Skip to main content
Colour TrendsEvery man should read this one

Is Painted Furniture on Its Way Out?

By 09/15/2012January 28th, 201729 Comments

I received this great question from Tamara recently:


‘I love your blog and have learned so much about undertones and choosing colors.  We’ve all noticed the plethora of painted wood furniture lately.  At first I thought it was just a trend and that dark wood will be back, but I’m not sure anymore.   What do you think?  I have a house full of beautiful furniture, but all in dark wood tones.  I’m thinking of painting a few pieces white, but don’t want to do it if the light painted wood trend is on its way out. 

Would welcome your opinion, and I bet I’m not the only one stumped by this!’


Here is the short answer:

If you look at any well decorated interior there is usually a mixture of painted wood in addition to dark or light wood tones. If you hired a designer to decorate your entire house  with custom furniture you would probably have a selection of wood and painted finishes.

Just like if you hired a designer to decorate your master bedroom they would not help you buy a matched set of five pieces. You might have two painted end tables, along with an upholstered bed with a stained wood dresser and chair and so on.

If you have a matched bedroom, dining room or coffee table set, painting your end tables, coffee table or dining chairs either white or a colour will instantly inject a more collected look and feel to the room!

Which piece in your house is calling out to be painted?

Related posts:

The Best Reason to Paint Wood Furniture

Kiss your Old Furniture Bye, Bye

Danger: The First 24 Hours After you Take Possession

Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours: It’s All in the Undertones to learn how to get colour to do what you want.

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.


0 pins


  • Dianne Tant says:

    thanks – I am in totally agreement with you. love painted wood furniture mixed in. sell it in my Booth

  • Kristie@thedecorologist says:

    Good advice, Maria. Nothing freshens up a dated space like a good mix of wood and painted finishes. It’s about balance, of course. My clients that love painted furniture tend to want to paint it ALL – again, balance is key!

  • Carol Anne says:

    well said…

  • StagerLinda says:

    I agree Maria. I love true painted antiques. I do think you need mad painting skills to produce a really great painted piece. (Seen a few too many DIY projects without a successful outcome.)

  • Becky says:

    Funny you should ask…planning to paint coffee table and end tables that we inherited when we bought a furnished place. They are dark wood and “matchy matchy” so want to make them not so much. My dilemma is the table top…now a *&^%% ugly “faux” granite countertop….and trying to find an economical and durable yet stylish top if we paint the legs. I welcome ideas from you readers for a replacement to the granite countertop. Re: paint… I am a new fan of Cabinet Coat paint as it gives a nice finish–close to spray. Used a good quality foam brush to help the application and sanded between coats. Two end tables went from screaming “I’m from the 1980s ” dark green to a lovely dove white to go with our new palladian blue bed room (repainted from pinky beige, thank you very much, Maria). Looking forward to hearing ideas.

    • mairi says:

      Becky, where did you find the Cabinet Coat paint? Sounds exactly what I need…
      Re: your table top- an alternative to the glass idea (if you like DIY) is to buy a few sheets of 1 inch glass tile which come in 12×12 for backsplashes. Walmart has them for $4 a sheet this week in opaque whites and light grey mix. A bargain. A small amount of tile adhesive and grout and your done. If the edges don’t quite make it, go to Michaels for smaller sized glass tiles to make a border and have fun with colour!

  • Ginger says:

    I think painted wood itself is not a trend, but the colours are. Bright turquoise or green won’t always be on trend. Things are easily repainted, though, so that shouldn’t stop anyone from choosing a colour they love, or even one that is fun for now. I do think, if you love your wood furniture as it is, that you should think carefully before painting it. You can’t easily go back.

  • BillP says:

    Becky, I too have a table base that confounded me. I ended up buying a glass tabletop and it looks great. In addition to painted and stained wood, every good room needs some glass! There are many glass choices online- shape, size, thickness are all variables. Now I think I’ll paint the base.

  • Maggie says:

    I honestly hope so!

  • Hey Maria, I concur! I have a sanded down dresser in my bedroom that I will paint once I get around to redoing the bedroom. I found it at the side of the road on garbage day and it is amazing!! By painting items it gives them a new, fresh one of a kind look. It also means that people are upcycling furniture and I’m always a big fan of that too. Mixing and matching is essential for a fabulous design!!

