Painted Wood Furniture – Cringe Worthy, Dated, or What?

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Hi Everyone,

Thank you so much to those of you who sent me good wishes last Sunday for my birthday. I had a lovely day!

As I tried to take the day off, I answered some of the comments on Monday on the post about “brown furniture.”

 

A few of the comments I am answering in this post about painted wood furniture.

 

Based on previous posts, where the topic came up, I knew I would get some resistance regarding the advisability of painting vintage pieces, no matter what. They’re not authentic reproductions of 17th and 18th-century antiques from Europe, Asia, and the US.

 

Therefore, today, I want to explore painted wood furniture further. Is it cringe-worthy, dated, or something else?

 

Let’s first begin with four comments from Sunday’s post about

Sue said:

 

“I agree! I am so over shabby-painted furniture and cringe whenever I enter an “antiques” store only to find it’s all been chalk-painted. However, I do love the lacquered finish and the idea of painting the back of a breakfront, etc.”

 

Of Goats and Greens said about painted wood furniture:

 

Currently, I live rurally in a log home, so yes, I love my “brown” furniture. But I lived in suburbia in a late 60s ranch home, and I also loved the “brown” furniture. No, it wasn’t painted that way, and I gave away the dining set because the chairs were not comfortable, and the table didn’t actually fit in the dining space back at the old home anyway.

 

But, I will categorically state I HATE the dated feel of PAINTING right furniture.

 

I am happy to have inherited many of my parents’ pieces. My brother has the others. Made with quality, to last the test of time. Call it natural wood furniture – it transcends brown! Oh, and I bought oak chairs a decade or two back for my current dining set! Comfortable and attractive, and sturdy, even if I did get them from Sears.

 

Tracy S. said about painted wood furniture:

 

ersatz early American brown furniture

 

I have to tell you, Laurel, that my husband looked at that 1960 Sears ad for hideous sofas and said, “SOLD!”

He truly loves that stuff. (But we live in a 2-bedroom condo, so he cannot scratch that itch. Thank God.)

Per brown furniture, I love antiques. It makes me sad when someone paints over some beautiful 19th c. patina for “shabby chic.” (That’s over, right? Please tell me it’s over.)

Thanks for another fun, informative post.

 

Amanda said about painted wood furniture:

 

“A fun and informative post as always! Generally, I agree with Goats and Greens and Tracy S – it makes me so mad to see a lovely antique painted over! But, I did fall in love with one such piece, an 1850-ish dresser that had been done over in a very dark navy paint.

I respected the decision because, seeing the ‘before’ photos, some of the wood was terribly wrong with stains and gouges. It was beyond patina and just looked bad. I guess the restorer could have gone all-in with sanding and restaining. But for this piece, the dark paint (and lovely period pulls she put on it) really work, and I love the dresser very much in its new state. Generally, though – I say don’t cover that lovely antique (or even good quality vintage or reproduction) wood!”

 

Oh, this topic of painted wood furniture is such a juicy one!

 

Okay, please allow me to dive in. First of all, everyone has a right to their own opinion. And, thank you, everyone, for doing so respectfully.

Second, there is no right or wrong answer. However, there are some things to go over that some, it appears are misunderstanding or don’t realize.

 

Painted wood furniture is a fad. But, it’s also a fad that’s been around for centuries.

 

Actually, painted wood furniture has been around for THOUSANDS of years. It is not going away. Ever. That’s because its appeal is widespread even if some of you don’t care for paint on top of wood.

 

painted wood furniture - By_ovedc_-_Egyptian_Museum_(Cairo) King Tut

Wikimedia

 

Hmmmm… These painted wood pieces are from King Tut’s tomb in the Cairo Museum. Thus, they are several thousand years old. And, doesn’t that look like shabby chic milk paint? Too funny. It’s actually gesso.

Gesso is a medium used primarily as a primer for oil paintings on canvas. However, the ancient Egyptians also used gesso to protect their wood pieces.

