This antique Australian Western red cedar dresser is probably the most controversial piece I've ever painted. So controversial in fact that it's taken me several months to blog about it. It nearly turned me off painting for a while and the controversy over it on my facebook page really made me consolidate my thoughts on painting valuable old furniture.
I thought I might share my thoughts with you but I'm sure lots of people are going to disagree with me. While I'm more than happy to hear and learn your thoughts and perhaps even be persuaded otherwise, I'd appreciate your politeness and kindness. I've had enough rude comments and it's just not appreciated. I think people at the time forgot that I was PAID to paint it and the decision to paint it was not mine.
So my feeling about painting antiques or beautiful timber is unless it's in an actual museum, realise that you own the piece and you can do what you want with it. If that means painting it so you love it, then understand that you may possibly be decreasing its value but if you are okay with that, then go ahead and paint. It is yours, do what you want with it. However my advice is ensure that you do a good job of refinishing it. You won't want to regret your decision.
Cate inherited this piece from her beloved grandmother. Cate has strong memories of this piece and her nana's house and playing hide and seek around it and she really wanted it in her house, now her grandmother has died. Saying all that, Cate did not want it unpainted in her house, she has floorboards that would clash with that red timber. Cate wanted the piece to be a dramatic black and planned to have the piece as a statement piece in her dining room.
Here is how the piece came to me. It's obviously been sitting in dusty storage for a while.
I spent ages cleaning it up. Dust is the enemy of a good paint job. This piece is very old and has lots of signs of age but wow it came up beautifully with a good clean.
I almost started to doubt Cate's decision to paint at this point because the timber is obviously beautiful and Cate and I had long discussions about what her vision was and why she wanted it painted. She said she would love this piece painted and even though she was potentially decreasing the value of it, she didn't care as she's never selling it as she loves the memories of her grandmother it brings. The only value of it for Cate is sentimental value. And Cate wanted the dresser black!
We even discussed the potential value of the dresser, a thousand dollars at auction possibly, but Cate wanted the dresser to treasure forever so selling is not an option.
So I started painting. I used ASCP Graphite and it made the piece very dramatic and definitely a statement piece. Love or hate it, it doesn't really matter as Cate and her husband loved it so really that's all that matters.
You'll have to forgive my photography of this piece I never got to take proper photos of it, just iPhone snapped not in the best light.
It now sits in Cate's dining room, pride of palace and brings much joy to Cate every time she walks in the room.
So I think that if you have a piece that you absolutely love and treasure but you want it painted, then get it painted. Just make sure it's definitely what you want as it's almost impossible to strip the paint off and restore the original patina and finish.
While I was reading about painting antiques I read this comment in a forum "There is no point in living with something you don't love - and just because it has been painted won't take away the fact you still got it from your great-grandmother." So true.
If you are painting an antique to resell, then I'd definitely get an appraisal and possibly choose less valuable pieces. It's funny though if a French woman painted a piece of furniture 150 years ago then people would be horrified if someone was going to strip off the paint. You just can't win sometimes.
If you are going to love it "ruined by painting" then that is OK!
What are your thoughts?