Everywhere you turn, everyone and their Mama is painting furniture. It’s become so popular that even places like Home Goods have been biting off of the “DIY furniture” look. If you were to stand them side-by-side, you’d probably not be able to tell the difference (until you pull the drawer open, only to have the cheapie Home Goods one nearly fall over. HA!).
So it’s kind of counterintuitive for me to ask, but….
Is Painted Furniture Dead?
I confess that I’ve been doing less furniture painting projects.
There are a couple reasons why I’ve been painting less furniture even though I know people love them so much.
First, I am running out of places to put my pieces. I started this blog when we moved into our old 1973 house and it needed fixing up and rooms filled. I ran off to the thrift store to find all the best pieces I could refinish and put into our home (see my project gallery).
Well, now that rooms are getting full and since I don’t sell my pieces (and because my garage is looking like something from Hoarders: DIY Blogger Style), well, I have been focusing more on making smaller crafts (like this DIY drink holder and my pretty little DIY wooden notebook) that take up less space. I still do furniture, just not quite so much.
But I admit that painted furniture was beginning to bother me.
Everywhere I looked, there was painted furniture online–people slapping coats of paint on something, roughing it up with big patches of sandpaper, slathering on dark wax to make it look old and dirty and calling it artistic. Pretty soon, it all just started to look the same and I wasn’t as inspired anymore. I began turning to more creative outlets like learning to make stuff with power tools so that I could expand my creativity beyond just painting thrifted furniture.
And I started getting a little bored with it.
But Then This Happened…
I met Amy Howard.
You may not have heard of her, but she’s the Amy behind Amy Howard at Home brand of furniture paints.
She had invited me and 14 other bloggers to her house (yes, her house!! ) and to her studio for a painting workshop in Memphis, Tennessee. I was excited–not just to see my blogger buddies, but to meet the woman that has been inspiring bloggers with her book called A Maker’s Guide, which is a must-have for any creative person who wants to start a business using her creative gifts.
The Most Awesome “Little” DIY House
Amy had invited us to her house for drinks and finger foods, and to give us a tour of her home.
When I first walked in, I felt like I was walking onto the pages of House Beautiful or something. It didn’t feel like a house I could ever create because it seemed too perfect (where were the LEGOS and fingerprints on the walls?!). It was funny how she kept saying the house was “little” and is the transition house while she and her husband build their farmhouse because the house seemed big and spacious to all of us!
But what I learned was amazing: Amy and her husband had gutted the whole house themselves and everything in the home was either “rescued” (her word) or built by her and her husband.
Here was a successful businesswoman who loved old things just like me.
…Who loved to build, like me.
…Who had built this bed in her bedroom (which I was so afraid I’d spill red wine all over!) and painted it to look amazingly expensive (she even built these stools!).
….Who used her own brand of vibrant lacquer spray to make her bathroom “POP.”
She even put up these awesome shutters to hide her food pantry!
She built this armoire in her bedroom, too, and I think she painted (or maybe stained) it.
And the walls were covered in piping and fabric, with padding underneath!
Her bathroom was equally gorgeous. She told us she chose the cheapest floor tile she could find, but when placed in a herringbone pattern, it made it look expensive.
And she designed and built these oak dressers, too, and used liming wax on them to bring out the grain, keeping them natural.
I believe she also built or rescued those stools and painted them, too.
The following day we went to her studio and learned some awesome furniture painting techniques, such as how to use dust of ages and wax to age furniture.
But I left her house and that workshop feeling inspired.
I left learning techniques that truly transformed a piece into something so beautiful that it looked like it belonged in House Beautiful.
I left feeling like I could now do something more than just “paint furniture,” but I could really make it look extraordinary.
I also learned that sometimes you don’t have to paint a piece of furniture to make it beautiful.
So…No…Painted Furniture Isn’t Dead
But I do think it’s changing.
No longer is furniture painting about just adding a couple coats and walking away proud.
That would be like applying foundation to your face and forgetting to add the blush, lipstick, mascara…then saying you’re ready for the ball. HA!
It’s about the finishes…that extra “oomph” that you give a piece.
And that’s what I have been bored with–that lack of “oomph” that furniture painting in the DIY industry.
UPDATE: More Stripped and Natural Projects
Because my love of natural wood has grown (check out Understanding Wood: 7 Things You MUST Know Before You Refinish or Build Your Next Project), I’ve been doing many more projects with wood.
This mid-century modern dresser would have been ruined with paint. Instead, I stripped it back to its original beauty.
I also love to use paint on the body, but keep the tops natural, like this eat-in kitchen table makeover using Beyond Paint.
In my opinion, painted furniture is here to stay, but again, it’s not about adding a coat of paint and calling it a day. It’s about going above and beyond to bring out wood’s natural beauty when you can, and when wood needs to be painted, you can use any one of these furniture paints to achieve a pretty painted look.
So What Do YOU Think?
Do you think that painted furniture it dead? Or do you feel excited about the next generation of products and techniques that are going to take furniture painting to the next level?
Leave a comment below and add to the conversation!
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