I was running errands in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco when I came across a unique and stunning boutique called Forgotten Shanghai.
Their showroom is packed with furniture and decor items that range from Chinese antiques to modern designs with an Asian feel. There are lots of treasures to browse, and I could have spent hours there, if I didn’t have two kids in tow who were on the verge of becoming the proverbial bulls in the china shop (haha!).
The products that caught my eye the most were the wooden chests and screens that were painted in blue and green jewel tones:
Tragically, at several hundred dollars a piece, their prices exceeded my budget. I kept thinking about them, though. I love adding Asian elements to my home – the classic lines are elegant and complement the Arts and Crafts pieces we have. And with the fresh blue and green lacquer, these classic forms feel contemporary. Luckily for me, I had a couple of pieces at home that I could make over to get the same look.
Painted wooden chest
I picked up this solid wood cedar chest off craigslist for $99 a few years ago from a woman who used it for staging homes. It is stamped inside with “Wills Cabinet Shop Somerset, PA,” which looks like it is sadly no longer around.
Regular spray paint comes in limited colors. I had a false start painting with a really unfortunate electric blue from the craft store. If you don’t find the color you are looking for at the hardware store or regular craft store, I would recommend Montana Spray Paints, which are artists’ paints. I found this color, Fjordonline, but I later discovered that Aaron Brothers carries Montana paints. After sanding, priming, and painting, I added several layers of a glossy clear coat. This really helps give a finished look as well as prevent any color from rubbing off on walls, etc..
Another great find was this Chinese wooden window screen that I found at a consignment store for just $65! Similar screens usually cost several hundred from a knowledgeable seller. I was torn about painting it, as it always feels a little “wrong” to paint good quality wood. In the end, I went ahead, thinking that I really needed something to brighten up our living room, which already has a lot of wood on the floors and in the larger furniture pieces. The paint color is “Swept Away” by Benjamin Moore. I had it leftover from painting our kids’ bath. Again, I finished it with several coats of a clear finish to seal it.
I’m so happy with how my Forgotten Shanghai copy-cats turned out! I’m especially excited that I make them from things I already had around the house. I have one more screen that is left-over from a carpentry job that I am thinking of painting in a glossy black for the foyer. I’ll post a picture when it’s done!
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