There has been an endless hubbub about chalk paint – To paint or not to paint mum’s antique dining table and chairs or the old French dresser.
Some would argue it a travesty to paint vintage or investment furniture in a multitude of colours to create a shabby chic look or distress beautifully carved timber to look old rather than it looking the age it really is – Old.
Any reclaimed wood furniture can add a one-off signature style that reflects our own unique character in our homes, be it granny’s 1950s bureau, an old oak desk or a wooden palette that has served its transportation purpose. Many investment furniture pieces have darkened over the years with layer upon layer of varnish, however. Today’s homes are brighter and lighter than years of old, and as much as we love our internationally renowned visual artist Annie – what do we do with her kaleidoscope of trademark chalk paint?
Admire it, is a prudent start.
Any furniture, whether it’s vintage or reclaimed and repurposed, has value that matures as it ages. It tells a story like the lines around our eyes. Natural wood grain and colour is exquisite and good timber craftsmanship and joinery is an art form. To cover it up with a few licks of paint would be in essence dressing mutton up as lamb.
On the other hand, painting a piece would be good for camouflaging poor workmanship or, as happened during the war, painting prized investment furniture prevented it from being recognised and stolen.
Either way, painting beautiful furniture hides and erases its value. Some dining tables and chairs, dressers, ottomans and bureaus may not seem valuable, but their underlying value may increase over time if the natural high quality timber finish is left intact.
As one may ask an artist about his intention behind a painting, ask any carpentry craftsmen about their design intentions and they would probably sob at the thought of the precious natural grain of the timber being concealed. Making the concealer lime or magenta would probably just be seen as an insult to injury!
Bespoke furniture made from reclaimed wood or DIY paint projects can make your home your own, but unless you are semi-professional, stripping and repainting furniture can do irreversible damage to the original furniture hand-made by skilled craftsmen. A recycle of this kind means proper materials, equipment, personal safety and environmentally protective processes as well as attention to detail.
Bespoke hand crafted furniture is hard to come by in today’s mass production market. These pieces add character to your home, and over time may become antiques in their own right.
So, our verdict is this…
Chalk the door, paint the walls, cover the floor. But for timber’s sake, please don’t paint over those natural knots, imperfections and cracks!
Below is a picture of our Farmhouse Painted dining table. As you can see in this case the painting is purposeful and has been done (but not overdone) by experts to create a beautiful piece. We have only painted the legs, not the whole thing.