Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Painterly Touch

I'm aware that there are many purists among us, who feel that to paint an antique is a most despicable deed.  And, I respect that there is such diversity of tastes in the world.

When it comes to painting vintage or antique items,
the Yankee and I consider a number of variables, prior to taking that plunge.

For each project we tackle, we determine the steps necessary to enhance the unique features of the individual piece.

Some antiques have suffered such ravages of time that simple refinishing
will not suffice. Those are the very pieces we believe to be
the ideal candidates for a painterly touch.

We jokingly say we're in the rescue business.  It's not uncommon
for us to retrieve items from trash heaps or burn piles
 in an attempt to resuscitate them.

If there is even so much as a single breath of life existent in something,
we feel compelled to revive it.

I wish I had a before picture of the actual Depression era vanity that we delivered
from certain destruction—atop a rather large pile of  trash, about to be burned. 

Just imagine, if you will, a vanity very similar to the one pictured below, but...

Remember this sneak peek I gave you in the post about the Yankee?

That was a peek at our rescue efforts for the once
abandoned vanity we recovered.

When we found it, the mirror was missing, and the bridge that connected
the two sides was beyond repair.  The Yankee cut the piece apart
and disposed of the irreparable bridge.

Though one of the sides had some nicks and dings
and a few small areas of missing veneer, and two others needed to be replaced altogether, 
we knew we could totally transform the much neglected castoff.

To most observers, the piece had breathed its last breath.
To us, though the breath was shallow, it still existed and was therefore worth reviving.

After the standard thorough cleaning—that was my job—and a good sanding—
that was the Yankee's job—the Yankee set about making the necessary repairs.

We are of the opinion that to totally rework a piece,
eliminating every little imperfection, negates its vintage character. So, more often than not,
 we will leave certain minor flaws.

Being the incredibly creative man that he is,
the Yankee masterfully designed and crafted new backs from vintage wood.

Once those lovely details were added, I knew we had to
adorn the stands with lots of sweet, feminine flourishes!

One of the characteristics I absolutely love about older pieces is 
the quality of construction found in details like dovetailed drawers.

After the draws were sanded and cleaned, and all structural repairs complete, it was time to decide on the decorative touches.

My favorite part!   ; )

We sifted through numerous fabulous appliqués 
in search of the perfect embellishments.

This lovely three-dimensional rose, accented by a
delicate scrolly vine, could not have been more perfect for the backs.

With our creative touches, the frames went through a Cinderella-like transformation

They're now dripping with sweet little roses and
wildflowers cascading down from tiny ribbons.

The pretty, scalloped apron fronts were also gussied up a bit with
 the cutest curly ribbon appliqué.  It's knot even resembles a rose!

As if all those sweet details weren't dreamy enough, we then painted everything
the softest, cottagey white we could find.

That was followed by an ever-so-light distressing, from the top right down to the lovely little turned legs. 
 It was the perfect finishing touch to amplify the delicate beauty.

The shabby sweetness!!!

And where there was once one ugly duckling...
there were now, not one, but two beautiful swans.   ; )



  1. Just gorgeous! Love the rose appliques!

  2. The appliques really make the two pieces spectacular! You are a great team and have the VISION to see things as the best they could be and then the TALENT to make it happen. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Just beautiful, Liz! That Yankee does good work! : ) Love the color and the appliques.

  4. Beautiful! I inherited a pair of vintage night tables from DD1. When we bought them, they were painted a lovely, flat green. But she "had to" have them white. :( I went to too much trouble to paint them to redo now! lol You can see them in the Shabby Chic bedroom in my home tour at AtticMag this week. They are similar to yours!

  5. Beautiful work and two are better than one! Very pretty...

  6. How very pretty! These will make wonderful bedside tables. You did a great job.

  7. I have an old shelf that I'm going back and forth about--to paint or not to paint? I have several other pieces that are earmarked for painting. Your post inspired me to get going!

  8. These are beautiful tables. Fantastic job! They look so french.

  9. You and the Yankee compliment each other so well! You both did a wonderful job. I am hoping to come across a similar ugly duckling as I could use a pair of swans on each side of my bed!!!!

  10. You did a lovely job on resurrecting the one dresser and making two sweet side tables. Thanks for sharing. I agree that some true antiques are beyond restoring to original state. They need love in a new life!

  11. Great redos. I really like the appliques that you added.

  12. Very pretty makeovers! I love how you made them so beautiful again!~Patti

  13. So pretty and makes me so nostalgic too. I grew up with a cast off depression area dresser/vanity in my bedroom. I was so in love with that piece of furniture. My parents took it to the junk yard when I was in college. They also threw out my great grandmas wedding ring quilt that I had previously rescued out of the trash can several times, and the lamp from my grannys house that was decorated with a scene of real human hair.
    Having grown up through the 40s and 50s as poor farmers kids they see items like these as junk.
    Lucky you to find such a beautiful piece and rescue them. I had to scroll back to the top of your blog and see where you are from...hoping it was Kansas City. Oh well.
    Your makeovers are so inspiring!

  14. Wow! The transformation is spectacular! I can't even imagine the hours of work that went into that project. I am so glad you have shared - it's so inspiring.

