Asked on Jan 17, 2014

Bare wood or Paint?

Full blog post can be found here:
This piece isn't finished yet, but I found this sideboard/buffet for $115 and bought it "for him" for his mancave in our industrial style basement. I had him choose his color (red) --and while I agreed, I cringed and said I'd like to clean it up first. Stripping it is what I ended up doing as this piece was filthy dirty.
Now he loves it with just the bare wood (and I do too actually). The artistic side of me still wants to so "something" to put my own spin on it.
New knobs were suggested (I like the old ones). I was also thinking a very faded ink transfer of an old clock or Union Jack on the top.
Or would you leave well enough alone and just let the piece be itself?
q bare wood or paint, painted furniture, Progress report this was originally going to be painted red but now we like it
Progress report...this was originally going to be painted red, but now we like it :)
  114 answers
  • Diy Design Fanatic Diy Design Fanatic on Jan 17, 2014
    It looks gorgeous stripped of the dark stain. Lighter, natural wood is one of the design trends this year, so you leave it stained and paint it later if you want.

  • It does look much better stripped. I still want to put my own design "spin" on it somehow but not necessarily with paint.

  • The bare wood is beautiful. Add your faded ink idea for the top and the entire piece will be complete. It's an amazing buffet. Can't wait to see what you decide!

  • Donna R Donna R on Jan 17, 2014
    It does look great just like it is. Makes me want to strip my buffet which looks a lot like this one in the "before" picture. I like DIY Design Fanatic's idea of just leaving it alone for now and changing later if you want to paint. I could see parts of it highlighted with paint. It has such great detail. It's a beautiful piece.

  • Terra Gazelle Terra Gazelle on Jan 17, 2014
    what a beautiful piece! if red would gp with the "man cave", how about doing just the legs red with red knobs? Maybe just paint the knobs. I think that touch of the old with the modern is a great look. The transfer would look great on that. I would love to see this after you are done with it.

  • LoriBeth Ranalli LoriBeth Ranalli on Jan 17, 2014
    it's a great piece and it is beautiful wood. I wouldn't paint it.

  • Elaine Paul Hinerman Elaine Paul Hinerman on Jan 17, 2014
    If it's going in his mancave and he's happy with it leave it alone.

  • Karen Daniel Karen Daniel on Jan 17, 2014
    maybe a glaze to bring out the ornate design on it.

  • Toni Mosley Toni Mosley on Jan 17, 2014
    omg this is gorgeous.... i'd love to have it just like this in my house.....

  • Vicki Ferreira Vicki Ferreira on Jan 17, 2014
    Do not paint it. Keep the bare wood look and varnish it. Do something to the top to put your stamp on it for your hubby.

  • Julie B Julie B on Jan 17, 2014
    The stain on it now looks more original to the piece, but I like the lighter look much better.

  • Colleen Colleen on Jan 17, 2014
    It is beautiful stripped and I am sure you will absolutely put your own touch on it and it will look great. I just love wood pieces to. Keep us posted.

  • Mary Player Mary Player on Jan 17, 2014
    please don't paint it. It's beautiful!

  • Jan S Jan S on Jan 17, 2014
    I have a similar piece. I would like to do as shown here with it.

  • Donna H Donna H on Jan 17, 2014
    You should find out if this is an old old antique. If you paint it, it will lose it's value. It's beautiful the way it is.

  • Melissa W Melissa W on Jan 17, 2014
    I would paint it. They look amazing when painted cottage white. Then stain it after painting. I have seen this same side board done that way and it really does it Justice. It can always be stripped one day. I say do what you heart tells you to do. If it was mine.. I would be chalk painting and staining. New pulls and a stencil on the top. Shabby Chic!

  • Teena Teena on Jan 17, 2014
    Leave the wood natural...if you have the urge to paint then find a piece that's not in the best shape. It breaks my heart to see beautiful, natural wood painted. Just an opinion.

  • Cheryl S Cheryl S on Jan 17, 2014
    I have a similar piece that is not antique but good solid wood. I turned it into our bathroom vanity with glass bowl sinks and, like you, I agonized for a while about "ruining" it. But I love it and am really happy I did it. I say - Go for it!

  • SandyG SandyG on Jan 17, 2014
    Would depend on what he has going on with decor in man cave, but it is gorgeous stripped. Live with it stripped for a while and see how he/you like it.

