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  1. #1
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    Antique furniture question

    I have a wood bedroom set that my great grandfather bought back in the day. Nothing special, no real monetary value -- just sentimental. The only real problem with it is the fact that the bland off-white paint job is scratched and scuffed, dulled, dirty and just plain looks bad. It is the original paint, no additional layers have ever been added.

    To those of you that have done this before, I'm wondering if I should strip the old paint, sand, prime and add a new color or if I could just cut to the chase and simply put a new layer of paint over the old one.

    Time and effort involved is not an issue. However, money is. My budget is really tight right now and unless I decided to stretch the project over a number of months I'm not sure I could scrape up enough to go the whole nine yards.

    Another point (that I might just want to suck it up and deal with) is the fact that I will be moving into a new apartment in roughly 1.5 months and I would like to be finished before then. Not really a priority, but it would be nice.

    So what do you think?


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  3. #2
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    I refinished a coffee table and end tables a few years ago. Stripped, sanded, stained, etc. The works. It is a lot of work. I love doing that kind of thing, but it's a labor of love. Personally, I'd have to see the condition of the furniture to give you an honest answer. I would have to say though, if you're just wanting a new paint coat, to go ahead and put another coat on it. I would only do the strip/sand crap if you wanted to get the wood finish. Good Luck, I hope this helped a little.

  4. #3
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    Thanks Hayeske.

    You said exactly what has been running through my mind. I really don't think simply applying another coat of paint will harm anything, but I can't help but think that I'm "half-assing" it that way...

    From what I can see (the inside of the dresser is unfinished) the wood itself isn't too terribly spectacular. If it looked nice and had a nice natural pattern I would consider completely refinishing and staining it, but I just honestly don't think the end result would be worth the effort.

  5. #4
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    I used to be an antique appraiser for a year. Fun work. Interesting too.

    If you post a few pictures of it, the top, the underside, the legs of the table, I might be able to give you a quick estimation of where it's from and how much it's worth.

    My brother had his TV sitting on a table. As it turned out, it was actually a Napoleon-era writing table, in fairly good condition, which I estimated to be worth about $1,800. Sometimes you never know what you got!

  6. #5
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    That would be amazing, ParkerD! Thanks for the offer!

    I'll break out the camera tonight when I get off work.

  7. #6
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    Glad to help

    I can't promise you anything, but who knows... it might be worth something.

    I can already tell you this, if it's a complete bedroom set, it'll be worth BIG bucks. Sets of chairs, plates, etc... tend to get fragmented throughout the years. Some chairs go missing, some plates are stolen. So to find a complete set... of ANYTHING... is rare.

    But I can already tell you that if it's painted off-white, it may not be antique... just antique looking. Aunthentic antique furniture is usually it's natural wood color because there was no such thing as furniture paint back-in-the-day. Or, it could be authentic antique that fell victim to someone who decided to re-furbish it without knowing how modern-day furniture paint decreases it's value.

    Sometimes you'll find chairs that are glazed with a gold-like paint, which did exist and increases the value immensley.

    Can't wait to see it.
    Last edited by CaptainInsano; August 9th, 2005 at 09:36 PM.

  8. #7
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    First of all I would like to apologize for not being able to get the pictures I wanted. I recently moved back in with my parents to get out of a bad living situation and because I'm going to be moving again in mid-September I haven't even unpacked and I have boxes, furniture and all sorts of junk just laying around everywhere. But you should be able to get a good idea from the photos I DO have:

    Bedside Stand:
    Antique furniture question

    There are two identical twin-sized beds.

    Headboard:
    Antique furniture question

    Footboard: (I guess that's what it would be called.)
    Antique furniture question

    There are two dressers. The one I am showing you a photo of is in my sister's room at the moment. (So please excuse the junk -- she didn't want me to move anything.) The other one is styled exactly the same, only it is larger. The mirror is slightly taller and it is wide enough to accomodate 6 drawers instead of only three.

    Dresser:
    Antique furniture question

    Side View:
    Antique furniture question

    I really wish I could have gotten a picture of the large dresser, but there are all sorts of boxes and bags piled in front of it that need to be sorted anyways, and that is a task better left for the weekend.

    There are 5 pieces in all. All I know about them is that my great grandfather bought the set brand new for my mother and her twin when they were very little and we have had it ever since. That was in the mid-60's.

    As you can see they have been very well used throughout the years. It was the only bedroom set my parents had until my sister and I came along then it was split between us. Fortunately my sister doesn't want any of it. (Except her dresser which will come to me eventually when she buys a new one.)

    I would like to keep the set in the family, but after I pass it on that's not likely to happen if it looks like hell. It just needs a little work to be good as new again. I'm very interested to hear what you think of it.

    Thanks again!

    Edited to ask: Just how old does something have to be to be considered an antique? The set is give or take 40 years old, so I thought it "qualified." Thanks again for being such an immense help.
    Last edited by quesadeist; August 10th, 2005 at 12:13 AM. Reason: To ask a question.
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  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by steinspinne
    I really don't think simply applying another coat of paint will harm anything, but I can't help but think that I'm "half-assing" it that way...
    You will probably want to lighly sand the entire surface to give the new coat of paint a better grip. Otherwise you may find the new paint coat peeling off in a few months.
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  10. #9
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    gah, I'd love to see that stained! I'm sure it would be a lot of work though

    My father-inlaw has a woodshop and he always likes to show us how one ordinary looking piece of wood can become such a beautiful beautful object when either polished or stained. I'm forever amazed at the transformation from firewood to beautiful piece of art. With that many peices of furniture I can see how it would be a lot of work you don't have the time or money for though.

