ORC Week 5: Painted Antique Bed

Well, guys, the antique bed is painted! It was a decision I waffled about for weeks (and really years), but now that it’s finished, I don’t know why we didn’t do it sooner! One Room Challenge, you’re a serious motivator!

Our antique iron bed is a hand-me-down. We were so lucky to get it years ago, since we had zero money for a bed when we first bought this house, but Pete hasn’t always loved how it looked in the room. The white paint, which was chippy, plus the ornate details, had him calling it “The Princess Bed.” This week was all about changing existing furniture to match our current style…

…and ook how beautiful this thing is now!

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A far cry from this…

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Before…

…just a few short weeks ago.

I really know nothing about antique furniture; Pete is the guru on that stuff. I learn a bit from him, but only situationally– like when something comes up. I have a good idea of what the legs on a Federal table look like, I can identify Craftsman furniture, and I know to look for non-Phillips screws. I’m up on dovetails and mortis-and-tenon construction. But I’m definitely still learning about finishes.

I was researching painting antique iron beds, when I stumbled across a blog post about restoring them. I thought, “Hmmm, that sounds like something I would like to do.” The method involved stripping, brushing, coating with beeswax…but I was up for it. I sent it to Pete, and he put the kibosh on it. “I doubt it came in raw iron. That’s just somebody thinking that’s the right finish for a bed and not realizing it might originally have been painted. Let me check the Sears catalog.” Anybody else’s husband answer that way? Nope. Didn’t think so.

That said, I didn’t need him to check the catalog because once he brought it up, I knew where to go. I’m a librarian, duh, I just don’t always remember the fact that museums and other historical interpretation pros use old catalogs to figure out finishes, furnishings, styles, clothing, etc. The mail-order catalogs of the period are basically “how-to-oldey-timey-without-looking-like-a-doofus” guidebooks. So I checked the 1917 Sears catalog, which is period-appropriate for this bed, and a bed like that would have come in a brass finish or white enamel. Soooo, so much for “restoring” it to raw iron. Fake news.

I did not, however, like the idea of either a brass bed (not really achievable here) or a white enamel bed (kind of what I wanted to get away from), so Peter and I spent about three evenings painting it. Painting all those little wires was a pain, and I panicked about three separate times about the color. (I’m assuming Pete got real sick of hearing, “I think this color will be okay, right? It’s not too green is it? I don’t know…maybe we should have gone with something else? I need to put my head between my knees, brb.”) I wanted a super dark gray to mimic natural iron, but also something with green and brown in it to jive with the green/grey paint on the closet installation. The first coat went on rough and I hated it, but after two coats, I began to see a really, really deep shade of almost olive green, and it was pretty from there on out.

One surprising thing? I love the details now. Who knew they just needed to not be princess white?

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The color I chose was Valspar’s Dark Oasis.

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I waffled on using the same old charcoal we have everywhere and love (English Tea Party by Valspar), but wanted something just a little different. I struggled at the store to find something that didn’t have blue or purple undertones; I’m super pleased with my final choice. No return trip to the store for me!

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Just look how pretty the lines are on this bed now!

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I’m just dying to get the linens on this thing, but the extension on the One Room Challenge deadline means I have to wait a bit to put them on and photograph them.

However! The extension has also allowed for a bit more time to consider styling, framing art, and possibly a couple other little additions. I’m trying to nudge Pete into making me a pretty frame for a print I bought; boy, am I thankful he’s so nudgeable.

I’ll be sharing one more progress update next Thursday, and then the big reveal is Thursday, November 16! In the meantime, check out all the cool progress made by the official participants here and all the guest participants here! Some people are doing amazing and creative projects. Catch you all next week!

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