Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Put Down The Paint Brush and Nobody Gets Hurt

OK folks, I might as well say this right up front:  This is not going to be one of those warm and fuzzy posts. It's not intended to make you think,  make you cry, or make you laugh.  On the jibber- jabber scale, it doesn't even rise to the level of a yakabout.

This is what might be called a blog irk. I'm only writing it because I'm hot and irritated and probably a little hormonal, and it seemed like a healthy alternative to heading to Baskin Robbins.

Do you know what I've been doing for the past week? 
I have been on the hunt for some vintage dining room chairs.

Actually, I've been on this hunt for about two years now, ever since I refinished the rest of the furniture in my dining room. I've been looking in earnest for the past week because I  earnestly want to buy them.

As in, now.

You see, all year, we squirrel away cash to use on our anniversary. We keep it in this little coffee can we call The Untouchable.

 (We learned to do that the hard way, through too many years of famine.)


Since this was our 29th anniversary, and the traditional gift for that year is furniture, we decided to do something different. We decided to add our Untouchables to the "chair fund" that I've also been squirreling away and  buy those dining room chairs.

Woooohoooooo, right?
Yeah, well, it wasn't that easy.

We spent the night in Savannah and got up raring to go on Monday morning.  We hit every conceivable store in the city, and then we headed home, stopping at vintage stores and malls along the way.

Did we find vintage dining room chairs?

Well, yes, we found them.  The problem was that every set of chairs in the style we liked had already been subdivided and painted into colorful pieces of occasional whimsy.

Oh sure, there were still some complete sets out there.  Had we been looking for sky blue chalk paint with chevron print cushions, we could have found it.  Fuddy Duddies that we are, we weren't looking for that. We were looking for simple red mahogany chairs...the kind that stand the test of time.

Those, we could not find, and that's why I'm irked this morning.

In fact, I'm just a little irked at the whole overdose of painted furniture out there in general.  Yes, I realize this is not going to be a popular opinion in blogville, but it's my opinion nonetheless.

Not long ago, the painted pieces would catch my eye in the vintage booths. They stood out as different and creative. Now, it's a chalk painted jungle out there. Honestly, in all my years of trend watching and fad following, I have never seen anything go gangbusters like the current painted furniture craze. 

That's what it is, after all, a craze.  It erupted way too quickly to be anything else. When something consumes the market the way painted furniture has, what you have is neither a style nor a trend.
It. is. a. craze. 

That's not to say that I dislike it. I don't. I actually like the look of it I admire the artisans and bloggers who have made paint techniques so popular. I have some pieces I'm planning to paint here at my own home. 

It's nothing new, after all. We had a lot of painted furniture in my home growing up.

I realize there are many twenty- somethings out there who do not know this, but your grandmothers already did the paint technique thing. They did it back in the '70s, during the last recession; They called it antiquing... a little paint followed by swipes of darker glazing.

Raise your hand if you remember...

I have no problem with that. In fact, had it not been for the antiquing fad of the '70s, I would never have learned to refinish furniture in the '80s. (Something tells me I'm going to be very busy about ten years from now, too...)

My problem isn't with the painting. It's with the gobbling.  Because they are willing to paint just about anything, just about everything is getting painted.

Faster than you can blink. .

 And folks, not everything ought to be painted. Not everything increases in value with a coat of paint. In fact, sometimes just the opposite is true.  I wish Generation Paint would slow down for a pair of minutes. I wish they would leave a few untouchables in their original glory.

 Save the whimsy for that mid-century modern blonde veneer. Turn that dark '70s pine into something colorful and cottagey. Do whatever you want to '80s oak... I have plenty to sell you if you want it.  But please... please... could you leave the Chippendale alone?

And that, as unpopular as it is, is all I have to say about that.


45 comments:

Barbara F. said...

I agree, Deb. My parents painted a dark dining room set, complete with a fancy streaking technique, and when we went to sell it, well, not an easy feat and for very little. Dealers told my mother it would have been worth much more unpainted. xo

Anita said...

Only you can say something like this in such an engaging way and not offend anyone! I totally agree with you as I had a grandmother who had been there and done that which resulted in my growing up with white painted furniture edged with gold. I had white couches in the 90s as well. After stripping off paint from the gorgeous dressing table she painted white, I knew that I would certainly never, ever paint a good piece. Anyway, you said what I think in a much more eloquent way.

