Well, it’s another marathon post. And, haha, yesterday, when I started it, I was so tired, I just decided to refurbish an old post. I deluded myself into thinking I would be giving myself a break. haha
Initially, I came up with the idea to add in just “a few” high-low furnishings for the home.
I know that you guys like that. And, well, so do I.
There is no such thing as “just” and “a few” is impossible.
That’s because I like high-low furnishings a little too much. (grotesque understatement) So, you know what happened next. Laurel fell down the Etsy-hole of cool vintage and antique pieces. I mean, one of the most fun things to do is go searching for “the look” for a lot less money.
We did that with William McLure’s classic, contemporary style the other day.
And, the last TWO days, I found some beauties that I can’t wait to share with you.
The first more will be a lot of tips, and ideas for making your high-low furnishings not look cheap.
And the other more is that I found a rip-off vendor on Amazon. And, as many of you know. If I see something, I’m going to say something. There is almost nothing that disturbs me more in this business than price-gouging vendors. (and, here’s where I discovered one charging too little.) So, I want to tell you how to avoid getting burned when shopping for home furnishings on the internet.
Now that we are no longer allowed, to leave our homes, online shopping is kind of the only option.
Laurel? Stop a second! How is it possible to charge too little?
Oh… haha. I see your thinking. However, there are minimums that vendors must mark up their products. It’s fair trade practices. Charging too much or too little is bad for all of us.
Okay, we need to keep going.
One of the key issues with buying high-low furnishings on the internet is that unless you’ve seen the piece in person, you might end up with something very different from what you’re seeing on your computer monitor.
So, if possible, get samples. If it’s an antique or something where sampling is not possible, contact the vendor. Also, read the reviews if there are any.
If you go to a site with general reviews about the brand, here’s the thing.
- People generally only go to these sites when they have something nasty to say
- Some people are just plain nasty.
- Or, they’re complaining about some of the home furnishings landmines that are inherent in this business. In other words, these issues happen with EVERY vendor.
So, Laurel, who’s the naughty vendor? Don’t keep us in suspense. Do spill.
Sure. It’s these guys on Amazon.
Please feel free to use that affiliate link to buy anything else you like on Amazon. You know; toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bleach, Gatorade, latex gloves, Tylenol, etc.
However, I do not recommend giving these folks your hard-earned money. While Amazon has some amazing deals, that is not the case here.
They call themselves “A Large Cabinet.” However, I think they should consider changing their name to “A Large Ripoff.”
So, how can you prevent yourself from being taken for a ride? In other words, how did I figure this out?
Okay, well, first of all, I’ve been doing this business for a long time. The cabinets are similar to those at Legend of Asia. And, I know that their case pieces retail for a lot less than five large.
So, all you need to do is save a photo of a piece you want to check out to your desktop.
If you can’t save the photo for some reason, then just take a screenshot of it and save that. If you don’t know how to take a screenshot. Just google “how to take a screenshot.”
Once you have your image saved, open up google images. Once google images are up, drag the photo into the box with the little camera icon. The box will automatically swallow your image.
And, then seconds later, it will spit back at you every iteration of that image it can find on the world wide web.
I also found it at one of my favorite Etsy vendors who is also selling the same furniture.
That price is more like it!
GoldenLotusAntiques has a lot of gorgeous Asian and Chinoiserie pieces, panel and wall art, and hundreds of articles of beautiful porcelains— at great prices. Right now, everything is 40% off. And, then you can get an additional 10% off if you purchase more than $2,500.
So, here’s a similar piece that I found at Oriental Furnishings. And, here this piece is only $1,570! But, here’s the problem. It looks too new.
However, I think we can fix that.
For instance, above is another exquisite Asian piece from another favorite vendor, Erin Lane Estate.
They say it’s in the Qing Dynasty-style and from the 20th century. Who knows? Maybe it’s 20 years old; maybe older But, the patina is quite lovely.
I always love seeing the furniture in a vignette. It is so smart of vendors to do that.
