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View Poll Results: In your opinion, is it ever appropriate or wise to paint or refinish a piece of furniture that is ov
It is never wise or appropriate - it always diminishes the value of the furniture. 10 26.32%
If it's not a rare and/or valuable piece, it's a legitimate option. 17 44.74%
Whether it's valuable or not, it's morally objectionable, because you may be encouraging others to deface valuable antiques. 3 7.89%
It's your furniture, and your choice - not a matter of appropriate or not. Your stuff, your choice - go for it! 6 15.79%
Other (please expound) 2 5.26%
Voters: 38. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-26-2012, 07:24 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
44,300 posts, read 35,841,586 times
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Here's an interesting article by the way, from Peter Cook of Antiques Roadshow:

http://www.historicinteriors.com/fil...how%20Cook.pdf

From the article:
"Let the record show that Antiques roadshow generally agrees with this notion: Well-conceived and well-executed refinishing and restoration usually enhances the value of just about any piece of old furniture. Exceptions are those rare (often museum quality) pieces that have somehow survived in great original condition. If we say or imply the contrary, I think we should be called on it."
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Old 12-26-2012, 10:36 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
44,300 posts, read 35,841,586 times
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Don't refinish!


Do refinish!


Both are antiques - one is valuable, and one is not. Repainting or refinishing the second chair may in fact INCREASE it's value.
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Old 12-26-2012, 11:28 AM
 
Location: too far from the sea
19,615 posts, read 18,687,569 times
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I am retired and so I have downsized and do not have that much left. That said, I did refinish an oak dry sink back in the 80s. Someone had painted it with black enamel paint and so I stripped it and brought it back to its natural state. I think I was right in doing that and it's a handy little piece that I still enjoy.

I have a small chest made entirely of cedar, inside and out. It was made by my grandfather long before I was born and a relative had painted it some horrible color. She had used it as a toy box for her kids. I stripped it down and it looks a lot better. Cedar doesn't have a beautiful grain to begin with but I like it better this way and since it's just a home made country piece (not made by anyone famous and not epitomizing any particular era) I think I have more leeway to do what I want. It will stay in the family.

Small tiger maple drop leaf dining table that belonged to my aunt, mid 1800s, I think. I oil it and that's all. Maple is such a durable and beautiful wood and with the interesting grain, it would be almost criminal for anyone to paint it.

Oldish but cheap (stamped SEARS on the back) china cabinet in walnut. Belonged to my grandmother so there's some sentimental value but not much intrinsic value--anyone can do what they want to it. It needs to be refinished.

Ethan Allen hutch is maple and it's still in very good condition. Most of my mother's Ethan Allen furniture was from the 60s and I gave it away to a family member who has more room for it. At least it was well made, unlike most of the furniture today.

There are tons of Ethan Allen furniture in thrift stores because it's out of style. I remember when there were tons of Victorian furniture in junk stores and then it came back into style.

If you have something that's good quality I think it's usually best to leave it alone rather than wrecking it with the style of the day finish. (A beautiful piano that was "antiqued" back in the 60s comes to mind--a garish streaky green finish.) Things that are well made and of quality materials should be respected and left alone.

With a cheap wood like pine, it's not so easy to make a decision. Often pine was made to be painted. The area I used to live in was home to a type of small chest called a Hadley Chest. The first time I saw one (two actually, at auction) I thought they were the ugliest things I had ever seen--even though I had dragged myself out of bed early and got to that auction just to see them. If I'd had $2000 I might have been able to buy one. Had I been an idiot I might have painted it.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Hadl...iw=861&bih=402

That was about 1970 and I think rumor had it that there were only a little over 100 of them in existence. Rare, ugly, battered because they were out of style and had been used as pieces of junk, they could easily have attracted people who wanted something to paint or "distress" or "antique."

More and more of these chests have come to light and I noticed that one was appraised on Antiques Roadshow for $30-$35,000 last year. They are treasures and their design and use date from medieval England. Make sure you know what you have -- and if it's something decent, before you change it in any way, it's a good idea to talk to a professional.
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Old 12-26-2012, 11:28 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
44,300 posts, read 35,841,586 times
Reputation: 62649
Don't refinish!


Do refinish!


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Old 12-26-2012, 11:31 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
44,300 posts, read 35,841,586 times
Reputation: 62649
Quote:
Originally Posted by in_newengland View Post
I am retired and so I have downsized and do not have that much left. That said, I did refinish an oak dry sink back in the 80s. Someone had painted it with black enamel paint and so I stripped it and brought it back to its natural state. I think I was right in doing that and it's a handy little piece that I still enjoy.

I have a small chest made entirely of cedar, inside and out. It was made by my grandfather long before I was born and a relative had painted it some horrible color. She had used it as a toy box for her kids. I stripped it down and it looks a lot better. Cedar doesn't have a beautiful grain to begin with but I like it better this way and since it's just a home made country piece (not made by anyone famous and not epitomizing any particular era) I think I have more leeway to do what I want. It will stay in the family.

Small tiger maple drop leaf dining table that belonged to my aunt, mid 1800s, I think. I oil it and that's all. Maple is such a durable and beautiful wood and with the interesting grain, it would be almost criminal for anyone to paint it.

