Painted furniture pieces can be clean, chic

February 28, 2005|by ROSE BENNETT GILBERT/Copley News Service

Q: We found a lot of old furniture in my aunt's attic - two dining chairs and a table, a sideboard with a serpentine front, pieces like that. Interesting, but nothing goes together. It's also not in very good shape. I actually remember when she bought the furniture (in the l960s), so I know they're not valuable antiques. But my daughter thinks the stuff is wonderful. The trouble is, she wants to paint it all white or beige. Would that be a mistake?

A: Not an easy decision, but you've already addressed three good reasons for saying yes, paint the pieces:

The furniture has little intrinsic value.

You seem to have no emotional attachment to it.

A coat of paint will assure it of a better future in a caring home.

Just to be totally sure, however, you might seek an appraisal (a local antique store may yield an expert). Once you're satisfied that there's nothing to lose, let your daughter go to work with her paintbrush.


As you can see from the photo we show here, painted furniture can look rather chic and clean. In this dining room, it's a calm foil for the richly patterned wallpaper (from Village Wallpaper's Classic Ambience collection). And, as several generations of escapees to the Sun Belt have discovered, light-painted furniture is the perfect complement to warm-weather living.

Had trouble finding a source for the transForms Fine Art Transfers we introduced in an earlier column?

Fine Art Transfers has experienced difficulty with both its Web site and its distribution, laments Senior Vice President Maja Palej. She promises a solution by mid-spring. Meanwhile, you can reach her directly at 919-828-9991 or at

Ever hear of a dog putting on the dog?

When New York architect Kate Johns decided to tidy up her own kitchen, her attempt at clutter-control included the family's German shepherd named Buck. Seems Buck liked lying around the kitchen on a "big, filthy pillow" that offended everyone else. Johns' clever solution, pictured in the current issue of Country Home magazine: cut a closet in half, including the door, and turn the bottom section into a private den for the dog. A new shelf doubles as closet floor and the top of the alcove that Buck now calls home.

Are you too mellow for yellow?

Not if you're really passionate about being cheerful, says Jane Brill, a chairholder with the international Color Marketing Group and color expert for Ace Hardware Corp.

Brill believes that yellow rooms create a sunnier disposition for you and your home, especially in kitchens, and especially when it's combined with white. She also suggests that yellow be used with primary blue or red "for the high-energy atmosphere of a kid's room." On the other hand, yellow can be a calmative, Brill maintains. In combination with beige, light green, pink or lavender, yellow will create a softer, more relaxed look in family rooms and bedrooms, she says.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas. Please send your questions to her at Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112-0190, or online at

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