I was lucky enough to find a set of 8 Duncan Phyfe chairs for my dining table which I refinished with matching mahogany stain. Funny thing is I recovered the seats with green/cranberry brocade then when I changed colors I remembered the original covers had cream with pink and blue flowers, which is what I would like to have now, lol.

Love, love to read what you write:-)

Terra said...

I relate to what you are saying and you explained yourself very clearly. I don't refinish furniture but think some furniture is worth more and is prettier not painted.

Debbie said...

My hand is raising wildly in the air over here as I definitely remember the old "antiquing" fad and look, haha We had a couple of things that my mom did that way. It was pretty neat, and she blended it in just fine with her other furniture, which I still believe you can do. But, as for painted furniture in general, I am ashamed to admit I am WAY behind the times. I know painted is popular (I don't live in a cave and I do have young adult children who are busy collecting it) but I haven't really gone looking for furniture for me in many a moon. My house is FULL of(what I guess is totally out now) ~ OAK! haha. But truthfully, it is STILL quite beautiful. In my wildest imaginations I cannot see anyone painting GOOD furniture ANY color. Why would you do it? would be my question. Paint away on something that NEEDS it, or doesn't have much natural beauty, or needs a face lift, or if you are looking for a certain type style or feel or something, but paint GOOD furniture??...never! Some of what I have seen I sincerely REALLY like..and like my mom I "might" blend a piece here and there, but have it ALL painted, don't think so. Bet you didn't think you get someone as opinionated as me on this subject did you? lol I enjoyed this!

Merlesworld said...

I like painted furniture but most people don't so if it is a valuable piece and sometime in the future you want to sell it it might be a mistake.
Merle.......

Vee said...

There, there, it'll get better. Ahem, please leave the oak alone, too, people! LOL. I hope that you find your chairs. Chippendale mahogany chairs for Debbie!

Beth @ E. lizard Breath Speaks said...

ok, i was suppose to cry but not sure why? i am with you in that wood should never been painted - i was raised in a family where my Grandfather or as we called him Pop-Pop ... would make masterpieces out of different kinds of wood - the pleasure was to see the wood, the grain & how it grew & lived - so forth. never painted!! i like the run my hand over different pieces my Pop-Pop made me & imagine what he would think of it now ... has it weathered or settled & so forth. i wonder if these folks that do paint wood have a real understanding of what it takes to make the piece of furniture? the time, the energy & all that jazz? trying to think of a reason to paint a piece of furniture & right this minute i can not think?? maybe it is particle board or something cheap like that? but if it is good quality wood - PLEASE leave it to look gorgeous & woody!! PLEASE? just a thought maybe you need to come to VA & i will take you to a few stores ... around here we know our wood & know how folks love it!! keep the faith that you will find what you need & want. i know you will. i hope??! ( :

Pat@BPM said...

I love this post, Debbie.:-)

Babs said...

Oh,yeah! I've been there. Thank goodness I'm not looking for antique furniture. I've done my share of "antiquing" in the 70s. In fact, I still have an antiqued green wall clock I did about 1970, so I like painted furniture, but I also like nice stained or natural finished furniture. Good luck finding your chairs. Hugs, Babs

Christine said...

OK it's decided.
I'm not going to paint my end table.
Re-Staining it is!
I was trying to come up with a color and now I don't have to. YEAH!

Crickit said...

A lot of the shows on HGTV are still painting their furniture! I agree with you, it is an atrocity!

So many of those pieces used to be so beautiful! Maybe it is because I am now into my "early" 50's that I think this way! Either way, I love the old school furniture just the way it was... or a bit shabby chic is ok with me too! :)

Kim @ Stuff could... said...

You write such captivating posts....and I agree with you...look for what you want, it is a craze:)

Sonja Goodson said...

me too! I'm thinking that 10 years from now people will be laboriously stripping that paint off to get back to the natural wood.

Should I be praying for the right chairs?? I think I will... :)

Lynn@Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

I'm not a fan of fads or crazes so I tend to stay away... This from a woman that inherited faux wood paneling and a textured ceiling in the livingroom/kitchen when she bought this house:@)

Denise said...

