Mid-century meets rustic revival

The rustic revival seems to be everywhere these days. You see it in furniture made with reclaimed wood, the use of rusted metal objects as decor elements, using burlap as a fabric and in mechanical/industrial objects being re-purposed as legs or supports. It is all part of the existing interest in vintage which is both a return to the past and an eco-conscious desire to re-purpose things. You see whole rooms decorated in this way or it is mixed in with more traditional styles.

The coffee table that I painted was mid-century modern maple. It has clean lines and triangular legs; the maple was an unusual choice for that era which tended to use teak or walnut. In its original state, it reminded me of old school desks from the 50’s, right down to the writing on the surface.DSC_0001(16)

I originally wanted to give it a grey, weathered look using a vinegar and steel wool solution that acts like an oxidizing agent.  You can read about how to do it here.  When I stripped and sanded the wood, that area with the stain did not come out perfectly.  Maple is very hard which makes it difficult to sand even with a rotary sander so I had to bleach the stain a few times to make it disappear.  Then I applied the greying solution but my bleaching action worked against me because the area absorbed a lot more of it in than the rest of the table.  The oxidizing solution will make wood go various shades of grey, so you will see some black streaks in places which look very natural.  Unfortunately, the area of the stain turned black in a large circle which just made it look like another stain.  My options were to start all over again ( hardly) or to use paint.  The top of the table is actually 4 planks which made it easy to create a stripe down the centre; I painted it in a lightened AS Graphite then used clear and dark wax to age it.  Since I was going that route, I decided that the wood needed to be darker as a contrasting element.  I used Danish oil on the bare wood.  I ‘ve written about it before but essentially it is an air-drying oil which you apply in multiple coats.  It sinks in and hardens to a give a beautiful hand-rubbed finish. It’s not perfectly water-proof like poly but it has more depth in its appearance.  From previous experience, I knew that the wood would acquire a rustic, reclaimed look, because you can still see the darker streaking from the oxidizing solution.   I also left the small dings along the edges that came with the table because they add to the vintage look.



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Faux Mediterranean Style

North American furniture companies began introducing a line of Mediterranean style furniture in the late 1960’s.  It was a contrasting style to the clean lines and spare look of Mid-Century Modern and Scandinavian design that had taken hold in the 50’s.  Mediterranean or Spanish Revival furniture is characterized by elaborate carving, wrought iron elements and a heavy solid look.  Some of it has a definite gothic design in its detail.  There is a lot of this furniture available in thrift stores and online because it has lost its appeal and has a retro-look that is not popular at the moment.  Reputable furniture companies such as Drexel made high quality furniture pieces that were modern reproductions of Spanish style such as this credenza from their Esperanto line:

From ebay

From ebay

But there are a lot of other pieces around that are not nearly as attractive as this and not very sellable.  Large bedroom armoires, china cabinets and elaborate headboards have little appeal to today’s buyer except when they have been painted.  Painting these pieces brings out the detail and makes them look less heavy and dated.  Look at this lovely dresser from Nancy’s Creations.  It has great carving and may have looked good in its original state but it is fantastic in the light green: nancy's creations

Junque’s raspberry hexagonal table ( a dead giveaway for  the age of  the piece) is another example of a true transformation:

raspberry hexagonal


I found the picture of this piece on a Pinterest page which is titled: Painting Furniture Ugly Tables. It has photos of faux Mediterranean style.


Here is the table that I recently painted. It had a medium brown stain and is veneer rather than solid wood.   It doesn’t have a lot of carving but the legs certainly have a gothic look to them-they remind me of turrets on a castle.  I used AS Pure White; the handles and carving is a layering of Graphite and White.  The table has a definite shabby chic look now and would look nice in a bedroom.  The inside of the drawer is red which provides a sharp contrast.





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