From start to finish
Question for Tim Swetman from Swetman’s Amish Furniture & Gifts: When choosing among finishes for wood furniture, how do you test them out before making a commitment?
Answer: It’s tough to tell from the can whether your finish of choice will look lovely or lousy on your wood furniture. Unfortunately, according to Tim Swetman, who carries some unfinished furniture at his store along with many finished pieces, once you start applying a finish, there’s no turning back. “It’s not possible to just cover over previous finishes,” he says —especially if you start out with a dark stain but decide you want to go lighter. Unlike paint, stains—though they change the color and shine of a piece of wood furniture—don’t do much to hide what’s underneath, making indecision costly.
How do you decide on a finish? Tim Swetman advises secret experimentation.
Rather than wantonly attacking your tabletop with brush and varnish, Swetman suggests a wilier, more underhanded approach—literally. “You would want to apply it on a hidden or less exposed area,” he says. While exposed, outside slip-ups are tough to correct, Swetman suggests that picking a less visible section of your furniture, such as the back or bottom of a shelf, will allow you to test out different finish options without having to worry about splotchy mistakes. Once you’ve got your secret spot, Swetman says “go ahead and experiment” to find just the right finish before applying it to the rest of your piece.—Lucy Zhou
Space with a purpose
Incorporating bunk-beds into a dining room wall to save space in a holiday home? Sounds tacky, but Small Homes by Carles Broto demonstrates how to maintain charm while making use of every bit of space. Peek inside the life of a family who utilizes the ultrasimple ladder, staircases being too bulky. Then there’s the jumbo lego block in Juelsmand, Denmark, actually a vacation home limited in square meters, but packed with ingenious design features.—Suzanne van der Eijk
What a dish
A grouping of mini Japanese dishes from Artifacts brings a clean but eclectic look to your coffee table, windowsill or bookshelf. Or, if you like, pick one favorite and bring home a matched set of several. We’d go for the “splash” version—you?