I have a penchant for working with vintage or retro pieces as much as possible, but sometimes a run of the mill piece falls into my lap. Take this octagonal table. It was one of the trio of curbside furniture finds I brought home the other week. Typically when I see a piece for the first time, my brain immediately fires off ideas of how I'd like it to look, what colors to use and the painting/distressing technique I'll go with...
...Not so much the case with this bad boy. The bland khaki color with the painted on fleur de lis was doing absolutely nothing for me in the inspiration department. It sort of felt like one of those plain Jane tables you might find at a department store that forever lives beneath a tablecloth, piled on with goods for sale, never to see the light of day again.
Initially, I didn't have a clue as to how I'd like this table to turn out. Nothing was speaking to me, and so I quickly slapped on a coat of Annie Sloan's Burgundy chalk paint. It's a color I bought because it was new last year, but unfortunately I've found nothing that works with this shade. On camera it appears bright, but in person it dries to a much more subdued brownish red. Not particularly my cup of tea, but maybe someday I'll figure out how to use it properly.
I painted it, and didn't love it on this table. But I started to get an idea of going with a darker color over this and bringing out hints of the red through some light distressing along the edges of the table top and base.
Because the table felt so one dimensional and for lack of a better word blah, I decided to give it a bit of age and texture through the use of dark wax. Normally, dark wax is meant to be used after a coat of clear wax to give furniture subtle shading and lowlights [which I'm fairly sure is a term only to be used when talking about hair color, but no matter].
Occasionally, if I want something to look more weathered, aged or like its sat in a working industrial warehouse or a chop shop for 10 years, I'll brush or rag on the dark wax directly onto the painted surface, skipping the step of clear wax.
This technique results in a more stark contrast between the paint and the wax, deepening the overall color, while also adding movement and striations to the furniture. This technique worked particularly well with the turned wood base. It gave it a multidimensional effect that takes it from blah to aged and interesting. [yes, I find this table rather interesting now!]
The top of the table has nice variations as well. I also forgot to mention, when I use this dark wax technique, I also prefer to use a more messy, textured painting technique. I brush the paint on haphazardly, making sure the brush strokes are a bit more coarse and the paint goes on thickly.
This allows the wax to settle in the dips in the paint and makes getting that varied surface a bit easier. Here's a close up of the edge, where I used a fairly coarse sandpaper to reveal both the original khaki color and the second coat of burgundy red.
I styled the photo with objects that helped bring out those hints of color, along with one of my favorite vintage maps of Germany as a backdrop.
Something about this table now gives me a sense of vintage Americana. I don't know if its the combination of blue and red, or that combination of thickly painted surface and dark wax, but I love the result.
Watson isn't doing the best job at selling this piece. It's looking awfully forlorn, but I promise he wants you to buy this gorgeous table. This sort of table can work in a few ways: as an entry table with a potted plant or bouquet of flowers centered on it, as an occasional table between a pair of armchairs and a stack of coffee table books, or the way I'm using it as a small reading area as a nice little spot to drink a cup of coffee and pour over a vintage book. This one is a collection of Shakespeare, because who doesn't read a bit of Shakespeare on a weekday afternoon? Keep an eye out for it in my shop soon!