Saturday, June 24, 2017

Before and After: Arm Chair

By Gretchen Sawatzki

We are often asked at Materials Unlimited to take on restoration projects that seem insurmountable. When this antique spindled arm chair arrived in the shop, it was heavily damaged with a broken and missing leg, splintered seat, and overall rough look. It was a true challenge, but the before and after results are pretty remarkable.

Antique arm chair upon arrival. Photo by Charles Wiesner.

Using the same species of wood, our restoration specialist custom cut and sanded replacements parts for the seat for the fill large gap. Regular wood glue wasn't enough to hold the new piece in place, so industrial strength glue was used instead. The new piece was also drilled out to receive the legs comfortably without rocking in the new "socket".  

Once fitted and glued, the arm chair needed refinishing. This process was tricky given all of the nooks and crannies on the spindles of the arm chair. With lots of sanding and several applications of the appropriate finish, the chair went from trash to treasure!

Refinished arm chair. Photo by Charles Wiesner.

Materials Unlimited offers an array of restoration services including rewiring for light fixtures, door refinishing and furniture repairs. Visit Materials Unlimited website to learn more.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Staff Picks: Our Materials Unlimited Favorites Right Now

By Gretchen Sawatzki

At Materials Unlimited showroom in Ypsilanti, Michigan, we see a lot of interesting antique and vintage items stroll through our doors. Like anything, we have our favorites, so we thought we'd share our favorite items in the showroom right now.

Antique barristers bookcase circa 1920.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

1. Antique Barrister Bookcase

Tall and with ample storage space this antique birch wood stackable barrister bookcase is Director of Marketing and Advertising, James' favorite in the store right now. With multiples available, "I would love to place them side-by-side to make a wall of bookcases." He notes, "they aren't quite Tudor," which is his favorite historic style, but he says, "these will do."

Antique wood folding wash tub bench.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

2. Antique Wash Tub Bench

This quirky wooden bench was once used as a wash tub bench according to the markings on its side. For Hannah, our Shipping Coordinator, Sales Associate (and I can't forget, Wizardess), an item like this is just perfect. "I love repurposing items that were once used more for function rather than form. I could see this being used for plants under a window, or in a bathroom for extra towels."

Antique flush mount light fixture.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

3. Antique Revival Period Flush Mount Light Fixture

This Revival Period flush mount light fixture makes Architectural Preservation and Design Consultant, Michael's list of favorites because of its, "smooth lines and shapely conical pan with the original sockets and chain. Its sleek satin bell-shaped shades look timelessly modern, but its highly unusual to find a nickel plated or silver plated finish on this style of light fixture which is typically found in a kitchen or bathroom. Our restoration specialist did a fantastic job preserving and hand-polishing the finish...even the fitters and chains turned out lovely!"

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Vintage Modern Light Fixtures for Any Modern Home

By Gretchen Sawatzki

There's a lot of good modern light fixtures available on the market today, but if you enjoy vintage and antique lighting, it can be hard to find truly great vintage modern light fixtures. Lucky for you, we've acquired a few great vintage modern light fixtures worthy of a 1950s ranch or concrete contemporary home.
Vintage cast aluminum exterior wall lantern circa 1950.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

1. Vintage Exterior Lantern

This sleek vintage modern exterior wall lantern has all of the charm of an antique lantern with a fun modern twist. With its cast aluminum body and molded bubble glass, this sconce is both practical and whimsical.

Art Moderne chandelier from circa 1935.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

2. Early Modern Five Arm Chandelier

This beautiful Art Moderne style five arm chandelier features silver plating and streamline design with minimal embellishment, perfect for a modern or contemporary home.

Vintage brass wall sconces, circa 1955.
Photo by Hannah Manning at Materials Unlimited

3. Retro Brass Wall Sconces

If you love Madmen or brass these are the retro modern sconces for you. The cylindrical reflector shades feature pinholes that emit little rays of light, perfect for brightening any room especially a bedroom or bathroom.

Vintage Space Age Light Fixture.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

4. Space Age Pendant Light Fixture

This cool sleek pendant light fixture bridges the gap between Art Moderne and mid century design. With its milk glass shade, bowl shape, and aluminum structure, this light fixture is perfect for a historic home, modern office, or contemporary space.

Retro Hollywood Regency Light Fixture.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

5. Retro Hollywood Regency Light Fixture

Trendy and fashionable, Hollywood Regency is the perfect vintage modern style for the lover of luxury. With its brass fixture and milk glass globe, this classic light fixture shape works in just about any space.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Art Moderne vs. Art Deco Light Fixtures

By Gretchen Sawatzki

At first glance an Art Moderne light fixture may seem oddly similar to an Art Deco style light fixture. However, there is a notable difference.

Art Moderne light fixture circa 1940.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

The Art Deco movement started in France around the same time as World War I. The Art Deco style relied on geometric forms, exaggerated height, and rectangular ornamentation, and was popular in the United States from 1920 - 1940.

Art Moderne light fixture circa 1940.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

Art Moderne design movement originated in the United States around 1940, and used the advantages of mechanized production to produce slimmer and sleeker light fixtures. This streamlined style drew inspiration from the Art Deco period, but paired down geometric shapes following more natural curvatures, and was less reliant on heavy ornamentation.

Art Deco light fixture circa 1930.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

  Buffalo Architecture and History

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Architectural Styles: Tudor Revival

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Tudor Revival is a modern interpretation of medieval period architecture popular from 1910 - 1930. Like most architectural styles in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Tudor Revival style borrows elements from the Gothic and Renaissance style buildings of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Photo by David Anstiss [CC BY-SA 2.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons

The Tudor Revival style was the preferred architectural style of the wealthy and is easily identifiable by its distinct features.

Architectural Features:

- Asymmetrical design and steep gabled rooflines
- Brick or stone exterior cladding
- Half-timbering and stucco
- Gothic arches
- Plank doors
- Leaded and stained glass windows
- Massive brick chimney(s)

Antique Tudor Revival style stained glass window.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Photo Friday: Renaissance Revival Style Reclining Chair

By Gretchen Sawatzki

The 1800s brought a new wave of industrial inventions that allowed for new types of furniture including rocking and reclining chairs.  While most chairs could either rock or recline in the 1800s, this unusual Renaissance Revival style chair from about 1880 both rocks and reclines using an iron yoke and spring coil system.

Most rocking chairs of this era, known as platform rockers, used large springs built into a base for the chair to sway. Reclining chairs like the Morris Chair of the same period used hinges on the seat back and arms to lift and recline. This unusual chair is an imaginative blend of the best ideas for furniture in 1880.

Click here for more information about this chair.