    If painting it, perhaps a matte or satin blackish (not laquer) I've seen some nice stuff like that... Kind of makes it look older to me and very simple, goes with many decors.

    unless of course its worth so much you can sell it and buy a lot of beer with it...
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  11. #10
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    Thanks for the advice and comments, guys!

    Fig2 -- I hadn't thought of that. I need to think a little more about what exactly I am going to do. If I do decide to paint I will definitely keep that in mind.

    Marie -- I was thinking along the lines of a soft black/graphite color with deep bronze-ish highlights where the gold is now. As you said, classic colors, very simple and goes with almost anything.

    Then again I still haven't decided if I should even paint it at all. I'm still considering simply buying a gentle furniture cleanser and just cleaning it up a bit. I'm sure that would help it immensely appearance-wise.
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  12. #11
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    hey

    Nice pics. Great furniture set too.

    However, by the looks of it I'm afraid that these are not authentic antiques. It has the clear signs of antique-look-a-like modern furniture. The legs of the head board, dresser, and night stand are the biggest give aways. It edges are too sharp, indicating that they were cut by machine. The paint job is too good. Antique paint is always a bit faded, scratched, and worn down by old age... even when it's refurbished, it looks "old." The lead in antique paint also has a distinct, yellowish tint.

    Those swirls slightly resemble the type of embellishment seen on Louis XVI style furniture, but most French antiques have a lot more carving, fluting, and designs of flowers, suns, and scrolls. The simplicity of the design is meant to be the type of furniture made in the country, not made in Paris. The dresser drawers should have two handles on each end, rather than one handle in the middle.

    The style of the set is not consistent. It's a hodge-podge of American Directory (the dresser), German beidermier (the night stand), and English Victorian (the head board). If it were true antiques, made by one person at a single point in time in history, it would represent only that one style.

    The legs are carboile, but they have no feet. Usually, the legs end with a club, spade, apron, or claw. I would also have to see the undersides of the furniture, and feel the weight of the wood, but at this point I am certain that they were recently made.

    Thats too bad, but they look good anyway.

    Edit:
    Almost anything can be "antique." Even furniture made today can be "antiques" tommorow if only 1 was made.

    Typically though, antique furniture dates are 1700s-1930's.

    After the 1930's, furniture became mass produced by machines, rather than belovedly hand crafted by a single maker. You won't find furniture before the 1600's... because they're all in the museums! LOL!
    Last edited by CaptainInsano; August 10th, 2005 at 03:18 AM.

  13. #12
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    Thanks for the insight, ParkerD! You've made my day!
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  14. #13
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    Interesting read! I'm sure somewheres in my family theres some antique furniture, though probably nothing too fancy. We do have some furniture my grandpa made, such as a coffee table i sanded and refinished a coupel years back. Can't be worth much except in sentimental value, one of the most likely store bought legs is upside down!

    And that white furniture looks kinda familiar. We have a large dresser thats very close in design and paint finish. The mirror if I remember right was a plastic frame though, we threw that thing out.
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  15. #14
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    Hey Parker! Can you give me any info on this chest. I just bought it and dont know much about it except its Italian Marble.



    Antique furniture question

  16. #15
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    Blahm

    That certainly is interesting. And from the looks of it, I think you're right that it's Italian, Secretary desk in the Baroque style. It might be 1820's-1870's, but I'm just guessing really. It would be more apparent if I could see the color of the wood in person. The wood definately looks to be Walnut, which was the wood of choice for large, heavy furniture. It might be mahogany, but from the picture it's a little hard to tell. Mahogany wood, which was rarer than walnut, would raise the value. Mahogany had to imported from India and Brazil, it was also more resilant to termites, and because there was no air pollution back-in-the-day, mahogany wood was more "pure" and dark.

    The most glaring aspect is the marble add-on. It looks like the secretary took some damage, and someone decided to replace most of it with the marble addition. Clearly, the marble is recent. Antique marble is not as clean cut and glowing such as modern day marble. This decreases the value considerably. It also looks like there are 4 nails, or something... that's been nailed into the marble onto the secretary. Nails are a worse addition than anything to antique furniture. That and modern-day furniture paint.

    I don't know what the function of that mirror is. I've never seen a secretary with a mirror. That's very unique. A rarity in itself. However, the actual mirror is new. Antique mirror has these age spots that are impossible to remove. The mirror on your secretary looks brand new. It dosen't harm the overall value, but it doesn't do it any good.

    I can't tell what the top of the headboard looks like because the picture cuts it off. There is a small wooden statue or finial at the top, that's good.

    The secretary has bun feet, which is pretty neat because bun feet isn't that common. I see that it there are key holes on the drawers. Usually it was only British furniture that had locks ..hehe ... I wonder what that says about the Brits, heh? Anyway, those locks could have been added soon after the secretary was originally made, as what usually happened in most cases.

    Good luck. It's hard to give this an estimation due to the marble add-on, but an Italian Baroque Secretary with Bun feet in Walnut wood, in mint condition, would run around $5,000.

  17. #16
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    Thanks for all the info Parker! You were right on about the hardware and mirror. After further inspection it looks like the whole thing was redone at the time the mirror was added, becuase the the square nuts on the mirror and hardware are the same. The guy we bought it from said he thought it was a wash stand. Not bad for $400 Appretiate the info very much.

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