Last September I lined up outside the Blithewold Mansion Carriage House waiting excitedly for the Blithewold Furniture Sale to begin. Unfortunately I slept in longer than I should have and was farther back in line than I would have liked!
Not surprisingly, my friend Rachel Duchesne (a very talented Interior Designer) was in line ahead of me and we both commiserated about not getting there sooner.
Blithewold Mansions, Garden & Arboretum is a beautiful waterfront estate in Bristol, Rhode Island and is one of the finest garden estates in New England. The property boasts a “forty-five-room English style manor house filled with antiques and artwork, all chronicling the rich social history of the lives of one family over a span of more than eighty years.” Blithewold is a special property that has been protected from commercial development and is enjoyed by visitors year round. I count myself among the lucky ones to have been married there!
All furniture from the Barn sale belonged to Bessie Van Wickle McKee and was being sold “as is” with the proceeds benefiting the conservation of Blithewold’s permanent collection.
Bessie Van Wickle McKee
As advertised, the furniture included chairs, daybeds and sofas with the prices reflective of the current condition in the hopes that the pieces would be restored for future enjoyment. The lucky purchasers would have a rare opportunity of owning a piece of Blithewold history.
By the time Rachel and I made it to the door, many of the larger pieces had been spoken for but there were a number of chairs still available for sale. I found this upholstered piece in need of some love and attention and, after Rachel and I tested it out, I brought it home.
Several months went by and one of my customers came for a visit–she was on the Silent Auction Committee for Blithewold’s Annual Gala and she wondered if there was something that Sea Rose Cottage could contribute to their major fundraiser of the year.
I thought about the chair and contacted Rachel to see if she wanted to collaborate with me to have the furniture restored and ready for a new home in time for the event. Rachel generously offered to help and also to offer some design consultation time for the winner of the silent auction.
We considered all the beautiful fabrics from Annie Sloan’s European Fabric Collection (available at Sea Rose cottage of course!) and decided on Gigi–the 100% cotton Belgian Ticking fabric in garden colored pinks and greens. Very fitting coming from the lush estate and in keeping with the Art in the Garden event theme!
For a modern twist, Rachel smartly suggested using a horizontal stripe rather than the traditional vertical positioning of the ticking stripe fabric.
We considered Annie Sloan’s gorgeous paint color palette and decided on an equal mix of Old White and Pure White to achieve a creamy white finish for a bright and cheerful look.
Rachel suggested we work with Patriot Upholstery who also generously provided in-kind support to help make this project a reality. After painting the chair it was off to the Upholsterer to work his magic with the beautiful fabric.
It was a great collaboration and so wonderful to see the finished chair restored to its former glory and back in its original setting!
At least until it finds its way to its newest home!