But, let’s take a closer look at the finish.
I see a glaze on it.
Let’s take our new Chinese export and do something similar.
Below, I’m going to do a “virtual glaze” on Picmonkey to antique the piece.
And, on the right, you can see what I’m talking about. If one is resourceful, lots of embellishment could be done. So, if you see an expensive antique finish that you like, try to copy what you see on a cheap piece.
If possible, try to do a sample first. Or, experiment in an inconspicuous place, first.
In fact, over the years, I’ve done similar things to this.
The most common one is with supposed gold leaf finishes. You know—the ones that are spray-painted on; not very believable.
Remember this chandelier from a few years back? You can read about how I changed the finish from a dull bronze to a rich antique gold if you don’t.
Modern Masters Olympic Gold Metallic Paint
The above paint is what I used for the chandeliers. I loved working with it too. It’s water-based and there is absolutely no odor whatsoever. Plus, it’s easier to clean your brush.
But, there are some other beautiful faux gold leaf products (paints) on the market for you to try.
I’ve heard good things about Martha Stewart’s Liquid Go.ld paint
And then there’s the uhhhh… the gold standard – Rub ‘n Buff
Rub ‘n buff is what its name implies. You dab it on with a paper towel and rub it in/off to get the effect that you want with a paper towel. My two favorite shades of gold are Gold Leaf and Grecian Gold
You have to experiment to get the desired effect you want.
I love the way that Jennifer Rizzo of Sanctuary Art used Run ‘n Buff to create hi-lights on an antique gold frame.
You’ll sometimes need to add darker or lighter paints to get that dimensional quality. Don’t laugh, but I’ve even used waxed shoe polish to get that aged effect. It mixes well with run ‘n buff.
For tons of images and tutorials with Rub ‘n Buff – click here.
Oh, by the way, I very much recommend that you wear gloves too.
I’m very bad about that and invariably end up looking like James Bond’s girlfriend in Gold Finger.
I find it very helpful to take a piece that you already have as a reference for what you are going for.
I know that a lot of you love perusing consignment shops and flea markets for treasures.
So, the piece that you’re trying to fix up might be a vintage piece.
You’ll find online, lots of tables without a top. That’s because what was there, originally, was glass. And the glass is broken or missing. The vendor figures that you’ll replace it because shipping glass is a pain in the arse.
HOWEVER, you don’t need to replace the top with glass.
I repeat. You do not need to replace the top with glass.
You want to know why?
Many of these pieces are in the manner of the Chinese Chippendale style.
I do believe that Mr. Chippendale did not ever use glass in his tabletops. Therefore, neither should we. Of course, you can if you want to. But, the point is you don’t have to. And I think that a wooden table looks better with a wooden top. Of course, there are always exceptions.
A perfect example is William McLure’s gorgeous Chippendale-style coffee table.
As you already have heard me say over and over, I adore William’s blind fretwork coffee table! And he hand-painted it. (Well, he paints almost everything.)
You can barely make out that the top is wood. Well, it’s not glass.
Over the years, I’ve ascertained that it’s a vintage table from Henredon.
Here’s the table!
Thomasville vintage Hollywood Regency Fretwork Chinese Chippendale coffee table found on 1st Dibs for $3,600
It’s also on Chairish for the same price. And here’s what’s freaky. This is from THREE years ago. And, this cool table is still available. Why? Because it’s way over-priced, that’s why. And, the glass top is dated. I would say the table is worth closer to $800 – $1,000.
The fretwork, however, is gorgeous.
So, let’s say that you aren’t digging the glass top. If you are planning on painting the table anyway, you could have a new wood top made for the table.
Oh, stop looking at me like I just wiped snot streaming out of my nose with the back of my hand.
William did it. No, he didn’t wipe his snot with the back of his hand. lol. He replaced the glass top with a wooden top. And, he painted a wonderful design on it reminiscent of malachite. I did link earlier, but please check out my William Mclure tribute post with high-low furnishings as well!
However, you could just paint the entire thing one color. That would also be lovely.
