April 9, 2010

Antiques: To Paint or Not?

Attention antique purists: avert your eyes! I have done something you are not going to approve of. I have painted an antique glass bombe chest (okay, I really don't know if that is the proper name but that is what I am calling it).

I just realized that I don't have any good before shots. I found this one from when I was replacing some broken panes in the side...

My paternal grandparents were avid antique collectors, so as a result my siblings and I have all inherited some really great pieces. When my grandmother passed away all the furniture was divided up among those who wanted it, and this was one of the pieces that grandma had designated to go to me. To be honest I wasn't really interested in taking it home, but the fact that my grandma had specifically wanted it to be mine tugged at my sentimental side, so I took it knowing that it wouldn't really fit in with my decor. I tried using it as an end table in the living room but it just looked off so it ended up getting banished to storage in the garage. During one of the several moves we have made in the last few years the glass tray top was shattered, and a glass panel in the curved side was broken. I was crushed. I had been careless and now a piece of my heritage was broken. So it sat in the garage for a few more years while I debated just throwing in the towel and donating it to goodwill. I had been instilled with the 'don't mess with antique furniture' rule so I was paralyzed by indecision. Do I replace the broken glass and leave it as it is? (albeit in the garage?) Or should I just go for it and paint it? Well you already know the choice I made and I am here to say it was definitely the right one. I love it! Best of all, it is out of the garage and in a corner of the living room where it will be used!

Instead of replacing the top with a glass tray, I opted to cut a piece of pine and glue it the top. The rest of the chest is oak, but I figured since I was going to be painting it anyway it didn't matter what type of wood it was. 

The broken glass pane on the curved side was surprisingly easy to replace. I just took the chest apart and removed the broken piece of glass, took it to Lowe's and had them cut me a replacement at the exact same size.

I love it's curvy little french cabriole legs. 

I kept the original knob because I was feeling sentimental.

I keep my prized possession - an antique English demitasse tea set that my grandmother gave to me when I turned 16 - inside the glass where my two unusually rambunctious kitties can't knock it over.

This board used to be red velvet but is now covered with a tan and cream toile. 

This project has made me realize that painting an antique is not the end of the world. I get that it may not be worth anything anymore, but I would never consider selling it, so the value is less about $$ and more about sentimental memories. Plus, before being painted it lived in the garage because I just didn't like it. Now it holds center stage and can be enjoyed. 

What are your thoughts on painting antique furniture? Have you ever painted an antique? Or do you think they should remain in their original state?

I am linking up to Miss Mustard Seeds Furniture Feature Friday


Blondie's Journal said...

I think you did a beautiful job on the chest, Cate. Nicely done!


Carolyn @ My Backyard Eden said...

I think it's beautiful, but I know what you mean about doubting whether to paint or not. I think your Grandmother would love to know that you are using her table and loving it.

My husband hates it when I even consider painting furniture, unless it's a piece of junk furniture that I got at a thrift store. I have a couple of antiques that I've inherited that aren't really my style, but I haven't found the courage to paint them yet.

micah @ the yellow front door said...

I love it and I think you made the right decision!

Jamie said...

It looks fabulous! Good choice!

The Brick Cottage said...

I think you did a beautiful job with it! In my opinion the question of painting an antique should be determined by what your goal is for the piece. If the goal is to sell it, then I'd get a professional opinion as to how to preserve the piece. If the goal is to live with the piece because you love it or has sentimental value, then I think one should do with it that makes them happy! I agree with Carolyn, I think your Grandmother would be so happy to see that you turned it into a piece that you love. Heck, maybe she even knew that you could do something fabulous with it and that's why she specifically requested it go to you!

Sherry said...

That looks very pretty. I love the paper you lined it with. You did an excellent job and if you like it that is all that matters.

Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle said...

I say paint away! Your home and your possessions should make you happy. I was once scolded for suggesting that someone paint an old antique headboard that just wasn't very attractive. It would have shined if it were painted white.

You piece looks absolutely fab-u-lous!

**Frugal Contessa** said...

Absolutely gorgeous. I agree with Karen's comment, if it's going to be in your home, you have to love it and make it your own.

Your blog is a treasure trove of wonderful posts. I'm so glad my reader led me here!!

Heather@PixieDust said...

I love your blog!

Please come over to my blog to accept your beautiful blogger award.

The rules of the award are to share ten things about yourself and pass on the award to ten other bloggers.

<3 Heather

Londen @ Sixty-Fifth Avenue said...

I am loving your beautiful little table so much! Im happy you posted so many pictures because I couldn't get enough. So, so cute and unique with a great story to go with it. I don't have any thing that was passed on to me and I always wonder about the story of something that I find. YOur little corner is perfect with the clock and the cane black chair.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

THank you for stopping by! I think you made the right choice too. I think with painting old pieces, you have to know the value of something & then determine if it's right to paint it. A true antique is 100 years or older & I think many vintage pieces we think of as old or antique are not really valuable anyway, so they are fine to paint. I can't tell how old your piece is, but I think you made the right decision on that one!

Susannah said...

I love it painted, I think it looks wonderful. It really works with that beautiful shape and the fresh clean white - you made a lovely job. :-)

Miss Mustard Seed said...

That piece is gorgeous and it looks great painted white. I think I would've done the same thing.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled on your blog... so glad I did! :) I completely understand about not wanting to paint antiques. I was raised in a strict "never paint antiques" household, and even though now I have a couple pieces I would like to paint, I am too scared to! :)

I think your piece turned out just lovely! Your grandma would be so proud.


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