Preach it sister!!! I think an occasional painted piece (especially if it's really kind of on the "junky" side) can add a little whimsy. However, a nice piece of furniture should NOT be painted. Some of these trendy folks are going to be stripping a whole bunch of paint in a few years. Hope you can find some chairs SOON!

Chatty Crone said...

Well this is about the only time I am glad that I can't refinish furniture - I have no clue how! sandie

Kathryn Ross said...

Ah - the chalk paint craze! Sad to say, I haven't tried it yet - but have a number of dud pieces lined up to get the treatment in my basement. Just need to find the time - and the paint. However, I think I have safeguarded a set of six 1920's era Cottman chairs in my attic since we replaced our dining room table with a picnic table with bench seats hand-made for the purpose. Gives a cozy country to the max feel. Thinking of selling the antiques upstairs - but how awful if someone painted them! I was always one to leave the natural wood. But, you're right - I'm starting to get the itch.

Happy Anniversary, though - and hope you find what you're looking for. Loved your wedding pictures - and can't wait to see what small stuff you sweat over in your comfy air conditioned crafter's cabin.

BTW - I pinned my pictures just fine. I learned not to click on the picture itself - just pull down my pin tool from the toolbar while on the site and ALL the photos come up. Took me a while to figure that out - was always confused when I clicked on a picture but couldn't scroll. Love feeling Pinterest empowered like that!

Joy!
Kathy

Miss Merry said...

I guess we are just showing our age . . . If I never see another turquoise dining room chair with yellow and lavender accents - It Will Be Too Soon!!

The Polka Dot Closet said...

Debbie,

Here's my experience, every time I leave some fabulous table or chair in my booth untouched with it's gorgeous mahogany wood...It just won't sell, I have done it over and over again...So, I take it home slap it with a coat of white paint and bingo,,,Sold. So us sellers are just following the craze that sells. Now, what you have to do is get to thrift stores, flea markets, and estate sales before we do, before we deface the gorgeous! Good luck girlfriend

Carol

Mrs.Rabe said...

And here I am just getting my paint brushes wet...but not on any Chippendale for heaven's sake!

I've always painted furniture, too. Love it, but yes, it is funny when "new" things are tried! Like no one else in the world ever thought of painted furniture before!

I'll keep my eyes out for some chairs for you!

Deanna

Sharon said...

No one does a rant much better than you! And I have never been crazy about crazes. It's just so conformist...

Having said that, I agree - I don't like the move away from traditional furniture. I don't like how *traditional* has been construed to mean old-fashioned. I actually prefer the kind of furniture that my grandmother had. With the original finish - or at least something that resembled wood.

Guess I have an opinion or two about it all, too!

I do know this - there are some lonely orphan chairs out there just waiting for you to discover and adopt them. And currently they are being overlooked by a bunch of painted-furniture fanatics who are really missing out...

JUST. SAYIN'...

Miss Char said...

Ahhhhh, the 70's and boy do I remember painting a chest of drawers blue and then adding the glazing on top of that. I sure did think it was fabulous, looking back I wish someone had hit me in the head and said "no really....you think that looks fabulous?" After reading this I was doing a mental inventory of my furniture right now and I have a mix of wood and painted and maybe because I lived through the 70's today's painted pieces are often a little over the top for me but I do love a nice painted piece. As for fine furniture (of which I have none) I would have a hard time picking up the brush.

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

LOL! I'm raisin' my hand. I remember. LOL! Oh, Debbie, I hope you find your set of Chippendale chairs. blessings and hugs ~ tanna

kitty said...

I'm raising my hand, Debbie, as I was married in 1970 and sure did my fair share of antiquing furniture that people handed down to us as newlyweds. It does seem a shame to cover beautiful wood, doesn't it? I sure hope there are some gorgeous Chippendale chairs just waiting for you out there with their original finish!!
Happy Anniversary to you two lovebirds!

Ann said...

Ah, I think you're preaching to the choir out here, Debbie! Our furniture is not Chippendale, but Danish ... Solid gorgeous teak.
When the show "Trading Spaces" was all the rage I used to dream of applying for it. Then, I would have nightmares they'd want to paint our teak! LOL ... Ok, weird story, but true. I never applied to be on it because of those nightmares!
Now, having said that, I also would never paint our English gate leg table circa 1880 ... But I have no qualms at all about wanting to paint my kid's ugly pine furniture. In fact we did and it looks soooo much better than that ugly orangey untainted pine looked. :)
I will add my prayer for you that you do find those elusive chairs!