  • Claire Bacon Claire Bacon on Jan 17, 2014
    You got it to looking pretty great, I say don't paint it but do the ink thing.

  • Angeline Angeline on Jan 17, 2014
    I would use original stain and not loose the value of the peice.

  • Melissa W Melissa W on Jan 17, 2014
    Love this..

  • Charlotte Porterfield Charlotte Porterfield on Jan 17, 2014
    I guess I am in the minority. I would paint it in Modern Masters Pewter . It will become very masculine and reflective. The ornate ness will take on a total new masculine.

  • Peggy Pfahler Peggy Pfahler on Jan 17, 2014
    Do not paint

  • Nance Freeman Nance Freeman on Jan 17, 2014
    I would leave as is. It is beautiful!!

  • Wendy V Wendy V on Jan 17, 2014
    I would use a black "stain" that would look amazing in an industrial style room.

  • Georgia Beardsley Georgia Beardsley on Jan 17, 2014
    Help answer this question...It's beautiful just as it is. Don't paint.

  • Mellori Mellori on Jan 17, 2014
    I have this exact piece! Its part of my husbands aunts dinning room set she left us. There is also a china hutch with glass front, and the table and chairs. All of mine is loosing their veneers. I've redone the table top, and would love to do something with the rest of the pieces.

    • See 1 previous
    • Mellori Mellori on Jan 17, 2014
      @Cheryl S Hi! I sanded it outside, by hand, because it was all flakey and rippled and kept getting white rings on it if water came even close to the table! After wards I used a canned semi-gloss finish like Deft and put several light coats on, 1 coat every 15-20 minutes. Before the final coat, use a super fine sandpaper to make it soft and super-smooth. Then the final spray goes on and dries perfectly. It is beautiful, 3 years later!! (BTW: I make Celtic Harps for sale and this is the process that I use on them. Deft or Minwax lacquers in spray cans are my favorite)

  • Patti LaMay Patti LaMay on Jan 17, 2014
    Refinish it. The grain is beautiful...

  • Shelley Nelson Shelley Nelson on Jan 17, 2014
    Never paint good quality wood.

    • Terra Gazelle Terra Gazelle on Jan 17, 2014
      @Shelley Nelson Why? It can be good quality wood, but after a while unless that piece has been treated with love and cared , it can start looked tired and dry. If you love a piece but it really just needs painted or stained..then what not do it? The nicest pieces can be just as beautiful with creative painting. I love recycling and finding a new reason for loving a piece of furniture.

  • Shelley Nelson Shelley Nelson on Jan 17, 2014
    I would restain it. Just my opinion but my favorite stain is Cabot Brown Mahogany

  • Diana S Diana S on Jan 17, 2014
    Leave it along. Painting will ruin the value.

    • See 1 previous
    • Res322329 Res322329 on Apr 07, 2014
      If it was an antique, stripping off the original patina has already reduced the value. It looks beautiful as is, I would just re-stain it.

  • Karen Barrans Karen Barrans on Jan 17, 2014
    Don't paint. It's gorgeous like it is.

  • Victoria Baysdell Victoria Baysdell on Jan 17, 2014
    No don't paint it the wood grain looks beautiful.....restain would be the best I think.

  • Sherry Ray Sherry Ray on Jan 17, 2014
    Paint it!

  • Barb Barb on Jan 17, 2014
    In the past I would have said to leave it alone; but after seeing all the wonderful things folks do with paint, I'd say PAINT and enjoy.....

  • Pam B Pam B on Jan 17, 2014
    Tung oil for antiques would be my choice. If you're going to paint, a bold high gloss; would look sharp. Enough of the chic chalkboard paint and distressed edges already!

  • Pam B Pam B on Jan 17, 2014
    Charlotte's pewter suggestion sounds awesome too

  • Gwendolyn E Gwendolyn E on Jan 17, 2014
    No paint! It is beautiful!

  • Greedith B Greedith B on Jan 17, 2014
    Since he likes it as is, then clear coat it and if you want it more personal do whatever you wish to the top. Lovely no matter what. send in an update on what you do :)

  • Let me first say I LOVE painted furniture. I do it all the time. (My upstairs is French, industrial...shabby chic. So I "LET" him take over the basement :) Our basement style is industrial with a little Anglo-phile (aka British) influence. And as I said, I love painted furniture but sometimes I think it's good to assess the "whole room" and decide "does this room need ANOTHER painted piece?" I like the idea of living with it unfinished for awhile. Paint is ALWAYS an option I guess if we decide we want a change. We have signed albums from The Who and other rock and roll stuff so the original idea was red.

