Making Queen Ann furniture lighter?

kittymommyJuly 30, 2005

My mom passed away and I inherited her furniture. The living room and dining room is in the Queen Ann style furniture very much like the one shown on the site below

The wood is very dark and all of the current furniture in my home is a light oak. I would really like to use her furniture in various room in my home. I think the chairs would look lovely in small seating area in my bedroom next to my bookshelf and window. I also have a china cabinet in the same dark wood. It seems like I saw someone on one of the home make over shows making dark wood lighter by applying some type of solution that simply made the wood lighter. No sanding and repainting. It was some type of bleach like solution for wood. My questions are ...

Has anyone tried this and can you tell the name of the product?

Did you like the results and was it easy to do?

I am not a decorating diva so please forgive me if this is a dumb question but is it ok to lighten the wood of this style of furniture. Meaning is Queen Ann furniture supose to be in dark wood only? Any help would be appreciated!

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Queen Anne is usually a walnut, cherry, or mahogany ... all of them are dark woods. Why do you need to lighten it? There is no rule that says all the wood in a house has to match.

What you saw them using was wood bleach ... and you DO have to sand, then re-varnish the piece.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2005 at 4:09PM
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Thanks for responding. The problem is the furniture would have to be combined with other pieces in the same room that are light oak. Hubby hates dark wood and if the furniture can't be changed to a lighter tone he would prefer that I don't keep it. I have to admit that I am not much of a fan of dark woods either. I would just like to keep it for the memories.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2005 at 7:21PM
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If, both you and your husband don't like darkwood I would say go ahead and paint it. Queen Anne furniture style looks good light or dark in my opinion.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 2:04PM
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It's a massive mess to sand and bleach this stuff. you are asking for a big headache. And these woods usually 'bleed' so even if you lighten it, it won'te be more than a shade or two, and it's going to gradually turn again. Why don't you slip cover the dining chairs and use a corresponding cloth over the table. Then paint foam board or some other firm board and line the back wall of the china cabinet in the same wall color as you have or the same fabric you use on the table and chairs. That might give you the 'break' you want from all the dark. If not, then you can paint it as suggested above...
as for your liv. room chairs, go ahead and try them in the bedroom and if you don't like them, you can either paint them or take them back out and into the attic until you decide what to do.

I suspect you are not going to be happy with the dark wood in more than a couple of accent pieces over the long haul. And if you paint them, they are not really going to be the pieces you remember. I suspect it's the memories rather than the furniture you can't do away with right now...and that's normal. give it some time. you will find yourself picking out the pieces you really would like to keep and passing the rest on to others who really enjoy it.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 9:43PM
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if they just wiped something on over the existing finish, it was a technique called 'liming' which is basically varnish or poly finish with white pigment in it (this can be customed colorel, by the way. the poly is 'polyshades' by minwax)

if they're 40's vintage- you can do that, or honestly? if you're happy with the fabric? I have had good results with masking the upholstery off, and using Krylon spray paint.

slipcovering them is another option.

if they're real, solid mahogany or walnut or cherry frames (if you turn the chairs over, you should get a sight of the unfinished wood)- get them done professionally, or let them go.

the chinacabinet will be something of a pest, especially if there's glass involved- but the fabric backing will indeed lighten the thing up a good deal.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 3:28PM
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