Stylish Retro Vintage Mid Century G Plan E Gomme Writing Desk Bureau

The G-Plan brand was launched in the 1950’s. In Britain, it helped to define the period between the mid 1950’s to the mid 1970’s, that we now know as the Mid-Century Modern period. For the post war generation, G-Plan represented a triumph of modernity over tradition.

G Plan E Gomme writing desk
G Plan E Gomme writing desk, prior to being refurbished

After many years of neglect a new generation is discovering G-Plan once again. The growth of the vintage movement as well as the popularity of programs like Mad Men has meant that a new generation is discovering furniture from the Mid Century Modern era.

As space becomes an issue, there is a recognition that well designed simple pieces of furniture from this period can look stunning in a modern setting.

I acquired the bureau from my local charity shop. It had simply been abandoned outside the shop. I negotiated a good price with the Manager, on the basis that I’d remove it straight away.

With this bureau, I wanted to remain true to the original design aesthetic, and keep things simple, whilst adding a more contemporary feel to the final piece. My primary colour palette consisted of burgundy and grey. The handles were simply sanded and waxed.

G Plan E Gomme writing desk refurbished_Annie Sloan Chalk Painted
G Plan E Gomme writing desk refurbished

More examples of the finished piece

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Broken Mirror? Tatty old picture frame? No problem. Let’s create a chalk board

I’m always in full hunter gatherer mode, collecting bits that others have discarded as being useless. I’ve lost count of the number of broken mirrors with wood surrounds or old picture frames that have come my way.

They invariably end up being upcycled into chalk boards

If you’re a beginner looking to make a start, then I’d recommend that you start with making a chalk board.

If you’re using a broken mirror, start by carefully removing and disposing of any pieces of broken glass. Next separate the frame from the backing, being careful not to damage the backing board.

The backing usually has a rough and a smooth side. Paint the smooth side, using blackboard paint. My preference is to use Rustins blackboard paint. It’s slightly  more expensive than other brands, but I’ve found that it gives a good quality finish. Three coats are usually sufficient to give good coverage.

Next I’ll sand and paint the wooden frame, using chalk paint. I appear to be going through something of a Gothic phase, so the majority of my recent pieces have been painted in Graphite. Finish the frame by waxing and distressing.

Use a fine grade steel wool to distress. It’s gentle and enables you to control the amount of distressing applied to the frame. Distressing removes the wax, so always apply another coat of wax after afterwards. Finish by polishing the frame with a clean cotton rag. It’s fine to use an old cotton towel.

Attach the backing onto the frame. The backing can be directly stapled onto the frame, if the frame is deep and robust enough. If not, then use panel pins to hold the backing board in-place. Finally, use framing tape on the reverse to hide the pins and make the finish neater.

 

 

Unloved brown bench to sleek console table

This bench sparked my curiosity, when I first saw it. I could see the potential straight away, despite the unflattering photos, which showed it heavily coated in a dark brown stain and varnish.

The bench popped up on my Ebay feed. The auction was timed to go off early in the morning, which was far from convenient. We were also on holiday in Marrakech at the time. Despite the unpromising start, I knew from past experience that first appearances can be very deceptive.

The seat was pretty chunky. That was a huge plus sign – it meant in all likelihood that a quality cut of wood had been used in the construction. I could visualise straight away what the bench would look like once I’d got it into my workshop.

Was I going to bid? You bet!

I won, so there was something to look forward to at the end of the holiday, beside unpacking a suitcase full fo dirty laundry.

The previous owner provided me with a brief history, when I collected the bench. It had been hand made by his uncle, who was a carpenter. Uncle was sadly now in a home, so the bench was no longer required.

So how did I set about transforming the bench? I started by trimming the top to a regular shape, and then adding a bevel to soften the edges. I then machine sanded it, using several grades of paper (60 grit through to 240grit), before finishing with fine wire wool, to give a smooth finish.

The sides and shelf were then painted by hand, using Annie Sloan French Linen chalk paint, before a final finish with with clear beeswax furniture wax.

The top was then finished off with a very dilute stain (applied with a soft cloth) and two coats of wax, once the stain had absorbed and dried.

The final result, is a beautifully tactile contemporary console table. My furniture is now available on ETSY

Trash to Treasure

Reuse, Recycle, Upcycle. These three words are the key to how I choose to live.

As a child, I’d spend countless hours rifling through junk shops, amazed at what people chose to discard. I’m still at it as an adult, as I find history fascinating. The opportunity to have a rummage seems to present itself less and less, as our high streets evolve into ever glossier bland identikit shopping experiences.

Walking around the streets of London, I’m still amazed at what gets thrown out. Beautiful vintage solid wood furniture, being discarded in favour of flat packed furniture, made out of composite wood.

Often, all that’s needed is a very simple repair, a coat of paint and some imagination in order to fit within a contemporary lifestyle. Many of these discarded pieces have ended up in my home, to become part of my story. Others have been sold on to buyers who are sympathetic to my approach and design ethos.

My home is my gallery. It’s full of old curiosities, and is ever-changing. I hope that you find something here to excite your passions.