Almost Overlooked: Barrel-back Chair

We almost overlooked this sturdy little chair as we prowled for wooden dressers and chests. I sat in it simply to regroup. How comfortable. Here, let me put this pillow behind me. Ah, just right. Take your time, David.

At $22 the barrel-back chair, with side caning and tufted back, seemed an OK purchase. For a nanosecond I considered reupholstering it, but I’m neither skilled nor ambitious enough to undertake tufting. I knew I had paint at home and could personalize it to our living room. And — this is big — I could use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to paint fabric, which would be a first.

Here’s the before picture, with little Pepper Popcorn making herself comfortable on the chair while Boston lounges above. The mahogany wood color contrasts a little too boldly with the ivory fabric.

Barrel-back chair

I matched the sage tones of our rug by mixing Versailles and Olive. That was the easy part. This is what the chair looked like after a couple of coats. If you look hard, you can see the remnants of a red stain on the right side of the seat cushion.

Chair with painted wood

Then I faced mixing the gold. How about Arles, a yellow named for the town in southern France, and a bit of Versailles? I didn’t measure. I just mixed until it looked right.

If you’re interested in how to paint fabric, Annie Sloan demonstrates in this video:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2a5znW4VJDU&w=560&h=315%5D

I gave my chair fabric two coats, with 24 hours between coats, and I waxed everything, including the fabric, with Annie Sloan’s Clear Wax. I’m delighted with the results.

Barrel-back Chair

Ann Marie and David

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The Shabby Nest

Iris Abbey: Our First Blog

We are thrilled to announce our new business named Iris Abbey. David and I, Ann Marie, are married to each other and passionate about history and art. Our plan is to take cast-off vintage wood furniture and transform each piece into a renovated, upscale, and unique hand-painted heirloom.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that people in this country throw out 11.1 million tons of furniture and furnishings annually. We’re looking to salvage solid pieces from a time when U.S. workers excelled in furniture making. Recycling furniture underscores our environmental concern, along with our use of nearly VOC-free paint, wax and cleaners.

We hope our recycled pieces will enhance a home’s decor, stand the test of time, and create a legacy. Every home deserves at least one important piece of furniture that can serve multiple generations.

When we acquired a fantastic Drexel buffet I knew that it was mid-century and Mediterranean in style. Which way to go? Spain? Italy? I love both. I found the perfect inspirational photo. Its shimmery greens and golds transported me back to Venice, one of my favorite cities. It’s the Rialto Bridge across the Grand Canal.

Rialto Bridge jpeg
Photo by Sandra Thompson

I zipped over to Jacksonville Beach and met with Pat Stone-Smith, my Annie Sloan Chalk Paint stockist at her store called Mid-Life Crisis at the Beach. We decided on a blend of Versailles and Olive. Gild would be the pièce de résistance.

David replaced a bit of veneer and she’s in great shape. I followed up with the paint and spent an eternity on the gilding. That’s almost finished. Here’s a peek, and she’s gorgeous. She would be at home in Venice’s Doge Palace.

Drexel Buffet Reduced Resolution

Since I’m a novice blogger, your comments and suggestions are welcome. In the meantime, check us out on Facebook

Invisible No More

Years ago I inherited my Aunt Marie’s 1953 Lane cedar chest. This piece of family history sat in our bedroom, mostly invisible, for years.

Lane chest unfinished front

Aunt Marie was so proud of that blond hope chest. Unfortunately Sparky, her terrier, used it as his perch to watch the world through the upstairs front window. Sparky scratched his way across the top every day, over and over again. Aunt Marie revamped the top, after a few years, by slapping wood-patterned contact paper on it.

Her quick-and-easy solution became my problem because the adhesive, left for decades, dried out the wood. I found a mess when I pulled it off.

Lane chest without contact paper

My efforts to revive this chest became a tribute to my aunt. I wanted to turn it into something decorative and functional. I certainly could not relegate it to a landfill. It represented an era when American-made furniture meant quality and families handed down cherished pieces.

I discovered that Lane Furniture provides safety locks and keys — free of charge — for their cedar chests manufactured between 1912 and 1987. Good deal. It’s a child safety issue and Lane has already replaced 6 million locks and need to find an additional 6 million (minus one). If you have a Lane chest, just go online and fill in the information.

Now, I know Lane wasn’t one of the elite furniture manufacturers, but they were very respectable. I was one of the thousands of girls across the U.S. who received a complimentary mini-cedar chest upon high school graduation. Lane’s program for female graduates spanned decades.

I painted Aunt Marie’s chest Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Cream, a soothing buttery color that matched my yellow and blue bedroom. But I wanted it fancier, so I ordered the medium Palermo Tile stencil from Royal Design and used Old White and Louis Blue. Perfect.

Lane Chest

Top of cedar chest

Lane Cedar Chest 2

Lane Chest Starbuck

It now fits our bedroom décor, although these some of these photos were taken outside with Starbuck, and I’m pleased to provide Aunt Marie–a woman of taste and kindness–this homage.

One more of Starbuck and a detail of the stenciled leg.

Starbuck and Lane Chest Leg

Ann Marie

Updated January 14, 2014

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