Then finally the mysterious pieces arrive, not in crates, but wrapped in brown paper and masking tape having spent the past 6 months in transit at sea, at customs, in containers, on trucks etc. As they are opened, you wait with baited breath to see what treasures will be revealed, for the house that you have painstakingly been decorating and planning for the past two years.
But alas to your horror you discover that every single piece of antique furniture has been either damaged or broken and they are not insured. But almost worse than that - you don't like any of them!
Now I would have thought that given what I've seen of antique stores in England, some lovely elegant pieces of Georgian or Swedish furniture, perhaps a nice armoire, a chest of drawers, a couple of dainty chairs, would have been the pick. Something pretty, delicate, beautiful, feminine, something you can proudly display that makes you smile every time you walk past it - perhaps painted the subtlest shade of duck egg blue or Jane Austen aqua? But this is what you get instead - a selection of masculine, dark brown, roughed up, crude, chunky pieces more suited to the tented battlefields of Henry VIII, than a bright and airy coastal house on Sydney's northern beaches! What's a girl to do?
Here's what I'm dealing with......
This is a mule chest, used for a bride's trousseau (according to my friend Tim) from the 1700s which obviously has a great deal of history and I can appreciate the significance of that with all these pieces, but it's big, dark, chunky and crudely made, looks out of place in this setting and I can't think where to put it! If I were decorating in the Martyn Lawrence Bullard style it might work or if we had a farmhouse we were doing up, but I'm not!
This piece is called a dough bin which my husband inherited. Interesting history as well, but rather crude, chunky and dark. Plus I find it a little creepy because I think it looks like a child's coffin on a stand, more reminiscent of Dickensian workhouses than the houses of Martha's Vineyard! It would look good used in a nativity play with a lots of hay and a swaddled baby Jesus. I wonder if it and Benjamin Moore would get on!
This is a high-back upholstered chair which apparently belongs to my husband, which clearly needs recovering, but now it also needs its legs put back on! Looks more like something Anne Boleyn should be sitting on doing her embroidery while waiting for her head to be cut off! (mmmm, which gives me an idea.....)
This is a bible box (according to my friend Tim) and is passable, at least it has some finer detail and turned legs, but the stand means it doesn't sit flush against a wall so is a bit awkward to place.
And this is a campaign chest, which again in shape and design isn't offensive and I love its history. I do like this style of furniture, but it is so bashed up, worn and marked (and now damaged) it just looks like it's crying out for a makeover and again I have no idea where to put it. I'm trying to find pretty painted Chippendale style furniture for the house and I get this. The colour is just too reddy/orange so it doesn't go with anything. Maybe I can re-stain it?
I keep dreaming about how they might all look sanded and painted a pretty colour! I know that's probably heresy saying that about English antiques. But the living room downstairs now looks like something out of a Tudor castle in Scotland, not the light and airy, beachy coastal home I was aiming for.
Ideas anyone? Have a great weekend!