  • I just painted/glazed my 25 year old dark oak end tables. They were in perfect condition but I was just plain tired of them 😉 They’ve taken on a whole new look that better suits the Louis XVI style they have. I was going for a lighter touch in our living room and this technique did the trick 🙂

    Whether it’s a trend or not, some people will always like painted furniture…some not. Go with what suits you:-)

  • eva says:

    I love painted furniture and I always give my customers this option of mixing wood tones and painted. I also believe that every piece looks at its best in some color. Natural or painted.

  • Perfect answer to your question. Painted pieces mixed in with wood pieces is the way to go. I grew up in the early 60’s and my mother painted just about every single piece of furniture in our house because that was “the look”. Today I have many of her painted pieces in my own home and they are as timeless as ever. I never think painted pieces will be totally “out” but I do think certain colors will be “out”.

  • Susan@Susan Silverman Designs says:

    Maria, I totally agree with you. Love the look of painted furniture mixed in with wood tones.

  • agree with you and the other ladies, a balance of painted and wood finishes is much more interesting than all wood. It’s a project and you have to want to make all the decisions that come with painted furniture, like, hello, COLOR!

    So, I guess this is a time when your creative juices can get going? I only know one thing, and of course, this is my opinion, whenever possible bring COLOR to the project.

  • Beth says:

    Oh, this is making my head ache again about our master bedroom. One of our two bedside tables needs to be different; I’m just not sure if we go painted or with a different table/wood, given the aesthetic and the differences between the bed and the bedside tables/armoire. I’ve been trying to push it aside but Maria moved it forward again.

  • Rebecca says:

    Painting a chunky coffee table a bright glossy orange this week. But I often paint furniture in a glossy black – hard to go wrong with that…

  • Becky says:

    Billp…great idea….thanks for the advice….glass would keep it lighter and airy too…right?

  • Maria,

    At times only photos can give a person the right defination to resolve the issue or question. It is about balance (of both) in all things and of course the light in the room is the real helper.


  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    Hey Maria, the interior designs in the book I gave you, Et Home, by Carl Larsson, illustrates this whole subject! Carl and his wife pioneered painted furniture in Sweden in the early 1900’s because they were artists and wanted to cheer up their home for the sake of their children and because the winters were so long and dark. They went against the grain of interior design at the time, which was dark furnishings and heavy tapestries. His wife Karen was a textile designer and successful in her own right. Check out his paintings of their home. They are beautiful! They really changed the complexion of Swedish design for years to come after that.

  • A home should be a reflection of YOU, not what the latest trend says it should be, whether that includes painted furniture or not, or a mix is up to you . After all, home is where you live:)

  • Jennifer says:

    Great answer to a great question!! I love a few painted pieces mixed in as well and I love a painted Kitchen. I think painted furniture is here to stay (it’s been around for decades) but the color and technique will change from time to time, from distressing to motifs to striping!

  • Tricia says:

    I just recently decided to paint some wood peices including my mother’s hope chest that I am using as an entertainment stand. I selected black with some mild distressing and it looks fantastic. I have a couple of other larger peices that I want to paint and I can’t decide if I should continue with the black or choose something else? Perhaps a dark chocolate, cream or something bright? Any thoughts would be appreciated! Thanks for the great article!

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Tricia, It’s very hard to say without seeing your space. If you have lots of cream or white already in trim, etc then that’s a good option too. Maria

  • LizzieBeth says:

    Oh, goodness! Painted furniture is not a trend. It has always existed.

  • Mineral says:

    I have a matched dining set from the 20’s. It was a reproduction of something even then. About 5 years ago I was thinking of painting the buffet for exactly the reasons you talk about. But I was also working with a very good designer. Her advice was not to do it: “that would be so Better Homes and Gardens.” And I guess I’m glad I didn’t. Now I’m in a new house in a new city and my rooms are too dark/heavy. I have a sculptural coffee table from the 60’s I’m thinking of painting. Hmmmm.

  • Ange Mills says:

    I had old dated oak dining room set distressed black and loved how it updated the set. Several years later I changed out the chairs and it changed the look again. Amazing how paint will make things new again.

  • Loren Snyder says:

    Another wonderful paint product is Annie Sloan chalk paint. There are many colours, a variety of finishes (plain or distressed), and the best part is you can paint directly on varnished surfaces.
    Have fun being creative!

Leave a Reply