Painting Vintage Furniture – Yes or No?

Painting Vintage Furniture – Yes or No?

I love old furniture.

It makes me happy and I can imagine the stories that some of my favorite old pieces could tell.  But there’s always a few that have me questioning whether or not to paint it.  I have come across a few things over the years that for some reason I just can’t paint them.   It doesn’t mean I never will, just not right now. So how do you decide on painting vintage furniture?  Here’s my thoughts on this subject:

To Paint or Not to Paint

A few years ago, I went to this super cool little store down the road and spotted the most amazing, enormous buffet.  It was beautiful and the magic part was that my birthday was right around the corner – This would be the perfect gift.  And it was priced hundreds of dollars less than anything similar I had seen.  Seriously, hundreds less!  Score!   I paid for it and lovingly (aka impatiently) asked Roy to hook up the trailer so we could pick it up.  And let me tell you, it’s a beast. I can usually hold my own when we are moving furniture, but this one about put me down.

Hello birthday buffet!


Not only do I love the way it looks, but it’s super functional too.  I like for things in my house to have a designated home.  I keep towels in the big doors in the middle (let’s face it – two kids and an 80 pound dog tend to make a few messes).  It holds stationary, light bulbs?, and the big drawer at the bottom holds important papers and scrapbook stuff – which I never got around to using.

And it has escaped my paint brush for several years now.

Another piece that is probably in my top five is an old wash stand that belonged to my Great Grandmother.  I never knew her – she was my Grandma’s mom.  We were visiting my Grandma’s old farmhouse one day and there it was, just sitting – collecting dust, waiting for mice to make an apartment complex out of the inside – and it was perfect.  It even had the mirror that went with it.  My sweet Grandma said I was welcome to take it home if I wanted “that old thing”.  Yes ma’am I did.  I brought it home, cleaned it like a fool, and used Restore-A-Finish to make it shine again.  I bought some cloudy crystal knobs at Hobby Lobby during the 50% off sale and she was done.

Antique Wash Stand
This one will likely never see a paintbrush

I use the bottom area to store an assortment of glass vases and the drawer has some random candles and things.  Brown dog’s food dishes sit beside it – I’ve noticed some water spots on that side sometimes and I just recoat it with Restore-A-Finish and it’s good as new.  The chair beside it belonged to my Great Aunt Evelyn – she was downsizing into an assisted living home and wanted it to find a home.  She remembered when she bought it and I was more than honored to give it a new home.   However, don’t be fooled – that chair normally has backpacks and jackets draped all over it.

But this one didn’t escape the paint brush.

Beautiful, but too dark for the space

This piece was a major score.  A sweet friend that owns a vintage store told me about a lady that was cleaning out her Grandma’s old house.  She gave me her number and off we went to “shop”.  There were so many great pieces in the house and she just said to make her an offer.  We loaded up.  She was so sweet and kind – and generous.  I brought this one home and added it to our office.  It stayed like this for a while.  I didn’t dislike it – it was beautiful.  Beautiful lines, great legs, and lovely detail.

 But it was so close to the dark buffet in the hall and the dark floors that it just kinda got lost.  I decided on a whim one night to scour the paint stash in the garage.  Found a gallon of off the shelf Valspar antique white in satin finish and went for it.  I cleaned it good, but intentionally didn’t sand it or prime it.  I wanted it to chip and look distressed.  There were some areas that the paint literally fell right off.  Fabulous.  I loved it.  I tried my hand at waxing the top – I definitely need more practice at waxing, but I love it.  We keep office supplies in there and it gives me another place to add some “pretties” to.

Painted Antique White Buffet
Much better!

Bottom line – Don’t worry about following the “rules”.  If you love it as is, leave it.  If you want to paint it, paint it.  It’s your style, your vision, and it doesn’t have to adhere to any particular guidelines.  And the upside is, if you do paint it and change your mind, there’s always paint stripper and a lot of elbow grease.

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