Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dear homeowners,


I think Dara at Domino said it recently and I will repeat:

There is generally nothing special about the wood in your home. So paint it. For the love of god, just paint it, already. Paint it or stain it dark, but don't leave it like this.

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

amen....Ginny

Anonymous said...

That's bad architecture, not just bad staining.

Ivy Lane said...

Good one!

Anonymous said...

That depends on the wood in your home. Also, white wall and wood aren't the ideal combination, and the floor is pretty ugly.

Kristen said...

Oh, I disagree completely! That particular example is rather heinous and white walls rarely do anyone any favors, but our house is 100 years old and the wood is incredible: solid, warm and grainy.

QuiteLight said...

I hate it when people paint good wood! Why have wood if you're going to make it look like plastic?

But staining is lovely & necessary.

Anonymous said...

I generally hate unpainted woodwork too. But, when it is in beautiful condition, I think anyone who paints it will go to homeowner hell. Just buy a different house.

PS - anon "the floor is pretty ugly"? OMG. Are you fucking kidding?

Be the change..... said...

I like white trim myself - but when I see cheap oak left 'natural' like this I want to puke. PAINT IT WHITE unless it's something special!!

Clarky Wang said...

It is great and beautiful,is that your house?

Elizabeth said...

I like the architecture. Probably built in the 20's or 30's - Seattle, no? Ginny - Like mother, like daughter...AMEN! Anon 8:01 - totally disagree with you on the floors. Orginal hardwoods and they look beautiful. Decorno - who's home?

please sir said...

I tell people this all the freaking time - and they are shocked, "WHAT? Paint WOOD?!" Yes...paint it already.

Navy and Gray said...

AMEN SISTA!

I would paint all of the wood in the world if I could.

Reggie said...

Me: "You are going to paint it, aren't you?"
Them: "What? Cover up that natural wood goodness with paint? Are you crazy? I just spent three months stripping it!"
Me: "But its pine, and was always meant to be painted."
Them: "I'm going to stain it and then put a couple coats of spar varnish on it."
Me: "Well, that will be something, won't it?"
Them: "You bet, won't it look great?"
Me: "Not my taste, but as the old lady said as she kissed the cow: 'to each his own'."

Anonymous said...

I don't love white with wood, but I love wood!

eM said...

it depends on the wood.
how many gorgeous fir or oak lined craftman homes have I seen desecrated with paint.. way too many.

katiedid said...

Call me a desecrator. Fir was a poor man's wood to use for moldings back in the day. People of wealth used teak or mahogany, which would be a crime to paint, I agree. But fir looks blotchy and dull, even with a varnish. It just does not stain well. Most fir paneling looks like plywood. And alot of it was indeed painted originally. And second floors of homes were often clear fir which the owners put linoleum "area rugs" over because they could not afford the orientals that were used in the downstairs public areas (which also got the more spendy oak flooring).

Elizabeth said...

katiedid - funny you should mention that. My living room as oak flooring and our hallway and bedrooms have fir. I was just told by a neighbor the reasoning for that - cost. Fir is also very soft and splintering is all too common.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon 8:01 a.m. This floor, if not "ugly," is pretty soulless. It looks like it was installed by Sears last weekend.

But wood floors can get better with age, especially if there's interesting grain in the boards, and if you're doing a wax finish, rather than a too-heavy, plastic-y polyurethane.

As for wood trim: In recent years, builders use "paint-grade" wood for that, meaning an inferior grade, best painted. No one is well-served when that stuff is stripped and exposed. Only consider doing the stripping/straining thing if you have evidence that the trim wood is older furniture-grade stuff, worth showing off.

Decorina said...

Decorno I love you. I don't know how many clients have spent hours and hours of backbreaking labor stripping their fir/pine woodwork only to have me tell them: "Sorry, folks, that stuff was born to be painted". Before they had the technology to fingerjoint wood (BIG CLUE PEOPLE) trim they used, as others have correctly pointed out, these inferior woods for trim. They don't look good stained because those types of softwoods don't take well to clear finishes.

Born to be painted. So sorry that you spent all your time stripping it - just paint it already. It looks like ass.

And could the real estate agents of America get over the blonde oak floors already? That stuff makes me want to barf.

Peacock Feathers said...

Right on!

lindsay. said...

amen, amen. i was viewing an apartment not too long ago with gorgeous wood throughout, except for the terribly depressing color. my agent and the one showing were going on and on about how tragic it would be if it were to be painted, and all i could imagine was attacking the place with paint. glad to see i'm not alone... or some destructive devil woman.

Anonymous said...

Even when the trim is made of good-quality wood, a dark stain can make it look like someone outlined your windows and doors with a Sharpie. And it can detract from the furniture and artwork.

And it can make the room look geriatric, not charmingly vintage.

erin said...

Please, please, please tell me we are right in painting the trim in my house (tiny, 1930s). We've prepped and sanded (so much shiny varnish!), and we're planning to paint on Saturday. Everyone is saying we're crazy.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/66595535@N00/sets/72157606857160463/

These pictures kinda make the wood look nicer than it is. It has an orange-ier look in real life, with lots of paint drops, crackling, and dents, plus it is so dark in there already (fully attached house).

Anyone think we're doing the right thing?

(Yes, that is a coral lamp. I can't help it.)

An Aesthete's Lament said...

