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How to mix old and new: the art of mixing vintage/antique furniture with a 2021 aesthetic!

*A note from the author: This podcast episode (as well as all future episodes) will be transcribed automatically. The author is currently aware of, and getting hives at the thought of, all of the grammatical errors she's finding as she proof reads her transcript. She recognizes that her former English teachers are likely rolling over in their graves, if that is where they currently reside, but also knows that some things just have to give. Please feel free to listen instead and be sure to read non-podcast posts so you can rest assured that she does, in fact, know how to compose written words into proper story telling.*

Links mentioned within the show:

Painting Furniture 101 course:

Facebook Community:

Instagram and Facebook: @figandfarm

Speaker 1: (00:00)

What happens when you have an old piece of furniture, but a new style, a style that reads more 20, 21 than 1922. What happens? Can you marry the two pieces together? We're talking about that today and Thursday, this conversation is so good. We're breaking it into two days today. We're tackling how to identify if a piece is we're saving, what happens if you have an emotional attachment to it, but you want it to go. And what happens to, if it is just needing new life, you're willing to do the work, but you just don't know how that's what we're talking about today. And you're not going to want to miss it. Go grab a notebook, grab a pen and grab a cup of tea, because it's going to be really juicy.

Speaker 1: (00:43)

We grew up with the phrase. Home is where the heart is, but our culture has shifted. And now the messages home should be Pinterest. Perfect. I'm calling BS on that message poem. It's not about the stuff, it's about the story and whether you know it or not, your home is a reflection of you and is already saying something. So what is it that you want it to say, Hey, I'm Danny. A former first grade teacher turned home decorator going from a dual income to a single income. So I could stay home with my babies, meant budget, like ramen eating, Goodwill, shopping budget. And I learned a few things along the way, like how to bring big styles to your home without breaking the bank. And I'm sharing it all with you. Tips, tricks, decor, and design advice. So you can learn to tell your story with your style where you can start living free from the Pinterest perfect trap and start living a life of intention. Welcome to fig and farm at home where redesigned happy living and where it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Speaker 1: (01:44)

I did ask this question all the time, and I'm wondering if you might have the same question and it's this, can you mix old pieces of furniture with a new style? Basically. Can you mix vintage or antique pieces of furniture into 2021 census style? And my answer in cliff notes is yes, absolutely. In fact, this is one of my very favorite ways to decorate because it's such a curated look. It looks very storied and intentional. Like you have spent years crafting and creating this look for your home. And it's opposite of going out to pottery barn or west Elm or target or wherever you buy your home decor pieces and getting like the new spring collection. It's very opposite of that. And that is a good thing. So today we're talking about that mixing old and new. And before we dive into that, I do want to identify what old really means.

Speaker 1: (02:45)

I'm going to be using the word old generically, but old could mean vintage old could meet antique and old could just mean you're tired of the piece of furniture. Some of us get that way, right. We just get tired of the, of furniture. Okay. So what is a vintage piece of furniture? Vintage means it is 20 years old or older until the age of 99. So a mid century modern piece of furniture falls into the category of vintage, but antique is a hundred years old or older. So if I have a table from the 18 hundreds or the early 19 hundreds, that is antique, there's a lot of assumption. I think that antique pieces of furniture are more valuable monetarily than vintage. And that isn't necessarily true though. It can be, it really depends on the market value. It depends on the condition. It depends on so many different things and of course, value can be emotional too.

Speaker 1: (03:46)

Right? So today, if you are living with a piece that is vintage antique or just plain old, meaning, you're tired of it. I'm talking to you, we're going to be talking about whether or not you really love it. Whether you are holding onto it with obligation, we are going to be talking about ways that you can transform it. If it needs a new life and a new story and some tips and tricks for that. And then we're going to be diving into ways that you can style it so that it doesn't feel so traditional so that it doesn't feel like it's conjuring up images of grandma's house and doilies. Okay. Are you ready? You might want to take notes for this one. So grab a notebook and grab a pen and let's dive in. Okay. So you're living with that piece of furniture. You have one in your mind.