Oldish but cheap (stamped SEARS on the back) china cabinet in walnut. Belonged to my grandmother so there's some sentimental value but not much intrinsic value--anyone can do what they want to it. It needs to be refinished.

Ethan Allen hutch is maple and it's still in very good condition. Most of my mother's Ethan Allen furniture was from the 60s and I gave it away to a family member who has more room for it. At least it was well made, unlike most of the furniture today.

There are tons of Ethan Allen furniture in thrift stores because it's out of style. I remember when there were tons of Victorian furniture in junk stores and then it came back into style.

If you have something that's good quality I think it's usually best to leave it alone rather than wrecking it with the style of the day finish. (A beautiful piano that was "antiqued" back in the 60s comes to mind--a garish streaky green finish.) Things that are well made and of quality materials should be respected and left alone.

With a cheap wood like pine, it's not so easy to make a decision. Often pine was made to be painted. The area I used to live in was home to a type of small chest called a Hadley Chest. The first time I saw one (two actually, at auction) I thought they were the ugliest things I had ever seen--even though I had dragged myself out of bed early and got to that auction just to see them. If I'd had $2000 I might have been able to buy one. Had I been an idiot I might have painted it.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Hadl...iw=861&bih=402

That was about 1970 and I think rumor had it that there were only a little over 100 of them in existence. Rare, ugly, battered because they were out of style and had been used as pieces of junk, they could easily have attracted people who wanted something to paint or "distress" or "antique."

More and more of these chests have come to light and I noticed that one was appraised on Antiques Roadshow for $30-$35,000 last year. They are treasures and their design and use date from medieval England. Make sure you know what you have -- and if it's something decent, before you change it in any way, it's a good idea to talk to a professional.
Thanks for your very well thought out and intelligent response. I agree with all that you've stated here.

By the way, I don't have a Hadley chest, but I do have a 1910 Swedish wedding chest with the original paint. Yes, the paint is very chipped and faded. And the piece is barely 100 years old, so in many circles it's not yet a "serious" antique. But I will certainly NEVER paint it and will make sure my kids understand the importance of keeping it in it's original finish.

When I lived in Germany I could have picked up these chests, dating from the 1600s, for under $1000 - but most were in bad shape. I did buy the TOP of one, with the original lock, which was itself worth about $700 (the lock alone).
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:24 AM
 
5,818 posts, read 5,149,036 times
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Whatever is done to a piece of furniture over the course of its useful life is part of the story of the piece. If you care about the story, or think your children or future buyers might care about it, then don't mess with what has been done to the piece over time.

But if you think the importance of the piece is only that it is a representative of a certain era, and it has been changed over time and you don't care about the story that the changes tell, then it's ok to carefully make changes to make the piece look as though it might have looked when it was original.

And if a piece is from the era of mass production, and you don't care about the story of the piece, do what you want with it - it becomes just a decorator item rather than an "antique". I was taught that not everything that is historic is necessarily a valuable antique.

Here's a horror story that still bothers me. My mother bought an "Old Hickory" table and chairs set at an auction. In case you don't know Old Hickory - the natural bark was left on the legs and edges. Very popular at turn of the century resorts or lake homes! At some point in its history the set had been painted black. Oh, it was so sad and ugly, but I still so coveted that set! But my mother decided she would "refinish" it herself - and as a result took the wood down to a smooth shiney finish. That was worse than the black paint, because it is irreversable. I can't even bear to look at that set any more, and surely don't want it anymore.

So, here's what I would have chosen as an option if you had given it in the poll. It's ok to do only what is "reversable" to antique furniture. Paint or new fabrics can be removed, but destroying original wood or fabric or other parts of the item can never be undone.
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Old 06-29-2013, 07:47 PM
 
Location: Up on the moon laughing down on you
18,509 posts, read 28,089,031 times
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My rule of thumb is if it's old and in good condition don't paint.

If it is best up, torn laminate etc, fix and paint.

I agree with the others too that if it is a cheap craigslist find, paint it.

Don't be gaudy though. Go easy on the dark greens, blues and pinks.

Stick with white, black or very light hues, or even a sponged white over coat.

Go easy on the golds and silvers too. Some people go over board.
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Old 07-03-2013, 11:23 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
44,300 posts, read 35,841,586 times
Reputation: 62649
LOL I am about to refinish this antique - I think it's a good decision!



This narrow kitchen table is solid wood and very sturdy. I have no idea why anyone ever mistreated it! I am going to reclaim it - but since it's simple pine and not particularly valuable (though I believe it dates to the 1920s) I may do something fun with it. Pine doesn't have a particularly beautiful grain so I'm definitely going to paint it. I'll post pictures when I'm done!
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Old 07-09-2013, 06:40 PM
 
Location: Wonderland
44,300 posts, read 35,841,586 times
Reputation: 62649
I just found this little gem at a local resale shop for $129. I won't be refinishing it!

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Old 06-22-2016, 11:01 PM
 
26,160 posts, read 15,284,678 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cushla
Anything that takes away the patina of a piece of antique furniture will reduce its value.
Yes if @ all possible NOT TAKING ITS PURITY AWAY is a grand thing do to...... Nothing PURE left in this world.... WHY RUIN WHATS LEFT THAT IS?? (If you dont have to)
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