I agree with you, ie the majority of homes. Just because it's wood doesn't mean it's good.

decorno said...

Erin, you are doing the right thing.

erin said...

Thank you, Decorno.
Can't argue with your taste.

Melissa H. said...

WORD. Hey Decorno, I sent you a doozy. Check your email.

Anonymous said...

there's no way that's decorno's house. furniture, tacky. decor + yucky wood/white walls = disaster.

Christine in DC said...

I think with wood, as with paint, it all depends..I've seen some bad paint jobs too in my day...as well as some wood that just looks great. Everyone loves my wood floors (in my rented--i.e. not changeable) apartment. I'm not that keen on them because they're very blondeish oak and old and choppy. Still, I'm glad they're there and not some bad berber carpet.

amymezzell said...

gag. this room is gross! unless the wood is extra special, PAINT IT!

Making it Lovely said...

Our house has TONS of stained woodwork. I painted everything upstairs white (because the second floor was an addition with cheap, ugly trim), but everything downstairs is in the original wood. That photo looks bad, yes, but in the right setting wood can look very nice.

Decorno said...

Oh god, you guys would die if you saw my house. That room is practically my house. We have the same type of house as in this photo (it's actually as home currently for sale in my neighborhood... I was shopping around for photos of other people's remodeled kitchens to get ideas for our upgrade).

Our wood trim is stained much darker, but it's still not dark enough for my taste, but that will be fixed. In other rooms it's already painted.

Someday I am going to post all the before photos of our house. You will not believe the squalor we lived in when we moved in (and, in fact, the CURRENT squalor of some rooms that are so far beyond repair at this point that we simply close the door to avoid them until we save enough to completely gut them and remodel. [I am talking to YOU, upstairs bathroom, you little fucker.]).

The Decorno LIKES pretty things. The Decorno does not always HAVE pretty things.

Baby steps.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god, you got that punctuation exactly right:

.]).

Damn, girl!

Valerie said...

Actually, I think that room would be fine if the walls were a medium or dark color. Green or gold or red or whatever.

Wood trim with white walls does nothing for me either, anon 8:01am. Unless it's super cool rustic beams or something.

morrismore said...

It all makes me feel so tired.

Anonymous said...

morrismore! I've missed you and your witty comments. Glad you're back.

AvenueFog said...

AMEN! I think there should be notecards with that sentiment - handy for slipping to the decor challenged.

Of course, it IS a crime to paint the (in good condition) woodwork in a Craftsman... but just because it's wood does NOT make it neat-o!

Anonymous said...

We had the most incredible mahogany in our old house, huge planks of varnished wood above the fireplace, huge carved beams across the ceiling, gorgeous columns. The new money couple who bought the house painted it all. It was CRIMINAL!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh now, old money has plenty of bad taste too. (Have you ever seen pictures of Pat Buckley?)

Anonymous said...

Like I said, Anon 4:00, those people will go to homeowner hell. They should have bought a different house.

Anonymous said...

Hey, what do y'all think of these chairs? I can't decide if they would just look trashy once I got them home.

http://www.redticking.com/unique.php?id=188447

skywaykate said...

Anon. 5:28 - do you either have lots of glossy stuff/color or french country stuff to compliment the setup with? Otherwise, if they're just setting without any accessories around them, they won't look so hot. What color are your floors/rug that they will be on?

Like the shape, though!

Anonymous said...

Honey oak floors (apparently dreaded by many who read this blog). No rug yet. I have a sofa which could go French or not. Trying to decide which way to go!

Nantucket YaYa said...

Christopher Lowell says "Just because it's wood doesn't make it special!"

David said...

I'm a painter too. Our old house (40's colonial) had crisp white trim, base to crown. Well, it did after we were done, it started out with about 3 different shades of dirty beige.

Robert said...

Amen, Decorno.

Woodwork is not a little bit like children. Unless sufficient numbers of disinterested parties have pressed upon you --voluntarily-- that your child is gifted and special, he probably isn't.

I'm charitably indifferent to people who can't bring themselves to paint middling wood, but there should be severe punishments for those who go to great lengths to expose wood of the sort always meant to be painted.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any tips for painting wood trim? I have your standard home depot-ish trim with a satin finish. Do I have to sand everything down or will primer and paint work.
There is quite a bit of trim and the concept of sanding it all down it a bit overwhelming and the thing that has stopped me beside all of the people that think there is something special with so-so wood trim.

Booger Brains said...

problem is... the walls shouldn't be white. a nice dark gray or chalkboard black would be great! and sorry but the floor does kinda suck. but shit, i've painted over wood plenty of times. it really just depends what you're going for in the room. and this room just hasn't made up it's mind at all, so it looks like a lame indecisive, noncommital unoffensive landlord type o' situation.

Anonymous said...

I just don't get it. What is wrong with the floors? What you do to them?

pinkstilettos said...

LOL! Agree completely! Get on with the painting people. Daisy~

Anonymous said...

I disagree with many of the comments here. I think the floor is beautiful! It just needs an area rug to pull it all together and not make it quite so stark. That would be striking. Okay, I don't mind the white walls and wood trim...but there is just too MUCH trim in this room--and it's way too THICK!! And, is that a window over the sofa? Because if it's a picture, it's pretty ugly to put over your living room sofa. As a large picture window, it overwhelms the sofa with the thick trim. Just needs some work, and it could be a pretty room!