  15. Those are breath taking. So beautiful.

  16. I just can't believe that beautiful blue cabinet was in that shape before. Fantastic work.
    tin and sparkle

  17. Everything turned out to be gorgeous. But those side tables are to die for. Simply stunning now.

  18. That is amazing! I wouldn't have thought it could be done. I wonder where you find those appliques?

  19. These are just beautiful. Ya'll did a magnificent job on them.
    xo bj

  20. Oh my goodness sweetie...
    I am a new follower. I love, love the beautiful work that you and your "Yankee" have done. I love that beautiful blue cabinet. It is almost unbelievable seeing the condition it was in before, and seeing what you did with it. How beautiful. Where did you put it in your cottage?

    Love the little night stand that you accomplished from the dresser. The embellishments just made them. I love the scruffed look it makes them so much more in the time era I believe. The roses are just the perfect touch, my gosh you do beautiful work. What a TEAM together you make.

    Please stop by and say hi. I would be so honored if you signed up to follow my blog as well. Country hugs sweetie...Sherry

  21. You've done some pretty amazing transformations there. I'm no stranger to trash heaps myself. Stop by and see for yourself! And be sure to enter my blogaversary giveaway!

  22. Goodness Gracious Alive! Your furniture work is absolutely beautiful! Found you by way of Kendall's Finesse Your Nest. She sponsored me a couple of weeks past. I just happened to check to see what she was up to..and WOW, happened upon your lovely pieces!

    Truly..your work is fabulous! I just became a new follower! If you'd like to drop over my place sometime, you can find me at:

    Blessings, joy and sunshine, Terri Smith

  23. I just happened across your blog, and your story is just charming! I love seeing your beautiful furniture transformations, and look forward to seeing more. Love the analogies about your and your husband's relationship!

  24. What a wonderful transformation! I have seen similar vanities in bad shape and passed them up. I've just discovered your blog and love it. I too am a "yankee" now living in NC. We are on the coast.

  25. I love the transformation to shabby chippy white! I really loved the blue piece too!

  26. these are beautiful! - it's funny, my mom is of the thinking that an old piece of furniture should be refinished - she would never paint wood - but I do!! alot of older pieces are beyond repair, and painting it a refreshing white or pastel really breathes new life into a piece!

  27. I love love love those tables. I want want want those tables. I need need need those tables.

  28. Wow!!!! What a great transformation! Absolutely beautiful, I never would have thought of removing the bridge, but now I will if I'm ever lucky enough to come across one...

  29. I think as everyone said - or many - WOW! I think they are better for the transformation! Just amazing

    Happy VTT!

  30. You did real good! Those nightstands are to die for!

  31. Wonderful, wonderful job. Room full of great ideas. Listed on my favorites for blogs. Could stay here all day.

  32. That's a great rescue operation. I am definitely in favor of that kind of work, but I hate it when someon ruins a perfectly good item with spray paint.

  33. They turned out so beautiful. What fantastic finds

  34. Major high-five to you and your Yankee! Fab!

  35. Clever way to recycle great pieces of furniture!

  36. They turned out great! I also like your vanity. Thanks for shareing..

  37. Those are stunning, Liz. They turned out so beautiful. The appliques add such charm to the pieces. Fabulous makeover!


  38. Beautiful pieces of furniture you found! Love the transformation! What a great idea to turn them into nightstands.


  39. amazing....I love how these turned creative! Happy VTT

  40. WOW!! Amazing job on those pieces!
    They are beautiful.
    And love the blue piece at the top of your post too.

    Thanks for sharing about your refurbishing.


    barbara jean

  41. Those are works of art!! Where do you find your decorative appliques?? so beautiful!

  42. What wonderful pieces of furniture!

    I hope you will stop by my blog and enter my giveaway.

  43. GASP.... I love you, ok, I had to say that lol. What fabulous transformations!!!

  44. Beautiful rescue! Thanks so much for sharing! I'm a new follower. It's nice to meet you! ;)

    Have a great weekend!

  45. Okay. Those are just fabulous! I've seen this kind of vanity alot and never thought to tear in two. I just love it!

  46. Those are absolutely the most precious and amazing things I have ever seen! What a great transformation. Love, love, love!

  47. I think if an item is more likely to get used if it is refurbished then do it! And you two did a fantastic job on these, they are beautiful and will surely last for years.

  48. love these! What a great transformation!

  49. Wow, they are both absolutely gorgeous! I want them!!!

  50. I really think our ancestors would want us to take the things they loved, and make them beautiful again, and appreciate them as our own. I love the transformations, they really are lovely and honorable.

  51. Oh, I love those side tables! That was smart to take apart the vanity and use them for a new purpose. I also love the distrssed white paint. Very pretty.

  52. great idea! my end tables in my bedroom I do believe came from that exact idea.....but they don't have the great back you added.....project time for my hubby I think.....

    very nice to meet.

  53. love that sideboard, what a difference! and those little side tables are gorgeous. I love your choice of embellishments!

  54. Olá!!! Amei o seu blog, tudo muito lindo e charmoso. Passear pelo seu blog foi encantador.

    Beijos Eliza

  55. What a find. This is wonderful thanks for the inspiration.

  56. Wow Liz, that was really having a vision. They are so beautiful now. Keep that Yankee!

    I don't know how we missed joining you before since we follow your blog but we are now members of your beautiful blog. Thank you for hosting a great party every week. I can only imagine how much work that must be.

    Linda and Jeannie
    The French Hen's Nest

  57. LIZ!!!! Oh my goodness!!! I absolutely love your site~ it is the sweetest place I've seen in a long time. It was so nice meeting you last weekend and then seeing you again yesterday. Oh, we share a similar heart and your taste is exquisite. My husband is a Southerner and I, a Yankee! These end tables are two of the most gorgeous things I've ever seen. Fantastic.

    Janelle (Ella)


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