Speaker 1: (04:36)

It is an old piece of furniture. We don't know if it's vintage, antique. We don't know, but we know it's made of wood. And we know it's better construction than the MDF things nowadays, right? Kit. You've got that piece of furniture in your mind. So I want you to first ask yourself this question. Do you love the piece? And you may say a couple of different things you might say, oh my gosh, I absolutely love it. If you absolutely love it. Fantastic. We're going to come back to you if you think, oh my gosh, I kind of tolerate the piece. I'm not quite sure. It's, I've had it loaded into the car several times. I was going to take it to Goodwill, give it to a friend to get to the dump. It needed to go, but I can sometimes see the potential. And it's definitely useful.

Speaker 1: (05:22)

Okay. If that is you, I am mainly speaking to you today, but hold that thought if your answer is no, I don't love the piece. In fact, I actually hate it. Every time I walk into the room, I just want to turn around and come back out. It is not useful. It is, it is broken. It is. I don't like it. Mom gave it to me. She said I had to have it because it was in the family. I just am not a fan. I don't like it. I don't like it. Okay. If you have such strong feelings with it, my question to you is why are you hanging onto it? Do you need permission to let go? Okay. Let's talk about that. If it is broken, if it is no longer functional, if it is taking up space, if it is taking up emotional space for you, meaning you walk into a room, you want to turn around and slam the door behind you because of it.

Speaker 1: (06:14)

Why not get rid of it? Do you have something else in mind that can take it space that can serve the function that you want it to? Can you see potential in it? If we change something about it, can we, would it then serve a purpose for you? Are you hanging onto it because of obligation? Because someone along the line said, this was my mom's. This was grandma's. This was aunt Mildred, and I have to hang on to it, but I hate it. If that is you and you need permission to let go, can I just give you the encouragement that someone somewhere is going to absolutely love that piece. They are going to be lit up in ways that you are not, and they are going to think this is the bee's knees. So it's okay. If you need to get rid of it, it is okay to get rid of it.

Speaker 1: (07:00)

Something else will come along that you can replace it with. Okay. There you go. You have my permission. Now, if you are thinking, okay, I kind of, I hate it, but I maybe there's potential or you tolerate it. Yeah. I've been thinking about getting rid of it, but it's super functional and I could get some use out of it, but I just don't like the way it looks. Okay. You are the one I am speaking to today and it doesn't matter if that piece of furniture is vintage. If it is antique or if it is just old, old in your eyes, like I've had this for 15 years and I'm getting tired. I still see the potential. It is still useful. I just don't like it anymore. For whatever reason it is. Okay. We are all there. Now, before you go rush and grab your sander or your paintbrush or your stain, and you think I'm just going to modify it because that's the Danny says before you do that, I want you to be thinking about this.

Speaker 1: (07:54)

If it is a vintage piece of furniture or an antique piece of furniture, and it is, is something that you tolerate, it's super functional, but you tolerate it. And it is in really, really good condition. If you ever want to go and resell that you will get a bigger return, the closer it is to its original state. So if it is super sturdy, if it is in pristine condition, you may want to think once or twice before doing anything to modify it. So when I'm looking at a piece of furniture and I'm deciding whether or not I should stay in it or paint it, I always, I always ask myself this question. Does it look like it is lived in grandma's dining room for the last 50 years and every Saturday for the last 50 years, it looks like grandma has polished it and buffed it and dusted it and kept it free from bumps, from the vacuum or teeny tiny grandkids.

Speaker 1: (08:52)

It just looks pristine. Like it is original. I don't touch that. In fact, I leave it as is. And if that is yours, if you're thinking, oh, mine checks all of those boxes, lucky for you. And we're going to teach you how to style it, to make it a little bit more modern coming up. But if you're a piece of furniture that you have in your mind, doesn't look pristine. It looks like it has lived another life. The stain is rubbing off. It has gouges. Maybe it has watermarks. It has dings and scratches and it just looks super beat up. Here's what I want you to think about. Can this piece be modified in such a way that it is bringing new life to your space? Can it be painted or stained or sanded down or even changing out some of the hardware? Can it be changed and modified to bring new life to your tired peace?

