Look for the silver lining

I know that furniture pieces made from poor wood stock, or poorly designed furniture can be improved by painting them.

There are situations when good furniture pieces can be enhanced by paint and decorative details.

Dear Debbie: I know that furniture pieces made from poor wood stock, or poorly designed furniture can be improved by painting them. However, paint should never be a solution with good wood stock. Please don’t encourage this kind of decoration. – Jacob

Dear Jacob: Yes, I agree there is nothing more beautiful than a lush piece of mahogany, a silky maple floor or an ancient walnut cabinet. The individual graining and colours of these quality woods bring life, depth and richness to our homes. However, too much wood can give a room a heavy, dark atmosphere that isn’t to everyone’s liking.

This can be adjusted by painting or papering the walls in light tones and choosing fabrics and upholstery that are bright. But some of the wood can also be painted. There are washes and rubs that highlight the beauty of the wood grain while lightening the tone.

The judicious application of paint can highlight a shape, produce an antique or modern edge, and transform a piece into a special feature. It comes down to personal preference, and I do encourage everyone to surround themselves with shapes, colours and moods that they are drawn to, that suit their lifestyles and make them smile.

In the loft bedroom shown here, the mood is peaceful. There is no dramatic colour contrast; the palette of white, black and gray is quiet and neutral. The dressing table is the star with its silver painted finish and mirrored panels.

Mirror panels on tables and chests are popular right now, and this piece introduces a Retro feel to the modern decor. The paint highlights rather than obscures the lines of the table, enhancing its design and purpose.

Our relationship with objects, in this case, wood furniture, is subjective. There are good paint strippers and sanders for those who acquire a piece they love but would like to refinish.

Dear Debbie: I have solid oak kitchen cabinets that are in great shape. However, I like the look of white cabinets. Can they be refinished to look like professionally built white cabinets? Friends have told me oak is difficult to paint because of the grain. – Karen

Dear Karen: I would meet the problem half way. Keep the grain and rub white paint over the doors to get the light look you want.

They will need to be sanded first to rough up the sealed finish and then apply a coat of white paint and rub it back moving in one direction with the grain. Don’t try to paint solid white as the grain will show through. If you want the solid white look, then replace the doors.

Dear Debbie: I am at a loss as to what flooring would be the best for my living room. I’d like to get laminate or engineered hardwood, but would it go with the cedar vaulted ceiling? What would you recommend? – Brenda

Dear Brenda: Don’t try to match the wood. There is a great variety of designs and colours available today in laminates that will complement rather than fight with your beautiful cedar vaulted ceiling.

You have a big space covered with the natural beauty of cedar. Keep that the focal point, and I would go for something really different such as a white or gray laminate floor, These floors come presealed and are easy to install. They will change the look of your room.

Another option is carpet tile. These come in both neutral and bold colours, individual tiles are replaceable and you can create fun designs with them.

Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com.

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