From the iconic festival of blossoms in High Park teasing the summer season ahead, to the visceral sensation of slot machines landing on three of a kind, cherries are everywhere and within that perma-existence they almost always exude a certain thrill of positivity so innate it’s hard to believe they are simply just a fruit.
There are many different species of cherry trees, not all of which however bear the bittersweet and alluring snack we’re prepared to pay through the nose for. Those which are not of the produce-fate are widely recognized for another yield; wood. Because of its stability and straight grain, black cherry wood has been exceptionally favorable to work with both by hand and with machinery and as a result became a leader in furniture production. Troubling today however is the distinct notoriety that rides shotgun alongside any dated furniture milled from cherry wood. Typically the wood is of a warm tone that in its furniture hay day would meet finishes spanning the spectrum from yellows to deep reds, something that just won’t translate among today's trends. Commissioned by Sunday Stroll to bring a collection of worldly pieces from their less-favorable cherry past and into a homeowners' more relaxed era, here’s a look inside a transformation tied to timelessness and trend.
Nestled along the Barrie waterfront there exists a nook of stately homes where inside one particular abode coastal and chic are meeting for an opulent affair. A romance fueled by neutral modernity in its interior and then teased with the incorporation of dated European imported furniture, each room has developed into a sanctuary harmonized by the coexistence of two very different moods.
“I bought this many years ago when we were living in Europe, but I feel like it’s just ugly now and doesn’t work in this space” the homeowner had expressed shamelessly during an early consultation.
The six piece collection emerged through an assessment of each item movers delivered in an overwhelming heap to the garage. Followed then by a walk through of the home to evaluate which spaces could be used by any fraction of the haul, selected for round 1 of revival were: a yellowing-beige coated Chippendale style credenza for the entry, a red wood fainting couch for the upper level concourse, two oversized armchairs and their matching footstools for the lower level club room as well as two desks and an end table for the children’s rooms. With an abundance of natural light making its presence known through the near entirety of the north facing wall, keeping things neutral for the main and lower levels was imperative though where on the greyscale that fell was still up for discussion.
The common issue faced by antique or vintage furniture owners today is that while the form and function of a dated piece generally holds up, the wood color itself is where its ability to mesh into a new space begins to falter. Whether it’s real century-old black cherry wood or the painstaking finish brought to craze by Bombay Furniture Company in the early aughts, dark red-brown furniture is where most homeowners will draw the line.
We began by evaluating each piece in its desired space with a focus on the ratio of function to filler. Larger spaces lend themselves to housing furniture that doesn’t always need to serve an immediate purpose and that is something to consider when developing a new take on it. For example, bringing in a new armchair to replace one you sit in everyday is more than likely going to be shopped for in a darker colour more conducive to daily wear and tear rather than a creamy white option stage worthy of disaster. Concluding that the entryway credenza would serve less so as a place to drop keys and more so as ornamental, a soft but cool beige with gray undertones was selected. Waving off the ornate and tarnished hardware and nodding to the gold joinery clips used in a nearby stairwell, the unit was then accented with brushed gold bail style pulls.
Carrying the crave for contemporary down a flight of stairs to the club room, the same philosophy of function applies. With more sunlight available than most would dream of below grade and an appetite for leisure evoked by a nearby pool table and full service wet bar, casting calls were open for a darker and more masculine palette.
In talks to revive the oversized wooden armchairs, curved spindles and similar detail in each armrest were hard to ignore. Their original deep red wood and handsome rugged brown leather upholstery only helped to accentuate these pieces that in their current state were best suited to a deep southern speakeasy. Providing existing upholstery is in good shape and of a higher quality, it’s always worth exploring the option to preserve it and rather work alongside its existence instead of eliminating it from the get go.
To deliver the pair from their saloon-suited origin and into their modern new digs, the obvious choice was black. The chairs were to be positioned as a layover space between those watching television and those in the bar area and were likely to host a rotation of guests. High traffic areas are always better battled by bold and holding onto the original brown leather anything light would be too country.
The whole project took just over a month from concept and design consultations through to installation and is a perfect representation of the opportunity that lies within furniture revival. The once deep red pieces selected for this project have been reintroduced to the clients’ collection in line with their newest design chapter though with the detail and significance still intact.