  • Leah Little Garcia Leah Little Garcia on Jan 17, 2014
    Tongue Oil

  • Ana Blackwell Ana Blackwell on Jan 17, 2014
    nooo....don't paint clear coat to protect, it's beautiful like it is.

  • Gloria Nicolosi Gloria Nicolosi on Jan 17, 2014
    leave it alone

  • Ahm186665 Ahm186665 on Jan 17, 2014
    Doesn't matter what you do now. It lost it's value when you took the finish off. Too bad, beautiful piece too!

  • Jan S Jan S on Jan 17, 2014
    I'm never certain why people say "don't paint quality wood". Paint can be stripped, and the wood restored to it's original grain, and I've done it many times with good results. In fact, a dark stain on a piece of wood is more difficult to lift that paint. Also, polyurethane on wood also seals the wood, doesn't allow moisture, and allows the wood to dry out. I use tung oil instead of poly to finish stained pieces. I personally hate using stain/poly in one. Regardless, painting or staining offer viable options that can be undone later to change the look of the piece with time. Good furniture like this lasts a lifetime, and you can update the look with the finish you use.

  • Amy Rohde Amy Rohde on Jan 17, 2014
    It would be stunning either way though painting wood does sting some folks a bit. I really don't think you can go wrong unless you choose to paint it *and* you happen to be a lousy painter. :)

  • Paula Beckham Paula Beckham on Jan 17, 2014
    Because you both like it the way it is and you're uncertain whether to paint, leave it alone. You can always paint it later. Lovely, btw. Wish *I* could find that for that price! Lucky you!

  • Nora Q Nora Q on Jan 17, 2014

  • Lisa J Lisa J on Jan 17, 2014
    Nooooo do not paint this piece!!!!!

  • Martha Foreman Martha Foreman on Jan 17, 2014
    Looks like the one my mom had

  • Kat Kat on Jan 17, 2014
    It's a beautiful piece. I, personally, would have left it as is. I like painted furniture but, this is so pretty, I wouldn't paint it.

  • N J Gross N J Gross on Jan 17, 2014
    It is so beautiful - please don't paint it!!!

  • Rebecca DeMuth Rebecca DeMuth on Jan 17, 2014
    Leave it, it is beautiful just like it is.

  • Janice Staggs Janice Staggs on Jan 17, 2014
    paint just the legs a dark color so they fade to the background, then clear coat, matte finish the top, best of both then.

  • Mary C Mary C on Jan 17, 2014
    Do not paint!!

  • Tanya McQueen Tanya McQueen on Jan 17, 2014
    Seal it with a few coats of varathane and put a slab of granite on top.

  • Judy Williams Judy Williams on Jan 17, 2014
    don't paint!! It's beauty lies in the natural way!

  • Bobbi Bobbi on Jan 17, 2014
    leave it alone

  • Candace B Candace B on Jan 17, 2014
    Do whatever suits the room you want to place it in. What a sweet find!

  • Teresa Teresa on Jan 17, 2014
    Now that you've stripped it, those details pop! I really love it the way it is. If it was mine I would leave it unpainted until I got tired of that, then I'd paint it.

  • Lana Booher Lana Booher on Jan 17, 2014
    I have a similar situation, I bought a little white end table,very heavy for its size,stripped it down to find solid oak,I don't like the typical stains for oak,my daughter-in-law loves it like it is,then I seen an interesting article on pinterest about vinegar stain that gives the wood an aged finish,I'm gonna give it a go when it warms up it sure looked pretty on pierest !

  • Darlene Pierce Darlene Pierce on Jan 17, 2014
    Absolutely no paint!

  • Lori Parker Dowell Lori Parker Dowell on Jan 17, 2014
    no paint...just a clear coat! The wood, cravings and depth are beautiful as is!

  • Margie von Furstenrecht Margie von Furstenrecht on Jan 17, 2014
    beautiful the way it is 🌸🌷🌹

  • Melinda Ray Melinda Ray on Jan 17, 2014
    Leave it like it is. Natural is beautiful.

