Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Pair Of Stinky Tables

I recently was given a gift of a pair of 18th century Swedish Gustavian demilune tables! They are gorgeous! What a score!

Until I got a whiff of them. These tables are notorious for having been sold by the best antique dealer in town to a lady for $5,000 or so. The dealer had fumigated the tables with a chemical to get rid of wormwood, and all seemed well, until the tables were enclosed in the customer's house, letting off the most awful stinky stink. Of course the tables were returned.

The once stinky Swedish table in the home of the Visual Vamp
I spy an Anne Harwell painting!

They kicked around at a huge discount to a number of local decor mavens. A thick coat of white Kilz paint was applied. But still the stinky tables, as they have become affectionately known, were returned to the seller time after time.

The seller was moving and I always loved these tables, so he just gave them to me knowing I was fully aware of the issues.

The smell really was intense. Like chemical urine. It had seeped into the centuries old wood, and the prevailing humidity in New Orleans did not help matters. They even stunk up my back enclosed patio area outside, and they nearly gassed the poor seller when he drove them over to my house in his SUV, even with the windows open!

18th century Swedish demilune table with 1960's mod table layered under it
photo: Visual Vamp living room

I had nothing to lose so I did some Google research. The underside of the tables had been left unpainted, and unfinished. Basically bare wood. So I doused it with white vinegar and waited 24 hours. The tables didn't smell as bad, but they smelled like a giant pickle. Then a kind person emailed me a suggestion to use denatured alcohol. I doused the tables a couple of times, again with 24 hours in between treatments. This worked the best, but the stinky stink crept back, though much more faint. But even faint, trust me you do not want to smell this in your house!

My next trick was to spray them with a citrus orange oil room deodorizer. Again I waited 24 hours. This worked really well, as the oil soaked into the wood, and took over as the top note.
Then I painted the undersides of each table with three coats of white Kilz paint, and touched up the rest of the tables with more Kilz. I waited 24 hours. I sniffed them. They did not stink!

Glorious Swedish demilune tables at chez Visual Vamp!
I took this photo at 7 AM this morning

So I brought them in the house! Even though I am not an antiques maven, I seem to have alot of antique pieces in my vampy mix. I do love antiques, but I am not one for the strict period look of a room. So far so good. The tables are magnificent, and once in awhile I get a whiff of orange blossoms. I have sprayed them with Lysol, and this has helped tone down the orange scent too, and I think this stinky pair has at long last been tamed to be able to live indoors.

And for the fun of it, here is a mini round up look book of some antique Swedish demilune tables.

From Velvet and Linen HERE - Brooke is the Swedish expert for sure

via La Pouyette HERE
My pair of demilunes have brackets on the back so I can make one round table

From Inspiring Interiors HERE

via House Beautiful

via Karina Gentinetta HERE

Visual Vamp 18th century demilune tables

Do you guys have any stinky furniture stories and solutions to share?


Kori said...

Gorgeous photos and what a score on those tables! I don't know if you heard yet, but I have a new blog for my writing! I'd love you to check it out! Have a fabulous Wednesday honey! Kori xoxo

Decor To Adore said...

Oh so happy you found a solution to these gorgeous tables.

A Perfect Gray said...

hard to believe the undersides were not treated and painted before. but that's what made you the lucky one with the tables in the end, no? they look great...donna

Irene said...

I use a fabulous solution to re-hydrate my wood pieces, (old ones) it's stinky, but only for a month or so. The piece lives in my garage while it smells out, but I have an old stereo, like tubed radio kinda old, that I cannot get the mildewy smell out of. I don't really want to strip it, but that may be my only option. It's so heavy that applying my fabulous solution and hauling it out to the garage is not an option. I've tried the alcohol* and Lysol, and orange spray and nothing. * we cant' get the denatured stuff any more, and environmental thing.

Sabina said...

Score! That and some hard work from you. Love all the white in your living room, so summery and cool.

Ton S. said...

