Friday, August 10, 2012

Distressed With Dignity

Sometimes you just don't mess with mahogany.  Sometimes you distress with dignity and respect for the piece of furniture and the history it represents.

When I was young, my parents went to auctions and brought home pieces - painted and repainted through years of use.  They patiently spent hours stripping down to the natural wood and polishing and waxing and oiling to a perfect finish.

I continued doing this as an adult.  I married a man whose mother refinished her furniture.  My husband and I were given an old oak bed with a high head and foot board with green chippy paint.  Yes, he stripped it and polished and waxed and oiled until it has the perfect finish.  Somewhere in the mid-eighties I started looking at pieces and seeing the beauty in the time-worn finishes.  I stopped stripping. (The neighbors cheered!)  I started just cleaning and waxing.  

When I could not find a painted piece, I invented one.  I painted and sanded and painted and sanded until I had the distressed finish I now loved.  BUT sometimes you have to step back before you start a new project and think about your plan of attack and ask yourself.  Will this destroy the history of this piece?

I found this pair of end tables at the thrift store covered in dust, grime, and soot.  I loved the curvy edge around the top, the turned legs, and the rack underneath.

I envisioned a creamy white with a touch of pink around the legs.  I would add a delicate gray to embellish the edges.

Wait right there!  Here is a picture after I managed to get all the gunk off of them.  Guess what?  They are mahogany.  They are in great condition.  They have been painted a creamy white in their distant past.  They have a bit of crackle in all the right places.  They have worn spots in the right spaces.  


This is what was underneath the grime - what a crime!  These tables had probably been given a death sentence and stored in a shed or barn or under the house.  (Wherever it was - there were spiders!!!)

At least someone thought to send them to the thrift shop instead of chopping them up.  They had been given a second chance and I was not going to be the one to ruin it.  I was not going to be the one to paint them.

 The first table after I used Restore It and waxed with Howard's Citrus Shield in golden oak.

 Look at the beautiful creamy (really more mustardly than creamy) paint over the mahogany peeking out.

Which twin has the Tony (or Toni)?

(If you can answer that, you are older than dirt like me!  I forgot how to spell it!)

I think she looks absolutely stunning in her waxy shine!  Now let's get the other girl done so she will not have a bad body image.


Hey, the sun came out and now the colors really pop.  This is the second table's top.  I am sort of proud of this photo.  You can actually see the old distressed painted surface and the mahogany.

Look at that grand leg.  Look at that super shine.  Look at how good she looks and I did not do any more than wash, oil, and wax.  I don't think I would have gotten a result that was even half-way close to this finish!

Here is the completed second table gleaming in the sunlight.  The other table is just out of the picture.  I was thirsty so I ran in to cool off and to take a hydration break.  Long story short, it started to rain and I had to quickly shove both of the girls back into the car so I did not get a family photo of the two lovely sisters.  I took them over to the new booth to sit in a quiet corner to rest before the major moving day.  (See The Antique Scramble here!)  I plan to use them in a fall vignette.  They will be perfect.  

Sometimes you just don't mess with mahogany.  Sometimes you distress with dignity and respect!

See y'all!

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  1. Those are beautiful pieces - I shutter to think that they could have been put in a barn, etc.... Way to go - puttin' em to good use! Found you at French Country Cottage's linky party & excited to be following you.... Hope you can visit soon../


  2. What a find! I love the look of distressed mahogany and I think these would look great on your "porch" for the fall vignette. I was disappointed that you didn't mention their names, though. You've started something and I'm hooked!

  3. Donna those are just so pretty! Can't wait to see your vignette!

  4. Great tables! I am your newest follower.

  5. I saw you entry at Funky Junk and I had to pop over because my sister just picked this exact table for me. I absolutely agree that sometimes you need to just embrace the natural worn finish, but mine wanted to be painted. Yours turned out beautiful!

  6. I just had a blast going back and reading a bunch of your posts I missed due to my trip and my time playing catch up and clean up since I've been back. Love what you did (and didn't do) with these tables. Fabulous look and the photos ARE stellar! I can see that finish perfectly.

    How fun for you to be moving back to your space at the mall. I just love that you all have such an opportunity. How often are you open? Do you sell a lot there? I had to laugh at your comment about NASA and me getting a truck. Ha! I was actually going to look at an old truck today that someone was supposed to be selling at a yard sale, but the sale was not there. Bummer! I'm still considering it though! I may be needing it more than I have been if my friend and I go through with our hopes and plans to open a shop. We have a lot of work and plans ahead, but a truck will be a must. I'm sure you'll agree since you already think I'm cookoo for not having one. Keep up the good work and I look forward to hearing how the booth reopening goes!

  7. Distressed is the new black! Love your twins - they would look amazing in my twins rooms!

  8. What great tables you found! Love their unusual shape. And the fact that they are already "naturally distressed" makes them even neater! And I know what Toni you are referring to!!!

  9. I love those tables. I'm in a chippy stage right now and probably wouldn't have stripped them either. I have to go check out your Antique Scramble to see what that's all about. Sounds fun.

  10. These are seriously gorgeous Donna -
    Wish they were mine :)

  11. What a find! This is why I always get a little nervous painting furniture. Sometimes I just don't have the heart and sometimes I wonder if it just deserves to continue it's life in a happily 'naked' state. Thanks so much for sharing at Etcetorize this week!

  12. These are awesome tables Donna and an awesome find. So glad you shared them with the party.

  13. I like them just they way they are, too. I have found a few pieces like that..I just couldn't bear to paint over the history. Age is the best patina sometimes. Nice job!


  14. Lucky You, and to find a matching pair in great shape!

  15. Practically perfect they are! Thank you for sharing this at my Make it Pretty Monday party at The Dedicated House. Hope to see you again on Monday. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  16. Love the ocher peeking through. Great post!
    Now following you back!


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