Thursday, October 26, 2017

Photo Friday: Antique Victorian Sideboard

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Antique Victorian period sideboard. Photo by Hannah Manning
 for Materials Unlimited.

Furniture of the Victorian period has been described as oversized and overly decorated. While this might be true, some of the more massive forms of furniture during this period served a purpose and provided a point of view. 

The sideboard in Victorian America was the quintessential entertaining piece. Positioned at the center of the dining room, the sideboard was meant to display food and wares while entertaining. Its oversized design served multiple purposes as well with drawers to hold silverware, cabinet doors to hold porcelain tablewares, and the massive scale to show masculinity. The dining room is often called a masculine room, as this is where the male provider shows his worth in both food and status, and this is clearly reflected in the Victorian era sideboard.

Before and After: Oak Dining Table

By Gretchen Sawatzki

We've all bought things that we thought we could fix and use later. Sometimes we follow through and sometimes it takes several years to come to fruition. When our customer found an antique oak pedestal style dining table in pieces for a good deal with intentions to restore it, they never thought it would take five years to realize their vision.

The table top prior to restoration. Photo by Charles Wiesner.

With lots of parts missing and non-functioning, our customer's first inclination was to have a new leaf made to expand the table, but the leaf wasn't properly fitted in over five years! Lucky for us, these wonderful people brought their project to our restoration specialist; bringing us another fun challenge!

Damage to the pedestal required extra attention with gluing and stabilizing.
Photo by Charles Wiesner.

When the table arrived at our shop, it arrived in pieces. The table was missing castors, the top was tipsy, and the pedestal unstable. The first step to restoration was to install locks, levers, and shims so the table could properly open to receive the new leaf.

After installing the hardware, the new leaf was properly fitted.
Photo by Charles Wiesner.

After fitting the hardware and shims, the leaf was leveled to prevent an uneven surface. This required a lot of sanding and using a level. Then the leaf was fitted to match the existing table top.

After several stages of sanding, the finish was applied.
Photo by Charles Wiesner.

Next, the entire table was sanded in various stages before color-matching and staining. Minwax English Chestnut was the color finish of choice and after several applications with sanding in between, the table was good as new and ready for use!

The table after restoration. Photo by Charles Wiesner.

Do you need help finishing a furniture project? We specialize in a wide range of restoration services. Give us a call at (734) 483-6980 to learn more or visit our website.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Before and After: Oak Hall Table

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Some restoration projects find their way to our shop by chance. When our neighbors decided to renovate part of their building, a charming antique hall table and decor from 1920s was uncovered. Like the day it was left, the space had its original wallpaper and furnishings intact.

Salvaged oak hall table after it was stripped of its finish. Photo by Charles Wiesner.

Salvaged from the space, this antique hall table was structurally sound with a small drawer for knick-knacks. It's obvious that it would clean up nicely. All it needed was a quick strip of the old finish, a good sanding, and fresh finish coat to make it shine. Now it's ready for a new life in a loving home!

Salvaged oak hall table after refinishing. Photo by Charles Wiesner.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

American Furniture Styles: Victorian

By Gretchen Sawatzki

The Victorian period (1830 - 1890) regarding American furniture styles can be divided into a number of distinct styles including Gothic Revival, Neoclassical Revival, and the Rococo Revival to name a few. For furnishings not identified by a distinct category, the term "Victorian" became a blanket term for furnishings of period in which Queen Victoria reigned in England (1837-1901).

Classic Victorian parlor furniture. By Barrett, William Edmund, creator [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

During the Victorian period, Americans growing romanticism with all things English heavily influenced interior design and everyday culture. Americans adopted Victorian dress, principles, gender roles, and social structures, and everything became more opulent.

A Victorian era parlor fit for a Queen. By Miami U. Libraries - Digital Collections [No restrictions or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

While Americans' taste grew became more opulent, so did their design preferences. Furniture once created by the cabinetmaker, was now produced on a mass scale and even the lowest end pieces of furniture had details reflecting these tastes. Dining furniture grew in size to include sideboards, extendable tables, and comfortable chair, and parlors donned seven piece parlor sets for entertaining.

The Victorian period is marked by the revival of historic designs, utilized hardwoods, and preferred heavy decoration from all types of imagery.

   Antique Trader
   Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Featured Product: Antique Neoclassical Style Coffee Table

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Neoclassical furniture has been popular in American furniture design as early as the Federal period (1780 - 1820). With its motifs and ornamentation based on classical forms found in ancient Greece and Rome, Neoclassical furniture has transcended a range of aesthetics as a timeless style - popular even today.

Neoclassical table, photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

This antique Neoclassical Style coffee table has all the features of ancient Greek and Roman symbolism. With its large lyre legs, lion medallions, and paw feet, this table epitomizes the ancient style and would make a lovely addition to any home!

American Furniture Styles: Chippendale, Hepplewhite, and Sheraton

By Gretchen Sawatzki

The Federal Style (1780 - 1820) of American furniture was pivotal period in the history of furniture design. During this period, cabinet and furniture makers from Europe settling in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia used their craft to usher in a new design culture in post-revolutionary America.

The Federal period can be defined by three major cabinet-marker/furniture designers, Thomas Chippendale, George Hepplewhite, and Thomas Sheraton.

The Chippendale Style (1755 - 1790) is the earliest sub-style of the Federal design movement. Named for the English cabinet-maker, Thomas Chippendale who published the book Gentlemen and Cabinet-maker's Director in 1754, 1755, and 1762. The book consisted of furniture designs and instructions for how to construct them. The Director reflected Chippendale's affinity for ancient Greek, Roman, and Chinese design.

Parlor chairs designed by Thomas Chippendale.
 [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons.

The Hepplewhite Style (1790 - 1815) developed out a growing patriotism in post-revolutionary America. To create their own identity American furniture designers turned towards the popular Federal Style of architecture to create their furnishings. The Hepplewhite Style favors symmetry and balance while featuring truly democratic symbolism including the shield. The style was the brainchild of George Hepplewhite an English cabinet-maker, who created a popular design book, The Cabinet Maker and Upholster's Guide published in 1788, 1789, and 1794.

Famous Hepplewhite shieldback chair.
[Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

The Sheraton Style (1790 - 1810) closely resembles the Federal Style of furniture and is often lumped into the period-style. Created by Thomas Sheraton in his series of books, The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer's Drawing Book published 1791 - 1794, The Cabinet Directory in 1803, and The Cabinet-Maker, Upholsterer, and General Artist's Encyclopedia in 1804, The Sheraton Style was simpler than other furniture of the era with a emphasis on veneer-work.

Chairs designed by Thomas Sheraton. [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons