To Paint or Not to Paint…That seems to be the question

To paint or not to paint….

…that seems to be a question these days.

At least once a week, and often times more frequently I will see a blogger that I follow post Before and After pictures of old furniture that they have painted.  The are rightfully proud of their work and sharing the same for all the world to see.  Sadly, these pictures ALWAYS yield several comments on how the blogger “ruined” a “perfectly good [dresser, table, wardrobe, etc].

Now I certainly understand that painted furniture, in general, is not everyone’s taste- heck, my mother cringes anytime I take a paint brush to a ‘perfectly good’ piece of furniture.  On the other hand, let me say right here, that other than a few pieces of items that I owned and wanted to update for my tastes, I have never actually painted a ‘perfectly good’ piece of furniture.

Rescued from the garbage man minuted before it would have been loaded into the dump truck.

Rescued from the garbage man minutes before it would have been loaded into the dump truck.

Instead the items that we paint generally come to us in one of several ways… family and friend seeks us out to give us items headed for the trash or for Goodwill, we drive around and literally save items from the landfill by pulling them out of the garbage set out for the trash man (which, BTW is our favorite source for items), garage sales, and thrift stores.  Thus each of these items is unwanted and/or unloved.  Many are in disrepair and need minor to substantial structural repairs.  Their finishes are chipped, nicked, or have gouges in them.  They are dirty (and occasionally smelly).  They may have pen and/or pencil marks, crayon drawings, and in one case vulgar profanities literally carved into the top of the item.

A few times we have been lucky enough to come across an item that can be repaired, cleaned up, and simply re-stained.  We enjoy this too.

Singer Sewing Machine Desk- Not everything gets painted

Singer Sewing Machine Desk- Not everything gets painted

However, universally what we don’t do is pick up rare antiques that are in very good to excellent condition and slap a coat of paint on them.  Instead, we are repairing and painting items that we believe can be enhanced and updated with a painted finish.

What I find especially interesting about the painted furniture naysayers is that they seem to forget that people have been painting old furniture for generations- this is not a new “fad.”  I remember the desk in my childhood bedroom- my parents (probably my mother” “antiqued” it blue.  The desk in my dad’s den had also been antiqued by my parents.  On the other side of the family, when my mother-in-law passed away we received a great old library table that had been from her high school library.  When the school either remodeled or when the later closed, she apparently purchased the table and antiqued it.

[For those of you who are too young to remember  to to have seen the antiquing projects of the 1970’s, our parents would paint an item with a base coat of latex paint- for my desk, it was white.  When a thinner coat of either paint for glaze was painted over the base coat- for my desk this was a sky blue- and then the second coat was wiped off [much like apply stain these days]  then for the final touch, darker colored speckles were added to the final project for some reason.]  Much like painting furniture today, antiquing was apparently quite the fashion rage in the 70s.

My mother-in-law had previously antiqued this table in the 1970s!

My mother-in-law had previously antiqued this table in the 1970s!

So why the back lash today over painting furniture?  Heck, it’s just paint.  With a bit of work and elbow grease it can undone- it’s not like you’re getting a tattoo, LOL!

Now, with all this being said, I would agree that some items simply should not be painted…

  • valuable antiques- if you’re not sure of an item’s value, check around, maybe consider having the appraised.  It’s a ‘priceless’ antique, then NO-YOU SHOULDN’T PAINT IT
  • furniture that has sentimental value- the ones where you are worried that dear departed Aunt Millie will come back and haunt you if you take a paint brush to it
We got this wood and marble top table when my mother-in-law passed away.  I cannot bring myself to painting it even though I don't care for the wood finish.

We got this wood and marble top table when my mother-in-law passed away. I cannot bring myself to painting it even though I don’t care for the wood finish.

Other than these two general rule, I say paint away- it’s not the end of the world!

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