I was so excited when painted furniture became popular again. Finding wood furniture is really expensive and you can't usually get away with as many thrift store finds because usually these items may have damage to them. For a while laminate furniture from stores like IKEA was popular and I skipped that decorating phase completely because it seemed so impersonal to me.

This is probably the most budget friendly way to get new furniture whether it's a dining set or a bedroom set. In fact you can use mismatched pieces and then give them all the same finish or a similar color palette to create the look of a set.

This year we've seen more intricate finishes that go way beyond basic glazing or just bright colors. You will need flat surfaces for many of these more intricate projects.

Word Stencils

These came in all types for every different style of decorating this year. My favorite would be more of a freehand approach. It would look great on the top of a desk or even a large side table for a living room. I was inspired by a lot of the "love letter" fabric that I've seen around. It tends to be quite expensive. Plus, I wouldn’t really be able to keep it clean because usually it has a cream background. Painted finishes are very easy to clean. You'll want to use faint writing and maybe even include a post mark.

The other popular style is more graphic and modern. It uses a beautiful subway style which will be the easiest to stencil. Just use two colors, usually a darker one for the background is best. You want basic block letters with a crisp white finish. This is popular on artwork but there's no reason why you couldn't include it on dresser drawers.

Popular Patterns

You can also use a lot of the popular fabric patterns and use them on your furniture. This works best if you don't already have a lot of pattern on rugs or valances. The key here isn't to match it or make a coordinating set. You want it to stand out.

The most involved style will be a tribal inspired Ikat print. Since this is typically on woven fabric it's ok if it's a little irregular. However, since it is such a bold pattern and often uses really crazy colors I would rather just see this on smaller pieces like end tables or the top of a coffee table. It may even mimic tile this way. It will be the most intensive process even if you are able to find a stencil.

Ideas for Drawers

If you have flat front drawers on a desk or a dresser than you can try my favorite design which is an ombre effect. You may even be able to lighten some of the paint with a little white to create the gradients that you'll need to go from light to dark. You should probably stay on the same paint chip and get small samples of each color. This can either be really contemporary or it can also be a fresh addition to a kid’s room.

I would say that the biggest trend this year was pattern. We saw a lot of all over patterns instead of cutesy borers or stencils. This could be a bold gray and white stripe for a nautical inspired piece or an elegant damask stencil. The Moroccan style mimics tile and they're a personal favorite that I would probably never have the patience to actually accomplish.

I love painted furniture because it evens the playing field. You can look at some of the painted pieces at West Elm and Horchow that cost hundreds of dollars and create a knock off look for just a few dollars. When you do go with an intricate or patterned piece I like to keep the hardware to a minimum.