G. L. Sawyer of Norfolk, VA has taken his love of Early American primitive furniture and turned it into a highly successful reproduction business. His work was recently featured in Better Homes & Gardens’ Wood magazine (April 1999).

The William and Mary style highboy pictured at right is a popular piece in his line of distressed 18th century reproduction furniture. He and his finishers diligently strive to make the furniture appear aged and well broken in. From worn, wavy tabletops to crackling paint, he has developed a look that goes beyond antique – sometimes verging on rustic, and his clients love it.


G. L. Sawyer, Ltd.
4575-A Village Ave.
Norfolk, VA 23502
Tel. (757) 858-5555

1. To achieve a worn look, Lee sands through the top coat to a “dirty brown” base coat, rather than to new wood.
2. Blasts from a heat gun skin over the accent coat of milk paint, but don’t cure it. This allows it to later “peel” when sanded.
3. A build-up of several coats of milk paint, then some selective sanding, produces the aged finish that Lees’ customers want.