Friday, March 14, 2014

Painting ornate details - Antique French Bedside tables

When I showed photos of these beautiful bedside tables I finished painting on Wednesday, I had several people email and comment asking how do I paint the white detail.

I think adding a contrasting colour to the details makes the ornate furniture look a little bit extra special and gives the furniture a unique look. I paint the whole piece the base colour with my normal paint brushes and then with a small flat head artists' brush I paint the white on using a steady hand. I give it two  coats of white to ensure a relatively good opaqueness. If you want to achieve this look, do some research on old french furniture that have this two toned effete and you will find that you don't need to be perfectly neat. You don't want your furniture to look like it was mass produced in a factory (well I don't anyway!). My aim with painting these beautiful old pieces to to make them look like they were painted years ago in Europe and that they have an authentic look to them.

You can see from the photo above the difference the white paint makes. It lifts the whole piece, I think.  Adding the dark wax to antique it adds an even further air of authenticity. Below I've shown some detailed photos. You can see that the white detailing is not factory finish but from a normal viewing distance it looks beautiful.

Someone commented on Instagram that they would be scared to paint the detail a contrasting colour in case they ruined the whole piece. I say, it's only paint. If you make a mistake or don't like the effect you've achieved then just paint over it. As you get more experienced painting the details you will get better at making it look authentic. Take you time and use a steady hand. I find that sitting down while painting the trim helps a lot also.

These bedsides sold pretty much immediately from my facebook page and I then had three other people asking to be next in line so they certainly were popular. With their pretty legs, concave fronts and muted paint work I can understand why.

As well as dark wax you could also use an antique glaze on the details to age them.  These methods for aging the paint really soften the piece and make it very pretty.

Do you like the effect? Have you painted this french look before? Love to hear how you go about it also.

Fiona x


  1. Just stunning. You are a beautiful painter

  2. it definatley brings the piece alive -love dee x

  3. Thank you so much for this post - I live in the UK and am just starting out on a business painting furniture having spent many years restoring and reupholstering furniture as a hobby. Your blog is a great inspiration and encouragement and I really appreciate the way you share your experiences and knowledge. (I am also new to the world of blogs and I will stop being "Anonymous" just as soon as I figure out how to create a profile..!) Sally-Ann

  4. Oh I love these tables, they are fabulous and the detail on them is exquisite. Hugs, Marty

  5. So gorgeous! I think they turned out beautifully! Pinned!

  6. So beautiful, you are doing a wonderful job! Stop by my new blog if you like :)

  7. looks so beautiful specially the finishing touch of this french furniture that makes it more live and I just loved it.

  8. These are unbelievably gorgeous Fiona !!!
    I do contrasting colors too - and they definitely bring out the designs that are lost are many pieces -
    I'm going up to look at these beauties again LOL


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