Speaker 1: (09:47)

Chances are it can, but knowing how to modify it and knowing what to look for can be really tricky. Not all wood pieces are candidates for staining. If that piece of furniture has lived a very hard life, you might see things like water stains, scratches, gouges, you might see warped edges. You might see feet that look like they have been hit time after time, after time from the vacuum or small children. And some of those just aren't candidates for staining. Even if you send something down to its original wood that sanding cannot replace the gouges that are there, that sanding cannot fill in the gouges that have been created from years past, sometimes filling in those gouges and then standing over it might make the piece look a little bit yuckier than it did when it started. So identifying whether or not whether or not a piece of furniture is a candidate for staining or painting is important.

Speaker 1: (10:49)

So how do you know what kind of modifications your piece of furniture can have? You're going to take a look at it and you're going to see if it meets this criteria. If it has only watermarks, small scratches that are not deep and surface, if it is a piece of furniture that has straight lines and not a whole lot of detailed work, if it maybe is sun bleached or the stain is coming off, this would be a great candidate to sand down, bring it to the original wood surface and re-stain, or you could paint it too. But if it has deep gouges, if it has water damage, that is more than just a watermark. Maybe it's warped wood. If it has chipped corners or chipped feet, if it has lots of fine detail, scrolly work, lots of little grooves, that is a candidate, a really good candidate for repairing the gouges and painting.

Speaker 1: (11:42)

So do you know which one of yours falls into? Can it be re-stained should it be repainted? Some of you may have identified that you have a really great candidate for painting because you have water damage that has warped the, would you have small fine detaily little grooves. You have deep chips or deep gouges, but you are thinking I can't paint this because it's wood, it's wood. You're not supposed to paint wood. Okay. What I want to say to you is this. We are considering this as an option because it has lived a tired life. It has been beat up. It has been used and abused. And if the, if the options are keeping it as is in your home and as is meaning, it looks used, it looks tired. It looks worn, it looks dingy. It looks like something has common clobbered it. If that is the look that you're going for that's that's okay.

Speaker 1: (12:41)

You are absolutely welcome to keep it as is that's one option. The other option is because it has been used and abused and worn and tired. And you say, I'm done with it. I'm going to send it to the dump. Okay. That's option two. But that to me is a worse option than painting it because there are so many pieces of furniture that still have function. That just aren't pretty anymore. That go to the dump. These pieces that have been used and abused and beat up and are, they just need a new story. They have been retired from their original purpose. They have scars and scratches, just like we have scars and scratches. They have seen life just like we have seen life. They have been used and abused. I hope we haven't been used and abused, but you get the idea, right? They have lived a life.

Speaker 1: (13:31)

And if the option is to throw it in the dump or paint it, well, why not paint it, it has retired from its original job. It is ready for a new story, a new chapter. And wouldn't it be beautiful painted. So where does your piece of furniture land? Does it land in the, it can be stained category or does it land in the, it can be stained or painted category. I'm going to give you some tips and tricks now for how to remediate some of the little things that you could see in a piece of furniture that you might have already hanging around. Or maybe if you are so inclined, you might go in thrift a piece and be inspired to do something new. So here we are, here are here's where you might want to take some notes because these are the most common things I see that can be remediated and pretty easily.

Speaker 1: (14:23)

If you have gouges in your piece of furniture, try filling those gouges with wood filler, let it dry, sand it off, and then you're ready to go. You're ready to paint, staining over something like that. Isn't going to match. It's not going to match the original word. So unless it's indiscreet, you'll need to paint. What about small scratches? If you have a small scratch, you can certainly do the same thing, but if you have a small scratch and you want to stay in your furniture, what you can try to do is take a Walnut. You heard me correctly, take a Walnut, break it in half, and you're going to rub the Walnut on top of the scratch. Rubbing the Walnut is not going to fill the scratch, but it's going to bring out the oils inside of that wood and it's going to make it so the scratch isn't a different color.

