I have a good friend who’s just that exact perfect combination of crafty and thrifty that makes her an incredible decorator. In fact, she just moved cross country and made a hefty profit selling off her furniture, most of which she’d gotten for cheap or free and refinished, repainted, or re-envisioned with her own two hands. She has a penchant for picking pieces with potential (and a habit of “reclaiming” them from the side of the road) that has given me a renewed appreciation for shabby chic decor, and a strong conviction that battered and beaten up can be beautiful. And while I may not quite have her knack for refurbishing furniture, I’ve developed something of a talent for getting the look without all that elbow grease, especially in higher-maintenance areas like the bathroom where authentically old furniture doesn’t always hold up well.
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To me, the bathroom is simultaneously the best and worst place for reclaimed furniture. On the one hand, I love the casual, comfortable vibe that a well-worn piece of furniture can lend to a bathroom space. Even a simple accent chair can add an inviting, homey touch to almost any style of bathroom decor. Weathered bathroom vanities in particular can create a feeling of history, especially in an older home. But as I mentioned before, bathrooms aren’t always kind to these unique, sometimes antique pieces.
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Maybe the number one reason I’d rather pay for a bathroom vanity that’s made to LOOK like it’s been through the wringer rather than finding a just-so aged piece at a flea market or thrift shop is that truly aged finishes simply can’t hold up to the hot, humid conditions of a bathroom. And while weathered bathroom vanities won’t bear the brunt of the water the way a shower will, the simple reality of the moisture in the air, spills from the sink, and so on can quickly ruin a piece that isn’t properly sealed.
The Antique collection from James Martin Furniture offers some of the most heavily worn looking bathroom vanities of any manufacturer I’ve seen, but their rough and tumble appearance belies the care with which each of these vanities is made. Every chip and paint peel is intentional, carefully crafted and – more importantly – very carefully sealed. Each of their vanities undergoes a 15 step finishing and sealing process to prevent (further) peeling or chipping, cracking, or warping – a safeguard that found furniture simply doesn’t have.
I’ll admit I’m also somewhat partial to their weathered white bathroom vanities. To me, antique white vanities are pretty hit and miss, with some variation between textural weathering (i.e. chips and cracks) versus color weathering (i.e. a parchment, cream, or otherwise yellowed-white rather than a pure white). I’m personally a big fan of the former, but could live without the latter – which is why I like James Martin’s white vanities. They have just a little charming chipping around the most oft-used edges, but keep the white paint on the light, bright side.
Using a brighter white has the effect of helping to keep weathered bathroom vanities looking a little cleaner. One of the biggest drawbacks of decorating with reclaimed furniture is that, frankly, if it isn’t done right it can look a little dingy. The wrong shade of parchment can look grimy, and even dark creams that look perfectly lovely on paper can look practically cigarette-stained in the wrong light. Brighter, whiter whites look fresher and cleaner even in low light settings, which can help compensate for the aged finish. Done right, this will make the vanity look historied rather than merely old.
It’s worth mentioning that both white and black weathered bathroom vanities sort of draw attention to themselves. Any break in a solid black finish creates a very visible contrast in color, while chips and cracks on a white finish stand out like footprints in the snow. For a more subtle look, consider opting for another color. I particularly like this powdery baby blue, which is bright and cheery (which again is great for a casual, cozy bathroom) but has just enough gray undertone to make the wear through in the paint seem like a natural, organic part of the finish. Depending on the color, this is a great way to get a fun retro look, evoking your childhood bathroom without really making it look like gramma’s.
What do you think of these weathered bathroom vanities? Do you like the look of a quasi-antique, slightly-reclaimed vanity?
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