Beauty in imperfections

We are very excited to be heading to Oxford for the The Vintage Furniture Flea this coming weekend, and to that end have been working busily to make sure we’ve got some top notch things to bring along, including this eye popping Ercol Studio Couch:

Wowza!  She's a beaut!
Wowza! She’s a beaut!

and this equally colourful set of Ercol Quaker dining chairs.

I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow...
I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow…

Now, painted Ercol is not to everyone’s taste, I know.  Many a time have I seen gasps of horror and cries of ‘why would you do that?’ on Ercol fan pages and Facebook groups.  And, just to add the drama, these are painted with (brace yourself) chalk paint.

I love this set.  They make me happy.  My daughters have christened them the ‘fruits’ chairs – banana and orange and raspberry and blueberry. I love the colours, I love the contrast of wood and paint, I love the smooth finish which is perfectly achievable with chalk paint, if you do it carefully.  But most of all I love what this set was when it came to us, compared to what it is now.  Dark stained, bruised and battered. Unloved, and destined either for someone’s fireplace or landfill.  One chair had clearly been an enthusiastic puppy’s chew toy – these chairs had had a life.

Now, sometimes we like to restore things to their former glory, keeping faithfully to the original design and aesthetic.  But sometimes that’s just not possible, due to the damage that life has inflicted on the piece, or the vision we have in mind for it, and so we have to look at how to change things and make something new, something a little different.  To show a new side to that particular item, and that’s what we’ve done here.  I really enjoy tat part of what we do – looking at something and thinking – ‘how can we make this happy again?’

Another thing I like about what we do is that you never quite know what you’re going to find when you start working on a vintage piece.  You can start stripping the old stuff off and find hidden treasure, or discover that whatever’s under there was covered up for a reason.  Often in Ercol’s case, the grain of the wood that they considered unattractive – not uniform enough, too different – was stained dark to disguise it.  But when we uncover it, it’s always a delight to behold.  I guess in some ways it’s a bit like the ugly veg in the supermarket – beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Those differences, the quirks, the idiosyncrasies are exactly why we like doing what we do.  So this set is four different colours – one seat shows the faintest marks of puppy love, one has a particularly deep grain – and really, the idea or having something unique and unusual is exactly why we buy vintage, isn’t it?  Marilyn here sums it up:

Image via Pinterest. Thanks, Pinterest
Image via Pinterest. Thanks, Pinterest

See you in Oxford!



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