A Fun Collaboration in French Style

French Table Top Close Up 2

Today’s post centers around a French table that Paul and I worked on recently. Each piece of furniture we work on presents a unique and different challenge as we work together to make the most of the features available to us. Some pieces are easier than others having lots of carving or other ornamentation on them. Take the table we wrote about in July, it had so many great features built into it that the floral painting wasn’t really necessary to make the table great. (But we did it anyhow because the flowers are so darn beautiful.)

Rose Table

The table in this post wasn’t nearly as detailed. As you can see by our first picture, the table was purchased at a thrift store. It had a bad finish on the tabletop and an seemingly unremarkable style. The table was sturdy, however, and at the right price. (Unfortunately, the picture was taken after I sanded the top so you won’t get to see the really bad surface we started with.)

French Table Before

Upon closer examination, we found that the table actually had some pretty detailing to it. The beaded edge, the brass claw feet, the curved legs all added to its elegance and to us, gave it a somewhat French sense of style

One of the things that we’ve realized through a life in the arts is that most art can be broken down into a series of problems and solutions. Furniture upscaling is no different. Questions emerge as we study a piece and one of the most exciting parts of our adventure is the collaboration that we share while we search for solutions. We will often have quite spirited discussions about color and design choices and what finally emerges is a really wonderful and artistic piece that is a product of both of us. We grapple with questions such as, what base colors will best support the final vision of the piece? What floral design, if any, will be most appropriate to the shape of the object? What style do we want the final piece to be? We can choose from decayed elegance, cottage inspired looks, and a French inspired look just to name a few. The decisions are very important. This piece was particularly challenging.

One weekend while Paul was out of town, I pulled the table from our furniture pile and began mixing paint for it. I wanted a color that would enhance its cool elegance while showing off its beautiful features. I settled on a soft blue grey color for the body, with a light whitish grey color for the top and the details I wanted to emphasize. I was so excited for Paul to see it and to present him with a design challenge of creating the right floral design to enhance this beauty.

Keeping the overall objective in mind, Paul did a great job with this challenge. First of all, in all good furniture upscaling the function of the furniture piece must determine the decoration. For example in this piece Paul’s design followed the contours of the table top while keeping the majority of the table free so a lamp or other tabletop decor item would not cover the flowers. If he were to have treated the table top as a canvas, ignoring the function of the piece, he would have put the design in the center of the table thereby not allowing open space for a lamp. He also created an elegant design with beautiful colors that work well with the paint I had already put on it. And as an added bonus, he put the lovely little nuthatch in. I love the result. Let me show you.

French Table

French Table Close Up

French Table Close Up 2

French Table Top

French Table Top Close Up 2

I loved collaborating with Paul on this piece and it’s one of my favorites. The table is definitely more beautiful than when we started with it and the details built into it by the furniture maker now stand out in a way they didn’t before. I love painted furniture for that reason – detail pops with paint. And our design added to its sense of style and French flavor.

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