Friday, January 28, 2011

Paint Antiques - Yes or No?

How do you feel about antiques?  Are you quick to paint them and never think twice or are you like me and picture them painted, but can never go through with it?  I once heard Design Star Emily Henderson say that she doesn't paint anything older than 20 years.  For me, it depends on whether it is a "nice" piece or not.  I actually have a couple of pieces that would be amazing painted, but call me chicken.  One solution that I can live with is painting or wallpapering the interior.  This way you preserve the original piece, but you give it a fresh new look allowing the contents of the shelves to stand out a little more.  Here are some examples.

House Beautiful
 Southern Living via Green Street
Life in the Fun Lane
House Beautiful
Lonny
 Southern Accents

I suppose if you still can't bring yourself to do this, you could have a piece of plywood or maybe luan cut to fit and paint or wallpaper it leaving your antique untouched.  What do you think?  Would you paint an antique?

51 comments :

  1. I appreciate the beauty of wood and wouldn't think of painting some of the pieces that I see on blogs that have been painted. That said, I would paint a piece that wasn't particularly valuable.

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  2. I would love to paint them. Alas, I have a husband that thinks that would be a crime. Why do mean love wood so much?

    Great post and I love reading your blog.

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  3. Rene, I like this post. Since I'm very fickle, I think I would opt for a piece of plywood cut to size and painted. But, it also depends how much I spent on the piece. If it was a craigslist find, I would probably have no qualms painting it, but if it was a true antique, I'm not so sure.

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  4. I was given a piece of furniture that was my grandma's and was in my mom's bedroom as she was growing up. Over the years, family really beat it up and had it hidden away in a storage room. I was scared to touch it -- but am so glad I did. I looove it and everyday, it reminds me of my grandma: http://jgvanillabean.blogspot.com/2010/11/vanilla-bean-office-reveal.html

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  5. Paint it - live in the now and make it work for your space, if that means paint, then paint. Go with your gut and make the best use of the piece, that may be more valuable than the piece itself.

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    Replies
    1. OMGSH! Seriously amazing post! Thank you....very "freeing". I will tuck this away in my heart. :)

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  6. Never!!! Ok, not never, but I find that over time, the wood is more classic and works with everything as my style changes. I've even stripped family antiques down that were painted and returned them to wood. I feel like such a rebel in our paint-loving design world these days!

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  7. I might have a hard time painting "family" pieces...other than that I would paint it!!! Love all of your images!! Happy Friday!

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  8. I think either way is fine. But you know my favorite is paint!!! And come on, did you not see what Janell did to the dresser that use to be her grandmothers? Painted it with red chalkboard paint! Now, I wouldn't paint every single piece I get my hands on, but I also wouldn't have a lot of antiques laying around my home either. I don't think it takes away from anything (me personally). I think it just depends on the look you want in your home:-)

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  9. Oh, and Happy Firday Rene!

    Haope you have a great weekend!

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  10. If I don't have an emotional attachment to a piece I don't even think twice about painting wooden antiques. I do have a small hutch in my kitchen that was my great grandmothers and I know it would looks so fresh in white but I can't bring myself to do it. On the flip side I found a really pretty 70's writing desk at goodwill on wednesday and I can't wait till spring so i can attack it with a brush!

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  11. My daughter wouldn't give it a second thought. She would jump right in and paint it. I always love what she does to create visual energy to her home. I seem to carefully weigh things out, thinking about the investment, the wood and countless other things. In the meantime her home always looks so fresh, amazingly chic (something I love) and modern at the same time. My home looks out-dated! I agree with some of the ladies who have posted. Maybe the answer is....if I am thinking about it and I know my daughter wouldn't hesitate if she already had the piece I'm thinking about....I might as well beat her to it (laugh). Great post. I love your blog.

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  12. I come across this dilemma every so often, sometimes I have actually had to refuse to paint something a client wanted painted. Sometimes though, if the piece is just really ugly as is, and you know a new color would give it new life, then I say go for it. I also let the quality of the wood dictate my decision.

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  13. I'm afraid I do this all the time, but nothing precious or priceless - mostly flea market finds! Great post!

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  14. I'm like Sarah, above, if I have an emotional attachment, I can't paint the piece. We recently inherited DH's Great Aunt's Dining Room furniture. When I reupholstered the chairs, I never gave a thought to painting them, because the pieces have history. However the Craigslist nightstand I picked up is already sporting 2 coats of paint.

