Hand Decorated and Painted Antique Furniture

Handpainted wardrobe by Johanne Yakula

Handpainted wardrobe by Johanne Yakula

Inspiration comes from many sources. This week I was in the throes of marking business plans for a class that I teach at the university (for novice interior decorators.) Their major project was to create a plan for a business they might like to start some day. One of my students inspired me. She inspired me because her idea for her business was to take old furniture and give it new life by painting it, giving it a new purpose or use and in the process, recycling it. It’s a business model that I know a lot about because I did a lot of these kinds of pieces in the past when I first had my antique and home decor shop. However the work I did was more from a need to create than to recycle – and, another difference – I preferred to use unloved vintage or antique furniture for my pieces. I painted a lot of furniture but eventually as my business grew I found that I just did not have the time to do this work. But reading her business plan reminded me that I had some old photos around of a few of the pieces that I did way back when – well at least the ones I remembered to take photos of! The one at left started its life as a wardrobe – an undistinguished, plain brown wardrobe. The creamy white paint with an antique glaze was a staple in my arsenal of ideas. It was sold before I even completed it.Anna's box

The second picture is Anna’s box. Anna was a beloved cat that belonged to one of my customers.

Anna’s ashes are in this box. My customer wanted me to paint her cat’s favorite things. She loved nibbling on flowers, so the top of the box has flowers. There are pictures of her favorite mouse toy, her collar, her “blankie” and more. The perfume bottle symbolised Anna being a girl cat (this is what my customer wanted!!) I love how many of my clients challenged me to do something I never would have on my own. For example I did a round dining room table with crackle glaze and cave drawings of animals. How many people can say they have such a table?

Three drawer chest

Three drawer chest

The final picture on the left shows the fronts of drawers on a chest that I painted. Each drawer has its own prairie scene. The colours are a bit bold but I was using house paint to do the work so the colours are not as subtle or mixable as other types of paints.

I did stenciling and faux finishes. Actually I taught faux finishes for 17 years!

One commission that stands out in my mind is a dining room suite that I painted. The horrible brown colour was removed professionally from the entire suite and the pieces were brought to me. The clients wanted to move this suite across the country to Ontario into a cottage they had there. They had a lot of Inuit art and wanted that represented in the table.

The results were published in a local paper. The suite turned out well, and again it’s not something I would have done for myself. But I remember that it was fun to do!