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Tending To Your Vanity

When I was growing up, I shared a bedroom with two younger sisters.  In our room, we had mom's kidney shaped vanity with matching bench, the kind that was popular during the 1930's.  My mother made a skirt to fit around it, along with matching curtains to cover the windows that flanked each side of the vanity.  Being a skilled seamstress, mom often changed the skirt and window treatments, giving our bedroom and dressing table a new look with each passing season.

My sisters and I had our little vanity accessories, each in their own places.  A little box of talcum powder, hair pins, barrettes and our hair brushes and combs were a must.

Mind you, this was not a very large vanity to share, but, being the oldest, I had a slight advantage.  I was the first to wear make-up, pierce my ears and use perfume, so I needed a little extra space and the wee single drawer in the middle of the vanity was mostly all mine, at least for awhile.

Time spent at the vanity were very special moments.  It was private time when I could learn how to apply nail polish and struggle with curling my straight hair.  Of course, sharing space with younger sisters meant untimely interruptions as well as a few giggles and lots and lots of teasing.

I had no idea, that one day, I would be so attracted to all the treasures that accessorize a vanity.  The antique business has brought into focus the charms and spiritedness of the vanity and it's continuing call to be an vital part of the feminine world.  Vanities have been rocking the souls of women for centuries and in recent decades, women have discovered that the vanity is the heartbeat of their boudoir.

Vanities have been made by master craftsmen in a wide variety of styles, each complimenting their own era. 


The Victorian dressing tables were quite elaborate with intricate detailing.  An early American vanity might have been made of mahogany with curvy cabriole legs or others of solid walnut with claw feet.  The Arts and Crafts movement of the early 1900's created "mission oak" vanity tables with straight lines.  During the 1920's, when sound was added to movies, the vanity became the focal point in bedrooms, some vanity tables were called Hollywood vanities.

Not even the Depression Era and it's turmoil could squelch the production of the vanity.  By the mid 20's, the use of  mahogany and walnut veneers became more prominent.  Many vanities made from the 20's through the 40's were covered in elaborate veneers such as: V-matched quarter-sliced Oriental wood, quarter-sliced zebra wood, V-matched striped walnut, basket weave zebra wood and bird's eye maple, to name a few.

Remember the 1930's Waterfall Furniture Collection, created with smooth rounded edges, the vanities had large round mirrors, some with electric lights inset under the mirror.  The Art Moderne metal dressing table was streamlined and had artificial wood graining, to give it the look of wood.  By the late 40's and 50's, vanities of selected hardwoods acquired a simpler, easier looking appearance.  Many had a center drawer with additional drawers down each side,

Today, the appeal of the vanity has shifted toward the many delightful accessories required for the beautification of today's women.  No vanity or dresser is complete without at least a few of them.  Vintage perfume bottles are extremely popular with many fascinating examples to choose from.  Surely you can't start or finish your day without glancing into your antique hand mirror, confirming that you are a vision of beauty.  Don't forget to spoil yourself by sprinkling on your favorite powder from your wonderful porcelain talcum shaker.  You'll also need a hand fan during those warm summer evenings.

Pamper your vanity with a luscious hand painted Limoges or Bavarian dresser set.  Accompanying the larger tray might be a hatpin holder, pin tray, hair receiver, candlesticks, ring tree or powder box.  You may be tempted to add a Victorian celluloid box to the top of your vanity to store some of your treasures.

Don't forget to fill your vintage compact with your preferred facial powder.  And what about a vintage lipstick holder or an enameled pill box, nothing is too extravagant for you.  You may want to hang an antique beaded purse from your mirror or along side your vanity.  The possibilities are endless but the point is, whatever is singing to you, is what you should collect.

I haven't given much thought to having a vanity of my own in quite some time, until recently.  Two months ago, my husband came home with a chair he salvaged from the side of the road.  He didn't show it to me until he cleaned it up and refreshed it.  To my great surprise, it is a ladies vanity chair, one with a wide seat and a low back with an arrow design.  Oh, if only I had room in my boudoir for a vanity.

Now, my son is about to purchased a large home.  I'm hoping he will want a piece of our furniture so I can free up a wall.  I've already checked with my hubby and it's a go.  Hopefully, and soon, I'll be shopping for that special vanity to go with my new "old" vanity chair.  The thought of it is making me feel like a kid again.

In the meantime.....  I'll be..... tending to your vanity.

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