Friday, January 10, 2014

Keeping It Green - Befores and Afters

To continue the theme of the last post on the idea of one man's trash becoming someone else's beloved treasure, I came across a blog called Planet Thoughts. The statistics were almost overwhelming. In a post entitled, The Truth About Trash - The Throw Away Society, the author cites an EPA study which states that 8,550,000 tons of furniture and furnishings are thrown away by Americans each year.

Think about that figure! As a society, we throw eight million, five hundred and fifty thousand TONS of furniture away each year. EACH YEAR! That is a shocking statistic to process. In view of those numbers, we feel that the current path we are on, the process of "remaking" furniture and accessories, is one of the best recycling projects we could attempt. It is simplistically beautiful. To begin with, it's an environmentally green proposition: we reduce the amount of furniture that is piled on the rubbish heap each year, and we give new life to furniture that has seen better days of service in someone else's family, usually a family that was growing from the 1920's through the 1970's. We often wonder how this chair was used, or that table was placed, or that mirror was hung. Often, we even look to vintage magazines to see how some of the orphaned treasures we find were showcased in their heyday, or how housewives of the period were influenced to decorate. Once upon a time, someone was just as excited to place that in their bungalow cottage, as we would be over a new Crate & Barrel chair, or a new Pottery Barn sofa.

Therefore, I thought I would show a few of the before and after shots of some of the pieces that are already on our storefront. It's truly interesting to see how much an object has metamorphized in its "remake" process, and where our perceptions of the basic structure, or bones of the piece, led us on a specific journey.

First, let's look at one of our matched pair of vintage Hepplewhite side chairs. Here is a before photo. My partner found these on the east coast when she was vacationing with her family last summer. They were coming apart at the joints, and were in a general state of neglect and disrepair.

Before:                                                                   After:
And, this isn't even the completed state of the finished product! There is more painting, highlighting and waxing to do, yet. However, you can see the vast difference between the state of the two photos. We have already had a few offers on these side chairs, and they are not even finished yet! People seem to be able using the one on the right in a room because it has been given an update just by the color of the paint. It will work beautifully in any neutral room. The graceful lines of the Hepplewhite style can still enhance a modern home today, and add eclectic charm as it is mixed and matched with other styles. Look at this use of them from designer Sherry Hart, who's listed on Houzz:

Traditional Dining Room by Atlanta Interior Designers & Decorators sherry hart

 Another great before and after is the elephant lamp that was a cast off from a friend of my partner. Her husband said, "What are you planning to do with that ugly thing?" But, we didn't see anything ugly at all! Granted, it did have a rather unattractive lamp shade, but it had potential! It was a piece that had quite a bit of vertigris and red tones in it. For some people, that would have been fine with their decor in a study or a den. But, we wanted to give it a more neutral tone that would blend with most neutral backgrounds.

Before & After:                                  

 This base is basically metal on a wood base. We took three different gilding waxes (German Silver, Celtic Bronze and Silver) and rubbed them all over the raised finish of the base, blending as we went. The result was a really good looking piece. We placed a shade on it for the photo, but we are not selling it with a shade. Our consensus was that it would look fabulous with a burlap shade. In the final photo we took, we placed an ivory linen shade on it. This would now make a great addition to that right man's study or office, or a den. We have this piece on our online storefront for sale.

Additional photos:

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