We’ve owned this vintage vanity for quite some time.
We've had it in the store for a few months and while everything around it came and went, this vanity was still there.
Don’t get me wrong, it received a lot of love. Customers in the shop would look at it and love on it…but there it sat.
We sell on an upscale online shopping site and this vanity had an unprecedented number of followers…but there it sat.
I used to paint furniture as a hobby.
Now that I do it for a living, my new hobby is cocktails!
I don’t mean it in a passed-out-party-girl way. I mean that I genuinely have an interest in mixing cocktails – especially classic cocktails.
I like the research, and I like the history.
I’ve always enjoyed learning how the average person lived during various times in history and I think knowing what people were drinking, what was popular at the time, provides a little glimpse.
It was over three years ago.
I know it was in the early days of our business.
In those days we were buying furniture with wild abandon. Looking back, I realize that was a smart move because as the business has grown, we’ve had less and less time to shop.
Anyway, one of the first pieces we ever purchased was a small vintage server that we both thought had a slightly Asian vibe. We added it to our warehouse inventory, assigned it an item number, and next to the number, we wrote “Small Asian Server.”
I love new beginnings.
I love opportunities.
I love a clean slate, a chance to do something differently.
January 1st is my favorite day of the year...the start of any new season…my birthday…heck, even trash day. Out with the old and in with the new. A chance to start over, to begin something new.
At the start of this year, Paul and I launched a new venture. It came about because of our store customers.
Share It Saturday is your chance to share the furniture painting projects you’ve been working on and have some fun seeing what other people are doing!
This link-up is open to everyone – whether your posting your 1st piece or your 101st piece, everyone is welcome to join in! So, if you’re painting to sell, or painting for fun this is your community.
Before I tell you about our trip to North Carolina, I want to say thank you. Soldier58 is in the FedEx Small Business Grant Competition so, Paul and asked for your votes through email, Facebook and Instagram and so many of you not only voted but also wrote comments encouraging us and wishing us good luck. The voting ends tomorrow and we will know on April 13th if we made it into the top 100 but we didn’t want to wait too long to let all of you know how grateful we are.
Always on the lookout for great pieces, we've recently added several new items to our warehouse inventory including some new small vintage servers. Pieces of this size are incredibly popular because of their versatility. Small servers are perfect in the dining room (of course) but they make perfect foyer pieces, bars and can be used as a living room storage piece or as a sofa table.
"Your house must be beautiful."
Not a week (actually a day) goes by without a customer saying this to us.
We usually laugh and say "the cobblers children have no shoes."
There are a few reasons for this. First is that we work 7 days a week, we have lots of plans and we get things done but not at the pace that we would like. Second, is that furniture comes and goes in our world. We buy things, we live with them and then our style changes and the furniture goes out. Finally, we don't actually have one home, we have two. We own a home near Valley Forge, PA which is also home to our private workshop and studio, but we also rent an apartment in Bordentown, NJ just a few steps from the store so when we need to be there for more than a few days in a row, we don't have to drive back and forth.
The apartment doesn't change too much, it represents Paul's style primarily - it feels masculine and comfortable with a nice mix of antique and contemporary furnishings.
The house however, is always in flux. For the last year or so we've been swapping out some older pieces for some clean line contemporary furniture as well as a few mid-century pieces.
But the master bedroom is the one room that doesn't change much. Until a few months ago when we came across the most beautiful piece of furniture.
Keep in mind that I don't get ga-ga over furniture. We see so much furniture that we know if we see something we like but it isn't the right price, we pass. We know that something else will come along.
So we were shopping at one of our usual suppliers in Pennsylvania when we spotted the most beautiful antique French armoire. I swooned over it as if it were a piece of art in a museum. It was the kind of piece that you admire in a magazine but you never imagine yourself actually owning.
Paul walked over and looked at the tag. He took his glasses off his head and looked again. Then he turned to me and asked "do you want this?"
Do I want this? This is a piece that I have only dreamed about. I laughed and responded "yeah, sure, how much?"
Paul looked me dead in the eye and said "$250." I was dumbfounded. That can't be right. I put my glasses on and looked at the tag. He was right, it was $250. I looked it up and down wondering what was wrong with it. Once I was satisfied that the mirrors were perfect and there were no missing pieces, I looked at Paul again. Holding back tears I told him...
"Yes, we need to own this."
So right then and there we bought it, took it apart, loaded it in the car and set it up in our bedroom.
Every day I wake up in that room and look at that beautiful armoire, I feel happy. It's lovely and life is to short not to surround yourself with beautiful things.
This graceful vintage dresser has really beautiful wood detail and we wanted to find a way to highlight it.
So, Paul created a custom green by mixing Amsterdam Green and Olive Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan.
He applied the paint on the sides, top, and on the cross piece under the top drawer then applied Clear Wax.
The hardware on the piece when we received it wasn't original or pretty so we replaced them with these lovely amber glass knobs which don't distract the eye from the lovely wood.
A few weeks ago our customer Peggy stopped by to discuss a console table that she wanted to have painted. She loved a table that Ethan Allen offered but it was crazy expensive. So she searched the internet and found the exact same Ethan Allen console table on eBay at a much lower price. The only problem - it was in a natural wood finish and not the distressed white finish that she loved.
