10.12.2009

Metamorphosis Monday: From brown and drab to Swedish fab-a furniture makeover story

Forget English country, Tuscan farmhouses, and French provincial. Right now, the hottest look in design is a mixture of Swedish and Belgian influences. And why not? It's a pretty, delicate feminine look that can be easily adapted to many projects. So, for this Metamorphosis Monday hosted by Susan at Between Naps on the Porch, I decided to show a transformation of dated finishes to a painted Swedish look. Recently, I've been collaborating on a fun project, making over a rented cottage for a single female executive. One of her major issues was a lack of storage and dressing space (this is a client that sincerely loves her shoes). Our solution was to turn the room that adjoined her bedroom into a dedicated dressing room. Before, it was a mismash of passageway, home office, and den, but did not function well in any of those capcities. We relocated the desk to the guest room, closed off an unecessary door to increase privacy, and decided to add a dressing table and closed storage. At this point, budget, as usual, became a problem. How to add three large (and usually expensive) pieces of furniture at a price that would be appropriate? Especially since we had decided to do the room (and the adjoining bedroom) with a heavy dose of Swedish style? Paint and a local consignment store was our answer.
We found two of these large, well built, but dated armoires to flank the bedroom door. One became a laundry closet with a place for hanging clothes, a hook for ironing board, and storage for hampers. The other is an accessory closet, with space for handbags, shoes, jewelry, belts, etc. In both, we had full length mirrors applied to the inside of the doors.
The client already had a small set of these lyre back chairs. Even though the form is English, the delicate lines and lyre decoration do fit the Swedish asthetic. If these had been high quality antiques, I wouldn't have been comfortable painting them, but they were reproductions from the 30s or 40s with battered finishes. And finally, we found this writing desk to convert into a dressing table. Looking past the dark cherry finish, we noticed the fluted legs and moulding, as well as the applied carving motif. In fact, the desk has several characteristics of Louis XVI furniture, which supplied the inspiration for much of Swedish furniture.



After primer, paint, wax, and lots of burnishing with steel wool pads, a painted Swedish finish began to emerge:

The armoires were glazed in layers of beige and pale grey oil paint to achieve a pale, neutral appearance and act as a foil to the painted grey furniture.

The beautiful and delicate lines of the chair became more apparent with its lighter finish:s

And now, our client has a dressing table fit for a Hollywood star of the 30s. Miss Crawford would be happy--there's not a wire hanger in sight.



21 comments:

Phyllis AROUND THE HOUSE said...

The chair fit in so nicely with the room, such a pretty look, so romantic..I could stay there a long time...I am a new follower, come visit

Jenn @ Livin' the Simple Life said...

What an elegant transformation! I love the new finishes on the furniture.

Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) said...

Wow...this is gorgeous! I love that the finishes on the armoires are different from the painted pieces...instead of everything being the same. Just shows you can go with the lighter swedish look and still get a rich and varied look in a room. The chairs were pretty before but now...their design is even more beautiful. I know your client must be delighted with her new space! From what I see of her bedroom, it looks wonderful, too! Thanks for sharing this for Met Monday...just beautiful!
Susan

Design Junkie said...

Thanks so much for the kind comments. Susan, I purposely went for different finishes so that the furniture wouldn't look like a set, as well as for increased interest. It isn't obvious in the photos, but the chairs are a different colour (a slightly more blue grey) than the dressing table, which has a faint beige glaze. I try to avoid a matchy-matchy look, aiming for completmentary finishes to make for a collected look.

erin said...

wowza...love the transformation of furniture!! i also love new orleans AND bill hemmerling!! so sorry about your neighbor.......really sad. i have posted about nola several times...it's where i chose for my birthday vacation. you lucky dog you, to live there.

Landscape Designer said...

Stunning transformation!! Would you share your glaze colours? Both for the chairs and the armoirs.
Sandra Jonas

laurelstreet said...

OMG Mitchell - that is fantastic! Truly transformational. Love it!

Design Junkie said...

Sandra, aka the Landscape designer,

The chairs are actually not glazed. They are that rare thing, a happy accident. They are painted with two coats of Sherwin Williams Prep-rite Problock primer, tinted P-4. The primer itself was a mistake--it was supposed to be a dark base primer tinted the darkest possible grey for use under red, but the paint tech made a mistake and tinted white primer, which only came out a pale grey. I didn't catch the mistake until it was too late, but decided the pale colour would be a great base for the chairs. In fact, it was so pretty, that I left it as a top coat, but burnished it with extra fine steel wool until it had a satin finish (the burnishing also created a wonderfully uneven patina), and then coated them with three layers of johnson paste which was applied with the steel wool and then buffed with soft cotton cloths. If you would like a pic of the formula from the top of the can, please email me at hmitchellsettoon@hotmail.com and I'll send it to you.

As for the armoires, I used several intermingled layers of Benjamin Moore Niveous (an offwhite), Grey Cashmere (a greenish bluish grey) and Artic Grey (a pale bluish grey), and Sherwin Williams Tea Chest (a dark greenish tan). All were oil painted that I mixed with paint thinner. Because I was going for a pickled wood look and the armoires are fairly low use, I applied the paint directly over the existing finish (after cleaning with mineral spirits and light sanding). For a similar look, you could try Sherwin Williams favorite tan as a base. I usually mix all my paints and a little thinner in small amounts in one pan, and dip the brush in pure thinner for a varied look.

Tricia Anne said...

Beautifully done!

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

Love this. 5*

dee dee said...

This is beautiful! I love the mix of light colors vs the scale of the funiture. You have a very gifted eye for design.

Dee Dee

nannykim at spindle cottage said...

Gorgeous---I love the way the room ties together and the transformation is astounding.

REbekah said...

Oh wow! WOW!! WOW!! This is the MOST beautiful room!! Looks likt it is a magazine shoot! The finishes are perfect!! beautiful beautiful job!!

Martha said...

A beautiful job -- magazine worthy!

Maria Killam said...

Always a wonderful transformation of something when I visit! Thanks.

Mimi said...

I love the airy look of the furniture. Great job!

ImagineCozy said...

Wonderful combination!! I love the look you created.
-Angela

Claudia@DipityRoad said...

I am so impressed. When I first brought up the transformation I sincerely gasp!

Stunning look and complements were spot on! Your client has to be so thrilled.

Thanks for the great tips -- but most of all for sharing.

Well done. Now Im off to read more of your blog.

TTFN~~ Claudia ♥ ♥

Cote de Texas said...

this room and the bedroom are stunning! what a transformation! you are so talented - I want to hire you!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Swelligant!

Scribbler

by...K@ Ashcroft said...

Wow! Beautiful!