Archive for May, 2009

A Thank You To All My Readers

Monday, May 4th, 2009
Carole Romano

Carole Romano

I just wanted to thank all my readers and hope you are enjoying reading these tidbits of decorating ideas. I enjoy sharing them and hope you find some useful information and go out an rescue some interesting antique pieces yourself. No time for do-it-yourself, then check out my website or stop in my shops and say hello. I will match you up with a perfect treasure to adopt for your home.
Looking to learn more about a topic I haven’t covered, drop me a line and I will consider adding it to the blog.

Shabby and Fabulous, Painted Furniture

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009
White Painted Tea Table

White Painted Tea Table

From Shabby to Fabulous
In earlier articles I wrote about honoring the integrity of antiques, of not over restoring or changing the original finishes on antique furniture. In quality antiques, the original finish is a great part of the value and rarity of the item.
But what about the not so rare, valuable or just plain old good used furniture? With these types of items we definitely can get creative and have some fun. Painted furniture has been popular for a long time and can fit into many styles of decor. It was used in all the different eras as a way to dress up inexpensive woods, that finished in a traditional way had very little excitement or beauty because of a lack of grain or the ability to take on a hard high finish. Victorian Eastlake furniture many times was made of pine, painted in a base paint color that looked like walnut and then handpainted decorations of leaves and flowers were added to dress up the piece, this style was called “cottage furniture”, actually an early forerunner of the current “Shabby Chic” style which is so popular.
Whether you plan on doing an entire room of white painted furniture or just want to add a few pieces of painted furniture , here are some tips and ideas:

1. Find a piece of furniture that has the lines, shape, size and style that you want. Examine the piece carefully, make sure it is structurally sound, no cracks or spilts in the wood, legs, arms, seats, ect. or solid. Drawers work, doors aren’t warped and feet aren’t rotting. Minor repairs can be done if need be, but save the labor intensive stuff for the painting and decorating of the piece. There are many great places to find pieces of furniture to paint: flea markets, estate sales, tag sales, thrift stores, used furniture stores and roadside freebies.
2. Decide what type of finish will work best for your decorating scheme. Is this going to be an accent piece that will be totally different from what is already in the room? Or is this piece going to coordinate and blend in, in color or style with furnishings already in the room?

Assuming the piece you have rescued is already painted, use a putty knife to remove any loose paint, clean the piece with an all purpose cleaner to remove any grease, soil, ect. anything that will prevent the paint from adhering properly. Sometimes I will use 0000 steel wool with the cleaner to remove years of built up grime. Once the piece is clean and dry, any needed repairs or tightening up is done, you are ready to begin painting.

For a allover solid paint finish giving complete coverage for a look that looks like “new” your piece must be free of all bumps, dings, crackling old paint, old drips, blemishes, dents, anything that will prevent you getting a smooth surface. This requires sanding and filling of holes with wood putty or filler. Next after the surface is blemish free, apply a primer according to directions. After the primer is dry you can begin the painting process. My feeling is if you want a perfect like “new” finish, wouldn’t you be better off just purchasing a brand new piece of furniture, for the amount of work involved to get a piece totally blemish free?

If your piece has an old crackled finish and you wish to keep that aged look but just change the color or add color, skip the sanding, the priming steps, just make sure any loose paint is removed, leave the imperfections, (that’s what gives the piece it’s character and charm) using a brush working in one direction only, apply a light coat of paint to a small area, while the paint is still wet, you can experiment and with a rag wipe some of the paint off, allowing the remaining paint to seep into the cracks of the old finish. You are removing lightly a small amount of paint from the top flat surfaces. You can get creative and use a darker or different color for the cracks, wiping it away from the top flat surfaces. I have also used India black ink to color the cracks, wiping away the excess, allowing it to dry and then applying a top coat of light or white color paint which doesn’t cover the darker cracks completely. Doing this style of crackling, you have to work fast to wipe before the paint before it dries. You can apply more coats to achieve the look you desire. Remember to work in small areas, apply a light thin coat of paint or use a glaze, stop and wipe while wet, then move on. These is an aged crackle look, like broken eggshells. I use this look when the piece has the crackled or orange peel look already. To me it is not worth the work to sand it completely off or strip it, I just go with it.

