What to paint?

As I sit and wait for four pieces of furniture to arrive….any day now, fingers crossed….I thought it might be interesting and useful to mention a bit about different styles of furniture and painting them.

As much as I love Poland- it is behind with regards to design and decorating.  People in this country are stuck in a theme or a specific style- there is no mixing.  Of course, I am generalizing but this has been my experience-chocolate brown and white are overly used colours and a lot of furniture in dark woods in very square shapes.  There is nothing wrong with it- but everybody has this and for some reason many Polish designers are nervous about changing it up a bit.

For example:


The above design is really quite lovely- but when all designers do the exact same thing than there is nothing special about it.

I like to paint furniture- this is the concept of my store.  I like to paint country or cottage style- particularly French.  The funny thing is that my own house doesn’t have of this style of furniture- it has more of an eclectic mix but for some reason I get real joy out of giving life to an old piece of furniture.  This is where the name “design disorder” comes from- my love of many styles.

I studied history of furniture in school.  It is unbelievable how many styles of furniture there are (particularly when trying to study them).  I really enjoyed the course and learned so much- but the average person doesn’t want or need to know this information when they only want to paint an armoire.

But- if you want to paint country or cottage style furniture- it is important to note what you can or cannot paint in this style.  For example, if you have an Art Deco chest of drawers- there is no way you can distress it, add some wax and call it “French country”.

Just to illustrate my point:

The person that painted this (and is trying to sell it) is advertising this as French country style (prowansja in Polish).      http://allegro.pl/okazja-komodka-prowansja-i1814574508.html

This is a huge pet peeve of mine.  The style of the furniture is Art Deco and the painter has thought by simply painting the furniture and distressing it then it will become French country.  Clearly not so.  The boxy shape, design and legs all still read as Art Deco.  But somebody may like it so I wish the seller good luck with it.

This is pretty standard with all modern furniture too.  If you have a square, flat, simple piece of furniture- you can’t distress it and call it French country.

French country particularly but most other country style of furniture have some curving but very simple lines- door fronts with curves and cabriole legs.  There are carvings and inlays and even basic pediments but very simple details because it was known as peasant furniture- the city folk had much shinier and more detailed furniture styles.  If you have ever had a look at any of the Renaissance periods you will know what I mean.

So what to paint and how to paint it?

If you have a strong desire to paint something in a French country or rustic style- the starting point is to be certain the piece will read as French or rustic after it is painted.  There should be decorative elements and ornamentation but very simple such as carvings or turnings.

The above piece with all of its carving details would really come to life once painted and distressed.


The turned legs of these chairs would look exceptional once painted and distressed.


This is when thrift store and yard sale shopping is fun.  Looking for a diamond in the rough.  Weeding through the garbage and finding a piece of furniture that is otherwise ugly but once painted they would take on an entirely new life.

Painting furniture is fun and rewarding- it is a way to bring new life to old furniture and create a whole new look.  It is cheap and relatively simple to do.  You can paint almost anything- the important part is that the piece of furniture dictates the style of painting.


2 thoughts on “What to paint?

  1. Natalie, I wouldn’t say that it has a particular style of any sort- but It was probably made in the late 80s, early 90s. It comes from either Holland or Germany so it was probably typical mass produced oak furniture of that decade. It is kind of a country-ish style. It was quite solid, in good shape- just ugly.

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