Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Chest of drawers, to paint or not to paint?

I expect most people reading this will have read Zoe's fascinating and impassioned post on consuming.

I was reminded of her post while putting this post together. When I realised I needed a new chest of drawers to store my baby clothes (second hand of course) I didn't even bother to think about buying new. For one thing it is out of our budget at the moment, and secondly I haven't bought any new RTW clothes or shoes for myself for 18 months now, and this attitutude has definitely filtered over into other aspects of buying. I talked about where I found the chest of drawers here.

I think for my money (£10) I got a sturdier, better made chest of drawers than if I had bought something flat pack.

Looking inside the chest of drawers has the label Lebus furniture. A quick google showed that Lebus was a British furniture brand whose arts and crafts furniture at the beginning of the twentieth century is apparently considered their best works. Mine is obviously later than that, but as the firm closed 1969 I am guessing mine is a 60s piece. I am not overtly patriotic but it feels nice to have something manufactured in Britain.

I have already filled it with baby clothes. Absolutely filled it. And still have some baby clothes planted on top of the chest of drawers. But I am considering painting it white, putting on coloured glass handles and giving it to Little I for her clothes. She has a white metal bed already so I think a white chest of drawers would go well with her bed. It is also easy to open these drawers so she can access her clothes more easily. The baby stuff can then go in the chest of drawers I currently share with Little I. Thoughts on this? Is it sacrilege to paint a piece of furniture like this or am I just extending its life. I am not really a great shabby chic fan but I do have a weakness for painted furniture. I always have. I was thinking about painting the chest of drawers before I even got it home, then I saw Tors' dresser and was swayed further towards the white. I have a great desire to paint furniture and walls white, to have lots of peaceful spaces. This is kind of risible given the way our family life goes. Peaceful? Ha! It may well be a side effect of looking at too many Scandinavian blogs.

There is also the matter of whether I can summon the energy to sand and paint. I have the intense feeling that I have to do this before the baby comes or I will never get it done. Then I look at the nice shiny wood and think it may be foolhardy to paint it white. It looks quite sweet as it is....decisions, decisions.

Oh, and I also have a yearning to paint the chest of drawers a bright glossy red, I have a great love of shiny and red together, but I know that will go down badly with everyone else in the house.

PS: One interesting aside to buying second hand furniture on a budget, is how you get it home. This chest of drawers cost only £10, the delivery charge would have been another ten pounds. So to save money I got a friend to come and collect it with me. Of course, it wouldn't fit in her car with Little I as well so eventually after much trying it this way and that, my lovely friend drove the chest of drawers home to my house while Little I waited with me by the road side. I had to wrap Little I up in my coat as it was cold, while I shivered for half an hour. The thought, "This wouldn't happen if we were buying flat pack from a well known chain store" did cross my mind. But it wasn't as bad as the time I bought two sets of fully assembled second hand shelves which I had to carry home while pushing a child in a pushchair at the same time.


  1. I'm Feeling the pressure of your decision! I too like painting furniture and adding quirky handles, but like you say is it sacralidge? ( sorry about spelling!) white is also very clean as well as light airy and Scandinavian, maybe this is a bit of nesting going on too? I think I'd look to see if it is solid wood or veneer. If veneer if be more tempted to paint, but am sorry to anyone who is offended by that!! Gulp.

  2. I agree with Scruffybadger, veneer always makes me feel better about painting but your lovely drawers don't look like veneer to me!

    I had terrible second and third thoughts about painting my dresser, even whilst I was part-way through it, because the original wood was really very nice (if a little dark). Here's the thing, if you paint it and it gets dirty, you can just wash it down. If you paint it and you don't like it, then you can (eventually) re-paint it or sell it and buy something else. But if you don't paint it will you perpetually be wondering if you should have?

    Personally, if you're umm-ing and ah-ing about it, maybe get the handles you're after and try them on it without painting it? If it's the work of having to sand and paint ... well, I didn't sand my dresser at all! But it did take 2 or 3 coats of paint to cover the darkness of the wood. Either way, I look forward to seeing what you end up doing with it (personally I love the idea of bright, glossy red!).

  3. This is a hard one for me, because the quality of the drawers is obviously so nice. I do think that because the finish is so nice and shiny you are going to need to sand, prime, sand and then paint. Do you really want to do that while you're pregnant?
    Could you swap out the handles for something you really love and feel better about it. Or maybe paint something else white :) But don't listen to me, I gutted our only bathroom while pregnant.

  4. I say, go for the painting! Of course, I'm not a big fan of dark furniture and I love white dressers, so that may be just me. :)

  5. Paint for sure, and the original handles would like quite nice on white. :)

  6. I'd change the handles for something a bit sparkly then think about doing something to it next summer when you can do it outdoors and not breathe in too much vintage varnish dust!

    My family is a bit notorious for finding things that are too big to get home easily. Furniture, garden paths, fireplaces... When I was 13 I really wanted a long mirror in my bedroom and when my Mum (then 46) and Nan (late 70s) were in Bournemouth having a look around they saw a 7ft tall mirror outside a clothes shop that was being refurbished. They wrapped it in two curtains from the changing rooms and took it home to Southampton on the train between them. Crazy Ladies.

    It is still in my old room and I used the curtains in my house 10 years ago.

  7. If you can't make up your mind then I would wait for a bit and ponder some more and if you decide to paint then I would definitely leave it until the weather and daylight improves.With little ones around it is never the right time to get anything done so why rush in to it?
    Apart from my big sofa and chairs which were a real luxury all of my furniture is either inherited,bought second hand or made by my late father.Not exactly a streamlined look but as this house leans to one side it blends quite well!
    Your little chest of drawers looks quite sweet as it is so I think I would definitely wait a while and think on it.

    By the way am I the only person who still likes scented drawer liners or am I getting far too old?

  8. I'm definitely in the pro-painting camp. I think it would look great in white. :) But you're the one who has to do the work, not me, so listen to your gut. (Or whatever body part speaks to you ;) )

  9. Thank you for the great advice and suggestions. @Scruffybadger, I have really seriously bad nesting syndrome at the moment. @Tors I think it is solid wood, not veneer, I keep peering inside the drawers to try and decide. I think there is a kind of pregnancy-induced madness that leads me to want to tackle these tasks RIGHT NOW. @Sigrid, YOur bathroom gutting made me smile. But I do have a list of to-do things that I need to work through before I can start any new project, so I think I will wait a bit longer and maybe even take Parasombra's advice and paint it outside in the summer. I am however going to look out for some different handles...ebay has some nice ones.

  10. I like it as is to be honest with you...sorry pro painters! Then I do have an odd sense of taste when it comes to old furniture...

  11. Great find - and LOVE the handle/knobs - they are quirky. I would paint though baulk a the the energy required for for sanding! Colour - I'm really into neon yellow or french blue. Can't wait to see what you do....