Painted furniture featured heavily in Scandinavian (Gustavian) and French furnishings (Louis XVI) and English Sheraton and Hepplewhite styles. These styles originated during the classical era of the late 19th century.

 

However, milk paint was quite popular in 18th-century American furniture.

 

Below are two books about Painted Wood Furniture made in America.

 

American Painted Furniture

This book is for sale here.

 

American Painted Furniture 1660-1880

You can find this book here

 

Some of you are probably wondering what the difference is between milk paint and chalk paint. There are different ingredients, and milk paint is thinner generally. But, the different types of paint and techniques are another subject.

 

As for being mad about a lovely antique painted over, it really depends.

 

If it’s a piece that’s meant to be a deep rich dark stain with crotch mahogany, satinwood, marquetry, etc. I totally agree that it should not be painted. And to be clear, I’ve never said otherwise.

Where it becomes difficult is if there’s a small room filled with dark-stained pieces. The idea from the comments that inspired the post was for the room to look fresh.

 

gorgeous English Chippendale breakfront nothing bland decor about this- Gerald Bland Antiques - NYCImagine Gerald Bland’s magnificent Georgian bookcase, painted. Yes, that would be wrong. However, notice how the deep rich stain is balanced by the deep rich wall color and the pop of lemon yellow on the chairs.

Did I just say, “pop?” Please forgive me.

 

However, much of the 17th, 18th, and 19th-century furniture in Europe and the US was meant to be painted from the beginning.

 

Still, there is currently much furniture manufactured with hideous faux finishes, be they chalk paint or a horrid faux crackle finish. Another horrid situation is an overdone rub-through with uniform patterns of fake damage. To make it believable would take hours and hours of beating the piece up. Some companies like Sarreid do a pretty good job of recreating painted wood antique pieces.

Another company I love and talk about fairly often is Chelsea Textiles.

Below, I created a widget of antique (17th-19th centuries) wood painted furniture of numerous styles, and coming from all over the world. Some of it is primitive, and some pieces are rather formal. There are a few that have new finishes on an old piece. And some have not been altered.

 

Of course, these pieces are wildly expensive and beyond the means of 99.999% of us reading this.

However, I see nothing wrong with a good reproductions of antique pieces.

And holy crapballs. Have you guys heard that amazing news?

 

 

WISTERIA IS COMING BACK IN ABOUT THREE WEEKS!

 

 

YES, my favorite source for reasonably priced painted antique-looking pieces

 

Wisteria chest - antique reproduction -painted wood furniture

Pieces like this faithful reproduction of an antique Gustavian chest.

 

Wisteria Gustavian cabinet - painted wood furniture

And, this wonderfully painted cabinet. But, of course, everything here is from Wisteria.

I know y’all are curious what the reincarnation of this fabulous brand is going to be like.

Sorry, I’m as clueless as the rest of us and have no idea.

I imagine that there will be some changes.

But, I’m praying they bring back many of our favorites.

 

Wisteria Very Skinny Floor Lamp

Like the Very Skinny Floor Lamp!

Pretty please?!?

 

Wisteria is coming back March 2021! I love their painted wood furniture!

 

It matters not whether the wood furniture in your room is painted or stained.

What matters is how much of it there is and how it all fits into the decorating scheme as a whole.

 

xo,

PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES! Some cool new sales have started since the weekend.

 

7th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2020 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Michelle Winter - February 16, 2021 - 2:18 AM

    Danni McLaughlin, I too would love to see your yellow cabinet! Sometimes a statement piece is what it takes to make a room work. Sounds like you know you’re stuff.

    So much chit chat about paint vs. brown.

    I like both, but am naturally attracted to painted pieces. Probably because it lends itself to feeling artsy. My preference; nothing too fussy.

    Brown adds balance, earthiness and warmth.

    It’s all good.

    Happy belated, young Laurel.

    Btw, I do not love that tall skinny lamp.

    It’s fun, but way too delicate for me.

    Maybe I’d like it if there were a group of them in the corner at differing heights. But then, could you imagine having to turn them all on?

