August 11, 2011

To Paint or Not to Paint

Do you ever struggle with that question
on furniture that you have had for a while?

I bought this chest about 15 years ago when I was more
 in an "English Country" mode of decorating my home.
The area would probably look better with a rug but it is almost like a
dining room/entry foyer and rug placement is awkward.

Now that we have downsized and I am leaning toward a lighter
 look, I just don't know that I love this chest like I used to.
It is useful for storage.  I keep my gift wrapping supplies in the drawers.

It is in the dining room along with other dark wood furniture.
 It feels like there is just too much dark wood
 furniture in that small space.
This buffet is also in that area.  I like the buffet placement so I don't want to move it.

It has some nice patina. I really don't know much about 
the piece or if it is even worth what I paid for it. 
The question is, is it too nice to paint?

Should I move it to another room and let it 
stay the color that it is?
This is my bedroom.  A decorator had me shift the placement of the furniture to 
achieve more balance.  I put the dark portrait on the far side of the bed to try
 to visually balance the window on the other side of the bed.

If I put the bookcase/chest I am considering painting where the table and portrait are
 now, it would come up about 8 inches taller than where the top of the portrait is now.

Should I take the books out of it and make it
 more dining room-ish with china instead?

I did put it in the want ads a couple of years ago but did not get one single call on it.
My kids don't want it.

In some spots I have non-interesting books that end up behind the wood frames
 so the "good" book spines show.

Most of the books I have in it are older ones that
I have found at Goodwill, yard sales, and thrift stores.

I kept this note with the chest but even the dealer I
bought it from didn't know it's age.

My favorite feature of the piece
is the wavy glass in the doors.
The glazing is old and cracking.

My least favorite feature is this do da on the side.
Does this cut out make it look Victorian-ish?

It has cute little casters on each leg.
How do those little casters hold up all that weight?

One of the knobs is missing but that could be replaced.
As I was getting ready to take this photo, I saw something behind the back caster that
needed to be moved for the shot.  It was one of the missing knobs! 

The brass around the key hole is not original.

So, I don't know what to do with this piece.
Should I paint it and leave it in the dining room, move it to the bedroom and not paint it, or sell it for whatever I can get for it
and tell myself I've gotten my 25 cents a day worth out of it and 
let someone else enjoy it now?

The bookcase/chest is where my plastic spoon wreath "lives".  
If you want to make a spoon wreath, 

Update on this post...I DID paint this piece eventually.
If you want to see how I painted it with Annie Sloan
Chalk Paint on it click here. 


  1. I love the china cabinet and the buffet. I think it would look great if you painted it white. I really like this one blog Lemonade Makin Mama, Anyway, she paints everything white and I think everything comes out so beautiful. search her blog. You'll be impressed.

    Can't wait to see what you decide.


  2. I absolutely LOVE this piece!! Now I love painting furniture and I think this piece would look gorgeous painted but I also love it just the way it is. I know I'm no help! Your dinning room is beautiful and I love it in their but I would love to see something else displayed in it instead of the books. Love your bedroom too! Martina

  3. Ok I think it would look gorgeous painted. You could paint it so many different colors. White doesn't have to be it, although white would look good too. It just depends on what style you are going for. Think what colors you want in the room and what would make everything flow together. I would definitely put something in it besides books. Keep it simple and well displayed. Putting it in the bedroom may make it a bit cramped in there. Hard to really tell from pic though. If all else fails, craigslist baby! You can sell anything on there :)

  4. Oh definitely paint it. Try some Annie Sloan chalk paint -- any color and wax and distress. It will be beautiful!

  5. My vote is not to paint. Those pieces both have beautiful patina...and speak of great history.

    I'd remove those books and put dishes or other light things in there. Wrap some foam board in a pretty light color and put in up against the back of the shelves. That will lighten it up.

  6. I think this is a gorgeous piece of furniture and it should be left as is. However, you may want to lighten up the load inside. I'd remove the bulk of the books and add some white dishes or ironstone pieces. You could leave a few books in 3's perhaps standing or laying with an object on top. You have a fine piece there and the detail on the end of the top piece is lovely. It should remain where it is as I think it would be too heavy in your bedroom. ~ Pamela

  7. Some things should be painted but this is not one of them. It's so beautiful and has such as warmth and history and richness about it. I agree with a previous comment- place light colored items in it to make it feel brighter.
    That;s just my take on it:)

  8. I would not paint it. This piece has so much character and sense of history to it. The do-da features on the side only adds to the interest of the piece.

  9. Wow, what a decision! I like the thought of it both ways! Hum, no help! I paint furniture, but I usually only paint pieces that are in such bad shape they cannot be saved any other way. I think I would remove the books and restyle the interior first. I would add lighter objects,mentioned above. It is a lovely piece. Good luck!

  10. Paris Gray ALL the way, Baby! I would remove the books and add some white ironstone.....that would really lighten up the look alot. Keep the french piece as is.....and please report back on what you decide.
    Oh, and you can always add some glass knobs....keep the originals....Restoration Hardware has some lovely glass knobs and you can usually hit a sale.
    Just my 2 cents! (((hugs)))

  11. soooooo...I'm thinking that first of all, I wish I lived near you because I would act all "this isn't the greatest piece ever, it is kind aout dated...woiuld you sell it for 15??" Then be giddy about the possibilities with that beautiful piece (not really...that would be mean, but you get my point :)

    Anyway...I agree the side panel parts are the most dating parts, but I ADORE the bottom and ADORE the finish on it. I would "dresser" part as is...maybe refinish the top is the shelf part leaves marks. The top, I would take the doors off and attach something ( cork? art pieces?) to the sides and hang it as a bookshelf...or maybe change the color, use it for china with a strong contrast (like deep aubergine cabinet with whiteware)...anyhows...just my opinion..if I were your kid, I'd take it anyway! ;)

    Thanks again for linking up to Tripped Up Thursdays...I TRULY appreciate your support!! Like thousands! THANK YOU!

