Saturday, August 9, 2014

Distressed Chifforette

Furniture purists would say I committed a crime, I'm sure. We picked up a painted black piece of furniture for a good price at the Trash to Treasures sale a few weeks ago. A label on the back says Tell City Furniture Company, Tell City, Indiana. I learned it's called a chifforette. I think a chifforobe has a hanging section on one side and a chifforette has pull out drawers behind doors in the center like this one. One of the drawers has a chunk knocked out of it. I think I can patch it with some wood putty. The piece has it's original brass knobs on the two lower drawers and the doors, but the top two drawers have wood knobs. I'll have to be on the lookout for brass ones.

Originally we were going to put it in the guest bedroom.The chifforette is deeper than a normal size dresser and it looked too large for the bedroom so we moved it into the dining/living area where it appears to fit much better. Gary sanded the top and I think wood is mahogany. But neither Gary nor I have the stamina, patience, or expertise to sand the rest of the piece. There is too much carved decoration for us to fiddle with.

Here's the freshly sanded top, isn't the wood beautiful? Do you think it's mahogany or cherry? We think the back of the top has a decorative piece of wood but it's no longer there. There are screw holes where it was attached to the top. We're thinking of putting some type of molding up there to finish off the top.

Here's what the piece looked like when we brought it home. Today I decided to distress the piece with some turquoise paint I had on hand with a dry brush technique. The first photo shows how it looks now. I think it looks much better in the space. Even Gary thought so, although he wouldn't let me paint the top since he sanded it. The piece comes with probably a hundred year old musty fragrance on the interior. We're looking for ways to remove the odor. Any thoughts on that?

There is also a large rat hole chewed in the back of the piece where a critter must have been looking for a new home when it was stored in a barn. The stories this piece could tell would curl your ears without a doubt. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.


  1. What a neat piece of furniture; I love how you have made it yours.
    I have had good luck with using unscented dryer softener sheets to get rid of odors. Years ago one of my sister's grandkids spilled a drink in her car and never told her. The car sat unused while she was in Florida until I needed it. I used dryer sheets and kept changing them until the nasty was gone. You also might try wiping the whole thing down with vinegar solutions and putting the drawers out in the sun.
    Hope something works!

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  3. Hi Suzi, thanks, those are good tips, I'll try them.

  4. You are so right about the stories that old furniture could tell. Sometimes just as well they don't. A dusting of bi-carb soda will probably help the pong too.

  5. Hi Elephant's Child, thanks, bicarb soda who knew will try it

  6. Hard to tell from here but Tell City made a lot of cherry. Cherry is harder than Mahogany and has a closed grain compared to the open grain of mahogany but the color can be similar.

  7. Hi Dennis, thanks, I was surprised the company was in business till 2010, sad such longevity came to an end. Maybe it is a crime I painted over that wood, but it can be stripped again as it's water based paint.

  8. Nice find, I think it looks great.

    Put a small bowl of white vinegar inside it and close it up. The vinegar will remove the odors in a few hours.

  9. Hi Lori, thanks, oh what a good idea. I have the vinegar on hand so will do that today.


I love suggestions, questions, critiques, thanks for your comment