As I scour antique fairs and brocantes across France, I discover the most wonderful old brown wood furniture. Some of the pieces in solid walnut, oak, rosewood or cherrywood are so beautiful, you know that they have been cared for over the years and they will fit into a new home, where their beauty will be admired for many more years to come!
Then there are the less cared for pieces! The old tables, cabinets and chairs that have been well used and are showing signs of wear and tear – let’s face it, it happens to the best of us! These pieces of furniture are not necessarily less loved, they have just had a tougher life than the pristine pieces. Their shabby appearance in some cases make them all the more attractive which allows them to slot perfectly into their new vintage inspired home.
The third type of furniture I find is the less cared for piece which isn’t making the grade but with loads of potential. Some TLC and several hours of hard work can bring a new lease of life to an old wooden piece of furniture. This little solid oak cabinet was transformed when it was painted in a soft grey.
As all the furniture at French Vintage Vie is lovingly hand-picked from antique fairs and shipped back to Ireland, it is very important to me that any restoration work is appropriate to the piece. Therefore there is no use of chalk paint at French Vintage Vie. Instead the furniture is taken to a professional studio where hours of sanding, priming, painting and varnish ensure you’ll get an attractive professional finish with strong durability.
I also work with interior designers to select beautiful fabrics and re-upholster chairs, sofas and bed head-boards. The combination of the new painted finish and re-upholstery can bring something back to life like this little French chair which was given lots of TLC with priming, painting and varnishing. It was also given an aged look by applying ageing pigment and distressed slightly afterwards . Then a soft floral fabric from Designer’s Guild was chosen for the new upholstery.
The French have been painting their furniture for centuries so this approach is not new. The widespread presence and popularity of painted furniture originated in France in the 17th century.
Soft grey and off-white painted furniture can provide a calming addition to a room and can sit comfortably in an existing neutral setting or will pop out against a dark painted wall or wall-paper. It can be displayed alongside other similar pieces or can act as an exciting contrast beside brown wood or even contemporary furniture. The possibilities are endless!
In the meantime, I’m back to the studio to finish my latest bedside tables!