  • Jamie Ivey Mahaffey Jamie Ivey Mahaffey on Jan 17, 2014
    Just seal the wood and leave it natural. No makeup needed.

  • Cathy Franks Cathy Franks on Jan 17, 2014
    No paint--

  • Debby Debby on Jan 17, 2014
    It would be fine either way. But i would just rub it in oil based wood treatment and polish to shine. I like the stencil idea and when tired of that, then put a slab on top, either wood or marble. You could and contrast w metallic accent on knobs. Good Luck w whatever you decide, just enjoy it.

  • Nancy Stivers Smith Nancy Stivers Smith on Jan 17, 2014
    I like the idea of a darker stain on the legs and the appears the legs remain darker already....I love that look....match the top with the darker stain...this is a fabulous piece...

  • Toe Toe on Jan 17, 2014
    I have the same piece...actually, I have the whole set. Table, chairs, china closet, buffet and server. It is pretty as is but you could REALLY do a lot with some chalk paint. I've been contemplating doing something to mine. I have had it for 30 years like that. I'm ready for a change. I also could not believe how pretty it was when I stripped it. I still love it.

  • Donna G Donna G on Jan 17, 2014
    yikes! I'm the only one who thinks you should paint it!

  • Joan Cofell Joan Cofell on Jan 17, 2014
    Seal - no paint!

  • Kristy Kristy on Jan 17, 2014
    I'm with you Donna G...Paint it!

  • Susan Clark-carrington Susan Clark-carrington on Jan 17, 2014
    nice job stripping it, what did you use to do it?

  • Melanie Robinson Melanie Robinson on Jan 17, 2014
    No paint. Its beautiful!

  • Judy Judy on Jan 17, 2014
    Please no paint, a beautiful piece.

  • Allie Killoran Allie Killoran on Jan 17, 2014
    No paint , its a Beautiful piece

  • Trudy Herd Gildea Trudy Herd Gildea on Jan 17, 2014
    No Paint…! it is beautiful !!!

  • Delores Smith Lamb Delores Smith Lamb on Jan 17, 2014
    I'm in favor of no PAINT it's a beautiful piece

  • Karen Albright Plante Karen Albright Plante on Jan 17, 2014
    Leave it as is :-)

  • June June on Jan 17, 2014
    Leave it alone, and enjoy the beauty of the wood.

  • Kyla Wootton Kyla Wootton on Jan 17, 2014
    I love painted pieces. I have several antiques that my MIL gave me that no one in the family wanted. (all received as plain natural/stained wood) I painted one a fresh spring green and another a black with silver accents. Everyone in the family was suddenly jealous and wishing they had accepted the furniture. Why keep something natural if painted works better for you/

  • Dianne Dianne on Jan 17, 2014
    I agree with June. I like the beauty of the wood. I would not paint it.

  • Lynne Lynne on Jan 18, 2014
    leave it ~ it is gorgeous

  • Janieac Janieac on Jan 18, 2014
    Paint it ..Then an antique glaze to bring out all the beautiful features...

  • Sherrie Sherrie on Jan 18, 2014
    I have one similar ... I painted it! It came out beautiful!

  • Anthony Irvin Anthony Irvin on Jan 18, 2014
    Help answer this question...paint it

  • Lavada Jones Lavada Jones on Jan 18, 2014
    I would put some clear coat on it. I have a piece that goes with that type of set. My friend has the whole set. They ARE just beautiful

  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on Jan 18, 2014
    Beautiful, as is, no, don't add paint.

  • Lila Spears Lila Spears on Jan 18, 2014
    Such a beautiful piece. Would be a shame to paint it. I would maybe go with a stain that has a red tint to it and maybe highlight the details with a hint of antique gold.

  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Jan 18, 2014
    I would just leave it bare this look for a man cave and it can fit well in any room! I have a wooden trunk style coffee table that sits on a rusted base and it has a little stain on it but no sealing or varnish! We LOVE it!

  • Teri Teri on Jan 18, 2014
    It's beautiful as is, the wood is such a lovely color. I think I'd finish stripping it, clear wax it, put the knobs back on, and call it done. :)

  • Janine Binn Janine Binn on Jan 18, 2014
    leave well enough a loan it's beautiful

  • Z Z on Jan 18, 2014
    As you stated you both are liking it as it is so why paint it? If you want to give it a more manly look how about using the aging vinegar and steel wool application? And/or you could finish with a nice satin wax or water based poly.

