You have a wonderful antique item stored away that you love and you’re dying to use it. The dilemma: it’s brown. And dull. And it doesn’t go with your furnishings at all. What do you do? Do you use it anyway because you love it and you want to honor its history, or do you–gasp–have the nerve to paint it?
Would you Paint an Antique?
Some die-hards out there would be aghast at the mere thought of changing the original patina of a cherished antique, but we say not so fast. What good is that antique if it sits in storage? Are you honoring its history by having it tucked away, never to be used again in your lifetime? Maybe you pull it out and display it, but you feel that little I-just-don’t-love-it-here pang every time you look at it. Either way, painting an antique is a matter of preference, and totally up to you. If I had an exceptionally rare, one-of-a-kind piece with an exceptionally rare one-of-a-kind price tag, I likely wouldn’t mess with it, to be perfectly honest. However, if it’s a piece that would benefit from a new color or finish to make you fall in love again, by all means, breathe some new life into it! Read some pros and cons of painting antiques here.
Monica’s Antique Butter Churn
I have a beautiful antique butter churn with its original stain and mustard-yellow painted band that sat in storage for five years. It fit beautifully in my kitchen in York and looked right at home next to my black built-in hutch. At HartLand, however, it looked lackluster to say the least. I had been wanting to get it out for quite some time, but I knew it would look out of place in my cottage style farmhouse with all of the fresh colors and crisp whites, so I decided to paint it with chalk paint. The nice thing about chalk paint is that you can remove it in most cases, without damaging the finish underneath. All that’s needed is a little vinegar or some washing soda, and some soap and water. Once I discovered that little tidbit, I had no reservations about painting it.
The Process of Refurbishing an Antique Butter Churn
- Wipe down the piece with a soft cloth and a little warm soapy water. Follow with a clean damp cloth, and dry.
- Select your paint. Shake well, and turn upside for 20 minutes to let the paint really mix.
- I used Annie Sloan’s chalk paint in Bright White for the base. I didn’t really have a plan (probably not the best approach, actually) when I started, and decided to just wing it. I had some Annie Sloan Bright Yellow and Aubusson Blue, neither of which was going to work with my current color palette. Blue and yellow make green, and I could lighten the green with some of the white. Bingo! I mixed away until I got the perfect fresh shade of green that matches the background of the pillows on my sofas.
- I originally intended to just whitewash the entire butter churn and paint the band green, but as I got into the project, I decided it needed a green wash. I thinned the white and green paint mixture with some water until it was pretty runny.
- Using one of my Annie Sloan brushes, I brushed the entire butterchurn in the whitewash to create the base. Since the paint was thin, and it was hot and dry outside, the paint dried almost as soon as I brushed it on. I had to work quickly. I brushed in the same direction as the grain. After each section, I took a damp cloth and wiped over the surface to remove some of the paint.
- I repeated this process until I had three thin coats of white paint covering the entire piece.
- I did the same thing with the greenwash, wiping between coats to remove some of the paint and expose a little of the wood. I knew I wanted a distressed finish, so I didn’t have to be careful.
- I allowed the butter churn to dry for about an hour, and then I wiped off some of the paint down to the bare wood around the entire piece.
- I painted the band with three coats of the greenwash and allowed it to dry without wiping.
- I plan to wax my newly washed and distressed butter churn with Annie Sloan’s clear wax to seal and protect the paint. It’s best to allow the paint to sit for at least 24 hours before waxing. Once you have applied the wax, allow about two weeks for the wax to cure and harden.
Have you Refurbished an Antique?
Have you refurbished an antique, and if so, what kind of paint did you use? We would love to hear from you and see your projects.
Until next time…