Mary Kay Andrews’ cottage reminded me of how much I love painted furniture. I always drool over the Mackenzie-Childs furniture which is freakishly expensive but still lust-able (I love checks so that’s a part of that, too). And I’ve always loved painted cottage furniture and painted cottage floors. Well, basically, I love paint.
But when it comes time to actually slap the stuff on, I hesitate, sometimes for years. I have a mission settle that I adore and that has seen better days as far as its finished oak surface goes. It would look wonderful if it were painted, but I keep looking at it and thinking, Don’t paint beautiful wood. There are two end tables and couch table that go with it. They’d look great painted, too. (Don’t paint beautiful wood.) Then there’s the pie safe which I can paint because my mother did it before me, and the old mirror frame somebody left in my barn which I can paint because the moisture in there destroyed the veneer long ago, and the ugly bureau with the beautiful mirror that I’ve never liked anyway, plus the two vanities with the great mirrors that I need to repurpose because they’re totally useless as they are (too short). And that’s before we get to the little gothic chair that wobbles (don’t paint beautiful wood) and the little side table from my grandfather’s house (don’t paint antiques unless your mother already ruined their value, thus setting you free to do whatever you want), and the little upholstered chair I got at Goodwill for fifteen dollars (don’t paint upholstery).
But the thing is, this is MY furniture. And none of it is a valuable antique. I can do anything I want with it. I’m allowed. I don’t know who that voice in my head is telling me not to do this stuff, but it should leave. Because I want things like the Mackenzie Childs Maestro Chair:
But I don’t have $3450 to buy it. I can paint it, though. Yes, you can paint upholstery. It ends up very stiff and plasticy unless you use spray dye which does not come in a lot of colors, but you can definitely paint upholstery. And you can sure as hell paint the wood on a reproduction Mission settle.
Where was I? Right. Liquid courage, the courage to shut out all the voices, look at a piece of furniture, and say, “I’m going to make you FABULOUS.” I’ve decided that it’s time for me to cowboy up, ignore the inner critic, and partake of liquid courage: during this next year, I’m going to fix and then paint all the furniture that’s too dark, too sad, too beat up to take to the cottage. I’ll have to pick a color palette that’s north-eastern cottage friendly, not so intense but still vivid like the blue Pottery Barn shelf I’ve always loved and the little yellow-green side cabinet I bought at T. J. Maxx a couple of years ago. Add the yellow that I painted the house (well, that Pete painted the house) and the cream of the trim. Maybe a good soft turquoise, too. And a pink and peach and lavender for detail work and to give me a complete color wheel. And of course a good white (I like Porter Paints Cloud White) because sometimes the shape of the furniture you’re painting is so fabulous, you just want it white with a terrific fabric on the cushion, like this codfish chair:
So that’s my plan, a face lift for my tired furniture with two of my favorite things, paint and fabric. Because I am not the only thing in this house that needs freshened up.