    Nope. Not going to happen. So I vote no on that piece.

    Thanks for the reminder of ancient makers gettin’ funky with their furniture.

    Fun stuff.ReplyCancel

  • Anna Lee - February 14, 2021 - 6:58 AM

    Oh my goodness just saw something I own in your ‘wildly expensive section’ – except I got it for $1 at an online estate sale a few years ago and I’ve been using it as a potting cupboard/table. The early American pine lift top trunk/chest. It’s painted white, inside is left natural, but it is the exact same one. Mmmm, at $1600 maybe I need to take a little better care of it!ReplyCancel

  • Tara Imani - February 12, 2021 - 8:42 PM

    This is my 3rd comment… is that allowed?! I used to blog regularly on my Indigo Architect . Com website I created in 2011 in response to the 60,000 jobs that had been shed in the architecture profession. Having been “made redundant,” I was at a crossroads. After much handwringing and dilly-dallying – whether to get a degree in Interior Design or just take the NCIDQ exam (to “prove” my worth as an Interior Designer) – I decided on the latter. I don’t regret that but I do still wish I could attend Parsons Design school to learn the History of Furniture and textiles.

    As a child, my paternal grandmother- newly widowed – gave me a large white painted queen size bed and a matching white chest along with a large painting of a girl with dark hair and dark eyes wearing a bonnet standing in a field. She had a pink sash on. I would study her and wonder if I would grow up to be that pretty. My daughter looks like her. I have light brown hair and blue/green eyes.

    I realized, over time (maybe by age 10-11) that this furniture was “not for me.” It was too big fir my room and was old-fashioned and clunky with its Hugh headband and 4 low posts. And I could tell that someone had done a shoddy job painting it white.

    My mother took me shopping for a new bedroom suit (probably after being worn down by my incessant begging) and we went to the warehouse for White’s Furniture. There it was, the perfect modern bed for me: twin size white modern lines with brass l-shaped accoutrements on the edges and a long faux leather white round pillow and a leather bedspread. We got the white desk and hutch and matching dresser (w pink drawers – that’s all they had in stock) and I was in HEAVEN!!!

    I hated brown furniture- especially in a bedroom.

    Years (decades) later, I hired a design firm to style our family room and breakfast room (1998). They recommended refinishing the white washed oak 48” round glass table top and matching wood chairs with upholstered seats and backs in a new crackled finish. I reluctantly agreed to it. When it arrived, the finish looked smeared. When the lead designer came over to check on it she said: “Oh, it’s not finished yet.” (So why did they deliver it? Ship happens). 😉 They fixed it and it looked good for about 3 years but started to show nicks and was just never the same.

    I guess I’m a purist. I want to see what the ORIGINAL look of a piece was meant to be.

    This is all so very personal. No one is right or wrong. It’s good to be educated about the history of styles and to understand what is good design vs a gaudy bastardized piece. I think I have the latter in my master bathroom. It’s a fake antique replica demilune glass and wood shelves. It looks very “old world” / faux antique. I would consider painting it teal or bright aqua – depending on what direction we decide to renovate in there. Or, I might send it to Goodwill.

    Thank you, again, for the indulgence.

    This comment section is more of a conversation.

    Thank you, Laurel, for being a magnet for all our ideas and opinions.

    I love your blog and I think your brilliant and talented.

    Stay safe and warm, everyone.

    Tara
    Houston, TXReplyCancel

  • Betty Benesi - February 12, 2021 - 6:35 PM

    I find it disturbing when people go in the opposite direction. Stripping a good piece of painted furniture because they want to see the wood. I really like Victorian Cottage painted furniture, but it is very hard to find as most of it was misguidedly stripped so the wood would show!ReplyCancel