I did find a similar fretwork console table at AdoreMidcentury on Etsy. This is a perfect example of the top missing.
Are you not digging the taxicab yellow paint color? It could work in some situations. But, if not, just get your quarter-inch plywood cut to size and attach it to the table. And then paint it another color you like.
Above is the real thing; an authentic late 18th century Chinese Chippendale serving table, probably hand-carved by Mr. Chippendale himself. It should be with a price of $27,000. It does come with a marble top from David Skinner Antiques. (sold, already) I’m sure that it’s quite rare and worth that, but for the 99.999% of us, that’s going to be a teensy tad out-of-reach.
The table below is in my vintage furnishings hot sales widget. And, there are some other new pieces, as well.
You can find the table here and for only $336!
I would paint this baby like William McLure’s table. Oh, how handsome it would be! One thing I love about these vintage coffee tables is that they are usually lower than the new ones out there. This one is my favorite height of 16″.
As for painting vs. leaving it with a wood stain. I realize that for many, it’s unt,hinkable to paint stained wood. But you’ll admit that this finish has had better days. So what to do about that?
Restore-A-Finish – This stuff is A-mazing!!!
This is an excellent post about this product on Centsational Girl.
I’ve never actually used it. Haha. But I saw a zillion before and after photos that have convinced me that this is an awesome product. And, it has gotten rave reviews.
Above are also some of my favorite sources for vintage furnishings. But, there are dozens more in Laurel’s Rolodex.
And one can find some great deals for expensive-looking, but not-expensive, furniture.
Also, please check out this post that features 50 of my favorite Etsy dealers.
But you have to know what to look for when seeing out high-low home furnishings.
I sometimes start by searching on Etsy for specific keywords.
And this is only a partial list.
- opium coffee table (also try cocktail table)
- Chippendale coffee table
- Fretwork coffee table
- Chinese Chippendale Ming table
But it could be anything you are interested in.
And then I would try a search for some great vendors that are known for beautiful vintage furnishings:
Oh, man… I, could keep going on here for about another century! Here are links that will take you directly to some of the good stuff on eBay, for starters.
And, finally, what I just spent 18+ hours working on!
It’s a massive high-low furnishings widget. There are a few old favorites, but most of this has never been on the blog before.
Some of the low-priced furniture needs some work. But, they are gems in the rough that, with some creative use of paint, could be spectacular.
If you are interested in any of the pieces, just click on the individual images.
Well, I hope that you enjoyed looking at the high-low furnishings. Please know that I realize that some of you can get similar furnishings for even less money. Gosh, some of you inherited furniture like this. Or, your neighbors with fantastic taste were down-sizing. Lucky you! But, not everyone is that lucky, interested, or patient. This is for them, not you wonderful hunters and heirs out there.
Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES!
Try Quakehold or museum putty
What is the safest way to secure figurines or vases on top of corbels? Love your blog. Thanks.
Oh gosh, I don’t know.
Thanks for posting, Laurel. I so look forward to your posts, now more than ever. Never has your humor and sharing beauty been more appreciated. Stay safe and know you are in my thoughts and prayers.
That is so sweet, Patty. Same to you, as well.
It could be melted wax? You could try vinegar mixed with a little cream of tartar or acetone (think nail polish remover) if it is. Also it could be some of the stain came away due to wear. Prior to putting on the restorafiinish you could treat small spots using a good quality furniture stain marker (like the Mohawk brand called pro mark). Sometimes you can treat the sides of a piece of furniture with the restorafinish but if the top is too worn, then it’s best to strip it alone, protecting the sides with plastic and then sand it down and restrain and urethane. Good luck. It’s good to keep busy with projects during this trying time.
Thank you Margaret for that tip! I am coincidentally cleaning up a old Cushman Colonial triple dresser and chest with Restore a Finish. The top of the dresser is marred with many spots from dripped liquids, not so much water stains. I used a slightly courser grade of steel wool that helped tremendously but I’m going to try your trick as well! Thank you so much for that!
