Sunday, October 27, 2013

Picking Gustavian Gray or White Paint

I found this Gustavian antique armoire with a Christian VIII top; covered in hot pink and white latex paint, and without a back. It went to Hyannis for proper stripping and I spent an afternoon sanding it, while Bill gave it a new back and then one coat of Benjamin Moore's "Seattle Gray" paint, which is a very pale warm gray since pieces in this style are mostly white. Luckily, this armoire comes apart in six pieces making it easy to work on and move. I used 120 sandpaper to distress the surface a bit after. (We are practicing for a few pieces at Old Farm to be painted next.)

The Gustavian cupboard below is in Christian's shed space in Hopewell and is one of only three built like this for three grandsons by the architect of the Danish National Parliament building "Folketinget". It is lovely to have here.

Some of the nicest antique Gustavian white and gray furniture can be found at "Cupboards and Roses" in Sheffield, MA or listed for them on "1stdibs". Here are just a few cupboards currently shown.

Photos from

Originally, Gustavian Period paints were made of linseed oil and turpentine in equal amounts, and applied directly on wood without filling surfaces. Dry pigments were added to the turpentine slowly, making a thick cream, to which the oil is blended in. This creates a thin; vibrant clear paint that allows the wood grain to be seen. My favorite Gustavian Gray paint of this type has 10% black and 5% red oxide added which is also "warm". 


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