  • Renee - February 12, 2021 - 11:34 AM

    Thank you, Laurel, for covering both “brown” and painted furniture in the last two posts. I had no idea how passionate people can be, good or bad, about either finish regardless of the style/age of the piece. At any rate, both posts were extremely helpful for me personally in terms of freshening up some classic pieces. But, what I’ve come to realize, is that the reason for my feeling more comfortable and dare I say, emboldened, about putting it all together is your blog. I have scads of design books that are wonderful. But, what those gorgeous books lack is something you provide: education. You don’t just show the pictures but you break down the WHY and HOW to achieve whatever look or feeling the reader is trying to achieve… Thank you and keep these wonderful blogs coming.ReplyCancel

  • Karen - February 12, 2021 - 11:23 AM

    I’m so excited about Wisteria coming back!!!!! You just made my weekend!!!ReplyCancel

  • Victoria - February 12, 2021 - 9:05 AM

    I am surprised that people are not aware of the centuries of painted pieces!! I have bought old pieces, some”brown” pieces and a number of painted pieces since I was literally 10 years old.
    I look at my current living room with it’s English stripped pine cabinet, next to a Swedish painted trunk. I believe in redoing where it makes sense. I came across a nesting set of end tables that at one time had great inlay. It was damaged beyond refurnishing, economically, so now they are painted a soft green with some stenciled gold and finished off with a very light brown wax.
    Check out antique books from the library, go to estate sales, visit antiques stores and just expose your eye. Everything thing does not have to match. You can have “farmhouse” modern with an antique gold mirror!
    Thanks for the post!ReplyCancel

  • Lorri - February 12, 2021 - 5:38 AM

    As several people have already said, I too prefer a mix of natural wood and painted furniture. Love the lightness of Swedish Gustavian. My bed and dresser are natural wood and my bedside tables are painted green.

    It kinda drives me crazy when people think painted furniture is a new thing.ReplyCancel

  • EUGENIA DAVIS - February 11, 2021 - 9:57 PM

    Hi Emily…your comment was interesting. I am a furniture painter although not in the “shabby chic” distressed method. Of course, I love painted furniture and work primarily for designer’s clients. I have reached the conclusion that everyone should do what makes them happy in the private space of their home. It’s what I do in mine. I, too, live in the South.ReplyCancel

  • Emily - February 11, 2021 - 3:35 PM

    Thank you for the post! I live in the South and it seems that “shabby chic” is still very in vogue. Just about every antique/vintage store has a display for a popular chalk paint brand. I cringe every time I see all the “shabby chic” painted furniture!! Some of it is well done, but some of it is purposely “distressed” or on pieces that seemed to be good solid wood. There’s one woman in my city who paints furniture and sells it online, and she puts awful word art stencils on the pieces… things like supposed French sayings that aren’t even spelled/translated correctly! I love some painted furniture, and I even like a chippy piece if it’s a primitive style, but it seems like a lot of painted furniture for sale right now is the result of people who are looking to make a quick dollar by “flipping” furniture. I’d much rather have an old piece of furniture restored/refinished than painted, and if it is newly painted, I’d like to pick the color myself!ReplyCancel

  • Tara - February 11, 2021 - 12:39 AM

    Hi Monica,

    Thank you for the cleaning tips for the dull & rust (?) stained marble top. I’ll definitely give that a try!!

    Jennifer L. Johnson,

    Ahhh, Versailles. We made it to Paris the last leg of a 5-city trip through Europe via Istanbul in summer 2016. Our private tour guide offered to take us there the next day (about a 2-hour ride outside the city). After he talked on and on about how they had their last beheading in Paris as recent as1979, and he seemed amazed by that. And upset at my mention of a French contemporary Philosopher that he said was a “Zionist” and he hated him. Bernard Henri Levy, I think. I didn’t want to be invited to my own beheading so soon. 😉 Grotesque… not the painted white chairs! Synonymous with tacky… just kidding. One article I read talked about the pastel colors on the NWO-classical chairs in the Petite Trianon or was it in one of the boudoirs chambers.

    Your comment had me googling “Versailles original furnishings.” I never knew they had silver tables that had to be melted down to pay for the wars. And much of the furniture was catalogued after the executions of Marie Antoinette and her husband and sold off tax free to pay for the Revolution. Some of the chairs are on display at The Getty Museum and some of the furniture ended up in Buckingham Palace, according to one blog.

