For many of us, painting natural wood is considered either difficult or forbidden; these views are understandable and have been handed down for generations. In the past, people did not paint furniture of good quality and workmanship; it took valuable time and resources to do so; in Victorian times, it simply wasn’t done. As furnishing were passed down, they may have been revered as family treasures, and to paint them would be to dishonor them. As these pieces were passed down further, such feelings became less important and more distant; and painting was more acceptable and in vogue.
Not much has changed today. Pieces that hold fond memories from a favorite aunt or grandmother still may be left untouched. However, if you have such a piece, have grown tired of it, but still can’t part with it, and know that the next generation is not interested in it, why not consider giving it new life and paint it?
Painting often is dismissed as a solution because it is considered time consuming and difficult; thoughts of stripping the piece are shunned. It is true that painting is time consuming, but painting is not so difficult; taken step by step, it is really quite easy. If you consider it boring, plug in a book or your favorite music on your CD player; being entertained while doing a task you have been putting off, makes it enjoyable and a new hobby might be born.
Once a piece has reached the end of its life cycle for me, I think first of reusing it in another way or place in my home or yard; doing so usually involves recovering the fabric portion or painting the piece, sometimes removing or adding ornamentation. If I can’t reuse the piece, I offer it to a family member; if there are no takers, I move down the line, friends, associates and charities.
I remember my mother-in-law telling me how exciting it was when painting furniture was in vogue. Living with furniture from previous generations was oppressive; such furniture often was dark and dated, and the freedom to paint it gave the family a lift, like coming out of a depression.
The pendulum swings back and forth in both fashion and interior design. We experience it daily in print and television shows, as we see what was old is new again. Take, for example, the renewed interest in Mid-Century Modern and the juxtaposition of a Victorian piece, or the mod-textile prints popular in the 1970’s, placed in a more contemporary setting. In some cases, a little paint and color can go a long way. Today there is a plethora of colors as opposed to what was available a few decades ago.