Excellent work as always! And yes, I’ve made yet another purchase to thru you: a lovely Baker Ming-style ottoman (walnut/yellow silk) found on eBay. Should work beautifully with our Baker collection! Thank you for all you do, Laurel. It feels like we’re friends.
Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. That is such a lovely thing to say, Mary, and greatly appreciated! xoxo
Laurel, continuing to produce your beautiful blogs is a true mitzvah right now. For those of us who can’t go outside at all during the epidemic, receiving your blog is a highlight of the day and week. Thank you for providing a little beauty and distraction in our stressful lives — I’m sure it’s not easy to soldier on and concentrate amidst everything else going on. Please know you’re helping people immensely. Thank you.
Yes, the focusing is more difficult than usual. But, it’s a necessary distraction for me, as well. My life hasn’t changed much, actually. But, that’s the problem. I’ve been trying so hard to change it. Being alone sucks.
LOVE your blog, especially the posts about creative ways to refurbish old pieces. Funny coincidence: My mother had a truly fugly (IMO) 1950s era ersatz “French provincial” breakfront that we ditched when cleaning out her house. Some time ago, your blog featured a photo of the EXACT SAME PIECE painted in a lovely pale blue, and it looked FABULOUS! So I’m a believer!
Glad to hear you are well and healthy – I know Westchester got hit hard with this virus (my son’s family lives one town away from you, and everyone needed to hunker down quite early).Thanks for bringing a much-need lift to our currently quantized lives – be well!
Really enjoyed this post. I forget about Etsy when looking for furniture! Once source I found is places that sell used office furniture. I’m talking about large companies that buy out whole offices, usually corporate offices when they redecorate or move. They will often have lots of high end “brown” traditional furniture from lobbies and conference rooms. I’ve seen some fabulous chippendale, etc. Thanks Laurel! Stay safe in NY!
I was lucky enough to inherit my grandfather’s American Empire sideboard with a mirrored backsplash.
The patina on the mirror was so pretty. I loved it!
Then my husband decided to surprise me by having it replaced with a new mirror. Apparently I had never expressed to him how much I loved that patina.
I know his heart was in the right place but…😢
Well, let’s just say he’s lucky to be alive.
Hope you aren’t going crazy being cooped up. I refinish lots of furniture as part of my business and have used restorafinish many times. It is an excellent product for antiques and other furniture that has water stains or light surface damage. It should be used in conjunction with Howard’s feednwax. An extra tip for those super bad white water stains, mix 5 parts restorafinsih with 1 part lacquer thinner and use 0000 steel wool. It’s amazing how well it works. I had a client with a table with a nasty stain like this- that an old boyfriend had done so she kept her tables covered all the time just so it didn’t remind her of him. I painted her whole house, which she loved but she man did she get excited about being able to finally uncover her table. No more reminders of bad ex. For those wanting to paint furniture, always sand the piece first. You need to dull down whatever finish was there previously otherwise you won’t get good adhesion and the paint is likely to chip.
Love all your posts-but this is one of my favorites! Thank you for the hours spent and tips-it might take me 18 hours to go through all the referring sites you gave us-really appreciate the effort, worth waiting the extra day. ❤️
What a ray of sunshine in these dark times–dreaming is always free, and planning for better times too! I hope that you and your family are all safe and well. x
Hi Laurel, I look forward to your weekly blog and have gotten so many ideas, tips, and sources plus much needed advice. We moved into our renovated 1905 four-square home last October and it has many quirky nooks and oddly placed doorways making it a challenge for furniture placement. When we remodeled the kitchen and dining room i insisted in those little glass front cabinets at the very tip top and now I’m wondering what possessed me. I haven’t seen this topic in one of your blogs yet so thought you might like to address it.
How do we utilize those ubiquitous glass front cabinets that are too small for function plus too high to really use?
I have no doubt you have all kinds of interesting ideas! Thanks PS I really wanted you to see my glass front cabinets but couldn’t figure out how to attach a picture ☹️