I am fond of antique architectural pieces and have incorporated some into my own home. I turned my client on to them and we enthusiastically have used them in various ways. Most recently she asked me to consult on using some of her hand carved stock to replace 2 mantels: one in the office; one in the living room. When I inspected the pieces she had in mind I found they’d been so casually stored little of the original paint was left on one. I could only flake of small bits of the original paint to match the colors.


The next time I saw the pieces they had been incorporated into the mantel facing. The next step was to determine how the colors were layered. As I scraped every bit of loose paint from the original process became apparent. This was going to be and exciting, fun project. The challenge was to restore its original appeal without losing the feeling of antiquity.


The living room mantle was dehydrated – bone dry – and a good third of it was bleached by the sun. The first order of business was to hydrate the wood, especially the bleached end, so that I had a base for the stain. The medium I used for hydration brought the “good” end of the piece to life. I didn’t want to use a commercial stain to try to get a match, so I made my own, meanwhile hydrating the wood again and again. I’ll not tell you my secrets, but you can see it quite effective. Not perfect, but believable and oh by the way it’s an antique!


Determining the colors for the pine tops and bottoms was in part a matter of taste. We discussed different colors for the painted mantel, but it just made sense to blend with the shelves. The natural wood mantel is opposite a red/gold wall, so the cherry blends with floor, beams and compliments the metallic plaster wall. I can’t wait to see the rooms after all the furniture, rich old rugs and fabulous art are in place. To be continued.

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