Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Beauty of Stain

The phrases "I've been around the block a few times" and  
"It's not my first time at the rodeo." come to mind when I think about this painted furniture craze. 
Yes, I know, I said craze.

And yes, 
 I have painted my share of furniture in the last two years.
I love, love my painted pieces.  
They were ho hum and I thought they would look cute painted white and they do.

I was late to the party because 
my husband was pretty against painting good wood furniture and 
I watched my parents spend hours refinishing stuff that had been painted. 

Here is the thing.
Stained wood furniture appears to be the step child in the home furnishing world these days. 
I can say step child because I come from a blended family. ;)

Look at that inlaid key hole?

To be Pin-worthy everything has to be painted. 
I was reading a big blog today and the post talked about how some chairs were going to be painted.
 Let me tell you the chairs were gorgeous as they were. 
Drop, dead gorgeous! 
 But, I am sure they will be painted.

 Everything is being painted.
This design style is huge. 
It has been my experience when something is this huge, widespread, popular and "everywhere" that it will go out. 
Not just sort of unpopular - OUT. 
Anybody else remember country blue and mauve?

Well I do and it took forever to get it out of my house.
It was huge. 
It was a craze!
Every since then I have been wary of design aesthetics that are that incredibly popular.
I may have a painted a piece or two but I refuse to go all out, full boar with the trend because it is that- a trend.

Antique Spice Cabinet- My first heirloom.

What happened to appreciating beautiful wood finishes?
The patina that only comes with time, use and age?

Look at the scratches from opening the drawer.

Since when did we stop seeing wood furniture as beautiful?

I get why we would paint stuff that is broken or from the 70's or 80's. It is dated and out of style and it wasn't good furniture to begin with. 
I have seen some blog posts where people are contemplating painting beautiful antiques.
Thankfully a few of been talked out of it. 

This trunk is from the back of an old car or wagon. 

 Haven't we all seen Antique's Roadshow?
We all know what happens to the value once a piece has been refinished.

I admit that sometimes since I have been blogging, I have been a little like a sheep following along with the trend. I realized pretty quickly that a post showcasing a cute white piece received much more traffic than a post about a stained one.
I think we can all see how prevalent the trend is by hopping around looking at different blogs and visiting blog parties. 
The trend may have even started in blogland. 

Here are some things to think about before you wield the paintbrush.
  • Is is a family heirloom?
  • Is it valuable?
  • Is it over 100 years old?
  • Is it signed by a famous furniture maker?
  • Would my parents have stripped it? (haha)
  • If it is a mishmash of finishes, then paint it. 
  • If you are trying to blend a mishmash of different furniture styles in one room, painting a piece or two will bring cohesiveness to the room. 
  • A stained piece in an all white room adds depth and contrast.
  • Ask yourself if it is beautiful as is. 
  • Some of the furniture from the 70's, 80's and even from the depression tended to be a lower grade. 
  • The economy was prospering in the post war years so that furniture tends to be a better quality.  
  • The bottom line is that it is up to your taste and your style, I just hate seeing beauty covered under paint.  

I think I've loved antiques long enough and since "I have been to this dance before", I know that stained furniture will come back into style. I, for one, will be sorry that I won't be able to find any antiques that haven't been painted.
Have I been banished from blogland? 



  1. Well Katie - I'm one of the guilty ones lol - I paint everything - BUT I have to say I don't think I've ever painted a family heirloom - everything my paint brush touches sorely needed it - and since I sell what I do I have to do what sells...........
    Having said that I know it's a craze - I keep saying Annie Sloan will invent a magical stripper in 10 years - once North America has painted every piece of furniture - and we'll all be buying that - to bring it back to wood LMHO............I think it's all part of the plan :)

    1. Haha. I agree. I keep looking at the few I have painted and I dread stripping them someday.

  2. I am in agreement with you. I would only paint something if it wasn't of value in one way or another. The biggest reason for me would be my fear of ruining it. Now I have a chest of drawers that we bought when we first got married. The wood has yellowed significantly and I think I will paint it. There is a blogger who seriously made me cringe when she painted some pieces that I wouldn't have touched. In the end though, it's gorgeous. She made the right move.

    1. I know. Some are so beautiful though it is a shame to paint those.
      I have a couple of things that I thought I should paint and then wondered if I was crazy to think it.

  3. I'm with you on this, Katie. I have lots of wood pieces in my home, and I think they add a richness. I don't think they will never go out of style. My house is mostly in the traditional style, so most painted furniture wouldn't fit in. I do admire, though, when I see how beautiful some of the repainted projects turn out. I agree that if they are truly in bad condition or not a valuable piece, and you can upcycle it, then why not? I've got an entire set of pine furniture in a guest room that looks so dated, and I really don't like it. I keep toying with the idea of painting it, but I'm afraid I'll ruin it. I wish I had the patience to strip it and stain it in a richer color, and at least, keep it looking like wood!

  4. I agree with you completely on the painted craze !!! I can't afford the time or the $$ for every trend that comes along. Anyway, I'm a bit of a rebel and just decorate the way our family likes it. We have some fabulous pieces of antique oak furniture that was family pieces and I just can't imagine covering up that gorgeous oak with paint !! :^) I say just stick to the classics and you can never be out of style !

  5. I agree, Katie. I do love the mix of stained and painted wood together in a room, though. Most of the pieces I've painted really are more "junk" pieces-not worth much in painted OR stained condition- haha. I do have some pieces I would never consider painting. The bottom line is people will do whatever they like the "look" of in their homes, and live and learn in the process. I love your photos, and your wood pieces are warm and beautiful and timeless!