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  15. i am with you- it depends on the quality and condition, and also the rarity of the piece itself. but i love me some painted furniture!
    sometimes though, pieces just need updating with a darker or lighter stain- i have done a few pieces ina more espresso tone to update them, too.

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  16. I'm with Eddie Ross on this one-- there are different values of wood, and if it wasn't "good" when it was made, I don't mind painting it. I love, love, painted furniture, though. I have painted tons of furniture for our house, as well as our old, stained hardwoods upstairs, and it so fits our cottage and lifestyle.

    PS-- Just realized we live in the same city! I will look for your beautiful blue front door-- and we should have a thrift date sometime!

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  17. These pieces I would not have painted, but I have no problem painting anything if I think it will look better. If painting on top of a finish, it can easily be stripped.
    Beautiful images, Rene.
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    Teresa
    xoxo

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  18. It depends on the piece. I think it is really important to have some wood in every room!

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  19. What a hard question! I think that so many things get such an updated look if they have a fresh coat of paint ... But I'm not sure I could paint a family heirloom! Things found at estate sales? Fair game! :)

    I posted about you on my blog today! Hope you'll stop by to check it out! :)

    -Lauren
    www.thepaintedcottageonline.blogspot.com

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  20. I guess it depends on the piece, sometimes new life needs to be breathed into it and sometimes it is beautiful as is. I sway towards painting most times though.

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  21. It depends on the condition of the piece, for me. I have a dresser that was passed down that I will never paint...only out of sentiment. I lean towards painting most things but I like the mix of wood and painted furniture. The photos you've shown lead me to say, "no paint". They look beautiful "as is"!

    Happy weekend to you!
    ~Michelle
    :)

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  22. Great things to think about, Rene. I think paint can refresh something that feels tired and just old--or inexpensive and lacking personality. On the other hand, if the piece was beautifully made and has been preserved, then the wood will shine on its own and I wouldn't touch it!

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  23. I probably wouldn't. I am way too chicken. I love the patina of old wood. I did install beadboard inside the bookcases though, and I love it. Hugs, Marty

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  24. While I love painted furniture, there are some pieces that should not be painted if you want to preserve their value. But, if you don't care about it's value ~ paint away!!

    Love,
    Susan and Bentley
    xxoo

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  25. I can see why some would hesitate, but I would probably paint it if I had one!

    Happy Friday, Rene...

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  26. I have to admit,
    I'm in your camp.
    Unless it was really
    hideous, I'd leave
    the outside alone.
    I love the Lonny pic.
    What a fun way to
    bring a modern sensibility
    to an antique piece!
    xx Suzanne

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  27. GO FOR IT , Paint It

    You know you have to love painted furniture to get it done

    I love painted furniture

    Janice

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  28. I would not paint an antique piece that was inherited. I like leaving pieces that are family heirlooms as is, but something I may have found at a store that I have no emotional attachment to I'd probably pull out the paint in a split second :) Although sometimes I wonder if the next generation will look back at the painted furniture pieces and think- why on Earth did they paint this?

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  29. It really depends on the piece but for the most part, I appreciate the beauty of wood and shudder to think of painting some of the pieces that I have or have seen painted. I would not have a problem painting a piece that is not particularly valuable. I like the idea of using paper, firm cardboard or wood and that way it can be changed out to suit my whim of the moment. A lot easier than stripping something that had been painted!

    ~ Tracy

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  30. i say do what you want. paint or no paint. if you own a antique that you don't love, but would love if it was painted a bright color or a crisp white... then paint it. honestly, a piece of furniture holds no value {to you} unless you love it. i wouldn't worry about it's re-sale value, because if you love it you're not going to sell it anyway!

    my theory in life is "i enjoy what i have". if i'm to worried about using something (or painting something) because it might break or lose it's value then i have no business owning it in the first place. what's the point of owning something if you can't enjoy it. i use this theory for everything... my china, my rugs, my furniture... if it breaks-it breaks... if it's ruined-it's ruined. at least i enjoyed it while i had it :)

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  31. Rene, love your post today, I know I paint EVERYTHING... But I do know what NOT to paint, and sense I will never own a real Antique I say paint to your heart's content... Happy Weekend.

    Pattie

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  32. I'm on the fence! I have an antique secretary from my mom. The finish is pretty beat up. I know myself. I know I don't have the time or the inclination to completely refinish it. I love the lines of the piece, but I just can't see myself painting it yet...mostly b/c I'm not sure what color. Putting a paper up on the inside would be a nice quick fix!

