December 11, 2023

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Elizabeth Pash, designer and owner of Elizabeth Pash Interiors & Antiques, shares her advice for shopping antique and vintage. Today, she’s taking a look at an alternative to “brown” antiques: bleached wood furniture.

The “trend” of bleached furniture has been widespread in the world of interior design for many years, but with supply chain delays causing more people than ever to consider vintage options, it’s worth another look. Although I will personally never tire of quality “brown” furniture and traditional antiques, an entire room—or worse yet, an entire home— of brown pieces is just too much of a good thing. Our eyes need variety and balance. Taking a piece of brown furniture, be it a dining chair, dining table, or anything, and bleaching it transforms a piece into something a bit more contemporary and fresh. This treatment can often better accentuate the lines and details of the piece, too. Chosen carefully, these pieces give a space interest, variety, and depth.

Not that long ago, the tendency was to have all furniture in the room “matching.” A traditional English mahogany dining table needed to be surrounded by traditional mahogany dining chairs, in a room with a traditional mahogany sideboard and a traditional mahogany breakfront. But those days are long gone. A room is so much more interesting with a variety of finishes. So why not mix it up by pairing a bleached dining table with mahogany chairs, or vice versa? One looks better with the other.

bleached dining table and chairs

A sweet dining table surround by painted dining chairs—I love the simplicity of this moment. The light finish of the table and chair shows off the form of the pieces.

photo credit Teekay

One of my favorite pieces in my shop is a mahogany bookcase cabinet in a bleached finish. I had the interior painted blue to add a bit of fun. Although traditional in form, the bleached finish gives it a fresh, more contemporary feel.

bleached breakfront

A bleached bookcase in Pash’s shop.

Rayon Richards

As with other elements of interior design, a little goes a long way. Just as I don’t love a room of brown furniture, a room filled with only bleached furniture is too much. The magic is in the mix!

Feeling inspired? Here are some of my favorite examples of bleached wood furniture that I’ve found on my travels:

bleached bookcases

Vintage Baker bleached bookcases.


bleached chest with marble top

Bleached chest with marble top.

Elizabeth Pash

bleached french desk

French oak writing table.

Elizabeth Pash

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