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I Changed My Furniture With Decorative Art: A Case Study

By: Mary Williams BA (hons) - Updated: 18 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
Painted Furniture Decorative Art

Taking large pieces of furniture and giving them a completely new look or even transforming something as small as an ornamental box or a table lamp can be extremely satisfying and can certainly add something new to a space. For those like decorative artist Gill Gathercole, from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, who really have the necessary skills, it can mean saving money, recycling unwanted items and really helping to transform a space.

Gill said: "I've always enjoyed drawing and painting since being a child. I went to college to study Fine Art, and then worked as a graphic designer for seven years. I got fed up with an office - a nine to five - work life and decided to set up my own business as a decorative artist, painting murals and furniture.

Working as a Decorative Artist

I have been working as a mural and decorative artist for more than eight years now and have more than 20 years experience as a mural, graphic and fine artist. But as well as painting murals, I also take my ideas and apply them to furniture – all sorts of things - in fact most surfaces can be painted on.

I look out for attractive pieces which other people may not like because they're a bit shabby or painted in thick brown varnish, or with unattractive handles. But as long as the intrinsic design is good, I know it can be transformed. I use all sorts of paint effects, such as colour washing, marbling and wood graining.

I think my favourite pieces for working on are chests of drawers - I've always liked them! They are a nice size to work on neither too big nor too small, but can make quite a statement in a room if done well. I have painted all sorts of chests of drawers over the years.

They do seem particularly popular at the moment for those who are looking to transform a piece through decorative art. I think it’s because they are a very useful item of furniture and can really add to a room aesthetic wise. Also, they are not too “fiddley.” Something like a chair can be more difficult because of all the turned elements.

Painting Items For Family and Friends

I have painted all sorts of pieces for my own home and for my friends. Painting the items really transformed them. For example, I recently painted a kitchen dresser cupboard. I did this in a distressed style - and I just love the strong pea green that we chose. Now, the blue and white plates we have displayed on it contrast really well.

Before I took my brush to it, this dresser was really just a very ordinary pine dresser that we picked up second hand. The colour now looks great. There seems to be a fashion for painting in white or ivory on furniture, but I love really strong colours.

I suppose it took me about two days to paint it in total. Distressing is a very simple but effective technique if done well. During this time the dresser changed it from a very ordinary piece of furniture to something much more visually arresting.

Decorative artwork really can transform a piece. And I love the idea of recycling furniture. Turning something rather dull and uninspiring into something stunning, for very little money is extremely satisfying."

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