Speaker 1: (15:13)

I don't entirely know the science behind it, but somehow the Walnut oils bring the scratched wood to the color of the wood that it has been stained to. Now, I don't know about Walnut oil in a bottle. I just always have walnuts on hand. So I just use those and those worked great. I don't know about peanut oil. I don't know about any other nut oil. I just know about Walnut oil from walnuts. Okay. What happens if you have a water stain, you know, those pesky waterings that you get from having a, from a water glass, with a lot of condensation, or maybe even a hot tea mug or a coffee mug, those are what I'm talking about. Sometimes if you take a white knit old cotton t-shirt and make sure it's knit, don't use Terry cloth or anything with a lot of fibers and you fold that knit t-shirt over several times.

Speaker 1: (16:08)

So you have kind of a nice buffer, maybe two or three layers place that knit t-shirt directly on top of the water stain, and then use your warm iron to gently iron over. You want to make sure the heat does not hit any of the wood because that heat can sometimes melt any protective surfaces or kind of leave it muddled a little bit. So if the protective surface is wax, that heat is going to melt the wax. If that protective surface is like a poly that can muddle the look of the poly. Um, so try to make sure that the heat just stays right on the ring. So that might mean that you have your knit t-shirt folded over in a large area. Then what you're going to do is you're going to iron over it and then lift that knit t-shirt. And you might see, it might take a couple of times, but hopefully you should be seeing that water stain lift each time it should be getting lighter and lighter and lighter.

Speaker 1: (17:05)

And once it gets to a point where you're going to have it light enough, it almost matches. Then that's a good standing point because if you were to sand your furniture without doing that, without lifting the stain, once you sand over it, you're still going to see the watermark. So removing it before standing and standing is a good idea. Of course, if you wanted to just paint that furniture, you don't need to worry about it. Okay? What happens if you have stinky furniture, it, you open it up and it smells like maybe it is, um, been around for a few years and more so I'm talking about cabinets. I'm talking about cupboards. I'm talking about things that have drawers. One thing that you can try is you can get a box of kitty litter, get a box that doesn't have to be bought. You can just use an old cardboard box, put a plastic liner in it, like a target bag and pour some kitty litter inside, put it inside of the cupboard inside of the furniture piece, and then shut the door, leave it there for about a week and see if that can absorb the odor.

Speaker 1: (18:09)

Sometimes it takes a little bit longer than a week. Sometimes it takes two. You can change out the kitty litter to, in order to help reabsorb. Okay, what happens if you do that? And the smell is still there. If you can paint on the inside, go ahead. Do it use Kilz primer. K I L Z. I would use the paint primer, not the spray paint primer. And what's what you need to know about Kilz is that sometimes it leaves a, a finished that's kind of like sand paper. And sometimes you might need to rough that up a little bit after you paint it in it and let it dry. That is only for the inside, not for the outside. So inside, if you have that odor, it will trap the odor and keep it there. And then you can always cover over it with wallpaper.

Speaker 1: (18:56)

You can repaint it, um, make it kind of fun on the inside. What happens if you have water damage that has warped the wood? This is tricky. This is really tricky to give advice without seeing it. Sometimes there's just a top little veneer layer that can be taken off and replaced with another. Not even plywood. Plywood can be too thick, but like a Balsam wood. And that can be the overlayer. And now, you know, if you glue it down and clamp it on, sometimes that's enough of a, a fixed to cover over the damaged layer. And sometimes you don't even need to. Sometimes it's just a little bit of warping and paint will the skies that really well. But if you have a water damaged piece of furniture, don't automatically assume that you have to throw it out, that you have to get rid of it, that you have to hide it with a runner or a doily or something like that.

Speaker 1: (19:51)

You can sometimes fix those talking with someone in your area who can come and take a look at it to give you an idea of how to fix. It could be a good idea if you're not quite comfortable doing that on your own. Those are just the main things I see. When you're trying to identify a piece that you want to keep, you want to play with. You think about re-staining or repainting. Those are the main problem areas. And oftentimes it is just a quick, quick fix the warping, not so much. Okay? So I'm not going to talk about staining today, but I am going to talk about painting. So you have addressed the gouging. You have addressed a little bit of warping. You have addressed the things that you want to address. And now it's time to paint. This can be really intimidating, but why would we do this?

