Painted Wood


If you know my photography work at all then you know my favorite subject matter is trees. Now, I’m not sure if my interest in trees came about because of my love of wood furniture and trim or vice versa. It was always a painful thing for me to watch a home remodeling show and see the designers paint wood – it’s never my favorite thing. I love seeing the grain of wood and how it adds character to a room either in furnishings or flooring, paneling or trim. The one downfall of my house was that all of the trim work was painted – perhaps that’s why I exposed the hardwood floors throughout my house and had them refinished.

I’ve learned over the years that not all wood is of the highest quality and that for some, painting it is the best option. There are actually a couple of pieces of wood furniture in my house that are painted – one in particular I’ve painted myself, a couple of times. It’s my kitchen table and chairs.

They were a purchase that my parents made for their new house in 1959. My mom put on the first layer of paint to the unfinished wood. Originally used in the kitchen, eventually they were moved outdoors to be used as patio furniture for summer eating outdoors – as seen here (1969). (You can barely see the table and chairs – they have a dark maroon/brown color.)

Decades later, after being relinquished to the basement, the table and chairs would travel with my oldest sister as she moved for teaching jobs – first to Milwaukee and then to Jenison. I would eventually inherit them when I moved into my first apartment (1993). (If you look closely, you’ll see a typewrite on the table – used that to write before I could afford a computer.)

The table and chairs would move with me again to my next apartment (1997). By now I wasn’t even using them as I had a loaner desk I was using to hold my computer and eating dinner on the couch … while watching tv.

I bought my house in June (1999) but didn’t move in until Labor Day as that’s when my lease expired (and the previous owners were building – win/win). In the mean time, I got some of the wallpaper that they had used in the kitchen and found paint to match. My parents helped me by repairing/glueing and painting the table and chairs. Gone was the old school maroon, replaced with a blue (1999).

In the years since moving into my house, the table and chairs have been put to use – a lot actually. The chairs have been used as seating for various Bible Study groups that I’ve been a part of. The table too has held a number of buffets and treats. Though, I must say, as a “dining” table it has only seen action a few times. I usually haul a chair into the living room when eating a meal, rarely sitting at the table.

And then I went and decided to redo the kitchen. I went back and forth on the color choice – first thinking maybe a lighter shade of the wall color, then white, even against the white wainscoting. I finally decided on grey, though I went through numerous swatches before settling on silver metallic.

Before I could do that though, I had to repair (a.k.a. glue) a couple of them as the rungs were coming loose.

Next came the all too “fun” part of priming. At least I could make a mess on my floor knowing that was going to get ripped up.

Unfortunately for them, I was working through my cold when I primed and painted them, so I may not have done the best job on them. But, they got done … just in time to get moved out for the gutting portion of the project.

And then the BIG project was finally done and it was time to put everything back and accessorize. The pewter candlesticks were a gift from one of my sisters years ago. The mesh placemats and glasses I purchased years before I even moved out of my parent’s home. The silverware I received for Christmas a couple of years ago – my first matching set. The tablecloth is brand new, made for a circular table … one that’s lived many lives over the past decades and yet, still serves a purpose even in its painted state.

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