    I have nothing against painting certain pieces. Just wouldn’t do it on any of the brown-stained wood furniture I currently own.ReplyCancel

  • JENNIFER L JOHNSON - February 10, 2021 - 6:14 PM

    Great advice, Rosemary!ReplyCancel

  • JENNIFER L JOHNSON - February 10, 2021 - 6:13 PM

    I was so surprised when I visited Versailles and saw white painted dining chairs!ReplyCancel

  • Rosemary - February 10, 2021 - 6:06 PM

    Hi Laurel: Happy Belated Birthday, pleased that your day was special. I’d like to share some insights from an antique dealer friend who is a regular on Antiques Roadshow. His thoughts are: Technically, anything over 100 years old is an antique. But not every antique is a terribly valuable example that needs to be preserved for posterity in an unaltered state. Fine quality handmade antique furniture constructed of hardwood (no veneer) that has not been refinished, or had major repairs or replacements of hardware is in a category by itself and should not be painted, stenciled or altered. In recent years, so called “brown furniture” did not enjoy widespread popularity and prices and demand declined rather dramatically. There is a slight uptick in that market right now due to the emergence of so-called new traditional and millennial traditional design movements. Think about it this way, in a century, some Ikea furniture will be antique but it’s very unlikely to be terribly valuable. So, go right ahead and paint, stencil or otherwise alter antique but inexpensive veneered or damaged pieces in any manner that you find pleasing. But don’t touch the good stuff and if you’re not sure if your pieces are fine quality, ask a professional to evaluate them.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - February 10, 2021 - 5:15 PM

    It surprises me when designers talk about Wisteria for furniture pieces. I have a chest from them that is not good quality at all. The draws are impossible to open making it really just a an entry table. It’s also made of a low quality wood. I live near the headquarters and am able to shop a showroom floor. Yes to mirrors, lamps, vases etc. But I can’t justify the cost for the furniture.ReplyCancel

  • Marguerite - February 10, 2021 - 4:54 PM

    H Lauren! I am so looking forward to seeing in what form Wisteria will return.I bought 2 paneled mirrors, a distressed treaumeau and a sunburst mirror all of which totally made the spaces in which they were hung. I have to say, though, on large items, especially casegoods, their quality control was very spotty. I bought a gorgeous french looking 3 drawer chest, and I had to refuse it because it took 2 people to move the drawers in and out, they were not on any kind of rail. It was beautiful outside but completely non-functional for daily use. I waited so long for a King Louis type cane bed that when it arrived a greeny-yellowy yuck color instead of creamy white as described in the catalogue, I kept it anyway and eventually repainted it. It was a project and a half. Nevertheless, I still pine yet this very day for a different Gustavian style 3 drawer chest that I was too chicken to buy after seeing the poor quality of the first one. The stuff was always pretty, but not necessariy functional. I hope the new owners have more reliable manufacturing sources.ReplyCancel

  • Monica - February 10, 2021 - 3:53 PM

    Tara,
    You can remove stains from marble by placing a thick white paper towel soaked in 3% Hydrogen Peroxide directly on the stain. Cover it with clear plastic and a heavy book. Depending on the severity of the stain it might take 24-48 hours to completely disappear. It’s faster if you use a higher percentage Hydrogen Peroxide, but check it often as it can cause pitting. Once you are certain the stains are gone, reseal the marble with a natural stone sealer like 511.
    I have done this multiple times with old and new marble.ReplyCancel

  • Of Goats and Greens - February 10, 2021 - 3:26 PM

    SOME painted furniture looks fine. The furniture that wasn’t meant to be painted… no, it does not get improved with paint. The lacquer piece is gorgeous – yes, that’s painted. That blue-ish dresser a bit below – I’d run and hide. The glass-fronted showcase depicted just below would have been a lot nicer in wood, especially since the whole setting is so monochrome. A lot of it will depend!ReplyCancel

  • Tara Imani - February 10, 2021 - 2:45 PM

    Christine:

    Thank you for mentioning Jocasta Innes’ books. It led me to search Amazon and the cover of his book ‘Scandinavian Painted Decor” has a commode/chest that looks exactly like mine (except it’s a mid-tone reddish brown and mine is blonde- plus, the wood quality of his is supple, whereas mine looks “splintered” for lack of a better term). Anyhow, he’s written a ton of books, as you say). I’ve ordered it out of curiosity- it’s received so many rave reviews.

