a waterfall coiffeuse.

For those of you not in the know, ‘waterfall’ is a style of furniture that was mass produced in the 1920’s – 1940’s.  The waterfall name comes from the curved front edge that the pieces all have.  In it’s day, it was inexpensive and was marketed to newlyweds.  In 1930, a couple setting up housekeeping could buy an entire matching bedroom suite of furniture including a bed, chest of drawers, dressing table and nightstands for less than $50.  Bedrooms suites were most popular, but you can also find dining room sets and other pieces.  As I was researching the history of waterfall furniture, I came across a new word, coiffeuse.   Apparently this is the French word for dressing table or vanity, and literally means a place with a large mirror where a lady could dress her hair.  In which case, today’s piece is definitely a coiffuese.

coco vanity before

I seem to have a soft spot for waterfall pieces.  Something about their art deco style really appeals to me.  I used to have a waterfall buffet in my dining room, although I sold it last winter to make way for my dining room makeover (still in progress!)  A little while ago one of my readers, Victoria, mentioned that she isn’t terribly fond of waterfall style vanities, especially the ones with big round mirrors.  Ahem.  Well, I thought this piece would be a good chance for me to try and change her mind.

Once again, I went with stripping and staining the top in dark walnut.  The finish was in terrible condition!  But once I got it stripped, I could see that the veneer was quite pretty and in good shape.

coco vanity glasses

There was also an interesting sort of dentil molding on the mirror and on the center drawer, and I decided to strip and stain that as well.

coco top

There is that distinctive curved edge I was talking about.

I painted everything else in Annie Sloan’s Coco.  This color is the perfect warm, greyish, brownish, neutralish, darkish, sort of rich color.  I would never have thought I’d like it until I saw it on another waterfall piece a couple of years ago.  Since then I’ve painted several pieces in this color.  I think I’m on my third can of it.

coco vanity angle

Another thing that waterfall furniture is known for is unusual hardware.  Oftentimes these pieces have drawer pulls made of bakelite.  My buffet had metal handles with bakelite inserts.  The pulls on this piece aren’t bakelite, but they are pretty fab.  I had to keep them as they add so much personality to the piece.

coc vanity drawer close up

Remember the vintage radio I scored at a garage sale earlier this summer?  It was perfect for staging this piece!

coco vanity right side

As was my bakelite alarm clock …

coco vanity clock

I’ve used this old photo before for staging pieces.  This came from a big tub of family photos that my relatives in South Dakota have.  No one knows who this couple is, but they are standing in front of my grandparent’s home in So. Minneapolis.

coco vanity photo

I wish I knew who they were.  Don’t they look like a really fun couple?  I’m sure that she sat at a similar dressing table and made sure the wave in her hair was just right before this festive gentleman came calling.  She might have been listening to Bing Crosby or Glenn Miller on the radio.  She probably pulled on those fabulous cat eye glasses to read the love letter he sent.

coco vanity letter

They were likely heading out to catch a street car to Lake Harriet for the afternoon.

Her waterfall style dressing table probably wasn’t painted.  But I bet if she’d seen this one, she would have loved it!

coco coiffeuse

Well Victoria?  Still not a fan of the waterfall vanities with big round mirrors?

Sharing at Finding Silver Pennies Sunday.

29 thoughts on “a waterfall coiffeuse.

  1. Coco sure does the trick! Round shapes and art deco are not my thing either, but a combination of the lovely wood and Coco, plus the snazzy styling – you sure have a lot of cool props in your stash – give this coifeuse irresistible charm.


  2. I think its absolutely fantastic! But as to Victoria…to each their own!!! Its a good thing we all have different tastes don’t you think?


  3. … Yep coco color rocks it….and your story of the young couple whomever they may be would be the selling point. Customers love a good story. You painted the vanity and a romantic picture of this piece well.


    1. Yes, Linda Ashford, she did paint them well both the coiffeuse and the storyline. Ok in my defense – I did assure Quandie that I loved the waterfall buffet that “owned the dining room” in it’s previous rendition.
      And this hardware is fab. Truly handsome piece – color me converted.
      I can see Miss Lemon pinning up her curls as I pen this. Any Poirot
      fans out there? David Suchet reigns.


      1. LOL! I’m glad I swayed your opinion of waterfall pieces Victoria! And I have seen all of the Poirot’s with David Suchet. Love him too. Now handyman Ken, on the other hand, really doesn’t like David Suchet and much preferred the earlier Poirot’s. I’m actually a bigger fan of Miss Marple, especially the ones with Geraldine McEwan. She always did an amazing job of appearing like a bumbling little old lady, all the while being sharper than anyone else in the room.


  4. I’ve always thought it was two teen-age girls goofing around. Maybe it was a halloween party or something like that. Those curls peaking out under the hat just don’t seam period for a guy. Or am I just observing the obvious?


  5. Now I am I intrigued. Maybe I should take that pictures to moms in a few weeks and see if she recognizes the people or maybe it is her dressed up for her birthday on Halloween.


    1. I already showed it to mom and she had no idea who they were. I think it was taken in the mid-40’s. Mom would have been a little kid still, and grandma would have been at least 45 or older. So I don’t think it’s either one of them.


  6. I have a waterfall vanity as a part of the full set I’m using as my bedroom set. It was my grandparents from when they got married. The bakelite mirror clips are breaking. Do you know where I might find mirror clips for this unique mirror style to replace them, bakelite or other?


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