There is nothing more transformative than adding the right piece of furniture to your space. Sometimes all it takes is a new coat of paint or a clever finish to turn a ho-hum hand-me-down into a homemade statement piece.
Painting and staining wood furniture serves two purposes: function and form. In the practical sense, finishing wood provides a protective barrier, shielding it from dirt and moisture that can cause wear and tear. A clear varnish goes a long way to ensure the longevity of your wooden furniture. But great interiors aren’t just utilitarian. Customizing your piece adds personality and style — not to mention the satisfaction of slaying a DIY project.
Finishing techniques aren’t just for vintage pieces. In fact, many people opt to purchase unfinished wood furniture not only to give their spaces a completely customized look, but also to cut down on the upfront cost. It is estimated that, in the production of wood furniture, pre-finishing represents between 5 and 30 percent of manufacturing costs so these are savings that can be passed along to the customer.
This year’s wood finishing trends are diverse, ranging from rustic to elegant — and even a little fiery. The one thing they all have in common is the stunning results. The next time weekend warrior motivation hits, break out the sander and get to work on these tried-and-true techniques.
(Photo: Courtesy of Sherwin-Williams)
Best known for its wide selection of paint colors, Sherwin-Williams is also an authority on wood finishes. The company recently released its 2020 Industrial Wood Colormix Forecast, which groups 43 unique finishes into five trend categories around the overarching theme of “self-care.”
“Due to the hustle and bustle of everyday life, self-care remains a top priority for many as we head into 2020,” Lauren West, Global Color and Design director for Sherwin-Williams Industrial Wood, said. “Individuals are gravitating toward finishes that bring a sense of warmth and comfort to their homes and offices, resulting in the creation of spaces that allow them to recharge and relax.”
Of the five trending finishes in the report, the Haven category — pictured above — creates an air of serenity and balance in your home. Inspired by Earth’s seasonal cycles, warm naturals and the organic beauty of wood’s unique imperfections are highlighted. Apply a coating from the brand’s collection for an Earthy sheen.
Flat Matte Finishes
(Photo: Courtesy of The Decorative Life)
A major trend is painted furniture with smooth, flawless matte finishes. Foregoing high gloss shine, matte paint is timeless and effortlessly elegant. The experts at The Decorative Life predict that we’ll be seeing more and more dark, even black matte, painted furniture in our future. Though dark mattes may emerge as a full-fledged trend in the future, matte on light, white furniture as seen in the picture above is here to stay.
Shou Sugi Ban
This technique is on fire — literally. Shou Sugi Ban is an ancient Japanese method that translates to “the art of preserving and finishing wood using fire.” The process is incredibly effective for achieving a unique, distressed look that will become the statement piece of any room. Using a butane torch to lightly scorch the wood with the flame, Shou Sugi Ban brings out the grain of the wood while providing unparalleled contrast. Love Of The Grain Workshop created a simple DIY video to achieve the charred look at home.
Dry brushing is another easy-to-try paint technique with transformative power. This method doesn’t take a lot of time, effort or materials, but delivers a vintage-inspired, shabby-chic design. You don’t need to possess much talent with a paintbrush, in fact, uneven coats are the name of the game. This Bob Vila Blog post has a guide to mastering the method at home.
Color washing and dry brushing techniques create that increasingly popular whimsical, weathered look ala the farmhouse-chic aesthetic. Great for beginners, color washing is an easy form of faux finishing that involves thinning out paint with glaze to create a subtle wash. All Things New Again, a family-owned furniture and paint boutique in Virginia, shot this comprehensive how-to video to get you started on the right foot.
From bold Shou Sugi Ban to classic matte finishes, half the fun of trying out these wood trends is the satisfaction of nailing a custom DIY project. Take it from homeowner James Tolbert, who opted to transform his unfinished Lori Wall Bed frame with a coat of crisp white paint.
“Looking for a project to do together, my wife and I purchased the unfinished, vertical Lori Wall Bed,” he said. “Putting it together was straightforward with the instructions and amazing video. Afterward, we sanded the surfaces and painted it white. We are excited to now be able to turn the playroom into a guest room for visitors.”
Armed with a simple paintbrush and a little imagination, it doesn’t take a lot to get a lot from refinishing wood furniture.