A Future for Furniture – Trendy paints to revive antiques and thrift store finds

Everywhere you look – furniture and décor stores, magazines and Pinterest – you’ll see upcycled pieces of furniture: beautifully ornate white dressers and rich espresso coloured tables, chairs and benches that have seen a great deal of use over time. If there’s a piece that you still love because of its classic lines, or it was an absolute steal at an auction, or you “reclaimed” it from someone’s driveway on bulk garbage day, why not revive it and show it off proudly with a fresh coat of furniture paint?

There are several different types of paint used to paint furniture and achieve that sought-after, expensive vintage look. Paints that contain chalk as a binder such as Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint and Canadian-made van Gogh Fossil Paint are very easy to work with and definitely on trend. Other brands, including Fusion Mineral Paint and Country Chic (both also made in Canada) also offer a wide range of colours.

Don’t feel guilty about wanting to paint your grandmother’s dresser or your mom’s sideboard. “It empowers people in such an easy and simple way,” explains Kathy van Gogh, Artistic Director for 
van Gogh Fossil Paint. With a fresh coat of paint and a little distressing “before you know it, you have transformed an ugly duckling into a swan. That’s very empowering; it evokes pride, contentment and confidence,” van Gogh claims. “I still feel that way every time I paint a piece.” If distressed French Country isn’t the look you’re going for, paint your piece and put the wax topcoat on without distressing it for a high-gloss, glamorous look.

Today’s furniture paints are very easy for weekend DIY decorators to get the look they want in less time. They’re premixed and engineered to give an even look. “I like instant gratification,” van Gogh explains. “It also levels out beautifully all by itself – creating this velvety-smooth finish.”

The Revive Studio in Puslinch carries Cottage Paint, a Canadian company-based out of Toronto. There are 50 shades available. “This is by far my favourite line of furniture paint to use because there is so much to experiment with,” says Tanya Vermaas. “In addition to their amazing paint, they also offer many decorative ‘add-ons’ such as metallic wax, antique glaze, transfer oil, crackle medium, texture paste, fabric adhesives, and stencils, to name my favourites.” There’s also furniture cleaner available to prep your piece as well as a clear furniture primer, which Vermaas says she uses for almost every project she does.

Choosing the type of desired finish is also easy, since Cottage Paint also makes beeswax and acrylic topcoats, and a varnish that comes in four different lusters, from flat to high gloss. The colours sold most often and used the most for custom work, according to Vermaas, are whites, greys, soft blues/greens, and neutrals (beige/off white). “However, when clients are open to ideas and trust my judgement I love to experiment with bolder colours and the results are always incredible.”

If you’re interested in upcycling an old piece of furniture, but don’t know where to begin, you could always take a course at a local shop that carries furniture paint. Graham & Brooks in Dundas carries a line called Bluestone Cottage Chalky Patina Paint, and offers workshops that teach you the basics. Revive Studio offer workshops as well. Your best bet is to find a paint that you like, then check that store’s website for any upcoming workshops and events.

Some people find the distressing process is actually the most creative – cathartic even. One thing to watch out for: it’s addictive!

from The Revive Studio
1. Prep your piece properly to ensure long lasting results (cleaning/priming).
2. Always paint with the grain, and pull your brush strokes all the way through the piece to ensure a smooth finish (don’t stop/start brush strokes in the middle).
3. Thick coats of paint don’t dry properly or adhere properly. Three thin coats are always better than one thick coat.

Experiment and have fun!

Local Links 
The Revive Studio

4028 ON-6, Puslinch

Graham & Brooks
43 Cootes Dr, Dundas

The Painted Bench
208 Ottawa St North, Hamilton


Vintage Charm
233 James St North, Hamilton


Vintage Vogue
41B Main St West, Grimsby

Décor on a Dime
1205 Rymal Road East, Hamilton


Shabbyfufu Studio
211 Ottawa St N, Hamilton


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