Arts and Crafts Painted Furniture

Arts and Crafts

Gustav Signed Mission Oak Desk From

Arts and Crafts furniture is a style that is widely collected across America.  In 1988, Barbra Streisand paid $363,000 for a Stickley sideboard from Craftsman Farms.  Genuine Gustav Stickley furniture is highly sought after, with collectors paying thousands for this name.  The majority of Arts and Crafts furniture is not painted.  It is left bare.  Many collectors of this style shun any suggestion to paint the furniture.

In an Arts and Crafts Collectors Guide's article, the question is asked...  Should I buy Arts & Crafts furniture that is painted?

"I recall seeing an article many, many years ago in which the author was advising his readers to cut the legs down on an Arts & Crafts hexagon table to turn it into a coffee table, then paint it robin’s egg blue. I have not come across it yet, but I did once buy a Gustav Stickley rocker off a porch in Kentucky. Seems each time they painted the porch, they painted the rocker. “Battleship Gray” was their favorite flavor."

Collector groups always respond with a "No"- Don't paint furniture, and CERTAINLY don't buy painted furniture, with an emphasis on NO!  Why?  "People, even misguided authors, don’t typically paint a perfect antique, even if it is out of style"  they say.

Granted, painting furniture does destroy the original finish.  If you are a person concerned about retaining the original value of your furniture, then by all means, don't even think about painting or changing the hardware on any antique you come across.  If you hope to sell it, you may not get full price for it. If you are concerned with value, then research the name of the piece, before you decide what to do with it.

Here are a three points to keep in mind before painting an antique:

1.  Know Your Style

My motto is you should love the pieces you live with.  Don't own a piece of furniture just because someone told you it might be worth money.  Live with a style that you truly adore.  If paint helps it fit in better within your home, then go for it.

Know the style you love and be authentic towards that look.  If you adore the Arts and Crafts period, take a good look at the style by looking through pictures on pinterest.  Determine how authentic you want to be towards the genuine look.  If you don't paint the furniture, consider painting the walls, and accenting your walls with true antique pieces.

2.  Style Your Home For You

Collect pieces for YOU, not because someone else loves them.  My mom always told me, "when you get your own home, you can do what you wish"  Decorate to please you, and not your family or friends.

King Solomon was a King that was known to be given great wisdom by Yahweh, The Almighty God.   Ecclesiastes was written by the King in his old age.  Being one of the wealthiest Kings to ever have lived, he tells us that he built great homes, mind blowing vineyards, and spent his life with endless projects which he lived to regret.  He came to realize that getting closer to God was a life that really mattered, not one with endless projects.  In one area of this book he suggests that your life's projects may not be valued the same by your kids. They might be happy to donate the needlework you spent years doing, or happy to get rid of those endless chairs you collect.  How often do kids get a piece of property, and instead of holding it in the family, they sell the property to get the money out of it? The parents might have spent years building up the barns, and the gardens, only for the children to over look the years of work.  More often that not, your children won't love and adore the projects that you have spent your life time on, so why think of collecting pieces just to give to them?

Enjoy the pieces you bring into your home for you.  If your piece is only worth about $300 dollars, then factor in that today you can buy something newer for the same price.  While the older furniture is more valuable, made of solid wood than particle board for one example, don't let it's value hold you back from making it your own.

3.  If You DO Paint it, Use Period Paint Colors. 

Period paint colors can make your antique or vintage style furniture appear to look more authentic.  Look at color guides to determine which color schemes are popular through this time period and pick something that you would love.  Paint can be the perfect way of uniting several pieces of furniture.

About Gustav Stickley

Gustav Stickley (March 9, 1858 – April 21, 1942) was a furniture manufacturer and design leader for the American Craftsman style, an extension of the British Arts and Crafts movement In America. His furniture was massive and often featured hammered metal hardware, dyed leather, canvas, terry cloth and other upholstery materials complemented the designs. In the 1900's Stickley's furniture evolved from the solid furniture he was known for, to lighter shapes. It is particularly his early furniture, produced between 1901 and 1904 that is considered rare and ultra collectible.


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