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  33. Depends on the piece. If the wood isn't beautiful and it is less than 100 years old..I vote to paint it.

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  34. Good question, Rene'! For the most part, NO! I have some pieces that I would never paint. (I like the idea of papering a piece of foam or something, and putting that in the background.) But, if something is in really bad shape, then go for it!

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  35. I love painted furniture. I like things painted probably in general more than the original wood. That said, I won't paint a valuable antique. I will paint an antique if the wood is in bad shape or if it is not am expensive piece to begin with. Like my dining room furniture that I'm in the middle of painting now. I knew when I went shopping for dining room furniture that I wanted a set from the 20's or 30's and I was going to paint it. So I looked for furniture that wasn't super nice. It has all the lines and details I wanted but it's not super nice wood and it had already been painted once...so no big deal painting it again.

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  36. Love the photos - whether you want to paint or not is personal...I'm re-inspired by these desks. My mom has one....not painted and I never thought I might want to own it....now I'm thinking yes.

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  37. It really depends on the piece...I have done it to some pieces that were in bad condition.

    Blessings,
    Linda

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  38. I am JUST like you! Love them but can't commit. I worry I will tire of the painted piece much faster for some reason. Which makes no sense since I have furniture (not antiques) that I've painted and like them still, some 12 years old at this point.

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  39. While I appreciate the character of antiques, I'm not much of a collector myself so I've not had this dilemma. I say paint if you really like the piece. If, in it's travels it's found it's way into YOUR home, it has to fit the way you live today. :)

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  40. I love the look but could never bring myself to do it. How painting an insert like you said?

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  41. It depends on the piece for me and what kind of condition it is in. But from the looks of Pottery Barn, etc., if that is an accurate indicator, I think stained wood is coming back into vogue. I've always loved just the patina of stained wood.
    Brenda

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  42. When hubby and I were first married we started buying antiques, refinishing them, and furnishing our house with them...Those are pieces I can never paint....Things I buy now, usually second hand items, I'll paint and never think twice. Great post!!

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  43. I have a hard time painting antiques as well. I just inherited a family roll-top desk that could stand a paint job, but it's been in the family since my father was a kid. It even has the sweet child name carvings in it from when my grandparents weren't looking! So I can't bring myself to paint it, even thought it would look a LOT better.

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  44. if it's a true antique(over a hundred years old) I would have a bit of an issue painting it.... I've watched way too many Antique Roadshows where they tell the person their antique piece of furniture would have been worth $350,000 BUT since it was refinished/painted it's now worth $3500! If it's a nice piece it always devalues it (same with refinishing anything)..... put love the paper on boards inside the piece idea!!

    joan

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  45. I've been working up the nerve for three years now, to paint the big old knotty-pine hutch (two glass doors) built by my Dad in 1956 to match the dining room they'd just built. It even has the fluty boards of the inch-thick paneling.

    I think it would take gallons of KILZ to get these knots into submission, and of course, I start about NOW, every year---thinking "as soon as it's SPRING."

    I've had the cream paint and the china knobs for ages now, and still don't know what I'll do with these foot-wide black stable hinges.

    I KNOW I can do it. It's just getting up the energy and the gumption to get this thing out in the yard and wash off all the years of smokers' yellow.

    Think good thoughts.

    rachel

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  46. It definitely depends on the condition. If there is something there to save and bring out the beauty in other ways then I try to save it. You can always just use foam core for the backing too. Much easier to fit!

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  47. It all depends on the quality of the piece. (I used to import Swedish antiques). I painted my chest navy blue (not exactly a museum piece). I love it!

    http://splendidwillow.com/2010/06/01/my-home-the-chest-is-now-blue/

    But it will stay in the house 4ever. I am not so sure anyone else would want to buy it -- which is something to think about when you paint ANY furniture.

    I am your latest follower!

    ox, Mon

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  48. I say paint...if it is not a priceless antique. I love the idea of painting the inside whether it is an antique or not. Love some of those pictures!

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  49. It really depends.

    I got a beautiful old highboy last year and intended to paint it creamy white. My husband and kind of argued about it, and he convinced me to try sanding and staining (he did all the work ...) and lo and behold, it turned out magnificent. I can't imagine it painted. now.

    I just picked up a (not very valuable) antique for the nursery I'm putting together and I really want to paint this one. Too much dark and too much dark wood in the room. So we'll see.

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