Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Ridiculous Things that People Do to their Perfectly Good Furniture

Critiquing people's design choices sometimes involves treading on thin ice. Something that I might think is a great idea might be anathema to someone else, or vice versa. Just because I in my infinite wisdom think that something is great doesn't necessarily mean that anyone else will, and likewise, just because I think something is god-awful doesn't necessarily mean that anyone will share my distaste.

However, having said that, there are some things that people do to their furniture that I really feel would make anyone with any aesthetic sense whatsoever smack their heads and say "what were they thinking??" Case in point: this beautiful Danish teak dining set that we recently acquired, which was...painted...yellow. Sort of a light custardy yellow. Below, you can see some "before" pictures of the chairs. We don't have any "before" pics of the table because we pretty much started stripping it just as soon as it got into the shop.

The person in question must have really HATED the sight of beautiful, glowing teak wood, because while putting paint on is definitely easier than taking it off, painting a big dining set like this is still quite an endeavor. In total, it took us about a week and a half to strip the whole set (for perspective, the table took about a day, the chairs took over a week).

However, it was more than worth it, as thankfully, the teak was in almost perfect condition under all that paint. The only downside is that it was virtually impossible for us to remove all of the paint that had sunk down deep into the pores of the wood, the result being that there are still a few flecks of yellow paint remaining here and there. However, this really doesn't distract from the beauty of the set, as you can see below!

There are several details that I'd like to point out about this set that distinguish it from your "standard" Danish teak dining set. Although it was made by a rather obscure company (Funder-Schmidt & Madsen? Anyone? Anyone??) and I have no idea who designed it, the fact is that some serious thought and consideration was put into the aesthetics of this set. Let's start with the table - note how when the leaves are tucked into the table, the apron of the main table top completely conceals them so if you didn't know any better, you would have no idea that the leaves were even there. Also note how the corner of the table top kicks out at a very subtle angle, and how the leaves are beveled to match that angle exactly when the leaves are pulled out. Nice.

Now, on to the chairs - apart from the obvious fact that some really nice quality teak was used in the making of these chairs,

my absolute favorite detail about them is the fact that the bottom rung on the side of the chairs, in addition to being artfully and seamlessly sculpted into the leg of the chair, actually TAPERS a subtle 1/4" from the back to the front of the chair. At first I thought it was an illusion, but then I measured, and sure enough, the rung measures 1" at the back of the chair, and 3/4" at the front.

Now, this may not seem like all that big of a deal, but in practical terms, it means that each rung of each of these chairs had to be shaped by hand to ensure the accuracy of that detail. These were not chairs that were haphazardly slapped together in some factory - these were lovingly created by some extremely skilled craftsmen.

It always brings me more than a little bit of joy to be able to take great pieces like this that have suffered such indignity and abuse, and restore them to their original glow and beauty (or, as close as we can practically get). This set will always have those few little flecks of paint buried in the pores, but that just adds to the story - or, as we like to say in the business, "it makes it better"!