Cheers!

Rettabug said...

Oh Debbie, I am standing on my chair so I can raise my hand high enough for you to see! Can I have an "AMEN"? I hear you, loud & clear & feel exactly the same way.

I'm so glad I finally signed up to get your posts via email. Loved seeing your anniversary post, but couldn't say so on that one.

Hugs,
Rett

Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours said...

Well, Debbie, you just confirmed it: We were twins separated at birth! While I love a painted piece or two (and yes, I did just pick up a curbside toss that's going to change colors), the classic pieces should be left in all their glory to age gracefully. I didn't grow up around antiques, but I have certainly learned to appreciate them, and I'm fortunate to own some gorgeous pieces. It just killed me when movers damaged a mahogany armoire and we had to have it refinished. I can't imagine how I'd feel if someone wanted to paint it!

GREAT, thoughtful, kind rant, my friend! I'll be praying you find your chairs sooner rather than later ...

Scribbler said...

Well said! I have things I have fun with and paint -- and I always have. Somethings, I won't paint, like some pieces I refinished, stripping off someone else's paint. Uh Huh, I did all that antiquing in the 70s that you mentioned, and yes I have always liked painted furniture. The chalk paint just made it easier. I had painted furniture as a little girl: grandmas old set that Daddy painted white.

You will have happier hunting for those Chippendale chairs at estate sales! I see them all the time here in Bham. I think if you haunt the classifieds in Savannah, you should hit the motherlode. Patience!

Lorrie said...

Oh dear. Here I am with 6 lovely vintage French provincial chairs in my garage needing just one more coat of paint before I recover the seats. It took a long time to find the chairs and I'm so happy with their shape.
My husband makes beautiful furniture in his spare time and I've promised never to paint anything he's made. As a result, we have very little painted furniture, but I love the mix of paint and wood. The painted items lighten up a room.
Isn't it wonderful that we all have different tastes? I hope you find your chairs soon.

Kathleen said...

I know what you mean - painted furniture has its place and I too think the old orangey pine is ripe for the painting of. But, no, not mahogany and for me not oak either. I love 'em both just the way nature intended. Hope you find what you're looking for soon.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

If you want another "Amen", you got it here, Debbie!

I am soooooo sick of the paint-everything-that-doesn't-move and-some-things-that-do trend. You are singing to the choir on this one.

BTW, I went through a bit of an ordeal this morning with an anon commenter on my blog. I could really used the prayers. It upset me mightily.

XO,

Sheila

xinex said...

Hi Debbie, you and my husband will get along but you are right. I would never paint my Chippendale chairs, I don't know why anyone would. They look so pretty the way they are. Good luck finding yours...Christine

Alycia Nichols said...

I'm glad you're venting! It's good to get it out! I understand your frustration! It's like painted furniture overload out there right now. I don't have any painted furniture, but I suppose it's mostly because I am lazy and don't like to paint/cheap & refuse to pay big money for it. I like the look, but I know it's a phase. Classic stands the test of time. Hang in there, Debbie! Your Untouchable Fund/Anniversary Money will be put to good use soon. Is there an anniversary where a Porsche is the tradition? I want a Porsche! :-)

Angel said...

Ha! I know you didn't mean to make me laugh but, what can I say...you did anyway. :) You are truly one of a kind. Please never stop yakking!

Laurie Ritchey said...

Oh Debbie, I hope you find them. Some things just should not ever be painted. Doesn't anyone watch Antique Roadshow? They are always saying, "but, if it hadn't been painted, it would be worth a lot". I admit, I'm loving the chalk paint. I am one of those grandmothers you're talking about. In the early 70's, our tiny apartment was filled with "antiqued" furniture. I hated the stripping and sanding before painting, so I am so happy to have chalk paint around for the furniture I think should be painted. But who knows what might come into style some day. My children will probably take some of that painted furniture to A.Roadshow and learn how valuable it would have been had it not been paintd. Good luck with your search. laurie

Anita said...

Debbie, I found a photo that I want to share with you that will bring tears of laughter...if you email me, then I will email it to you:-) anita-faraboverubies@live.com

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

LOL! Well the whole chalk paint thing...I don't get it. I've tried using it a couple of times and haven't been impressed. I do like some of the colors available though.

