When is it ok to Paint an Antique?

When is it ok to paint an antique? Wow, that is a good question, one I have thought about often. I always wonder will I devalue the piece, will I regret it, what if I change my mind? All of these things are struggles when you are considering painting a piece you picked up at an Antique Shop, Vintage Shop, or even a Flea Market or Yard Sale. But does it really matter? I have really thought about this because I love to paint furniture, and I really don’t think any of the above questions really matter, if you want to paint the piece. I mean I wouldn’t rush in, place the piece in your home, live with it for awhile, and if that is still what you want, then I say, go for it. Sometimes the piece is actually screaming out to me, PAINT ME PLEASE!!! I don’t pay a huge amount for my pieces, so in my book, if I want to paint it, even if it has a greater value than I paid, I am going to paint it. I want to love and enjoy the piece, so if in my mind I see it white, then bring on the paint. After all they have been painting furniture for hundreds of years, this is not some new fad, it may be trending right now to do so, but it has been around for years and years. I don’t believe it will ever be out of style to have a painted piece of furniture in your home.

This secretary we found back in October at the Auction, was just that piece for me, it wouldn’t be cheap, but if I couldn’t paint it, I really wasn’t interested. We got the piece and it has been waiting for me to make the final,” lets do it decision!!!” I adore the piece, the lines, the details, but in my mind it will be much more beautiful and more modern, if it has a coat of paint. I know there are some out there that would die to touch a piece like this with a paint brush, and I do kind of hold my breath on some pieces right before the paint touches the piece. This was defiantly one of those pieces. It was a huge commitment because of the size, it stands 7 foot 5 inches tall, and needed to be painted inside and out.

I also needed to decide what kind of paint to use, there is that whole big question out there about, what is the difference between Milk Paint and Chalk Paint? Beside the difference in the ingredients and all that jazz, the are some real differences in finish, which is what I usually consider most. I knew I wanted this piece to have a Restoration Hardware-ish look, meaning washed out. I still planned to use Farmhouse white on the piece but in a little different way. More times than not most would probably choose Chalk Paint to get that look, because they say you have more control over your outcome. However, as I see it, although you can’t predict where your Milk Paint is going to chip or even if it is going to chip, if all you do is paint directly on the piece, they do carry the products and tools, that put manipulating the paint and the finished look, back into your hands. So I knew the look I wanted, and I believed I could achieve the look with either brand, but for me the final deciding factor was this. Milk Paint is thin, its milky, and this piece had bookshelves with wood supports, also I was concerned about the detail work and felt the thinner paint would give me a soft look, so it was the better choice. I didn’t want any texture, or building up, and I preferred the Milk Paint waxes, since they dry hard. I chose to use the same color Farmhouse White, that I have used on three other pieces in the room, since I wanted them to be cohesive. However this piece would look different, it wasn’t going to be a coat of white paint and done. This piece was more of an art project, like painting on a canvas, that is what makes the end result so special. It took me a few days to paint this piece, about 6 in total, because I took my time, paying close attention to the exact finish and look that I knew I wanted, sometimes using a half inch artist paint brush to work around the details. But for a piece like this it is worth it.

So lets get started, I gathered my supplies,

Miss Mustard Seed Products I used: 2 bags of Farmhouse White, part of a bag of Bergere and French Enamal, Bonding Agent, Furniture Wax, White Wax and Dark Wax, and a few brushes.

I started inside the bookshelf area. I removed the shelves, mixed the paint, climbed up the ladder, paint brush in hand, and I just stood there looking at the piece………saying to myself, this is it!!!! I started to paint and for a split second I felt a bit of anxiety. After the inside was painted with the second coat I stepped back and all my anxiety went away, as I could see the gorgeousness just waiting to come out. I painted the interior of the desk area with a pretty pop of blue, for the unexpected, and I adore it. I mixed Berger and French Enamel from Miss Mustard Seed, together so it tied into the Printers Cabinet I had just painted. I am using all Miss Mustard Seed products on this lovely piece, sponsored by the lovely Laura, over at The Ironstone Nest, check her out for all your Miss Mustard Seed products and she is full of all the answers, to all the burning questions you may have concerning the paint, and how to pull off the look you are going for.

So it can start out a little rough, and I would not tackle such a large piece as this secretary, for your first piece. I have used the paint on several pieces in my home, this time would be a bit different though, because I was going for a different look. I wanted the piece to look aged. Not necessarily chippy, but maybe, maybe the washed out look like Restoration Hardware, or sanded back look like Pottery Barn. Either end result would be what I wanted. Though you don’t have total control with this paint, you can take some steps to attempt the end result  your heart desires. Here are a few things I did. I really, really, really, disliked the yellow/orange look of this wood. It was the same as my sideboard that I recently replaced. And since I knew I wanted to have some attention on the details of some sort, I took these steps to insure a happy ending. I sanded back just slightly on the raised areas of interest, and went in with a Rust Oleum Stain in the color Kona, its a rich brown color. The next day right before I put the first coat of paint on, I brushed some Hemp Oil from Miss Mustard Seed, here and there over the detailed areas, not everywhere. Then I began what I like to refer to as the ugly coat. It can get kind of scary right about now, however press forward toward the mark. It will all work out in the end. Here are of a few pictures as I started the process, remember I said the Ugly stage.

Here is the piece now, and as it was in October.

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I painted the inside with two coats of Farmhouse White, and finished it with a coat of Tough Coat.

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The desk area in Bergere and French Enamel mixed. Before and after.

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I do plan to paint the inside of this drop down leaf, but I am saving it for last.

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Sanded slightly.

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Staining it dark, so that if it chips or if I sand it back after painting, I am exposing a lovely brown instead of the yellow/orange I am trying to cover.

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I also pushed the stain into crevices and groves randomly. I thought the piece looked better even at this point.

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……amd then THE UGLY COAT, which in my eye, already looks better. Hey, people pay a lot of money for this look.

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At this point I am ready for the second coat, and in general this is the look I am going for, so really I am simply applying another half coat, and mainly working on covering streakiness, and filling in some spotty areas, I want it to look more consistent everywhere. After I have the piece looking the way I like it, I will go back in to one section at a time, applying a mix of waxes. First I brush on the clear wax called, Furniture Wax, and really buff it into the piece, then using the White Wax and the Dark Wax  both but with different brushes, I applied the shadows and highlights to the piece. I simply dipped the corner of the brush into the wax, and applied it to the desired area, and then brushed it out to soften the edges. I wanted to make sure there were no lines, but that all the areas flowed seamlessly together, and looked like a natural aged piece. Check out some close up pictures below to see the end result. I used a good quality brush for the Furniture wax to make sure I got down into and around all of the nooks and crannies of the piece. But for the other two I used an inexpensive chip brush that cost about a dollar.

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And the tah dah, the  end result.

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Some close up detail work, remember this is meant to be perfectly imperfect.

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Make sure to stop over at The Iron Stone Nest for all of your Milk Paint supplies.

Thanks for Stopping by the Blog

I hope this inspires you to paint something and give it new life.

Tammy Damore

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