Interesting furniture pieces, either from grandma's attic or a flea market or new ones from an unfinished furniture source, are pure fun because of their versatility. These days, you can pair them with nearly any other pieces of furniture and accessories in any room of the house, and they fit right in.
No need to shop furniture stores alone for interesting pieces. Browse at tag sales, secondhand shops, garage sales and auctions for treasures from the past.
It's easy to mix styles, too, just by letting special pieces speak with their look. They work easily among stained wood and upholstered furniture, and in older or contemporary homes.
Vintage painted pieces work especially well in bedrooms, nurseries and children's rooms. Be whimsical in your color choices by coordinating with fabrics and fanciful designs. Note, however, that it's important to check the age of old baby cribs which might not meet current safety standards. Make sure, too, to use primers and paints that are safe for use on children's furniture and toys.
Whole rooms of painted pieces can be most interesting. Or, the pieces can act as accents, too -- a small table here, a chest or rocking chair there.
For some pieces, it's simply a matter of choosing the right color, and painting. For other pieces, it's all about embellishment, adding details, such as painted "rickrack" on a small chest and repeating it on a headboard. For some pieces, adding stenciling, hand painting, decoupaging and glued-on trims gives the right finishing touch. Other paint techniques such as crackling might be a choice for shelves on an open cupboard to be used for displaying dishes or collectibles in a dining room.
For an outdoor project, you might add several shades of green to give new life to an Adirondack chair's slats and its footrest.
Painted pieces are an easy way to add pizzaz and to showcase your personality in the overall look of your home, inside and out. You might choose to coordinate a variety of pieces by painting them all white-on-white for a soothing, but slightly formal bedroom. Or, a brightly colored bistro table might encourage guests to visit longer on the deck or patio.
Perhaps a collection of blue-and-white pottery and porcelain would inspire you to paint an old table in French blue and white to tie the room's look together.
These helpful tips can get you started:
--Projects can be as quick and easy or as intricate and creative as you want them to be. Depending on the furniture piece, you might consider one-color projects or decorative techniques, such as sponging, ragging or painting color blocks.
--When you use vintage pieces, make sure they are in good repair. If the piece previously has been painted, you can sand and repaint in most cases without stripping off old paint.
--In general, furniture requires sanding, wiping with tack cloths or clean damp cloths to remove dust, and priming to seal the finish.
--For some pieces, though, it's good-looking to incorporate the charm of the natural wood or previously stained wood for variations of an aged or antiqued effect.
--For best results, paint in thin coats and never rush drying times.
"Better Homes and Gardens Painted Furniture: Decorating Ideas and Projects" (Meredith Books, $14.95 softcover.)
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