I love painted Antiques. Always have. They always remind me of the South of France, where painted furniture abounds. The ‘heat’ of the summer nights, the sounds of the crickets, and smell of fields of lavender and roasting porc on the spit. Long and wonderful dinners al fresco lingering into the wee hours of the night gazing out over the water…pure magic.
I love the South of France and particularly their painted furniture. It’s always so rustic and dripping in old country charm. Below is a 19th Century two doored cabinet that Larry and I found in the Aix-en-Provence region. The paint was original and the color is so typically Provencal.
A painted 19th Century Cabinet from Aix en Provence. C.1800.
I particularly like the white or should I say, off white of the distressed and aged wood of a 19th or early 20th Century antique. A look that’s possible to imitate but only if you know what you’re doing.
The monochromatic white on white look has been popular for many seasons now. Particularly with women. What’s not to like? It’s an easy way to decorate, no chance of color mistakes, it can look clean and fresh, and it’s pretty.
19th or early 20th Century pieces are absolutely beautiful if they’re aged by mother nature. The ‘white’ is a soft, yellowed look that takes place over time.
This painted antique chair just came in on our recent container. It was originally white but aged over time giving it the ‘yellowed’ appearance it currrently has. Note the elegance of the details that is so typically French.
Antique White Louis XVI Style Cameo Backed Chairs from Paris with a very pretty distressed white original paint.
White Louis XV Bergeres from Paris. C.1930
If you love white antiques, then look for the real thing, or buy an antique and either have a professional do it, or try doing it yourself. It’s a project left better for the Spring or Summer when you can do it outdoors and the temperature’s warmer.
French white original painted daybed from Paris C.1930.
It’s a bit of work of course, but if you use good paint it’s actually quite simple. (I recommend a quality ‘chalk paint’) like the line our local Kathy Van Gogh furniture artist has created herself, or you could pay way more and get the Annie Sloan Chalk paint which is essentially the same thing only more expensive.
But whatever you do, use an inexpensive but good quality vintage piece and not a good period antique. You’ll regret it in the future but I’m sure this goes without saying. And try to either make or buy a piece that’s well done. Anything too white will look fake and almost plastic looking.
I don’t know what you think about this white but for me it’s rather lifeless. This is sold by a local retailer on South Granville. I’d be wary of these pieces because normally they are mass produced in Asia, India or some other off shore factory that does not cure wood properly reducing the ‘shelf’ life of the piece significantly. Also beware of the off-gas produced by new furniture. For some people it can be very very toxic. In some cases can be cancer causing.
A poorly made fake Country French piece which is neither country or French with a terrible distressed finish that I can’t imagine anyone would think is attractive. However, this China town dealer seems to sell them which is absolutely amazing to me. Compare this poorly done finish to the following below.
This is a lovely finish that looks like a 200 year old piece. Three layers of paint worn down to a sandblasted wood frame. All these photos I took with my Iphone while in France.
Although this isn’t white, it’s a typical color native to the South of France. Again two colors used, rather than just one.
For tips on how to get these distressed looks we go to Kathy Van Gogh herself who was kind enough to explain how this look could be achieved. This is what she had to say…
“To achieve a realistic antique painted wood finish similar to those in the photos above, use van Gogh Furniture Paintology products as outlined:
1. Select a piece with good bones and of good quality. There is no sense in putting a lot of work into a subpar piece of furniture. On the other hand, one must always respect the value of a beautiful antique with a genuine patina on the wood from centuries of hand rubbed cleaning, waxing and life. It would be sacrilege to paint those. My favourite pieces to paint are genuine antiques of good quality that have some flaw that would devalue them, such as cracked or split wood, obvious repairs or major surface damage.
2. If you wish to embellish a plain piece, you can easily create a believable faux bois carving by pulling our Furniture Make-up Embossing Plaster through a traditional stencil design. I have several designs taken directly from the Palais Versailles that I use on my pieces.
3. Paint your first colour, in the case of the photos above, start with one coat of Fossil Paint in the colour Mama’s Boy, a soft blue. Fossil Paint uses chalk as the binder which imparts a velvety smooth, matte finish, but it also distresses very easily in an organic way allowing one to create a realistic aged paint finish.
4. When the first coat has dried, apply the second coat of Fossil Paint in the colour Chivalry, a muted gray.
5. Allow to dry and apply a final coat of Fossil Paint in the colour Chalk, an off white.
6. The last colour applied dictates the overall feeling of the piece, in this case, the piece will read as an off white in the space, but small pieces of the other two colours will be exposed through distressing in the next step.
7. Take a clean lint free cloth and get in quite wet with water and wipe the piece down with the cloth. Using 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper, gently start rubbing away the layers of paint. In some places, only remove the Chalk to reveal the Chivalry, in others, go a bit further to reveal the Mama’s Boy and in some other places, sand all the way back to the wood. Go slowly and wipe away the slurry of paint often to see your work. Fossil Paint distresses easily so you could be back down to the wood without wanting to. You could also simply use the damp cloth to distress with for more control. If you really want that ‘chippy’ look, don’t be afraid to use a putty knife to distress some areas.
8. When you are happy with the distressing, wipe the entire piece with a damp cloth using clean water. Allow to dry.
9. The final secret to creating an antique look and feel is to finish the piece off with Beeswax Furniture Finish. Brush the wax into the paint vigorously to really impregnate the Fossil Paint with the Beeswax. Wipe off excess wax and allow to dry for about an hour. Buff the piece with a smooth pad of lint free clean cloth using a very quick back and forth motion, but hardly any pressure. You just want to gently skim the surface. Think of shining your shoes.
10. Voila! Sit back and enjoy your beautiful work and tell all your friends you did it yourself! Or, tell them you paid a fortune for it…it’ll be our secret!”
Kathy van Gogh, artisan extraordinaire.
Don’t forget, we have very inexpensive vintage pieces as well as fine antiques. Check out our website at www.antiquewarehouse.net
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