    ReplyCancel

  • Christine - February 10, 2021 - 1:37 PM

    And I meant LAUREL.ReplyCancel

  • Christine - February 10, 2021 - 1:35 PM

    When I was younger, I fell in love with Scandinavian painted furniture and the soft muted fresco colors of Italy. Jocasta Innes wrote many books on how to paint furniture. She was such an inspiration, and I still love the subtle designs that were popular in the 80’s. The furniture I liked best were the ones that copied Laura’s favorite Chinoiserie bird wallpaper. Colonial American painted furniture leaves me cold; the colors are too strong.ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - February 10, 2021 - 12:52 PM

    I used ivory chalk paint with clear wax on a chest of drawers for my daughter and I thought it was very nice, it certainly held up well.

    All the chippy stuff is so horrible, looks dirty. My grandmother had a chipped up old green secretary. When I was 12 y/o I convinced my cousin to help me scrub it with a brillo pad and we were very happy about how nicely it was cleaning up. I thought she was going to either cry or kill us. Apparently, it was very, very old.

    If I had an extra $9,500 I would buy the Venetian Polychrome Console Table with Original Marble Top. The top has an ammonite in it, it’s the most gorgeous thing every. But the chipped up dirty paint is awful, I would have to paint it, so, I better not make that purchase.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - February 10, 2021 - 12:12 PM

    Another fabulous post from Lady Laurel. I love both brown and painted pieces but I notice since I moved to the beach in Delaware that there isn’t much brown furniture around. We inherited my husband’s parent’s bedroom furniture when his sister died. The beautiful serpentine lines were obscured by the ruined, pock-marked finish, which I repaired and painted in midnight blue mineral paint. They are gorgeous with the original brass hardware…and so well made. They just don’t make furniture like that anymore unless one is willing to pay gobs and gobs and I am not that person. Happy birthday, Laurel! Celebrate for the entire month; you deserve it! ❤️ReplyCancel

  • Mary E - February 10, 2021 - 11:59 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    I can appreciate a good painted piece. But like everything, it’s good in moderation. I certainly wouldn’t want a room with nothing but painted pieces.
    I glad you had a nice birthday.ReplyCancel

  • LeeAnn - February 10, 2021 - 11:21 AM

    I moved into my husband’s 1925 Dutch Colonial house when we got married. Twenty years later we are finally about to work with an interior designer. My husband still likes his 1980s natural wood Danish Modern buffet and china cabinet, but he is willing to part with them to make me happy–he’s a gem!. I have never liked them. I’ve been pondering whether painting them would improve them at all in my opinion, but I think I’ve reached the conclusion that they wouldn’t look any better and will never fit the character of the house anyway. Plus I think he would prefer to let them go rather than paint them because he loves the look of natural wood.
    It will be a (fun?) challenge for us and the designer to come up with options we are happy with.ReplyCancel

  • Gail Caryn - February 10, 2021 - 11:06 AM

    Happy belated Laurel I hope you are enjoying your new fabulous home! I too have a love of all things painted, in part because I get everything secondhand and can’t afford really fine antiques. I do have two side tables that are a gorgeous stained finish, however, and wouldn’t dream of painting them. One thing I’d like to say is that a bad paint job in a bad paint job, regardless of the product used. I adore working with the original Annie Sloan chalk paint. It’s a great product. I’ve seen some awful chalk paint jobs though. I love you final statement and would add “and whether you love it!”ReplyCancel

