How-To: painting furniture 5 ~ paint combinations

There are as many ways to create your piece of painted furniture as there are minds out there to create it! Before proceeding on a painting project, it’s helpful to do a search for other images that can help you decide on color, pattern, style and technique.

Here’s a sampling of some excellent examples of basic painted furniture designs to get you started.

BTW, featured projects were used with permission. Photos remain the property of their author. Click on any photo to go directly to the furniture’s home blog post which gives details of the project.

Solid color~ one color on a furniture piece can be a statement – especially if you want to go loud and colorful! The key is size, color and finish. Here’s a fantastic trio of red tables (spraypaint) by Janette Drost.

Just be aware that one solid color, whether that color is black or firehouse red, can become overwhelming on a huge piece such as an armoire, hutch or bookshelf. Use distressing, a glaze, or another color to give really large pieces more interest.

Two colors – For really large pieces, such as hutches, Secretary desks and bookshelves, using two colors can give more vibrancy to a piece that would have been boring if all in one shade.

I’m especially loving pieces that combine painting with a stained counter/desktop. Too many painted pieces in a room becomes a bit boring. Here is a fantastically, subtle piece by Gloria Fox at Potentially Beautiful. Be sure to read the blog post for details on how she brought out it’s full potential (including an unexpected glazing color over the white).

Check out this bold look with contrasting drawers of this dresser by DeVore. This really gives a modern, geometric feel to a piece and I love her knob selection.

Contrasting backs – I really like having a contrasting back to a bookshelf or hutch. Backings can be stenciled, use fabric or wallpaper, or just be painted/stained a complimentary color.

Check out B.E. interiors secret surprise armoire ~ a lining of fabric makes it a delightful jewel box.

Here’s my secretary desk project, with fabric on the backing of the hutch area.

 

Want it more subtle? My black bookshelves have a stained back. Afraid of stain? Try a gel stain – it’s easier to apply and use.

Distressed by sanding with two colors – This method takes two colors: an undercoat and a topcoat which will contrast. JMO but I’d recommend hand sanding (not using the electric sander) to reveal the undercoat because an electric sander can sometimes take off too much until you get used to how it works.

Here is another winner by Miss Mustard Seed… see the post for comparisons of Chalk Paint vs. Milk Paint projects. How much you want to distress back will be determined by how primitive you want your piece to look and she has a large variety of distressed examples on this post.

JMO but those with simpler forms with a more country look look better with more distressing, while ornate, carved pieces such as French Provincal look better with minor distressing and glaze.

Distressed black with rubbed stain – one of my favorite combinations: paint black, distressed with sanding, and then the bare wood is stained for aging. For example, Walnut stain makes a beautiful contrast to black.

Proper and Prim has a lovely black cabinet with a classic style of distressed finish. This style could fit any sort of country – American, English or French. Note how she sanded the area where the cabinet knobs go to simulate natural wearing.

I have a DIY post about how this technique is done using the legs of the dining room table.

Chippy (paint flaking) – have you seen that old furniture where the paint has chipped off in bits? Similar to the two color sanding effect for distressing, this also uses two colors.  Where it differs, is the paint is not rubbed off in streaks or batches but chipped off with a tool.

Have a dark base and put on some white, and start chunking off the top paint. White over something dark seems to be a favorite combination and The Painted Hive uses a secret weapon to achieve it.

Color base with contrasting pattern – such as stripes, diamonds, etc…

Lori at Mud Pie Studio sports a diamond pattern on the side of a desk with a contrasting stained desktop. Her blog post gives complete details and a photo essay of how it was done.

What I especially like about this piece is the restraint she used – she could have put polka dots over here, added contrasting painted drawer fronts and put on neon knobs! Instead, it’s tasteful, classic but interesting – a piece that will last a long time, no matter how the room changes.

Want it brighter? Check out this bureau featuring an Argyle pattern on never a dull day.

Color base with contrasting image – vine, bird on branch, clock face, etc…

This reverse, custom stencil project is easier then it first appears. Step-by-step instructions by artist, Lena Corwin show how to make it happen for you (scroll down on the article).

Birds are very hot right now in decorating. Check out Christina’s classic white-gray-gray desk with bird stencil all done on a non-existent budget.

JMO but where stencils go wrong is where they try to appear as if the item is “real” – it’s not still life painting 101! Go with stencils that are contrasting between two colors to give the impression of a form or outline, rather then trying to imitate a photograph.

Decoupage – newspaper, letters, stamps, postcards, maps, posters, etc….

A sidetable sweet enough to sing by Miss Mustard Seed. Applying sheet music to the tabletop she goes the extra step with some distressing and an aging topcoat you can read about on her blog post.

Some things I really like about this piece is that the size of the table makes it versatile: as a side table to a couch or chair, as well as something that could be tucked in a corner on it’s own or settled next to a desk. The color makes it a piece that will last forever no matter how you change your future style!

Sarah and Nathan used an Italian calendar for a beautiful little desk that makes you dream of holidays when doing your homework!

This is just a sampling of the many ideas you can use to create your own treasure!

6 thoughts on “How-To: painting furniture 5 ~ paint combinations

    1. eurekasprings

      Thank you! I appreciate you letting me use the buffet as an example. It’s a lovely piece – and you’ve really given me some food for thought on re-thinking my glaze combinations on color.

  1. OMG! I just love that armoire (could it be because it’s mine?!)! Thanks so much for featuring it in your article. You are so right about there being a million ways to finish a piece. The sky’s the limit. My starting point is almost always fabric or something from nature, as it was with the fabric on the inside of the armoire. Thank you again!

    1. eurekasprings

      I agree Miss Bee – fabric and paper are so inspiring in color and pattern. I could buy fabric swatches all day!

      BTW that colored parrot on gray, I’ve been thinking of using that on the dining room chairs, centering the parrot on the back. Love that fabric!

  2. jennifer

    I do agree with you because, it’s really common that every one has different thinking but I have gone through your words and found it very useful to give new life for furniture. The yellow stencil piece is looking so cute. Anyway, thanks for sharing this!

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