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


Sunday, September 17, 2017

American Furniture Styles: Empire Style and Duncan Phyfe

By Gretchen Sawatzki

After the American Revolution, New York became the sphere of design influence for American furniture trends. During the post-revolutionary period, several cabinetmakers from across Europe emigrated to North America to set up shop including one of the most prominent cabinetmakers of the era, Duncan Phyfe (1768 - 1854).

By Duncan Phyfe (Brooklyn Museum) [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

Born in Scotland, Phyfe brought the taste of European furniture making to his New York shop in 1794 drawing inspiration from Federal design. After 1800, Phyfe began to design furnishings with a French influence leading to the Empire style trend of the early 1800s.

The Empire Style (1815 - 1840) originated as an elaborate Neoclassical style in post-revolutionary France drawing on Roman and Egyptian symbols, long sleek lines, and grandeur.

Curule chair. Image By User:FA2010 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Empire Style can be identified by:
 - Roman and Egyptian symbols including acanthus leaves, lyres, reeding, ribbons, and animal feet.

Popular furniture forms in the style include:
 - Curule chair
 - Chairs with a lyre back splat

  Brooklyn Museum
  Buffalo Architecture and History

Friday, September 8, 2017

American Furniture: Federal Style

By Gretchen Sawatzki

The Federal Period (1780 - 1820) also known at the Adam period-style, was a truly decorative period for American furniture. During this era artisans used earlier furniture forms, mainly the William and Mary period and Queen Anne periods as the baseline of their designs adding decorative elements to elevate the look and fashion of each piece of furniture they made.

The Federal Period introduced a number of decorative techniques with French and English influences. Most historians attribute the Federal style to English pattern books that made their way to the United States in the early revolutionary period with some of the earliest Federal style forms attributed to Samuel McIntire (1757-1811), a self-taught architect and designer from Salem, Massachusetts and Duncan Phyfe (1768-1854) of New York.  The Èbèniste, a cabinetmaker know for creating and executing delicate inlay, contributed greatly to the overall design aesthetic to furniture of the period with marquetry, inlays, fluting, and decorative borders.

Traditional shield-back side chair attributed to Samuel McIntire.
Image credit.

Brass also took on a new distinction in a decorative manner with pierced brass bail pulls and cast knobs with unique floral and mammalian patterns. Pierced brass hardware became a standard for furniture of this era, and we're included on all types of cabinets, tables, and even chairs.

The Federal Period also saw an influx is specific furniture designers from several east coast cities including Chippendale, Hepplewhite, and Sheraton furniture. Sub-genres of the Federal style also include the Empire Style (1820 -1840).

The Federal Style can be characterized by a few key elements:
- Mahogany wood
- Inlay and marquetry
- Spade or arrow feet
- Slender, masculine design
- Shield or oval-back chairs

  Buffalo Architecture and History
  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Monday, September 4, 2017

Before and After: Exterior Entrance Door

By Gretchen Sawatzki

There's nothing like a beautiful, old hardwood entrance door on the exterior of a home. Hardwood can withstand all types of weather and if treated right, cleaned and cared for it will last a lifetime and then some.

Exterior door before restoration.
Photo by Michael Newberry for Materials Unlimited

For our customers, the Deardorffs, their door was a beautiful antique hardwood gem with original leaded tulip glass window, but with years of wear and tear it needed a good facelift to keep it looking its best!

Exterior door after restoration.
Photo by Michael Newberry for Materials Unlimited

First the door needed to be safely removed from its jamb, stripped of its old finish and sanded. After several rounds of good sanding, the door was ready for its new finish. The door was sanded after each finish application to ensure an even coloration.

After three coats it was perfect and reinstalled back in its beloved home to stand guard for another 100 years!

Does your door need a facelift? Give us a call for your restoration estimate today (734) 483-6980 or visit us in-store at 2 W. Michigan Ave. Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197.