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To Paint or Not to Paint

Do you like to paint wood furniture? I know some people are super adamant that beautiful wood should never be painted. I get that. I’ve bought some small wood pieces for the purpose of painting them, but when I saw the beautiful wood grain, I couldn’t do it.

But, I do love painted furniture. And painting it! It doesn’t have to be furniture, it could be cabinets or doors or shelves.

A lifetime ago, I lived in a house with dark molding and doors. It wasn’t wood. It was some kind of wannabe. I hated it and wanted to paint them so badly. But I knew, since they weren’t wood, it probably wouldn’t be an easy process. Finally, I went to the paint store to talk to them. The paint guy (probably new at the job) told me I could simply paint right over it with your everyday kind of paint. No primer, nothin’! I was suspicious. but excited! He did sell me paint.

With all that dark plastic painted white – it was beautiful! For a few days and then I noticed whenever we bumped into the painted surface – scratch. Moved furniture – scratch. Brought in groceries – scratch. You get the idea. But it was a done deal.

I Found You a Little Goodie

To save you that heartache I found this handy little guide from Lowes  – my favorite store – on how to paint just about anything.

painted cabinets

Once upon a time, our favorite home dec magazines were filled with painted furniture that was perfect. Not a brush stroke in sight, and certainly no sanding the edges! Now, magazine spreads are full of the wonders of distressed painted wood, and distressed wood sans paint. To achieve that look, slop the paint on and sand it. Hit it with a chain, pound it with a hammer and then smear watery brown glaze over it and wipe most of it off.  Sand it. Sand it again. We want our painted wood pieces to look like there is a story in them.

painted steps

The amount of distress we visit on our painted wood depends on our personal preferences which range from rustic to primitive to shabby chic. The point is to make these pieces look like they’ve been handed down over the generations.

“My blue kitchen stool used to belong to my Great Grandma. Great Grandpa built it for her when they came to America, because they had to leave most of the furniture he built behind. My aunt had it in her kitchen for several years; I remember sitting on it when she made cookies. Then, it came to live in my house. And I couldn’t be happier. It’s like having the presence of family here.”

unpainted old bench
But some wood is meant to be just what is it and nothing more.

And so we lovingly work on our painted wood pieces, adding personality to them and inviting them to live in our homes. These pieces are the beginning of the legacy and will be handed down through the generations to come. Maybe. Or! We might just re-paint them for an entirely new look. It’s even possible that someday we’ll go through the work of removing all that paint and sand the wood smooth once again.

Are you a wood painter or a wood polisher?


Author: Karen

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