Friday, July 2, 2010

The Painted Chair

Once upon a time, I worked for Ethan Allen Home Interiors as a design consultant.  It was my career change job and I went completely out of my comfort zone to do something I love.  I was there for almost four years and learned so, so much.  I was lucky to be amongst other women who loved sharing their tips and skills.  For the first couple of years there was a wonderful camaraderie.  My first year was pretty tough.  Working commission sales was a big surprise for someone who had gotten a regular paycheck every other week for almost 20 years.  My second year was an incredible year.  I had my footing and was lucky to meet two sisters who each had a home here and in New York.  We clicked and I did their entire FL homes and most of their New York homes.  For me it was the opportunity of a lifetime.  Then 9-11 came and buying pretty things to decorate one's home became secondary to homeland security.....understandably enough. of the perks that I (and all the other employees) enjoyed was a nice employee discount.  After working continuously for one year, we earned our discount.  There is nothing better than being able to tell potential clients that I, too, own that very piece and here is how I use it in my home.  This is a perk that I took full advantage of!  My entire first year, I dreamed of all the pieces that I would want to acquire some day.  Of those coveted pieces, I bought six pineapple dining side chairs from the then Legacy collection.  I just did a search of their lovely pineapple chairs are no longer available.  So sad...

Well that was about 8 years ago now, and my lovely chairs have been through the wringer.  A couple of moves, a couple of teething dogs, grandchildren's dirty feet and say the least.  So I've had the slip seats recovered a time or two and have finally settled on what has been our best investment.  For lack of a better word....FAKE leather....pleather.....faux leather.  Never did I think I would ever use such a product.  But let me tell you.....I LOVE IT!!  It is used on the finest yachts and wears like iron.  I also decided it was time to play with my paints and glazes.  The original chair was solid honey-toned maple.  One chair has been completed.

I am very pleased with the results.  I used my mouse sander and gave the entire chair a good sand to remove most/all of the existing varnish.  A coat of white, then a coast of Martha's Maine Fog for the entire body.  I then used two greens, a blue and golden yellow that I had on hand for the pineapple.  Let dry completely. Then the fun and my mouse went to town.  I really try to make authentic looking marks and not just hit the edges as I see so many do.  I try to think, where would this piece naturally age and wear?  After that part is complete....Ralph Lauren and I (okay, only his glaze and I) aged it to perfection.  Again, not just an even coat, but more in some areas and less in others.  I apply it with a stenciling brush, let it sit for just a minute or two, then buff it out with a clean rag.  What I really like about his glazes is that they give a finished feeling to the pieces I use them on.  Sometimes I put a couple coats of wax and sometimes I don't.  So far, I have not on this chair.  I will do one more of the 5 remaining honey chairs and use them at each end of the table as an accent.  My husband made our dining table from a ships hatch and other teak pieces from an old ship.  We have a great nautical salvage yard nearby where he scored those pieces.  He found a nice thick beveled glass table top at a local consignment shop to finish it off.  Pictures to follow. 

Well, I have written myself into a blur...must get sleep....must dream of new old pieces of furniture that I can paint and age....must promise myself not to fall in love with these pieces so I can share them with others.....

I send you sleepy...


  1. Found you by following links on *my* blog designer's blog. Yes, Karen designed my blog too! She was so patient with me. At one point I even felt like saying:
    "If I am a pain in the butt, please say so and charge me extra."
    Your blog is amazing and you are a very talented lady. Love the chairs ! One more thing before I go. I too used to be a design consultant at Ethan Allen....but I could not afford to buy anything as all my money was needed to pay for college.
    If you get a chance stop by and say hi.

  2. Oh WOW! I love painted furniture so much and thanks for the excellent tutorial. That is a beautiful white, good to know it's one of Martha's colors, how perfect is that name!! I will be looking forward to seeing that dining room table too, what a GREAT idea! Love how you were thoughtful about the worn areas too, I think I always over distress, that was a good pointer you gave. Happy 4th! ~Lili


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