To Paint Furniture or Not, That is the Question

Oh gosh you guys, let me start off by saying that I think I picked the most controversial business to get into. Well maybe not, but close! When I first started this business in early 2015, I didn’t have the slightest clue that I’d be having to develop a thick skin. Not for the sake of who I am as a person. But for what I do for a living. What I LOVE TO DO. My business, my income, my passion, my “calling”.

I’d like to let you know about the subtle dig from a lady who didn’t know that it was going to be her comment that was going to fuel this post. And let me tell you I’m not even mad about this certain situation or her at all, but I just want to let this free instead of bottled up inside of me because it’s been a long time coming and years of piled up negativity thrown my way, and I need to see a change.

I had picked up a couple of vintage pieces of furniture from this woman. She had asked me through DM if I’d be interested in something else of hers so I happily went and picked it up. We got to chatting about business and she said “but doesn’t it bother you to paint over wood?”. In this instance, I was calmer than ever before, and just so done with that question, or any question or comment like that one. I calmly replied “Not at all. Some people love what I do and some people hate it. That’s just business”. And that’s all that needed to be said, and I felt very proud leaving that little piece of me with someone who only thought one way was the right way.

Here are some thoughts on painted furniture, collected from me and from what I hear from my customers who choose to paint their beloved family heirlooms:

  1. Do you love painted furniture? Do you love furniture left as is? Do you love a paint and wood combo to keep some of the original wood showing? Guess what – there is no right or wrong answer! It all comes down to personal preference! You do you, boo!
  2. Speaking of many different styles as above, we furniture painters seem to have one thing in common – we are VERY accepting people. We love furniture as is (sometimes haha), we love painted furniture, we love a whitewashed look with the grain showing, we love it all! We’re not pigeon holed into just one type of furniture and love to mix and match with many different styles of furniture.
  3. I like a case of salvaging pieces-o-crap every now and then to save the furniture, but I hunt after quality antiques. Why? I enjoy the quality, the structure, the shape, character, history, the details that make it so unique. The fact that after about 100 years that piece is still standing and is still super solid and sturdy with many years to come. What I don’t like most of the time is the color. Hey, brown has its place sometimes on the right items, but most time I personally just think a fun pop of color or a shade of white to brighten up a space would look better while adding much needed storage! Like the ones I currently have for sale. Again, this is just MY preference.
  4. It is NOT a crime, a crying shame, a shame, or a disgrace to paint furniture if you decide to do so. It’s YOUR life and you can decide what you want to do with your furniture whether you’re wanting to get your items painted, wanting to tackle it yourself with my online video course, or for me finding items to paint for my business to make an income. That’s the beauty of this life – we can do whatever the heck we want and no one can tell us not to.
  5. I live in a more modern style house. I’ve temporarily had dark brown antiques kicking around in the dining room/living room before being painted. And let me tell you those looked horrible in our house! The darkness of them, the tone of brown, the old style of them MIXED with the dark brown just did not go. A lot of times my customers live in or move into a more modern style home like mine and they keep their grandma’s buffet that is sentimental to them. They can’t bear to part with it and they can’t stand the sight of how it looks in their home as it is. Painting it looks AMAZING. Not only does it modernize the item, it brightens up their space and adds that funky charm! Like this one – I mean, come on!
  6. Painted furniture has so many styles and is a form of art. There are so many different artists out there and the way you paint a certain item makes it like no other! No one on this earth could recreate the exact same item, exact same paint color and techniques used, etc. Which now makes these items ONE OF A KIND! Who needs brown when you can have something even more special?!
  7. On the flipside…paint isn’t permanent. You can always strip it off later on if you choose to do so. I think so many people think of painting furniture as such a permanent thing. Not to mention that people who restore items for living love people like us because it keeps them in business!
  8. No matter how much we hear “you’re destroying that item and it’s value” is not going to make us stop doing what we love. Lighting the item on fire? That’s destroying it. What we’re doing is giving it a non-permanent dose of makeup as we see fit. That same item is still standing there with the same appreciation as it would as is. We love the heck out of these items!

We furniture painters love and are obsessed with furniture in all styles as passionately as the people who hate that we paint it. So I guess we all have one thing in common – we love furniture. Now, can we just accept that people believe and love different things in life and that neither is right or wrong and that what you choose to do is up to you. Don’t let anyone dull that sparkle in any way, shape or form. I just want the negativity surrounding painted furniture to end and for it to stop being so taboo.

I hope that this post can enlighten many to think differently if only stuck thinking one certain way, and if you still hate painted furniture after reading this post, that’s okay too. I know what I do for a living is not for everyone, but I am here to make a change in the world for the people who do love painted furniture and it makes them happy to see it. Nothing will stop me from doing what I love. I see the change, the brightness, the light and love, the color, the art, the functionality, the recycling and repurposing of what was once unloved into something magical. That is why I along with many friends in the community choose to keep on going!

Dani

14 thoughts on “To Paint Furniture or Not, That is the Question

  1. I used to be a hater, but let’s face it; painting furniture has come a long way! It looks professional, whereas back in the day it just looked painted. And I love, love, love your work. My favorite, however, is when you keep a drawer or legs, etc., original when the wood is pretty – guess I can’t completely let the pretty wood go! Ha!

    1. Hi Susan! To hear you say that you were a hater and then that you love my work is such a huge compliment. Thank you so much. And if the wood is nice underneath I like to opt for that wood and paint combo every now and again 🙂

  2. My mom gave us her old dresser set which she had painted black 33 years ago. I thought it was terrible that she had painted it, so I stripped and stained it. Now, I have painted quite a few old pieces and I love them. She was way ahead of her time! Although, she had since then, stripped and beautifully stained many antiques.

    1. That’s such a neat story! I’m sure back then it was crazy weird to see painted furniture. I’ve had magazine pages sent to me of people painting their furniture in the early 1900s – the funky, retro paint colors included. It’s always been a thing. Social media and Pinterest have helped pave the way to make it more known and accepted. Happy for it because it helped me to be intrigued by it all and start up a business! Stripping and staining is nice too – all depending on the person’s preference. So much work though 😐

  3. Hi Dani,
    Your third comment is how I feel about those antiques I have in my own home. So many of these pieces would otherwise end up in the garbage. You give them a new life and beauty you can’t see in all the brown. Even my own 1960’s green stained antiques look better then their brown originals. Keep up the great work. A-bZ

    1. Thank you so much for your support! And I’ve seen photos of your green stained antiques, they look so cool!

  4. Thank you for saying out loud! It’s ok to paint and it’s ok to not paint. There is enough furniture in all the houses, in all the land for everyone to have what they like.

    1. Hi Katie! Thank you for reading! I’m sure you go through the same thing on the regular being in the furniture painting business 🙂 And that is so true, Amen to that!

  5. So perfectly said, every single point! I had a similar conversation with my kitchen reno guy. He is a furniture/cabinet maker. He taught himself from the age of 10 yo. He would go with his mom to antique sales, and started restoring small chairs, caning, refinishing, etc. When I spoke of the chalk paint craze he was appalled saying he could never paint over beautiful wood. But when I see some of the poor conditions of some of the pieces I see on IG, there clearly is no other choice. What I love most is that it truly is an art, and I love seeing the different interpretations of each piece. Thanks for sharing!👏

    1. That’s such an intriguing story! I totally appreciate all the work people do to build and restore pieces as well, it’s a whole different type of art – one that is even harder to master than painting furniture. I appreciate it all. Some wood just can’t be salvaged and must be painted to look nice with all the damage. Thank you so much for reading and your reply!

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