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the joy of painting to sell


I’m often asked if it’s hard to sell pieces I’ve painted.  Sometimes it is, yes, but there is a real freedom in it, too.  I don’t have to force a piece to work with my existing decor.  I can paint it in whatever color, finish, design, pattern, style I want.

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Every piece is then a blank slate…


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…and I don’t have to worry about where it’s going to fit or if it will provide the right amount of storage or if the hardware is right for the room.


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I can paint it for an imaginary room/client and then wait for the right person to come along…who loves it, has the perfect spot for it, buys it and gives it a new home.


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I can let go and paint the piece how it looks best in my mind’s eye.

I actually find more enjoyment in painting the pieces I know I’m going to sell.

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Though many of them do steal a little bit of my heart.

I know there is always more furniture to be found and painted and sold…

…and I can’t keep them all.

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  1. Shelly says:

    I love every piece you show here! I REALLY like the blue one. That one I would have to keep! :)

  2. Nikki says:

    I am always inspired by your pieces no matter the color you choose!! Thanks for all the inspiration!

  3. Thanks for the inspiration! My problem is making the color and style decisions. I guess I need to take the “blank slate” approach. All your pieces are lovely!

  4. Beautiful work. I look at the furniture I paint no different than a canvas that an artist paints,each a work of art. The joy discovered in the process,and the sharing of the art.

  5. When I started selling at an antique stand I did mostly furniture, In fact, I hated “smalls”. Somewhere along the way I lost my love for painting furniture and it shows in my work. I think it could my lack of a proper space to paint (I paint in my dining room currently), and 3 different varieties of pet hair to contend with. A couple of years ago I did great work, now I do it to fill space in my booth and it shows. Wish I could get the feeling back.

  6. Cathy says:

    I LOVE seeing furniture makeovers and always enjoy your blog. I would have a hard time parting with many of the items you’ve done…but then I’m a trying-hard-not-to-be packrat! I guess you would get used to it and your perspective of the freedom it gives you was an eye-opener, never looked at it that way!

    Now here’s a question – what do you do with pieces that have a musty, mouldy smell to them? Anything? Or pass them by? I am very sensitive to (and often react badly) to those smells and its a hard one to get rid of in furniture. I have done everything, letting them air out in the hot sun several days after washing down (on the inside I mean!) with a strong bleach/water solution. Spaying with Febreeze? Forget it. To me, Febreeze stinks at the best of times, and does nothing to clear the smell. Any help or hints you could give would be wonderful. So often I will search for and finally find a piece I want but have to pass by due to the smell — finding old ready-to-be re-loved furniture that doesn’t smell musty or smoky is a rare event!

    • i am allergic to must and fragrance and many things come with those smells so i try vinegar and baking soda, borax and unscented cat litter. sunshine works wonders while things are drying but their are times the odors are too set and i have to ship them off to the thrift store.

    • Linda carter says:

      clear shellac will seal in odors, particularly painted on the inside of drawers or cabinets. I’ve also had good results placing a small dish or votive holder filled with baking soda inside the item and just leaving that there, changeling the contents from time to time.

  7. Your work is always so inspiring..I have just started my furniture painting biz and also find a certain freedom in knowing that every piece is a blank slate…eventually I find what the piece needs..and when it sells…I have that Sally Field moment..”They like me! They really like me!”

  8. angela says:

    did you pick a winner for the Decor Steals Giveaway?

  9. Sarah says:

    Marian, thank you for a dose of condensed inspiration in this post. You push me to be creative and ignite that “can do spirit”. So much fun. Thank you. Sarah

  10. I feel the same way- most of the pieces I do are custom orders, so my vision is not always the client’s vision. It is freeing to just work on a piece and let it “speak to me” as I go. It’s a good thing I don’t live closer to you, I have a feeling that I’d own a lot of your pieces!!

  11. Hi Marian. Love your work. And your personal posts! Hearing about other people’s journeys I think help get us through our own. I’m curious how you sell your pieces. Do you have an online store or through craigslist? Have a great week!

  12. anne bradley says:

    where or how do you sell your things

  13. Every time I see that black piece I’m in love with it a little more. Thanks for all the inspiration, as always.

  14. What a wonderful attitude! You are purely an artist.
    You see the potential of the pieces you paint. Wow!
    How fun!
    Your pieces are gorgeous. Love them.

  15. Oh, I know just how you feel. I love painting to sell – imagining a little piece in a boys room or in someones dining room. But sometimes pieces do steal a bit of your heart and are hard to part with. x

  16. Same here! It’s nive to experiment with colors, without the worry if it fits. When I’m painting a piece I imagine the perfect customer/new owner for that piece. No matter what color I use, I know there is always someone you wants it!
    Greeting from the Netherlands

  17. I know how you feel. It’s great to have a blank “canvas” to paint however you want. Another thing I run into once in awhile – is liking a piece so much I swap out something I already have for it. But it’s a win-win situation. I get a new piece, and the old one sells.

  18. I’ve been inspired by your blog, and am thinking about ways to use my skills and creativity in starting up a business. This is a great post.

  19. It would be tempting to be a furniture hoarder… to pack the garage full of things you ‘might’ use someday… kind of like selling your babies? I couldn’t do it. :)

  20. Nancy says:

    How does one figure out what to charge for a piece of furniture? Both of my parents have passed away and I was left with about 9 pieces of furniture that I have no room for but would like to paint and sell. This is all nice furniture from Ethan Allen or Pennsylvania House over 40 years old and in great condition as is. Should I go online and estimate what each piece costs then figure out the time I spend painting it? The emotional detachment that needs to happen is a whole other story!!! Thanks for your advice!

  21. Kathy says:

    Have you ever sold a piece and then regretted it? Or passed on a piece you wish you had purchased? It all in the thrill of the hunt, then the thrill of the makeover!

  22. Nice pieces. You definitely have an eye for beautiful furniture designs. I’m glad you enjoy your painting and are successful in marketing them. You are an inspiration!

  23. great article and great observation! and so true but i never thought of it that way before. i don’t paint a lot of furniture but i paint and sew and reinvent items and it really does has a freeing side to it if it is not necessarily for your own home. and many times i do fall in love along the way :-) thanks for this perspective…now i can enjoy it all the more.

  24. I feel exactly the same way! You can paint something safe or really artistic and not have to worry about where to put it in your own home! Makes it more fun!

  25. Jeanine C says:

    beautifully creative :)

  26. Candace says:

    I painted a bookcase this week and would like to submit possible before and after photos for “Furniture Feature Friday.” What is a permalink? Exactly how are photos to be submitted? I have digital photos but that’s all. Please advise.

  27. Marion, I love your creations…they are dreamy and I secretly conspire where I would put every piece you paint.
    I also love and reference your tutorials…like on a daily basis. So before I forget again, thank you so much for the time you put into making the videos, photographing and explaining.
    And I would also like to put in a request for a tutorial subject. I adore the free hand detail painting you do on some of your designs. Is there a way you can teach us to do that? I would love to know any tips you have on how you make the wonderful leaves and other patterns.

  28. oh wow I love this attitude…very encouraging! I will feel such freedom next time I have to sell a piece!

  29. Marianne Davies says:

    Marion, I love all of your pieces. I wish I could purchase them all from you. I so enjoy your blog. I just retired from the working world and you have inspired me to do many wonderful things . I cannot wait to paint something!!

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