Monday, October 25, 2010

OctoberPostFest3: In which several things are painted, and compared to Regency-era literature.

OctoberPostFest3: In which several things are painted, and compared to Regency-era literature. 

By now, you are realizing that I rarely purchase something to which I do not make alterations or improvements on at some time.  If that thing is furniture, the alteration/improvement most often comes in the form of paint.    I like to paint.  I really like to paint furniture.  Because I am a student and therefore it is not feasible for me to order everything straight out of the pottery barn catalog (like I would do that anyway because I like to adventure-shop in antique stores), my strategy is often to find a study, economical, and quite possibly antique (read: probably just OLD) piece that I can spice up with a little help from my good friends Folk Art, Apple Barrel, and Anita (These are brands of acrylic craft paint, for those of you who are wondering).  I like Folk Art best because it is called Folk Art, which is clearly a superior name.

Read on, I say to you!

Today, I will tell you the story of three pieces of furniture.  Where they came from, what they were, and what they are now.  Unfortunately, I have only after pictures, and no before pictures.  Fortunately, I have…um….stylistically arranged these stories in the style of one of my favorite authors, Jane Austen.

Story One:   Sense and Sensibility

Sense will always have attractions for me.  Practicality must not be denied its importance in choosing a piece of functional furniture.  Yet, when the romantic refinements of a young mind are obliged to give way, how frequently they are succeeded by such opinions as are but too common and dangerous! Such was the case with me and my search for a desk.  I am sense AND sensibility, propriety AND impulsiveness.  I did not want a desk; I wanted a table; for will a table not serve the purposes of a desk, and then some? Truly, a multipurpose piece could be the only thing to satisfy my needs. Such a table I found, and procured, after successfully talking the seller down in price by no mean number.  I was satisfied. I esteemed my table and chairs. I liked my table and chairs. I was Elinor. And yet, the part of me that is Marianne cried out “Esteem them! Like them!? Cold-hearted Courtney, Oh! Worse than being cold-hearted! Ashamed of being otherwise!”  I knew that something must be done.  Who am I, to have a plain, wooden table, with not even the most simple design or decoration? Am I not young? Am I not vibrant? Why, then does my table look so industrial, so harsh, so cold, so unfeeling?  I gathered my paints, my paintbrushes, my stamps, and several cans of shellac around me, and commenced to paint.  I think if you look at this table you may understand my mind a little better.  It is order and chaos, whimsy and boundary, all mixed up together, with no subtle use of color, to be sure.  But I digress.  The chairs are a bit different, but they still “match”, in their way.  And my seat cushions, each in their own way, I find very pleasing and am sure you could find nothing more lovely in Combe Magna.  Not that I would ever live in Combe Magna, because Willoughby is a scoundrel and a libertine.
View from the top! I think this might be what the inside of my brain looks like.

I also made a cute seat cushion with RIBBON TIES!

Did I mention the leaves fold down? 

Story Two:  Persuasion

A few years before, this chest of drawers had been a very pretty piece of furniture, but its bloom had faded early, and even in its height even the bedroom set had ceased to admire it (so totally different were its delicate features and mild wooden knobs from the set’s own) there could be nothing in them now that it was faded and worn to excite the set’s esteem.  However, it happens sometimes that a chest of drawers is more handsome at 49 than it was 20 years before, and that is the case with this chest of drawers.  I found this chest of drawers at an antique shop that was not called Kellynch Hall, but for the sake of this story, let us pretend it was.  The poor chest of drawers had obviously been jilted before; and its indifferent but undoubtedly well meaning dealer had marked it with masking tape that read “chester drawers”.  Note the wheels on the bottom, which the good dealer assured me would be “real helpful” in moving my “chester drawers” from place to place, and were “added value” (I am in no way making fun of this good gentleman’s accent or word choice, I am simply making it known to you, good reader, that the correct terms  are “chest OF drawers: and “really, or very helpful”.  I am in no place to criticize anyone’s grammar, seeing as I have often committed transgressions against the Good Lady Grammar (who I believe resides in Devonshire in the summer).  So long had dear “chester” been neglected and unloved, it was quite persuaded to think itself a lost cause, good only to encourage and support the efforts of other, more beautiful pieces of furniture. A few coats of “leaf green” later, chester was beaming with happiness, from its “valuable” wheels to its “barn red” drawer pulls, just like Anne Elliot when she realized Captain Wentworth didn’t hate her anymore, but loved her enough to say “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.  Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever”, which is a very dramatic and romantic thing to say, obviously, and no one would ever tell that to a chest of drawers.
Pay no attention to the stacks of journal articles in the corner.

Story Three: Mansfield Park
Give a shelf a coat of paint, and introduce it properly into the world, and ten to one but it has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody.  There was a shelf in the basement which I plucked from obscurity and introduced into the fashionable world, much in the same way Fanny Price was lifted from the general squalor of her Portsmouth home and brought to the Bertrams at Mansfield Park.  The shelf, like Fanny, was pale and unpolished, but with a great depth of possibility.  I’m pretty sure it was a shelf my Dad made many years ago for the sole purpose of storing things in the back of the basement or garage, so it wasn’t that…pretty.  About 3 years ago I snatched it from its cold abode (of course, I asked first!) and began my improvements.  Pink? Indeed. More pink? Yes, lighter shade, if you will.  Painters tape? Oh my, but that will make some interesting designs. Done.  Shelf, you have now married Edmund Bertram.  Wait. That comparison doesn’t really make sense.  Well, shelf, you have at least bested Mary Crawford.  
Whimsical AND functional. The best of both worlds.

Well, Folks, That's all I've got for now.  


  1. I LOVE the green dresser. Super cute! I get too nervous to paint my stuff. I would love to paint something that color of green. Awesome job!

  2. Thanks! I like to have really bright furniture right now since I've been living in dorms/apartments with plain beige walls for the last 4 years!!

  3. I think that my favorite part of this post, and I paraphrase, is "shelf, you have married Edmund Bertram.... you have at least bested Mary Crawford." My admiration grows daily for you, my dear.

    I rank this blog post as highly as I rank a fine muslin.

  4. I need some ideas for some very boring pieces of furtiture in my apt. I want something...earthy and hippy-ish. Ideas from the genius Courtney Still?-Rachel Irving