Speaker 1: (20:38)

Let's talk about that. Painting your room. You, you have been hanging around me for a while. You know, that paint is the number one thing you can do to transform the look and feel of your room. Sometimes you don't have to paint the wall. Sometimes that transformation can come in the form of furniture. So that is why we're focusing on this, because you might that piece that you might walk into a room and turn your back on and walk out of that piece that you might think this is so old and tired and boring and bland and yada yada yada, or you have so many wood tones of furniture that you want to have some sort of unification painting that can help. It can help a lot. It can transform a space, painting a piece of furniture too. Could also bring personality and infuse a lot of energy into a space that might otherwise need it.

Speaker 1: (21:28)

Painting. The piece of furniture can also help unify the color scheme you have going on creating that cohesive look and really utilizing the power of repetition that painted piece can also serve as a focal point to the room. So there are a lot of benefits other than just saving it from the dump, saving it from throwing out and replacing it. There are a lot of benefits to painting a piece of furniture. Okay? So we did all the work. We identified the piece that we tolerate, that we're going to try painting rather than throwing out. We also identified that this is a candidate for painting rather than staining. So now it's time to paint. What on earth do we do? The thing that I do when I paint furniture is I use chalk paint. I use any Sloan chalk paint. I am not paid to tell you this.

Speaker 1: (22:18)

This is just the brand that I like. And I have experience with, I don't use latex. I used to use latex paint, just like you would use on the wall. And I would put it in a sprayer and I would use my air compressor and I would, I would power it up. And if I'm painting cabinets, that is how I'm going to do it. But for a piece of furniture, I've traded my air compressor and my spray paint for chalk paint and a paint brush. Why do I do that? I do it because it is so easy in order to prep. This piece, all I have to do is wipe it down with soap and water, making sure that I get all a nooks and crannies. I get all of the desks that are, might be lingering in the back of the drawers. And I wash it down.

Speaker 1: (22:59)

I let it dry. And then I paint my first coat. That's it. I don't have to sand it. I don't have to strip it of the stain. I just paint over it. Once I paint over it, it does look a little shocking. It looks a little bit like maybe I let my kids help me. There are brushstrokes. It doesn't look even. And it might even feel like, oh my gosh, I made a mistake, but you didn't make a mistake. I paint two layers. And then I let it sit and dry. Well, let me back up. I paint a layer, let it dry. I paint another layer, let it dry. And I might paint a third in some areas just to make sure that it's covered and I let that dry. And once it's dry, I get my finest grit sandpaper, usually about two 20. And then I sand it a little bit. Now it is called chalk paint for a reason. And you'll why the minute you start sanding because as you're sanding it, it's getting smooth. But that smoothness means that you were roughing up all the shock, the chalk paint, and it's making it chalk dusty and it gets everywhere.

Speaker 1: (23:59)

So why am I sanding? I'm sanding it down to even a doubt to eliminate the brush strokes and to get it ready for the next step. But before we do that, we need to wipe off all the chalk dust. But the last step is going to be to protect it. Sometimes you can use wax. Sometimes you can use a top coat sealer, whatever it is that you want to use to protect that surface. And there you have it easy PC, but if you need more information, if you want more step-by-step instructions, if you want more of a guide, a visual, how to even a written, how to, I want you to go to my website, fig and Look under my tab courses and there you're going to find my class painting furniture. One-on-one it walks you through in way more detailed than this, for how to paint your first piece of furniture.

Speaker 1: (24:47)

At the beginning of the episode, we mentioned, there might be three different ways. You can answer this question of, do I love this piece of furniture? Those of you who loved it, those of you who tolerated it, those of you who really didn't like it at all. And I left one group of you hanging the group that loves your furniture, the group that loves your antique furniture or your vintage furniture, but you want to learn how to style it. And you want to learn how to bring it into the 21st century into 2021. And we're going to get there, but we're going to get there the next time, because they want to be sure that you don't miss anything. Today was a lot and next time we'll be a lot. So tune in next time, double episode this week, and I'll see you soon. Hey, real quick, before you go, if you learned something new or found value in today's podcast, would you head over to iTunes, to fig and farm at home and leave a review and subscribe to the show? That would be awesome. And if you'd like to connect with my community of mamas who are learning to be intentional storytellers within their own homes, join us at bit dot L Y forward slash design 1 0 1 group. There's always more room at the table. CSM.

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