| Sheila Howell

How To Care for Antique Painted Furniture

I confess - while I love original antique wood furniture, it's original finish polished to perfection - I'm smitten by antique painted furniture, particularly soft, airy finishes like those seen in Swedish antiques. I'll always be an advocate of #BrownIsBeautiful - but painted antiques make my heart swoon. 

Why Do People Love Swedish Antiques?
Swedish antiques weren't always popular - in fact, they were out of fashion for many decades. Today 18th and 19th century Swedish painted antiques with their soft, feminine curves and creamy whites and Gustavian grays. Gray and white finishes were popular because the paint was less expensive. Blue is another popular color for Gustavian antiques, but as it was more expensive, it was used less. 

Today, collectors value the patina of Swedish painted antiques with wear that shows the many paint colors used over the years. Painted Swedish antiques also blend well with modern and midcentury pieces, as well as other antiques, which is important to many homeowners who prefer a curated approach to home design, versus a very designed look.

More Sources For Painted Antique Furniture 

There are many other European countries that crafted painted furniture that is beautiful and collectible today. Chinese painted antique furniture often features bold reds and golds and greens, which really POP! in a room. Across Asia, you see many different sizes, styles and types of antique pieces. Antique painted furniture from India is also very collectible especially the blues and saffron which many Americans associate with India. 

How To Clean Painted Antique Furniture 

If your antique painted furniture is in good shape, cleaning your piece is very simple and straight forward, says The Antiques Almanac. Every week:

  • Dust or wipe clean the piece with a cloth dampened with water.
  • Be sure not to leave water spots on the surface, as they'll dry and could leave permanent marks,
  • Before washing a piece of painted furniture, wipe it with a soft lint-free cloth to remove built-up dust.

If your antique painted furniture is very dirty or stained, take special steps to protect the finish while you clean it:

  • Mild soap and water and a soft cloth are the basic tools you’ll need to clean painted furniture.
  • Never use any type of degreaser, furniture spray or polish, or alcohol, or acidic cleaning product that may discolor or damage the finish.
  • Avoid using wax as this may melt when it comes in contact with a hot cup or bowl or when placed in direct sunlight close to a window.
  • For especially dirty pieces:
    • Dip a clean cloth into a solution of one teaspoon of borax, two tablespoons of vinegar, 1/4 cup dishwashing detergent and 1½ cups hot water.
    • Wring the cloth out until it’s almost dry and rub the surface using a gentle circular motion. 

Should You Paint Antique Furniture?

Antique brown wood furniture can look very good when painted. You live in a home, not a museum. If you love a piece but can't bear the wood finish but don't want to part with it for sentimental reason, follow your heart and paint. You will cherish your antique even more when it makes you happy to look at it, instead of constantly viewing it as an eyesore in your home. Read our article To Paint or Not to Paint Antique Furniture to help you decide if you should paint a piece - and for how-tos if you do decide to paint.  

Swedish Baroque Early 18th Century Console Table

Swedish Baroque Early 18th Century Console Table

The base of the table is early 18th century and features a scalloped front apron and slender curved cabriole legs. The antique console table is painted gray with an undercoat of red paint showing through in places. In some areas the paint is scraped away to show the wood beneath. We had a new top custom made for the table. The tabletop has slightly curving sides and a more pronounced curved front to match the base. The top is finished off with a tasteful Dupont bevel edge.  

Circa early 1700's

Dimensions: 33" W X 17" D X 25" H

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French Louis XVI Style Kidney Shape Vanity or Window Bench French Blue Accents

French Louis XVI Style Kidney Shape Vanity or Window Bench French Blue Accents

Beautifully carved French vanity bench in the Louis XV style features a kidney-shaped solid wood frame. The frame is a lovely French blue with undertones of gold and soft brown where the finish has worn through. The frame has a center design on both front and back sides of the bench, the legs are carved with scrolls and leaves and topped with rosettes. The seat is caned and is in excellent condition. 

Circa 1900


36" W X 14" D X 20.5" H

French Louis XVI Style Kidney Shape Vanity or Window Bench French Blue Accents

Our inventory is always changing, check back frequently for our latest additions! 

European Finds has antique furniture, accessories, mirrors and lighting that will make a statement in your home! If you don't see what you are looking for, give us a call - we also provide antique sourcing services to help you find the perfect piece.  

Contact: customerservice@europeanfinds.com