One person's stinky throwaway is another's perfumed treasure. Those tables fit hand-in-glove into your awesome living room design. Congrats!

MaggieO said...

Wish I had this article a few years ago. I had a beautiful chest made from re-purposed cypress paneled doors. It had layers and layers of beautiful crackled old paint so the only finish on it was beeswax. The problem is it really really stank like mildew. I tried all kind of remedies but never was able to get the smell out. I finally ended up selling it at a garage sale, but I still think how beautiful that chest would be at the foot of my bed. :(

Emma Kate said...

Oh yeah! I have an antique french bed that was riddled with woodworm and the treatment stank out the whole top florr so we all had to camp out in the living room overnight! I stuck the bed in the garage to dry out but the thought of sleeping amongst all that toxic substance was unappealing so I had to paint it with an oil based paintto seal it all in. I always use waterbased but I couldn't take the risk!

Nita Stacy said...

Love the tables. They look great in your room. I would have taken them in too thinking I could solve the problem somehow. That's awesome that you finally fixed it.

Janette@the2seasons said...

I looked and looked at your blog roll today and hoped and hoped that we had made the cut, but sadly, we aren't there. You're on ours, though. I have read and enjoyed you regularly since I discovered blogdom a little over a year ago. You always have such terrific ideas.

Velvet and Linen said...

Love your tables! I always love seeing your home. I'm sure the stink will go away soon.
Thank you for the shout out and for your friendship and support from the beginning of Velvet and Linen!


Reggie Darling said...

Congratulations on the de-stinkification of your lovely tables! We have a wooden table on our screened porch that stinks to high heaven, particularly when it is humid (which it is most of the summer here in the Hudson River Valley) which I shall now attempt to de-stinkify, as you have done. Thank you! Reggie

Hill Country House Girl said...

Love the tables and their story!!!! I have not had stinky furniture but I have had furniture with tiny bugs that left teeny tiny piles of sawdust under the chairs as they slowly ate them! Had to put those babies out in the cold and freeze them to get rid of the little pests.

On another note, I loved seeing you and Alberto in my newest design book acquisition, "Undecorate". I love the concept of the book, and am passionate about people's homes reflecting who they are and not who their designer is, so of course loved seeing you there!

Have a sweet smelling day! Ann

Renae Moore said...

Great story Valorie...I don't have anything to share. I love the Swedish tables. Have entertained a Demi-lune next to my bed.

Lila said...

I love those side tables. My mother has a black one at the top of her stairs and I always think how beautiful it is when I see it!
Lila Ferraro

Anonymous said...

Love the white sofa with the brass nail heads! So chic!
xo E + J

Jamie Herzlinger said...

Valorie!! Love the stinky table story but more importantly your project rocks and is gorgoeus!! Go Valorie!
Juct got some time to catch up on former posts!
Hope all is well!
Jamie Herzlinger

Susan (Between Naps On The said...

Valorie, What a neat story. I was rooting for you and those tables all the way through. Way to hang in there and not give up. Those were meant to be your tables! I've had a few books I've purchased arrive smelling less than wonderful. I usually place newspaper in between the pages and that seems to work. Love how your tables look in your room! I've always loved seeing tables paired symmetrically in a room. Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Love your blog and hope you and your husband is doing well. Good to know the stinky tables smell better. I have not tried it personally, but a man I used to work with had lots of antiques and he and his partner cleaned the “old smell” out of their antiques by using 0000 steel wool dipped in vodka. Expensive, maybe. But he said the vodka killed ALL signs of odor.

Also, I am a firm believer in feng shui and one of the beliefs is to always leave an antique outside of one’s home for about two weeks before bringing it in to one’s house. (in a garage or on a patio or porch.) The leftover “energy” from previous owner’s can permeate the object, so before that energy comes into your house, clean it thoroughly (which you CERTAINLY have with the kilz) and then you can introduce it into your own field of energy.

The tables look great in your house.