Recover Vintage Furniture To Get New Decor Style Options
The use of re-upholstered or recovered retro and vintage furniture (some might say antique furniture) in the popular Shabby Chic or French décor styles is still very popular. So popular in fact, that antique furniture dealers and decorators are probably more likely to place a “vintage furniture wanted” than “vintage furniture for sale” advert. These refurbished old gems are far superior in character and, in many cases quality, than those newly made to look old.
With high demand of course also comes a higher price and many consumers are now relooking their own family furniture, previously deemed too old fashion (the definition of retro by the way) and redoing them to resemble as closely as possible that which graces store windows and magazine covers.
The classic vintage chairs look a little something like this:
Antique, Vintage or Retro?
As an interior decorator I have received numerous requests over the last couple of months to sand down, white wash and recover grandmother’s antique furniture in a grey or off-white neutral linen. Modest in pigment, rich in texture.
What many people refer to as antique furniture however, really isn’t 100 years old. Most of these pieces are reproductions of antique reproductions of the mid-century real deal and not even 20 years old, which would at least have deemed them vintage.
Queen Anne, Queen Victoria, Chippendale or French?
The most popular of these redone vintage pull-up chairs and wingbacks are referred to as Queen Anne Chairs, or at least bear resemblance to those of the Queen Anne period (1720’s to 1750). They have rounded backs - not square or it’s closer to a Chippendale piece (1750 – 1780) and not too ornate in woodwork or it’s probably Victorian (circa 1850).
Their most common trait and that which makes it the most confusing, is the cabriole, or s-shaped leg. This leg can end in scroll (generally considered French), ball-and-claw (most commonly associated with Chippendale), or Queen Anne’s pad foot.
not this pad foot
Not all sources seem to be agreed on these classifications, but it really doesn't matter as many of the antique-style chairs in most homes don't have any sort of detail on the cabriole legs.
It's better to go with Retro than to insist on slotting your old family furniture into a specific style. And that's a good thing!
Work with what you have, but don’t let it dictate your style
The fact that they don’t fit squarely into a specific mid-century furniture style means they can be used in conjunction with a variety of other décor styles. This is great news for those who don’t particularly like the whitewashed effect, but fear that’s what they are stuck with because they got the Queen Anne Chairs while their cousins got the jewellery or silverware.
Here are a couple of home décor ideas, compliments of Pinterest, for recovering your retro chairs for various style settings.
In stead of applying a white or grey wash on the wood, an enamel black or colour paint can create a dramatic or playful effect.
A dramatic effect can also be obtained by playing with different coloured fabrics and consider using something with a sheen to it. This velvet range for example is a great friend to vintage chairs.
Using a cow skin or other prints is a fantastic way to make your retro chair say something about your own country of origin or cultural heritage.
Leave a comment below or get in touch here if you would like advice or a quote on redoing some of your retro furniture.