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Colors for Furniture

Christine Pittel House Beautiful
Colors for Furniture

Everybody has a dowdy old chair or bureau that could use a little help. Just pick up a brush, say these designers, and paint on some personality.

RUTHIE SOMMERS, RALPH LAUREN PAINT RELAY RED IB11 'I found this chair in Florida on the Dixie Highway and fell in love with the high fretwork back. In brown it looked dreary, so I painted it pomegranate red. It turned out so well I'm going to reproduce it.'

CARLETON VARNEY BENJAMIN MOORE LITTLE ANGEL 318: 'Dorothy Draper had no qualms about painting a 17th-century chair white -- always a white white, never a creamy white. Her attitude was: I'll make antiques work for me. I'd paint a big armoire white, with yellow trim, and display blue-and-white porcelain against the yellow inside.'

BRUCE BIERMAN PRATT & LAMBERT AUTUMN CROCUS 1141 'This is a soft, muted lavender with a bit of blue in it. I'd put it on a reproduction Louis XVI chair, in high-gloss, because that's what makes it modern, and I'd find a fabric for it in exactly the same shade -- shiny, like a cotton chintz or vinyl.'

CAREY MALONEY DONALD KAUFMAN COLOR COLLECTION DKC-10: 'I have a big, hugely functional Georgian Revival lawyer's desk in tired dry mahogany, bought from a tired dry lawyer. I painted it this pale gray-green in an oil-base satin finish, cleanable, very calm, but not so pale that it dies. The gimmick is the old-fashioned desk in an unexpected color--the more vulgar the carving, the better. It catches light and makes for a more interesting surface.'

THOMAS BURAK BENJAMIN MOORE HERITAGE RED EXT. RM: 'Take one of those dated five- or six-arm metal chandeliers that you can find at flea markets or on eBay, and paint it lipstick red in a high-gloss finish. Top it off with cream- colored shades and it will glam up any room.'

MOLLY LUETKEMEYER DUNN-EDWARDS AFTER THE STORM DE5769 'One of those inexpensive, gaudy mirrors with a lot of carving can actually become quite beautiful with paint. I like this deep, muted teal because it's mysterious. You can't quite figure out if it's blue or green. Colors like this with a little gray in them take you to the next level of sophistication.'

WILLIAM DIAMOND, BENJAMIN MOORE ESSEX GREEN EXT. RM: 'Unless you have beautiful antique wicker with the original stain, you have to paint it, and Essex Green just looks right. It's rich and dark, as dark as you can go and still come off as green, and it works with any fabric. It's instant class, elegant, uncontrived.'

BRIAN MCCARTHY OLD-FASHIONED MILK PAINT CO. SLATE: 'Find a piece that has good lines and trick it up. I've taken a plain pine chest of drawers from a junk shop and done a simple, cottagey finish with milk paint. Start with a base in Swedish blue-gray and lightly brush over it with white, pulling back with steel wool in spots to reveal more color.'


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