Last year I was trawling though my mums attic (the BEST thrifting spot in Ireland) and came across a crusty wood and porcelain bathroom set that I planned to paint and use temporarily in my bathroom until something better came along. I soon discovered, after some generous sanding, that it was solid mahogany. What a beautiful wood! Not that glossy overbearing plum brown that we are so used to in Ireland, it is a much more subtle shade when left untouched. I finished the sanding and with a quick lick of satin clear varnish, hung them in the bathroom where they remain still.
I have been reluctant to paint old wood lately, even veneers, as I see more and more charming pieces of vintage furniture destroyed by overeager DIYers. I have been guilty of this too of course; it’s such an easy fix for battered wood. But if there is a glimmer of hope for the wood, I say leave it alone! My home is brimming with tattered old wood pieces that I know, one day, will get my time and attention and be restored to their former glory.
In saying that, there is one of my pieces that recently got the attention of my paintbrush. This very old tall boy chest originally had a strange veneer frame made out of old tea boxes. It sounds charming but it was unsalvageable – a peeling, mouldy mess. I had originally planned to paint the whole unit but when I got up close the solid wood drawers I knew I couldn’t touch them.
There is real trend towards bare wood coming in this year, even pine has started trickling through to the mainstream again (check out the Ikea PS 2012 chest of drawers – love, love, want). But for the most part it’s currently being embraced by the ‘Farmhouse’ school of style, a beautiful, clean aesthetic, but not ideal when you’re a lover of colour like myself.
But whatever your style, there is a timber that will suit it, be it the darkest gothic carved mahogany, the clean lines of Scandinavian style pine, renovated Victorian oak or even a modern, minimalist cherry wood – although its unlikely you’ll find the latter at the local car boot.
All photos by Alexia McInerney