Though this particular set came together slowly over the course of a year, I could picture it in my minds eye from day one. Since before I can remember I have had the ability to visualize an idea, see it through to the end, and turn it into action. I am happy that this particular set exceeded my expectations.
The pieces came to us over time. The first of which was the dining table. (See fig. 1) We rescued this table at the tail end of an estate sale where they were putting everything that remained unsold out to the curb. We found the post on Craigslist and rushed over to the home to be the first to nab the table. We were the first ones there with a truck, so they told us if we could get it up the basement stairs and out of the house, we could take it for free. Lets just say we put a lot of sweat equity into getting it up those stairs. The original plan was to keep it for our own dining room, and there it sat, for the better part of a year, unfinished, and being used as my upholstery table.
Four months later we received a tip through Facebook Marketplace that there were a pile of church pews being stored outside that the owner was looking to get rid of. On this day, these particular pews were in high demand. We got there 15 minutes before they opened to check them out. They were all in pretty rough shape. We found the few with the most character, least amount of moisture damage, and fit as many as we could into our pick up truck. We managed to rescue 3 that day.
After we got them back to the shop I knew that one of these would make the perfect match to the giant table that had been abandoned in our dining room, so I set to work on locating the perfect chairs.
I wanted to find some cool older farm house looking chairs to go with the farmhouse table, but was strangely drawn to these aluminium chairs I found on Craigslist. (See fig. 3) Though they weren’t salvaged like the other pieces we had gathered thus far, they were reasonably priced by the original owner, and we were about to find out that they were actually quite valuable.
After finding the chairs, the color scheme for the whole set switched gears. Seeing them stacked up alongside the shops tools, we decided to draw inspiration from the colors we saw around us. Our wood lathe would be the main source for the color pallet, and we would find ways to add pops of color that would transition into the feel of spring that we have been hoping is just around the corner.
I painted the table base with the color we chose to match the finish of the lathe, but it still seemed too bright, too generic. I’m not a huge fan of distressing so I thought I would see what adding some color layers would do to help. First I wiped on a metallic silver wash. I was hoping this would bring the metal look to the blueish color. It worked. but now the piece was too shiny. I added an antiquing glaze to the top. This filled in the natural nicks and wood grain, and really helped to dirty up the piece.
Next, to restore the table top. Using a stripper we were able to remove the original thick varnish and years of build up of furniture wax, topped with my daughters lovely addition of about 7 layers of acrylic paint. (we can’t have nice things… ) Lucky for us the table top was solid wood. This is expected of an older table. More modern tables use wood veneer on top, making it extremely difficult to restore the finish because sanding it down can burn right through the veneer. We were able to remove everything, including the scratches.
We wanted to soften up the look of the chairs. We went back and forth on how to finish them. We thought patina might help, but Crosby, metal enthusiast, thought they would look better if restored to their brushed aluminum state. He was absolutely right. We used a dark basket-weave fabric to tie in with the lighter gray basket-weave we used on the pew. It was essential that they did not match perfectly. We wanted each piece to be as versatile as possible in case the buyer wasn’t interested in using them all together as one.
For the pew itself I wanted to use dark warm tones. I thought it would bring the tone and symbolism back to the piece. We sanded down the areas that would be exposed and left the areas that would be upholstered as is. I could not stop looking at the grain after the stain was applied. It brought our all of the hidden character I didn’t even know the piece possessed.
I covered the back and the seat in high density foam and finished it of with the light gray basket-weave fabric. I used black pearl decorative nails to finish off the edges. The pops of color would come in when we added the pillows. I wanted to combine floral, metallics, basket-weave, and some really bright colors that would (for the love of God) invoke spring. My two youngest daughters Evylynn and Hazel helped me to decide what shape the pillows would be by sketching it out so we could get a better idea.
When all was said and done, it still looked un-finished. There was this big emptiness under the pew. I thought the space really should be better utilized. I tasked Crosby once again to help build some custom crates that could hold the pillows. Now removing pillows to eat made more sense and the crates would give them a home and help keep them clean.
Now that they are complete I am excited to see who nabs these up and hopefully will get a chance to see it set up in their space. We put a lot of thought and love into this set, we hope it goes to someone who appreciates is as much as we do!
- 1951 – Mid Century
- Restored brushed aluminum
- Replaced foam
- Reupholstered seats and backs
Cushman Colonial Trestle Table
- Late 1950’s – Mid Century
- Restored oak table top
- Re-finished, painted table base
- Repaired hardware and tightness of construction
- Age unknown
- Restored oak pew ends and back
- Newly constructed bible boxes for the back
- Upholstered seat and seat back