November 3, 2010

Whatever floats your boat…

Yesterday’s post about the beauty of warm brown woods sparked some really interesting comments so I thought I’d continue on the conversation…


{the carved wooden mirror in my bedroom}

I should say first up front that there’s not really much I can’t love or don’t see a place for.  In the appropriate space and for the right person, I can get into {almost} anything.  This goes for wood- painted, stained, raw, etc.- too.  I think my post about the beauty of wood might have given some readers the impression that I don’t like painted pieces or raw wood pieces, which is definitely not the case.

I have a variety of wood finishes in my own home.  I have dark mahogany pieces, warm honey stained pieces, raw wood, painted pieces and even a limewashed piece or two.

{My office with a painted white work table, chairs & aqua Gustavian desk}
I love mixing woods & finishes and have seen it done well and seen it done poorly.  I love the mix of woods in this living room by Susannae Kasler:
{Living Room by Susanne Kasler via Willow Decor}

What started me on thinking of the warm brown woods is not because I don’t love the grayed/ raw woods  (I do) but because I think -like everything- that once a trend has taken such a hold of us it’s easy to look at the other things -like warm brown woods- and say that they’re “out.”  For me, seeing something over & over gets me appreciating the stuff that’s not as played up.


{my dining room mixes woods}

I love painting over wooden furniture. To me, not much is too holy to paint over if a piece isn’t working as-is. That being said, I also love unpainted wooden pieces. There really aren’t many absolutes to me. It all comes down to the feeling & desired look of the space the piece is going in. It has to work for the person living in the space.  The room of painted white furniture that might work for a cottage-loving girl won’t work for the lady who loves her Bristish Colonial antiques.  I don’t think either are wrong and to me, it’s difficult to judge the design of a room without knowing who lives there and what feeling they want it to have.

{Restoration Hardware}

I mentioned the trend of grayed woods & limewashes – and how it’s saturated the marketplace and has really taken  ahold as a trend.  Seeing so much of one things tends to get us “over” it way too quickly.  So quickly that I think we judge something on how “trendy” it is rather than on its actual merit.  (I.e. “I don’t like that because it’s everywhere,” vs. “I don’t like that because it doesn’t work there.”)  The shelf lives of trends are short these days and I think they’re only going to get shorter because more & more people are beginning to read & write blogs & use the internet.  Something we see that we love in a magazine gets circulated over & over throughout the blogs.  We eat it up and chew on it until we’re all sick of it and then we say “over it” before most of mainstream America has even gotten the chance to notice it or purchase it.  Or someone can take a picture of something cool she did in her home and in a couple of weeks it can be seen on multiple blogs and eventually even find its way into catalogs and magazines.  It’s happening so quickly.  As natural as it is to get “over” stuff, I can’t help but thinking it’s not really fair either.


{The “Brickmaker’s table…  was and probably always will be a favorite of mine.  Yes, I know it’s everywhere, but I still want it.}

Think about the people who have spent years developing a product- a coffee table for example…  is it really worth it for them to spend all of that time & money developing a product whose shelf life is only going to be 6 months or 1 year?  And think about how much more they’d need to charge for an item if it were to only be sold for 1 year.  OR they have to get into “disposable” furniture that doesn’t hold up/ cost a lot to develop but is trendy.  When I arrived at High Point Market a couple of weeks ago, InterHall was packed with the grayed woods & limewashes…  As beautiful as they are, I definitely got tired of seeing “another gray showroom.”  It’s a natural reaction.  We want something “new…”  or so old or out that it’s “back.”  But how unfair of me to go there and see all these beautiful pieces that are brand new and get over them in 3 days?  Ridiculous.

So in the end it seems pointless to chase trends.  Stay on top of them and know what’s up?  Definitely.  Add a piece or two to stay updated?  Sure.  Do a a trendy room strictly because it’s “in?”  No way, but if you love a trend, go for it.  If you’ll love it even when the rest of us think it’s “out,” then it’s worth purchasing.  Purchase what you love because the trends are flying by at a ridiculously fast pace.  Still, don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun because not everything you buy needs to last you 20 years.

As far as the grayed & raw finishedsI saw at High Point…  will I use them?  For the right client & home, yes, just as easily as I would do mahogany or painted wood or a warm honey oak.

And to capitalspice who left a great comment, I say, definitely paint your kitchen cabinets if they’re feeling dark & oppressive to you.  It’s the first thing I did in my house when we moved in & I love my painted cabinets because they work for me.

I thought also thought this part of your comment was really interesting: “I was telling my in-laws about my plans to paint my (wood) kitchen cabinets this month and they were shocked. I’ve noticed a bit of a generational divide on this of people my age (twirtysomething) vs. my parents age (55+). I think for the older set there is a thinking that wood = good quality and painted wood = probably laminate and indicative of cheap materials. Obviously this is limited to folks outside the design industry as painting wood is more commonplace.  I’m curious on your thoughts on it. And if you agree with my mother that it would be positively sinful of me to paint my cherry wood desk and drawers.”  I really haven’t thought about it like this before, but you might be right.  I had to argue for years with my dad to get him to paint a piece of furniture.  Once of the pieces I did paint (an old trunk) keeps disappearing every time I leave because he thinks it looks junky.

…but I do think that older generations (not including those who are into design/ decorating/ reading magazines/ blogs/ etc.) might generally be a bit more opposed to painting over “good” pieces than younger generations.   Many antique pieces lose all monetary value when painted, which might play into it.  And often. the wood itself is beautiful so sometimes people can’t understand messing with it.  To me thought, if a piece just doesn’t work for the new owner, there’s nothing wrong with painting or redoing.  If you’re not a collector, then make a piece work for you and forget about what it’s worth.  (Unless it’s serious dough, then I’d say sell it and buy a new piece.)  The younger generations might be a bit more “irreverant” toward wood but I think that’s okay. If my kids want to paint up or strip all of my pieces when I’m older, I’ll be glad that they even want to use them at all.  (I’m really not going to roll over in my grave at a painted heirloom 😉    I think it’s easy to get so caught up in sentimentality and keeping something as-is almost as if it were a museum piece that we forget what it’s really all about…  loving something, making it our own, making it work for us & for our style.

{Eddie Ross’s painted secretary}

So go ahead, paint the cherry desk however you want, just don’t hate me if you wish you hadn’t done it a few years from now!! 😉 😉

xoxo, Lauren

If you’d like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

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