Colour blocking, pops of bright paint and bolder distressed finishes – painted furniture is the daring darling of the moment.
It started with a coat of demure white paint, or a soft distressed pastel. Now, painted furniture has grown in style and boldness with one-of-a-kind pieces making a real impact in our homes. Stronger colours and even pops of neon brilliance are transforming second-hand furniture into statement pieces.
Refurbishing or upcycling old furniture is something anyone can do – often with just a lick of Resene paint. Older furniture may look dated but is often solid and well-made, so has plenty of life left. Some paint, new handles perhaps, and that chest of drawers can go from dowdy to delightful. Bargains can be found online, at garage sales and second-hand stores, often making upcycling an older piece cheaper than buying something new. Renovating and reusing furniture rather than throwing it away is kinder on the planet, much more creative and results in individual looks.
The classic distressed look is still popular but these days the traditional soft pastel base is often replaced with a much stronger or brighter colour.
This look is straightforward to create. You can have the bare wood showing beneath the colour of your choice, or you can have a base colour peeking through a top colour – as though the furniture has been repainted before and the original colour is coming through. Or both. You can then finish with a coat of Resene Aquaclear urethane to protect the furniture.
A very current approach is colour-blocking, as seen on the red and white sideboard opposite, with pieces sporting two, three, five or more different colours. The trend is for bold colours – bright yellows, hot reds and shocking pinks.
Colour blocking can be very straight forward if, using a chest of drawers as an example, the bulk of the piece is one colour and the drawers another. For the more advanced, where more than one colour is being used on a single surface, use masking tape for clean, straight lines between colours.
The trick is to paint your palest colours first as it is easier to paint dark over light. Antonia Marino who upstyled the piece shown above to her client's design, says the handles on this retro dresser, which were both recessed and raised, were a challenge to paint. She suggests that you ensure the design works with the peculiarities of your piece so you don't unintentionally end up with some very tricky brushwork. Or, engage a professional!
The biggest benefit with painting your old furniture is that as fashions and your tastes change, you can repaint it a different colour or pattern, or strip it back and start again for a whole new look. Paint will not damage your furniture and, in fact, provides a protective layer. This means if you ever want to re-embrace the natural beauty of the wood it is made from, the paint can be removed and replaced with Resene Aquaclear urethane with no ill effects.
Painting is certainly not the final finish for your old furniture, but a whole new beginning.
If you want a solid paint finish on furniture, the best paint to use is Resene Enamacryl, which is a waterborne enamel paint with a gloss finish. It's extremely hard-wearing but is easy to clean-up and low in odour, unlike traditional solventborne enamels. For a semi-gloss finish, use Resene Lustacryl. For more furniture project ideas see the Resene website, www.resene.com/furnitureprojects.
* Lisa Brook of Urban Habitat transformed this side table with Resene Lipstick, finished off with Resene Aquaclear.
words: Mary Bell
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