A piece that is stained, should be cleaned, “roughed up” with steel wool or fine sand paper and a primer applied. A piece I just did, I used a combination primer/paint, it took 3 coats, going white over dark walnut stain, was maddening while I was doing it, keep finding spots that needed more coverage, but was worth it when the piece was finished. See photo. This piece is now for sale in our Collinsville Shop.

For the “Shabby Chic” look, there are several ways to achieve it. You can paint the pieces solid white covering the finish completely. It will require a couple of coats. If you are working with a piece that is stained, use steel wool to rough up the finish, then apply a primer or a combination primer/paint, this will require about 3 coats. After the piece is completely dry, you can enjoy it as it is or look at it as a blank canvas, to get creative by maybe hand painting a floral design in a focal point like the center back of a chair, a drawer front,, a center or a border around a table top. Timid about hand painting, use a stencil, or use decals (I have seen some great floral ones on Ebay) or decoupage some favorite pictures that are following a theme such as birds, flowers, ect. I have been saving some old magazines to cut up for decoupaging. I have plans for an old kidney shaped wooden vanity table that has a top that has seen better days, I plan to paint it all over with white paint and then on the top decoupage 1940’s ads of expensive perfumes that I have collected from vintage Vanity Fair and Architectural Digest magazines. After the ads are glued to the top of the vanity, I will cover the ads with a few coats of clear polyurethane to seal and protect the decorated top. Note: The vanity came out so good with the white paint, top looks like new, I didn’t do the decoupage look but left it just simply all white. This piece is also in our Collinsville shop now. Phot upon request.

Another “Shabby” look is to paint an all over base paint color and using goldleaf or gilt paint to highlight any embellishments or carvings or turnings on the piece. This gives it a “French” look, a little bit of gold adds some elegance. Here again you can experiment with wiping off or dulling the brightness of the gold. If the gold is too bright, too new looking, rubbing some bronzing powder or cigarette ashes into it while it is still wet will age it quickly. Contrasting or using an accent color paint can be used also on the embellishments or turnings also. If the piece has carvingsalong with the gold you can use black permanent marker in the crevices to create shadows, or black paint or India ink. Vary the pressure as you apply to make it look aged and somewhat worn off. Wipe some off for aging also. Remember all these techniques can be repainted if you don’t like the results till you get exactly the look you want. Like erasing your mistakes and starting fresh.

For a more primitive or aged look, if your new base coat is of a different color than the piece’s original paint color, you can use 0000 steel wool to “wear” off the new coat of paint on places where paint is normally worn off, ex. edges of tables, edges of the arms or rungs of chairs, seats of chairs, corners, tops of drawers, spots where wear is normal from use, rubbing off the top coat and having the different color under coat peeking through in these worn spots gives it an aged look by letting the different color show through. I had worked for a custom furniture maker and had learned aging techniques that would take brand new Shaker style furniture and make it look like an antique original. One style was to use a red or green base coat of milk paint and apply a new different paint color over it, ( blue over a red base was the most requested combination) After the 2 coats of the different color paint has dried, take steel wool and rub lightly over the seats of the chairs, the arms and chair rungs, all the spots of normal wear, to allow the different under color to be seen. After the desired aged effect was achieved, the item was polished with old fashioned butcher’s wax, no varnish, shellac or polyurethane was used. This is a great look for a active family, all the wear just adds to the charm of the piece.

The pleasure and advantage of painted furniture is that it works with a multitude of sins, blemishes, and wear and adding new wear areas will only add more character. It gives you the freedom to change colors and decorations so that a piece can be used in other settings and with other decorating themes. The best part of painting furniture, all mistakes can be painted over. We can rescue a cast-off and like Cinderella make it the “Belle of the Ball”.