Thursday, March 8, 2012

My Painted Furniture


If you've been following my blog for a while you know I love painting designs on my furniture. It's always a toss up though. It's quicker and easier to paint furniture a plain simple colour and white furniture sells very quickly while the more ornate pieces may take longer to find a home that suits them. But... I do like being that extra bit creative and making my painted furniture unique and different.

I often hear people say they can't draw or couldn't paint a design freehand. I hope that I can inspire you to think that you can do it and the best way forward it just to give it a try. If you muck it up, you can always paint over it.

I don't usually use stencils on furniture as I'm scared they will bleed and not be super neat.  And they are also expensive to buy! I did make my own Fleur de lis stencil but I usually just use it to trace in pencil and then paint it freehand.  Because I made it myself with a art knife, it's not that neat but as I'm painting freehand with a brush I can fix up any bits when I paint it.

Here are some of my makeovers using free hand painted designs:

I drew this damask on the dresser below freehand and painted it very carefully. To help me I enlarged the damask from the Graphics Fairy on my computer and then copied it bit by bit lightly with pencil. Things don't need to be as perfect as you think.  In nature there are barely any straight lines, but our eyes kind of straighten out any imperfections. Anyway I don't want my furniture looking like it's mass produced in a factory in China so I'm very happy with small imperfections.

and here is the same damask on a much smaller scale


I've also painted several union jack dressers. I initially thought I'd use painters tape to make it straight but I got little areas of bleeding and it also looked a bit too perfect. I was much better just drawing the lines on with chalk and then painting with a steady hand and a smaller brush.  To steady my arm, I will often hold my elbow with my other hand.

 and this one

This table was also painted using the same technique

I love painting harlequin patterns.  It makes furniture unique but not too "in your face" so it sells very well.  For the harlequin pattern, I do not use tape at all. I use a ruler (or the edge of my long spirit level) and draw diagonals from one corner to another and from there, draw the lines to create the harlequin. I then paint very carefully with a little artists brush. Time consuming, but I actually find it very relaxing.

I also painted several coffee tables in the same design.

I did use tape on the piece below and it worked very well


I have a special attachment to the fleur de lis. 
It's on my business card and I consider it my logo.


For the bird furniture I just paint the pieces freehand after drawing them lightly in pencil. There's no right or wrong with something like this.

and this piece I found on the side of the road

So if you've been wanting to try some different designs then don't be afraid to do some freehand painting. It's really not as hard as it seems.

So while I mop up my flooded back room (thank goodness for the painted concrete floors), I'm thinking of the flooded towns on NSW and sending good thoughts to people affected.

related posts

My guide to painting vintage furniture
How to clean your brushes
How to select a paint brush



  1. Gorgeous. You have a real talent there. Love the birds and the fleur de lys piece

    1. thanks Carolyn - I really appreciate you saying that. As I said to Tammy, when I emailed her back above - i really believe it's more that I try than have any real talent.
      have a lovely weekend
      cheers Fiona

  2. Those are great pieces, I remember seeing some at Balmain Rd! I hope your back room comes up okay :)

    1. hi Nat, the back room is fine -i had enough towels down but my shed where I store all my fabrics is very flooded and I've got a lot of sorting our to do today! Shame that Balmain Road isn't ever busy and more successful. I was in there yesterday and it's not looking good, and no one is ever in there. I'm literally around the corner and I loved having a "shop" so I'm pretty sad how it turned out.
      hope your place and garden isnt too waterlogged
      cheers Fiona

  3. I Love Every Single One Of Them !!!!

  4. Wow! All these pieces are so lovely! You definitely have talent!! :)

    Jessica @ NouvelleVieFurniture

    1. hi Jessica - thanks very much. hope you enjoy my blog.
      cheers Fiona

  5. Awesome look , i really appreciate your creativity.

  6. Love the union jack dressers - I had no idea you did them free hand. Will have to try holding my elbow on a few practice runs!

  7. You are so clever. I can't believe how beautiful you designs are. Mary x

  8. Wow Fiona, you are so talented, these designs are so fabulous!

  9. I'm totally in love with your creative side, Wow ,You are giving me some ideas to try. Tfs.

  10. You're so talented - so many of these projects are amazing reclamations. And I'm not a wood purist... but that second dresser breaks my heart. Clean lines, hand-carved details.. restore, don't paint.

  11. Beautiful work! Could I ask you about the chair and did you use paint in it? I have a Victorian Sofa and Loveseat that has gorgeous work scrolling on it. But it is dirty and I can't afford to have it re-upholsterer. I have been told that there is fabric paint for furniture. Are you familiar with any.
    Thank you for allowing me to see your talent. It is lovely.


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