French Provincial Chest

I have always had a soft spot for French Provincial furniture. Maybe it's because growing up, my bedroom set was this style. Or maybe it's because I live under the impression that anything French must be fancy and sophisticated, so I can't help but to like it! Who knows?! But whatever the reason, I've always been drawn towards the curved lines, turned legs and ornate hardware that defines French Provincial furniture, so when I found a set at an auction a couple weeks ago, I was all about it!

Here is the Before picture. 

The piece was structurally sound and really only needed a good cleaning. It's always interesting finding old pieces at auctions and wondering what their stories are. Was this piece passed down in the family? Who used it? Why are they getting rid of it? (Well, I guess I don't really need to know the answer to that last question - we don't need to get morbid over here!) Anyways, in one of these drawers I found a school photograph of a girl dated 1958. I've also found old receipts, anniversary cards with love letters written inside, and ornate keys among other items. When you find items like this, you can't help but to wonder what the original owners were like. 

The first thing I wanted to tackle was the hardware. I feel like everyone has their own secret product or method when it comes to cleaning metals. Wanna know mine? Bar Keepers Friend. This stuff is pretty amazing.

Check out the Before & After. I was amazed at the drastic change in color and the bright, shiny results. It took a bit of work, but it was well worth it.

Now that I had bright, shiny hardware again, I wanted to show it off. I knew painting the piece a darker color would really make the hardware pop, which is what I was going for. I finally decided on Annie Sloan's Graphite. 

Here is how the piece turned out.

The first thing you notice now is the hardware...

which I realized as I was taking the Before & After shots, is now on upside down. Whoops! I am kinda digging it though, and not really sure if I'm going to flip them around. I think it's one of those "You say potato, I say potahto" kinda things!

I went back and forth about whether I should use gold gilding wax in the carving detail. I finally opted against it. I thought it may compete too much with the distressed edges and make the piece look too busy.

Instead, I opted for additional contrast by staining the top with Minwax.

Now that this beauty is done, I'm ready to finish off the rest of the set!