Original finish, Buffet a deux corps, 19th-century Austrian or Swiss.
For nearly six years, the huge buffet cabinet was a focal point in the salon. It seemed - well, dated. And she was tired of looking at it. So she consulted a Parisienne friend, an expert in revamping old furniture to give it a modern edge. For two weeks, she waited, with her collection of French and Engish ironstone usually stored in the cabinet, stacked on every available surface.
Just before Thanksgiving, it arrived. Instead of the demi-gloss black she'd envisioned, it was a dull, flat dark blue-grey. She winced. And so did her husband, who suggested she move it to another room, so he didn't have to look at it. She phoned her friend, hesitantly telling her it wasn't quite right; that the matte finish seemed to absorb all the light in the room. Her friend was understanding, assuring her all would be put to rights after the new year.
Meanwhile, she arranged various items on top of the buffet, trying to infuse character and distract from its light-absorbing qualities. She added Lehnert & Landrock framed photographs and an antique silver Syrian coffee pot; a Dutch handpainted vase and a French wicker one. Suddenly, the buffet took on a new aura, hinting of moonlight in the desert. Those who looked at it wondered aloud about Scheherazade's mysterious tales. They talked about sand dunes sheltering beneath vast expanses of glittering stars and inky velvet skies.
In January, her friend arrived to survey the damage and instantly agreed the buffet needed a glossy finish. She, too, noticed the unintentional Arabic influence created by the paint effect. So they decided to run with that look - even to enhance it, highlighting details with silver leaf.
A special wax was applied to make the cabinet shine and eliminate the matte look. Silver leaf paste was brushed delicately onto flowers and leaves. After she added some personal touches, the cabinet seemed to shimmer with a quiet light of its own; a suggestion of glamour; maybe even a hint of midnight at the oasis. She wasn't sure; it wasn't what she'd hoped for or planned. Perhaps it was a happy accident?
Lehnert and Landrock heliogravure (left) and photograph.