks the part and comes with none of the problems that you can get with old French wooden furniture. That’s not to say that it all comes with problems, but a lot of it does, with bits broken off or missing or some other kind of damage. There is quite a lot of really beautiful old stuff around, although some of the prices are just plain silly (in the thousands of euros!), but you can still pick up a lot of bargains. I’ve seen some beautiful 3-door wardrobes with matching ‘commodes’ at very reasonable prices, but there’s just one problem. I couldn’t get them up my stairs, and even if the ‘armoire’ was ‘démontable’ so I could take it up in bits, my bedrooms are just too small to take one with three doors.
So I’ve been scouring the ads for a 2-door ‘armoire’ together with a matching ‘commode’, but I also wanted them to come at the right price (ie cheap!). The reason was that I wanted to see if I could make them look like the stuff I bought previously ie a bit older than its years! And that’s just what I found last week and drove north to Niort in the Deux Sèvres, to pick up. After leaving home at about 11.15 am, I got back home again at around 8.00 pm, just after it had got dark, so I left the wardrobe on my trailer overnight and Wim and I unloaded it and the chest of drawers on Saturday.
After umming-and-ahhing to myself about how I would go about the ‘ageing’ process, I actually jumped in with both feet and got going yesterday. I’ll say at the outset, that I’m not a great fan of ‘shabby chic’, or at least that branch of it in which items are painted and then attacked with sandpaper to make bare wood and undercoat appear in various places, to give them a worn appearance. I just don’t find it appealing to the eye. That’s not to say that the effect that I’m trying to emulate isn’t ‘shabby chic’ because it is, by definition. ‘Shabby chic’ is to a great extent, all about making the ‘new’ appear ‘old’ and that, of course, is exactly what I’m trying to do here.
I’ve now finished with the chest of drawers all bar giving it a coat of satin varnish to seal in the effect that I’ve achieved. I’ve also ordered some vintage style, hanging-ring handles from China via Ebay which will eventually replace the knobs that I’ve removed and thrown away, and here are a couple of pics of the job so far.
As with the first shot, I used only ambient light to make it easier to compare my results with the original furniture that I bought. I’m very pleased with the job so far and I think that I’m well on the way to turning a rather undistinguished pine chest of drawers into something a little bit different. I’m looking forward to giving it its coat of varnish tomorrow and that should give a much better indication of whether I’ve managed to achieve my aim, or not. Chic? Well, I don’t know. People will have to make up their own minds 😉