At TLC Vintage Collection in Des Moines, Iowa, we are often asked when we know to paint a newly acquired piece or leave it well enough alone. Our rule is to never decrease the value of something that is perfect the way it is. We only paint pieces that do not have some intrinsic value on its own. Many older pieces are decrepit or just not that valuable as they stand. TLC Vintage searches for pieces doomed for the landfill or that are so beat up that paint is the best answer. But we cannot always resist a wonderful piece that is beautiful in its own right and is wonderfully priced and just needs a simple repair to be placed in a home where it will be reloved.
Oh, yes -- she has scars and stains. She was wobbly because the little sliders had been broken off her front legs, and the wood worn down up to an inch on the right side (see the little white stuff at the bottom right foot that we haven't repainted yet?) But with a product we carry exclusively here in Central Iowa -- Wood Icing -- we were able to gradually rebuild that right foot to stabilize her -- and to have the same contours and shape of the original leg! Thin layer after thin layer of textura paste, lightly sanded to even it up. Painted to match the original, it will be hard to see the patch!
What do we love? Better to ask what not to love? This little green vanity has beautiful flowers and a stool -- not the same style -- that has been married to her lovingly with a needlepoint flowered seat. A match? No, but a charm of its own that says, I'm with her!
And yes, those brighter green stains? A sign that someone left some oily cosmetic container sitting too long, and possibly a coffee or tea cup off to the lower right side, when the mistress of the house was getting ready for her day or primping to go out for an evening on the town! Every piece has a story for you to imagine.
And the original little wood dividers, carefully crafted with their scalloped edges -- ready for little pots of rouge, a lipstick, and whatever ladies liked to tidy away a century ago. That center area probably held a wonderful matching hand mirror, brush and comb.
And that mirror! Beveled and cut to perfection -- dimmed a little with time. But perfectly curved to add interest. For there is truly not any other reason than esthetics not to have just placed a square mirror there.
And when once ready for the day or evening, everything could be tidied away into their compartments -- the beautiful lid closed. A perfect place to write a thank you note or a love letter or to record in a journal the happenings of the day or night.
Sometimes we just have to love a piece for its history, the story it shows us, the posterity we have to preserve by leaving well enough alone!