03/10/2014 12:37 EDT | Updated 05/10/2014 05:59 EDT

Painting Wood Is Not a Sin -- Here's How

Top quality genus like oak or mahogany often speak for themselves, providing textural and visual return wherever placed. But we aren't slaves to wood. Particularly not pine. We never have been. In actual fact we love painted furniture and see no valid reason why a nice bit of lumber can't be further embellished with solid colour.

Colin and Justin amply demonstrate that, when it comes to awakening a tired bedroom, paint and paper are a designer's best friends...

Today, as another week unravels, we're bedroom-based with all manner of tips to make your crash zone a sanctuary from the stresses of our fast-spinning world. But first, a few words of caution: For those of you who love exposed timber, look away now. Or at least gird your loins. Because today, hell mend us, we're painting wood.

Top quality genus like oak or mahogany often speak for themselves, providing textural and visual return wherever placed. But we aren't slaves to wood. Particularly not pine. We never have been. In actual fact we love painted furniture and see no valid reason why a nice bit of lumber can't be further embellished with solid colour via brush or even spray can. So please don't hate us. Rather love us a little more for bringing out wood's better side and allowing it the opportunity to shine.

Allow us, if you will, to explain the detail of our blue, albeit previously honey coloured, bedroom set. Imagine a lovely face, perhaps that of a beautiful model. Bare and unadorned she's already an attractive girl. Her raw beauty is appealing, certainly, but it's that into which she'll be transformed that creates the advertiser's dream. You know the deal; a regular girl made into a flawless goddess. In short, she's getting her slap on to look her best.

That little blurb, in case you hadn't noticed, was an analogy. Over and above the pine set's model transformation, however, many other aspects, schematically speaking, required attention. Fleshier elements such as the room itself. Yup, for today's room remedy we're talking full body overhaul, not just Botox and lipstick. Here's how we turned bedroom tricks to awaken a particularly dreary scene alive...

Strip out

Just look at the wallpaper. Is it any wonder your stomach's churning? When we saw the crazy pattern for the first time it gave us goose bumps big enough to ladder our jeans. In fact scanning it now -- post strip -- still challenges our gag reflex. Even after years in the business, it never ceases to amaze us just how absent the style gene can be. With the woeful paper scraped into oblivion, our contractor made good all wall surfaces, ditched the time-worn carpet and ensured the floor was clean. Then, and only then, we moved to the next stage of our master plan.


Being that our reversion makes its biggest statement via furniture, we elected to elicit a lower key statement with our new wallpaper specification. This is generally the best way to proceed, otherwise schematic elements will jar. Had our furniture been more "sedate" we might have played a more dramatic paper, but our designs are all about balance. The paper, reference WC1280623, comes from The Wallpaper Company at Home Depot.


As designers, we consider every surface (not just walls and floors) to be important and, when it came to painting this ceiling, we had a little fun. This in mind, and being that the room is tall enough, we painted the overhead areas in the same blue as the furniture.

Tip: Paint, as we see it, doesn't simply add colour, it can also "tame" scale. If you have a long, narrow corridor, for instance, use a darker paint shade on a far wall to help it come forward. Conversely, 'narrow' a wide room by painting side walls a shade or two darker than the others.


While our client's initial expectation was for carpet, we decided (together) that hard surface flooring, topped with a large area rug from Carpet Mill would make for better future-proofing. Our rationale was simple: if tastes change, it's easier -- and less expensive -- to switch a floor rug than it is to re-carpet an entire room. And, further down the line, good quality lumber floors always appeal to buyers.

Bed and dresser

We had big plans for the new bedroom set which we picked up at Pottery Barn. While generic honey-toned timber in its original guise, our client brief was simple; add a little decorative zeal. So we cut loose. Tip: If you're re-colouring waxed or varnished items, it's important to remove all previous coatings before applying paint. With latex your results will mark more easily so opt for eggshell or satin in either oil or water-based finish. The former requires much more drying time between coats than the latter so factor this into your project's timetable. Positioning a massive consignment store starburst mirror above the dresser was a flourish that further bolstered our new look, providing, as it did, a layer of grandeur and vignette "polish."

Chair and ottoman

A bedroom isn't only about sleeping and, well, you know. Composed imaginatively, a boudoir should also boast somewhere to sit and prepare for the day ahead, or relax with a glass of wine before the call of slumber becomes too much to resist. A storage ottoman also serves as a useful spot upon which to stack bed linens or toss pillows before diving into the nest. Note that we also added a same pattern cushion on the chair to provide visual connection between both areas.

Mirror cube bedsides

A jaunty little project, these cubes were custom-made by our contractor using MDF. We took the "blanks" to St. Clair Glass and the glaziers mirrored all faces with toughened polished edged glass. Popped either side of the bed, they deliberately juxtapose the traditional country look, thereby taking us one step nearer "modern country."

Window treatments

To moderate light bleed, we installed white black out roller blinds as our primary window dressing and hung simple snowy drapery, thereafter, on chunky poles. When plans are as simple as this, there's little point in a custom make-up service: We went to Ikea to save lots of dollars. Tip: When trimming, leave an extra few centimeters that can be let down should there be shrinkage the first time your curtains hit the tub. Alternatively, wash before hanging to get shrinkage out of the way, and hem accordingly.

Our final counsel today, as you stand ahead of your next major reno, is to heed your inner voice. Chances are you already know what you like -- and approximately the look you hope to achieve -- but take it easy. Don't rush. Plot every detail (especially the painting of furniture) to the nth degree before diving into your designer pool. And, as we oft' opine, think twice. And then decorate once. You know it makes sense. Room, after all, wasn't built in a day. Bedroom or otherwise...




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