  • Annie L. - February 10, 2021 - 10:27 AM

    Gorgeous post! Love painted and “brown” furniture. For
    some reason it just tickle me to hear of it spoken in such a way! To each his own said the old lady who kissed her cow! Happy Valentine’s Day, Laurel and fellow readers! ❤️ReplyCancel

  • Barbara Adams - February 10, 2021 - 10:25 AM

    I think the current trend toward painted furniture is a response to the fact that 1) so many of the high end furniture manufacturers are no more and 2) access to very fine wood – mahogany, yew – is increasingly rare and expensive. So I say think long and hard before you paint or sell your antiques because they may be literally irreplaceable.ReplyCancel

  • susie - February 10, 2021 - 9:54 AM

    I love painted furniture, I love Gustavian style, I love pickled woods. Mahogany is OK. (my grandparents had mahogany furniture) I’m not crazy about other woods.ReplyCancel

  • danelle Carpenter - February 10, 2021 - 9:44 AM

    LOVE YOUR BLOG. GIVES A NEW WAY TO LOOK AT OLD THINGS THAT ARE STILL USEFUL AND USUALLY STRONGER THAN WHAT WE PURCHASE TODAY!
    DANELLEReplyCancel

  • Mary T - February 10, 2021 - 8:47 AM

    Kim Doyle, I also am not on the chalk paint bashing side. It has its purposes and benefits and with the right wax or satin poly finish, it just looks like regular painted furniture to me. I’ve refinished and repurposed many pieces of furniture in my life. I hate working with chemicals and absolutely detest stripping an ugly wood or paint finish to apply stain.
    I prefer a mix of painted and stained furniture in my own home. I own a few lovely family antiques and they don’t mind sharing space with newer pieces including chalk painted, latex painted and stained. (They don’t even feel superior to those lesser pieces.)ReplyCancel

  • Cindy G - February 10, 2021 - 8:40 AM

    My husband I had the discussion of painting an old piece of furniture on Sat night as I had just finished an old tea cart and a corner piece of furniture both needed a face lift. So when I read Sunday’s post to him, we both had a laugh on how timely it was.It is amazing how much life they have brought into the home. He has made several furniture pieces so it’s hard for him to want to paint wood, but he likes the two pieces I did because they were not antiques. BM has a line (New?) called Advanced (long lead time and self leveling) and it is the BEST paint to use it’s Fantastic. I painted the corner cabinet with it in The Quintessential turquoise “Tranquil Blue” per You and it is a gorgeous color. When I was painting it, it was in the open and I am thinking boy this is going to be too loud, but when I put it in the corner against gray walls with an aqua undertone, it toned down considerably.

    I lived in Germany and sold antiques while I lived there, I went with the owner to Holland and Belgium to hunt for antiques and we went to a huge shop where they had very large pieces all had carved wood cabinets and they stripped all the paint off of them to renew them and put them up for sale. You just shake your head as to why someone would want to paint these beautiful pieces of art, they were all white at least no purple etc.
    So, if it’s a real antique please don’t paint it!ReplyCancel

  • Paula - February 10, 2021 - 8:24 AM

    Lynn: I think if you give it a light sanding you should be able to repaint it (did you apply wax to it?).ReplyCancel

  • Carolina - February 10, 2021 - 8:18 AM

    Happy birthday Laurel! better late than never… ❤️
    Love your blog and specially the ones regarding furniture. I painted 8 Windsor chairs with milk paint I did myself, they have a sort of swedish feeling now and look much better with the modern table we have.
    Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Karen - February 10, 2021 - 8:17 AM

    I love painted furniture I love lacquered furniture. I do not think because something is old it has to be kept in the original finish some items are just old. I love your painted antique cabinet. I continue to look for something similar and would definitely paint it. I live in Texas and have antiques my parents and grandparents collected. Some are the original finish and others I have had lacquered. I don’t want to live in a dark heavy room it is too hot here.ReplyCancel

  • Kim Doyle - February 10, 2021 - 8:07 AM

    Lynn, you can absolutely paint over it with chalk paint if you are just looking for a different color. If you want to go back to the natural wood, you can remove wax with mineral spirits and then remove the paint rubbing gently with a damp sponge that has a slightly abrasive side. Then you can finish the wood as you like.ReplyCancel

