Don’t hold back–color it bright!
Thrift shops and resale stores are filled with solid wood furniture, most of it brown.
Brown as in natural wood, often with fairly glossy finishes. I’ve never looked at the potential for painting this furniture and therefore bringing it up to date, for two reasons.
First, I started buying furniture in the Eighties, a time when original finishes were sacrosanct. You just didn’t paint golden oak or walnut or mahogany. Second, I thought painting these finished pieces would be a pain–that they had to be sanded or scuffed up in order to take the paint.
Well, I was wrong. I still wouldn’t paint a beautiful piece of golden oak or walnut or cherry. But you know, a lot of the furniture from the second half of the last century is so boring, not to mention ugly. And any life to the wood is buried beneath the finish–it’s depressing.
Recently, I’ve seen several pieces of this type of furniture painted in rich colors. It looks great. And I’ve learned it’s not that big a deal to prepare the surfaces for painting, even if they are somewhat glossy.
That brown dresser in the photo? It’s the same one pictured at the top of this post, painted a glamorous, glossy red. I found it on TheResplendentCrow.com, where Sucheta gives tips on turning ugly, boring brown furniture into pieces to be proud of. For example, she used Tulip Red by Fine Paints of Europe to get this gorgeous, rich red with a high shine. Generally, she said, “it takes 13 million coats of red paint” to achieve that finish. This job took only two coats of the Tulip Red.
“Red pigment is very transparent. Not only that, red also tends to be very dull, lackluster, meh…you get my point,” she says. “I won’t be exaggerating if I said this is the most vibrant red I have gotten my hands on.”
Traditionalists argue for thoroughly sanding the furniture before painting. Modernists (in my view) say that isn’t necessary–a coat of Kilz or primer should make the finish coat adhere just fine. If you want a flat finish, you can either use “chalk” paint, or just regular flat paint.
What I will say is: Go for it! Glamorize a desk, a dresser or a bookshelf. Change the hardware, add legs or take ’em off. Follow Sucheta’s lead: Transform that ugly brown furniture and make it yours. The world will thank you.
The Resale Evangelista is dedicated to simplifying, clarifying and creating a more artful life by getting rid of stuff she doesn’t need and making the rest more useful and beautiful.