  • Becky I love that look

  • Julie Bruno Julie Bruno on Jan 18, 2014
    Please don't paint it. It is beautiful the way it is. If you paint, it might not work in another space and you would have to paint again. The piece will lose the carved details with each layer of paint. A mid tone stain goes with any color wood and can be a neutral..

  • Kim Kim on Jan 18, 2014
    Don't paint. My Aunt had one of these and she decided to paint it blue. When she was done, she cried and stripped it back down and re-stained it. It's been that way for 20 yrs

  • Annette C Annette C on Jan 18, 2014
    I love the look of raw wood, if you paint you may loose some of the details of the carvings.

  • Wanda sinnema Wanda sinnema on Jan 18, 2014
    I say NO to paint also. this is beauiful wood. if the wood were not so beautiful, and some is not, then paint.

  • Joan Fisher Joan Fisher on Jan 18, 2014
    you should have left it alone

  • Terra Gazelle Terra Gazelle on Jan 19, 2014
    If you do not do something to deal it, it will dry out worse and be worthless. I bet it would be pretty rubbed with bees wax though. That is what they would use on furnature hundreds of years ago...and the furniture would be sealed from drying out.

  • Sandy Angel Sandy Angel on Jan 19, 2014
    Leave it as is. The stripping made it beautiful. I agree with you; I like the original hardware. Usually I'm a proponent of painting but this piece is stellar. You did a great job!

  • Joan @ Nicer Than New Joan @ Nicer Than New on Jan 19, 2014
    Stain the top and seal and paint the rest. I painted my buffet and the paint brought out the detail more than just wood finish. You could also do some distressing and or usr a glaze. Gorgeous pieve. For $115 have fun with it.

  • Rhonda D Rhonda D on Jan 19, 2014
    This piece is stellar! It's not everyday you find a piece with such gorgeous natural wood grain lines, and consistent color, no knots, no blemishes. It's naturalness is it's "paint". To blanket this beauty with toxic glaze or cover-up would be a shame. Just my opionion.

  • Shannon Penrod Shannon Penrod on Jan 19, 2014
    I did one similar in Shabby Paints "Betsy Ross Red" with "black ReVax"

  • Vickie Gillespie Vickie Gillespie on Jan 19, 2014
    Unless something is so horrible it can't be used, filthy can be washed, why paint or refinish an antique?

  • Jackie Prim Jackie Prim on Jan 19, 2014
    Red YES!

  • KathrynElizabeth Etier KathrynElizabeth Etier on Jan 19, 2014
    No! No paint! Today I was saddened to learn that someone is painting an East Lake settee in excellent condition. My heart breaks.

  • Kim 'Kiewatt' Waknitz Kim 'Kiewatt' Waknitz on Jan 19, 2014
    Bare or stain, but no paint.

  • Colleen Colleen on Jan 20, 2014
    NO PAINT!! This piece is beautiful. The grain lines perfect and the carving spot on. Finish the legs and put a wax finish on it. Maybe put your spin on the hardware.

  • JulieArt JulieArt on Jan 20, 2014
    What about stain and paint and have the best of both worlds!

  • Terra Gazelle Terra Gazelle on Apr 08, 2014
    Like I had posted before..seal it with bees wax to keep it from drying out. You wanted to have a it a bit industrial? add some modern knobs or pulls...I love the look of the antique with the modern. It adds interest and surprise. I do not like the pulls that were on it. I have a antiuq stand I am making into a coffee station for a friend. It was ugly brown.. with pulls that looked like well something a stripper"exotic" dancer would wear. I spray painted some polished nickle knobs a hammered copper...I painted the piece a beautiful spring green with my homemade chalk paint with antique coffee ads on the of the ads is 360 years old. It was distressed, and much nicer then a brown old piece with broken doors and ugly pulls. Just because something is old does not mean that it can not be given a second or third life. This piece of mine was just ugly and fit in its old condition for the land fill or the fire place. Now Jeanette, your piece is beautiful...and you did an awesome job on stripping it..what a lot of work. This piece could be painted and it would be beautiful..but it is gorgeous now.