Replicating another finish is actually very difficult but it was a fun challenge for us and Peggy was enormously pleased with the result and sent us these pics from the table in it's new place in her home. Enjoy! (we've also included a photo of the original Ethan Allen piece)
Paul and I do a lot of complicated finishes and custom mixed colors on our furniture but this desk is a great example of painted furniture done in the simplest way.
The outside of piece was painted with just one coat of Duck Egg Blue Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan and the inside was painted with one coat of Versailles. Next, we sanded lightly with 220 sandpaper to distress then we applied Annie Sloan's Clear Soft Wax. The top of the desk was stripped (using our favorite - CitriStrip) then we simply applied Annie Sloan's Dark Wax to stain and seal the wood. The entire piece was finished in just a few hours!
Created by Soldier58's talented co-owner Paul Duffy, this cabinet has been 'up cycled' in a decidedly modern way. Starting with a vintage cabinet and a thrift store print on canvas and ending with this exciting one-of-a-kind piece.
Paul used Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan in rich Graphite and deep, golden Arles to paint this piece. The image was removed from its wood frame, trimmed and attached with Annie Sloan's Decoupage varnish. Finally, Annie Sloan's Craqueleur was applied and the image was finished with black wax to enhance the gritty, urban feel of the cityscape.
Monday rolled around this week and Paul and I woke up in Bordentown, NJ. We had planned on heading back to the house in Pennsylvania but it was a long week and by the time we shut the store down, I was also shutting down. The idea of a 50 minute drive didn’t thrill either one of us so we did the overnight in NJ and woke up discussing how we should spend our free day.
Breakfast at Angie’s Luncheonette down the street was a no-brainer. So was heading to the outlet mall so Paul could pick up a new pair of sneakers at the Nike store (his were actually stolen a couple of weeks ago). But then what?
There are a few large vintage & antique co-ops in NJ that we like to pop into but we did that route not long ago and it was too soon to go back.
Then Paul looked at me and smiled. “What about the Breakfast Club?” he suggested. I agreed without hesitation.
The shop Paul was referring to is the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission Thrift Store in Penndel, PA. It’s not far over the bridge into PA and only about 20 minutes from our shop. It’s become one of our go-to shops.
I plan to devote and entire blog post to this shop and its manager Laura but for now let me just say that it is a complete departure (in a very good way) from any thrift store we’ve ever been to.
At the end of the day, we came home with just a few new finds. We’ve been very selective these days and having extra space in the car at the end of a shopping day is ok by me.
We picked up this great little vintage server. These are really popular pieces and we can barely keep them in stock. They’re versatile pieces that can be used in a dining room, foyer or converted into a bathroom vanity. The style we picked up this week is especially good as a bathroom vanity conversion because behind the doors it’s just a big, open space. Perfect for hiding the pipes.
We also found a pair of Reed and Barton silver plated coffee and tea pots. I have a weakness for old silver and silver plated tea and coffee pots. I think they look fantastic grouped together or individually with flowers in them. If you look closely you’ll see that these are engraved. I love that because it feels like real people owned them!
We didn't pick up the other two pieces featured here this Monday, but were recent acquisitions. We purchased the vintage record player off the back of a truck!
Leon Stanley (his wife owns the Artful Deposit Gallery here in town), stopped by with a few things that he thought we might like and Paul and I were both drawn to this record player.
The final piece is called a TV light. I don’t know much about this but will do a little research and let you know what I find. Paul and I bid on this one a few weeks ago at the silent auction at the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission Thrift Store and we were excited when they called to say we won!
Now it’s time to get our new things cleaned up and in the store!
Customers come into our store every day because they have an outdated kitchen. They want to freshen it up and they know that the best product to use is Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan.
The vast majority of cabinets that people are stuck with and want to paint are those builder’s grade oak cabinets with the recessed panel. Occasionally there are old pine cabinets and on very rare occasions, we see the type of cabinets that Jen has…
There were a lot of bad design crimes happening in the ‘80’s but these cabinets are one of the most heinous. Almond laminate cabinets and all that wood trim, it makes for way too much ‘visual clutter.’
So, Jen had a great solution. Since the wood trim is really the problem and she wasn’t excited about painting the laminate, she decided just to paint the wood trim and the frames.
So Jen and Mike dropped by the shop, picked up a can of Country Grey Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan and some Clear Soft Wax and they were on their way.
Jen explained that she thought this would be a nice solution that wasn’t too costly or time consuming. She was right and her kitchen turned out great. The Country Grey Chalk Paint® makes for a much more subtle contrast in a much more modern color.
It looks so much brighter and cheerier...and look at how cute she has it decorated! Jen changed out the drawer pulls and she even whipped up those cute curtains!
So, what’s the moral of this story?
Don’t be afraid to make a change, even if it’s a small one.
Home is the most important place on earth and you shouldn’t have to live with something that doesn’t inspire you.
Johanna and Paul
We're Paul and Johanna and we write about our life in the furniture business. The things we love, the places we go, and the treasures we find along the way.