I mostly like painted furniture :) My husband has some pieces he inherited from his grandparents and I think those would look much better painted. But he won't let me touch them!

Yellow Rose Arbor said...

First, Happy Anniversary! I hope you find your chairs.

I did the antiquing back in the 70s and loved it then. I've also done my share of refinishing, but all that is in the past. I love the wood finish, the more wood grain, the better. I can't understand why some don't like OAK!!

I do like the shabby chic look with white, but don't care for the chalk paint look at all. I even unsubscribed from a popular blog because I thought she ruined so much furniture painting it with that stuff!!

Oak furniture will be back in a few years (did it ever go out???)
And the oak haters will be sorry they painted and/or got rid of theirs! I'm keeping mine!

Great post!

Katherine

Mary said...

Amen to that, I had to chuckle! I was strolling through a favorite antique mall a few days ago and thought to myself that a paint brush & chalk paint is a lethal weapon in the wrong hands :) Good luck on the chair hunt!

Debbiedoos said...

You are so right Debbie. We don't touch the natural, vintage wood with a paint brush. Now if it is older, or thrifted, yes, no problem do I have with it. It is all the craze now for sure. My husband likes his wood too much LOL!

Barbara Neubeck said...

Debbie... I couldn't agree more....
I think painted furniture is a case of 'less is more'
AND ...My pet dislike is distressing taken to where the piece looks like it needs repair instead of a little 'worn and inviting'...
Hope you find your chairs soon....
Hugs and Blessings..
Barb xxx

renée @ Singing With Birds said...

This is a generation gap biggy! I just sold a beautiful solid oak table that seats up to 12 with both leaves pulled out, they store underneath. It had 8 beautiful chairs too. None of my 5 children wanted it and it fit no-where in my new home...so sad. I got $650.00 for it. I'll add another rant, painted silver pieces... It should be a crime punishable by law!

The Decorative Dreamer said...

Oh I love this post! You know I've been painting a few things myself but I like to think I know when and when not to paint. Here's my beef, all the cutesy, cutesy,stenciled up,shabbed up, painted pieces, and don't even get me started on chalk paint. I've yet to use it but don't really dig the feel of it on what I've seen painted thus far. Could be I've seen some really crappy jobs, but yuk! I prefer using watered down paint for a lighter finish if I want to go there. That techniques been around foreva, duh! I'd also like to know when did a simple nice paint job become so boring too? Why must every paint job come with a distressed finish. I can get that look easily enough over time without starting out that way! I agree it is a big fad. My hubs keeps telling me when I find something for the booth you know Mary, everything doesn't have to be painted black or white. Maybe someone might want to buy it unpainted. So, I have been keeping that in mind if I come across something that would look good unpainted. However, I tend to buy cheap stuff that needs a good coat of paint. Not a distressed coat, not a chalky coat, but a good coat that will endure the test of time. There is a difference! Thank you for saying what so many of us are already thinking!

Jeanne said...

I wholeheartedly agree! I purchased a Duncan and Phyfe dining room set from Craigslist about 5 years ago. I now have a beautiful mahogany table that can fold down small or stretch out to accommodate leaves and easily seat 10 people. The set also came with a buffet and the china cabinet. All in their beautiful glowing mahogany finish. The set also had beautiful rose-back chairs. The downside ... there were only 4 chairs left. I thought to myself ... no problem ... I'll watch for more. I finally found 4 more early this spring. Now I just need 2 more.

Its driving me crazy! And to top it all off ... on one single Metamorphosis Monday over at Between Naps on the Porch I saw 2 separate posts by women who had found rose-back chairs and snapped them up to paint them. They were pretty painted, but oh how I wanted to cry at the sight of them. To top it all off ... one of those sets was destined to go to a resale shop after being painted. Aaargh .... how I would have loved and cared for those beautiful chairs in their original mahogany glory.

Thank you for speaking up on this ... and its good to know that I'm not the only one out here painstakingly looking for a certain style of vintage mahogany chairs.

Sharlotte said...

I totally agree...I keep thinking, what's going to happen when the "trend" is to have unpainted furniture? Everyone is going to be sanding things back down? Ugh...that's too big of a chore for me.

I wonder if decoupaging things is on its way back? Remember the little flowers that were everywhere with heavy, thick, poly?

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