  • Kim Doyle - February 10, 2021 - 8:01 AM

    I guess i am the lone voice in favor of chalk paint. I would not paint a beautiful antique with it, but how many of those do we all have? I was first inspired to try chalk paint when perusing images of British homes. I love the flat finish of it and the ability to get the colors exactly right by mixing. If a piece is well built and I like the shape of it, I would definitely chalk paint it and wax it well. I have turned some horrid yellow pine pieces into beauties with the magic of Annie Sloan’s Paris Gray, Graphite etc. I can’t stand the look of a room full of brown furniture, but mixing it up with natural wood and painted pieces works for me. Darryl Carter is one designer who seems to do this well.ReplyCancel

  • Lynn - February 10, 2021 - 7:59 AM

    Love love love your blog! I painted a brown cedar “hope chest” with chalk paint years ago. Now I don’t like the look but am unsure if I can paint over it with regular latex paint. Do you know?ReplyCancel

  • Susan Hijazi - February 10, 2021 - 7:13 AM

    Laurel,
    Definitely Gorgeous post!
    Love all the painted pieces you showed! I believe we need some mix of both brown and painted pieces to make the room interesting. I painted some bookcases with chalk paint but sealed it with ‘real’ top coat. No issues.
    And we need a PoP of color too 😉ReplyCancel

  • Paula - February 10, 2021 - 6:15 AM

    I would love to see that Tweety-bird yellow cabinet.ReplyCancel

  • Jeanne Young - February 10, 2021 - 4:54 AM

    as always, your usual advice, knowledge and some common sense. loved those antique pieces not available to the 99% of us. i have brown, beige and painted pieces, mostly functional and I have grown accustomed to all of it.ReplyCancel

  • Earlene Millier - February 10, 2021 - 2:29 AM

    I have both painted old furniture and removed the paint from old furniture. It completely depends on the piece! I would never paint a good antique, and I think chalk paint is the spawn of Satan. But I see nothing wrong with painting a vintage piece of not-fine furniture. It’s your house and your furniture. You do you.ReplyCancel

  • Tara Imani, AIA, ASID, NCIDQ - February 10, 2021 - 2:28 AM

    What a gorgeous post! Thank you for all the eye candy. That room with the Gerald Bland China cabinet used as a bookcase. Gah! Lovely…

    I’ll take one of everything, please 😉

    My husband and I bought an “antique” Italian baroque chest from a breakfast cafe/ antique shop in Galveston in 2013 or so. It has a too-small green marble top and the legs look like they might have been in a flood (up to 1-2”).

    Someone on a Facebook forum suggested I paint it with chalk paint and I was horrified. I think it should be carefully restored to it’s original blonde wood glory. I should contact a furniture restoration company. If nothing, it probably needs to be cleaned. It sits in the back foyer with a black framed Empire mirror and some decor items on the marble top.

    The marble top is also stained- but replacing it is low priority after replacing the very old and worn Master Bedroom carpet and replacing a solid wood door in the “Teen Room” with a glass and wrought iron door – it leads to the pool area and the view is very pretty.

    Thank you letting me ramble on…

    I’m glad you had a great birthday!!ReplyCancel

  • Danni Mclaughlin - February 10, 2021 - 1:48 AM

    Chalk paint is from hell. It feels gross, it stains and it looks bad. BUT I like to paint furniture sometimes. I bought a cabin that had been painted white with off-white trim and felt like it needed a bolt of yellow to make it slap and so I found the right size and shape of buffet/China cabinet and took the doors off the top so it would casually accept books, booze, etc, swapped out the hardware and painted that sucker Tweety-bird yellow. Gloss. (!!) I don’t even LIKE yellow. I get more compliments on that thing than anything else in the house.I It’s just paint. And brown furniture is so plentiful and cheap and well made – it seems a shame not to use it! I can send a picture-it’ll blind you.ReplyCancel

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