This is going to sound crazy, but hear me out. We don’t always paint everything. Gasp! It’s true! Before you go shouting treason and blasphemy let us explain ourselves…

We love painted furniture, we couldn’t be in this line of work and not like it. But there’s times when we want to keep the wood, to embrace the warmth of beautifully stained and perfectly varnished wood.

primitive furniture

We recently had a customer come in who loved a piece of furniture she had. She lovingly refinished it years ago, but now it just didn’t fit her style. The color of the stain didn’t coordinate well with the style of the room, it was a reddish oak stain mixed with cool greys and cool whites. Yikes, I could see from the pictures something had to change. Thing is, she loved the wood amongst all the painted pieces. So we thought of some ways she could reach a happy medium –

  1. Leave the drawers unpainted. This is an easy way to break up all the wood. Conversely, you could paint the drawers and leave the body unpainted. This technique is great if there are imperfections on one or the other you want to hide. Whether it’s damage, lifting veneer, or a mismatched drawer, paint can easily hide those blemishes where stain and varnish cannot.

milk paint black

dresser turned vanity

2. Leave the top of the furniture unpainted. This works great for tables, sideboards, dressers…really anything with a top. Also great for shelves in a bookcase. Paint the body, sides, and back, but leave the shelves their glorious wood selves.

painted sideboard

3. Stencil. Just the drawers, the top, the sides, anywhere you like! This is also a great way to introduce a pop of color.

old white stencil

Here’s when we decide not to leave the wood, and painting is a better option:

-The veneer is lifted and peeling off, and cannot be repaired

-The wood itself is in poor condition and can’t be revived via sanding, i.e. badly stained

-If there are carved or intricate details that would need to be refinished (it’s soooo much work!)

-The veneer is too thin to refinish

So what do you think? Are we still blasphemous for suggesting not to paint everything?

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Life on the coast of Maine

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