  12. wow, this chest is gorgeous!!! I vote for painting it, although it sometimes feel painful painting such gorgeous wood like that!!! loving your spoon wreath too!!
    have a great weekend!

  13. Ahhhh.... BOOOKS! OLD BOOKS! *goes crazy*

    You have a lovely collection. :) Honestly, I think that this furniture has alot of character as-is, especially with the books in it. You could always try staining it... but it would look pretty painted, too.

  14. I adore the books. I think parts should be painted. The top surface of the chest is fabulous with all the age marks and I would never paint that. Possibly the drawer fronts in a light yellow or mustard. Maybe the recessed panels on the upper sides too. If you chose to do china inside you could coordinate the inside of the cabinet with the same paint color. Love the cabinet.
    Kristy @ 4 the love of WOOD

  15. I'll come get all those old books from ya so you can PAINT it ~ LOL!!!

    It's gorgeous, you should keep it and seriously send me some of those old books.


  16. It's yours, no sentimental value, kids don't want it...go for it!!! It is a beautiful piece of it is yours and you can do what you want!!!
    Good luck!!!

  17. Oh I adore your furniture and yes, it would be amazing painted- but either way it's beautiful! Love your book collection too! Stopping by from Debra's today~ would love for you to come share this at Feathered Nest Friday! :)

  18. I say paint it some kind of off-white color and remove the books. Maybe give it a distressed look too. Good luck and I can't to see the after photos!

  19. Your piece of furniture is not English but American. It is made of walnut wood and dates to 1860-1880.If you want to alter it, I would suggest putting panels on the inside. get foam board at the dime store, cut to the right size to fit between shelves. Cover with wall paper, paint or fabric. Push in place. leaver out some books so it would show. This piece of furniture is not worth thousands, but would be worth far less if you painted it white.( Value in todays resale market, $1200-$1800) Painted,($400 or $500) The french looking buffet, is another story. not real old, American, factory made, fruit wood. I think it would be better painted than it is now. It has very little value for resale and might even be worth more painted. Would fit right in. Value todays maket($200) painted ($400).This is my opion, for what it is worth. I hate to see good old antiques painted for this white furniture fad that people are going through. Richard from My Old Historic House

  20. I love this and would not paint it. It is a beautiful piece of furniture. I would remove the books to lighten it up. Maybe add white ironstone, or any white dishes you have.

  21. Coming from a girl who paints most everything white or cream, and sometimes pink, im gonna have to say that i agree with richard on this one. The bookcase is a beautiful peice, and i would not paint it. If u really wanna make some changes in the room, paint the walls. Go lighter with a cream or buttery yellow. Pick a color that will lighten things up and show off those fabulous pieces alil bit better.........Good luck, Bonnie

  22. Hi Gayle, Richard beat me to this but I was also going to say American and mid to late 1800s. I would not paint the cabinet but I do think you need something in the room to break up all the wood. Maybe paint the french buffet or the chairs. I would take out some of the books and add some lighter accessories. I believe the cabinet next to your bed would be too crowded. You'll have to show us what you decide.

  23. If you decide to sell it I might be interested. If the price is in my budget and I can get someone with a truck to come get it! Deb

  24. This is a tough one! It is a fantastic piece. I can see it in white in a lovely coastal-decor room.

  25. Oh I love painted pieces, but NOT this's way to pretty to paint!!!! I would take the books out and put white ironstone pieces in it. Maybe paint your chairs? Hop over today and grab my starfish featured button for your will see why when you get there:)


  26. I just love this piece but I would probably hesitate to paint it because it has such a classic look. I love the books too - they have such character. Thanks for the recent visit...I always enjoy hearing from a fellow Seinfeld fan!

  27. I just love this piece but would probably not paint it. It's a really classic piece of furniture. What I would do is take the books out and maybe add some lovely lighter color china pieces. Or if you have a collection of white ironstone, that would look gorgeous inside. Maybe paint the chairs or the buffet in the dining room. I just don't like seeing lovely antique pieces painted. Can't wait to see what you decide to do.

  28. My instinct is to clutch my pearls at the thought of painting such a beautiful piece! HOWEVER! If you could love it more in a lighter color, doesn't it deserve to be loved more??

    Crafty Butt

  29. I always grapple with that very same question and thus that is why I take forever on doing projects. I LOVE that piece and can not believe nobody else wanted it! I say take the books out and paint it. I would have to see more of the room to know what to paint it though but certainly do not get rid of it!!! It is an amazing piece!!

  30. Ooooh that is a toughy! I have a similar situation with a china cabinet that I bought when stationed overseas and I just can't bring myself to paint it for fear of regretting it.
    I think it would be beautiful either way. I love the collection of books you have!
    Nicole @

  31. I love painted furniture more than anything, but I actually will vote for leaving it as-is. I think the books are bringing some nice color to it already. Also, if you are not crazy abou the "do-da" on the sides, painting it will probably make them more noticable...I find when I can't make up my mind on stuff like this, it is usually best to step back for a while and mull it over until I have an epiphany about what to do :) Good luck!

  32. Its funny, I just did a post with the same title! I know what you mean about not being sure, since paint is such a commitment on wood... but it usually does end up looking great!

  33. I love the piece, but since you don't LOVE it, whip out that paintbrush and see if you can rekindle your affection for it. What have you got to lose?


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