It has been a long time since I shared a ‘meet the muses’- interview. I had a chat with Eva Ekestern from Ekesterna Furniture Restoration in Uppsala in Sweden.
When I first saw Eva’s Instagram account, it was brand new, but it was high quality from the start. The colour choice, furniture choice, staging and photography blew me away. I’ve been in the business of painted furniture for many years now and I know that many people go through a learning process with their painted furniture business, one little step at a time. Social media, photography, staging, … learning everything takes time. The fact that Eva delivered such beautiful results right from the start made me curious about her talent, background and her inspiration.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your business Ekesterna, your background and why you started your business?
I started Ekesterna Furniture Restoration in 2018 but have refinished antique furnitures every now and then since I was a student. I appreciate the impact colours have on me and enjoy combining colours and making new colour schemes in my home. I share this interest with my mother who became an aquarelle artist as a pensioner. The love for old worn furniture has been with me for as long as I can remember. My grandparents who lived in northern Sweden had lots of beautiful, old, worn and loved pieces in their home when I was a child and I loved to look at and touch the trims and the turned details, all small drawers, carved ornaments and damaged details that had been carefully restored by loving hands. These quality furniture from the past had a history and a soul and I loved how my grandparents treasured and cared for them. When my grandfather retired he started to produce furniture; tables, chairs, chest of drawers, sideboards, cabinets and most importantly grandfather clocks which he sold all over Sweden, to US and to Switzerland. He used wood from his own forest and built each piece at home on their farm. I loved watching this process and can still remember all the timber and wood he dried tied to the radiators and on my grandmothers loom in their house during the winters.
With a doctorate in Medicine I have spent most of my life in the academic research world and only recently left my position as Director in the Pharmaceutical industry to follow my dream and passion to create. This may seem odd to some, but to me this was a wise move; a move closer to my own beliefs and visions. Now I spend my days turning unloved antiques into lovable, beautiful and often colourful treasures.
Where does the name Ekesterna come from?
The name of my furniture restoration business, Ekesterna, refers to our farm Ekesterna (Ekesterna gård) in Uppsala. The farm has been named after our surname Ekestern. This is my family’s and my happy place in this world, the place where we unwind, charge our batteries and have fun together.
Where do you get inspiration from? What and who inspires you the most?
I get much of my inspiration from the nature, from the changes of seasons and the colour changes that goes with it and from hand crafted items and people around me. Antique furniture provides a lot of inspiration as does the thought of the stories they would tell if they could. Finding unloved treasures in antique shops, flea markets, peoples homes or even trashed somewhere often puts me in a very creative mood as does shapes and colours. I love the idea of recycling and to find new areas of usage for forgotten gadgets.
I’m also inspired by social media, all photos and creations out there shared by talents but perhaps most of all by people who follow their hearts and stay true to their own beliefs.
How do you choose the right colour for the right piece?
I’m always on the lookout for antiques and unique furnitures and most of the time pieces speak to me quite instantly and I know what type of finish I want to create for the piece. Some pieces though sit in my work space for a long time before they speak to me. I don’t want to rush things so I do have a few furnitures sitting around in my work space and in our home waiting for the perfect suitable colour and finish.
Choosing the right colour for each piece can be tricky. With some pieces I know right away what colour to pick. With others the choice is made partially based on the wood type and colour, the existing finish, the style and/or function of the piece or even the colour of staging items I consider for the specific piece. I seldon pick a colour just because it happens to be popular among my customers at the moment. I prefer to follow my heart. That’s how I keep my creativity going.
I also love to mix colours and have several different colours or shades of colours on a single piece and will experiment a bit more with ombré effects and other types of shading in the near future.
You paint with several types of paint such as chalk paint, linseed oil paint, Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint, Fusion Mineral Paint. How do you decide between the different types of paint?
When choosing which type of paint to use for a piece I evaluate the existing finish, the type of wood, the age of the piece and the level of details before I make up my mind. If I aim for a sleek, even finish I might pick Fusion Mineral Paint. If I have an old pine piece of furniture with lots of carved details I can’t imagine a better paint than milk paint. It allows the wood grain to shine through and with powdered milk paint you can easily add depth and richness to your finish allowing less or more of different colour pigments in various areas of the piece. I love how you can easily change the shade of the colour by letting the milk paint sit unstirred for a while. The fact that the paint is somewhat unpredictive just makes the finish more authentic. This is also the choice when I want to have a chippy finish.
If a piece has an existing finish that I don’t want to remove and the finish is rather uninteresting I might pick chalk paint. In these situations I’m not aiming to let wood grain shine through but instead to create an interesting finish with for example blended colours or shades.
Occasionally I also paint furnitures with linseed oil paint. We have used linseed oil paint for the exterior and partly also interior of the buildings, fences etc on our farm and this paint gives an authentic look from the past. Some customers want their pieces painted in linseed oil and even though the makeover process is slower the result is always beautiful.
Most importantly I use eco friendly paints whenever I can.
What’s your biggest dream for your business?
My business is very new but I do have lots of dreams for it. I’d love to open a small shop here on our farm where I can sell my refinished furniture, hopefully also eco friendly paint in the future and other products for a sustainable living including garden tools. I’m a qualified garden designer and seasonally design unique and creative gardens for private and public areas. Our 10 year old twins want to set up a summer café and to sell eggs from our farm so it’s somewhat of a family business and a joint effort what we run on our farm. I’d love to contribute to increased awareness of the quality of antique furniture and the craftsmanship behind each piece. I love to see unloved furniture getting a second chance after a good makeover. This is one way to contribute to a more sustainable world.