Debunking Design Myths: Yes You Can.

Debunking Design Myths: Yes You Can.

House Beautiful

You can paint wood.
Even antiques.

If the wood is beautiful and you adore it in the room, fine.
But if you don’t love it, paint it.
Life is too short to worry about stuff like that.
Yes, you CAN paint any wood. If you want to, you CAN. Ah, so freeing!

Debunking Design Myths: Yes You Can.

House Beautiful

You do not have to have a living room sofa.

Many years ago my mom wanted to use four club chairs in her living room instead of a sofa and an interior designer friend pooh poohed the idea. We still chuckle over that piece of advice.

Who says a living room must have a sofa?
If you’d rather use chairs, you CAN!

Debunking Design Myths: Yes You Can.House Beautiful

You CAN use REAL rugs, real art and furniture in a bathroom if you want to.

I’ve used real rugs, real art and real furniture in my kitchens and bathrooms and GASP! they all survived to tell the tale. I love the warmth and personality regular furnishings add to these spaces.

Nothing says I’M BORING, SAFE AND PREDICTABLE like thinking the only options for decorating your bathroom are a matching bath rug and toilet cover. And if you really go all crazy and add the padded toilet seat to the set and you are under 89 years old, please, I beg of you, DON’T. Just don’t. That is all.

Don’t shoot the messenger, these are tips (and photos) from House Beautiful, but yes…. I agree with them!

Find the rest of the tips at House Beautiful! There are some good ones!

Debunking Design Myths: Yes You Can.


  1. I agree! My husband says you ruin wood when you paint it. Nooooo, I love painted wood and trim.
    Enjoy your day!

  2. Amber T. says:

    Thanks for this encouraging post! I love painted wood, but generally every male who comes through my home for the first time suggests to my husband how he can strip the paint, sand it down and restain it- LOL!
    Those who come here often have finally just accepted it though! ;)

  3. New life goal: have a bathroom big enough to put real furniture in! Love that!
    Thanks for the permission! :-)

  4. Oh I so agree with you on all counts! Though I don’t have much room in my bath for furniture I do have a beautiful larger rug in front of my sink. Runs the length of my vanity. And it just makes me so happy seeing it. And ICK to the furry little seat covers. That is all I can say about that one!

  5. I’m registered to attend Relevant! As a new blogger, I look at a site like yours in awe at you and overwhelmed by how much I have to learn. Love the decorating positives…Yes, You Can! Please stop by my blog and give any suggestions you might have!

  6. Love this advice! Especially the wood painting bit, since I have two pieces I am itching to transform into pretty wild colors.

  7. Melissa says:

    I am SO sorry that my comments are still broken. I miss you! Thanks for letting me know you are still out there by emailing me, LOL.

    Hoping Darcy can fix this for me soon.

  8. Heather says:

    I love breaking the rules. I’m about to swap my living room and dining room. Who says I can’t put my dining room furniture in the living room and vise-versa?

    I love furniture in the bathroom. My mom has an old cedar chest in her bathroom.

    • Melissa says:

      Agreed. In fact, I’ve done that before and it worked better for me! You go for it! :-)

    • I did this too! My living room really needed to be the dining room, so I made my kids help me move everything. It works great and gives me a wonderful room for serving buffets.

  9. Love this post – especially about the bath rug, toilet cover and padded seat!!! So funny!

  10. Love this post girl!

  11. I paint wood furniture all the time. I have one piece in my house that has followed me everywhere. Each new home it gets a new paint job, to match it’s new room and use. It’s first home was in the house I grew up in. It has been a kitchen cabinet, tv cabinet, china cabinet and now it is in my office. I love it must always find a perfect use for it.
    .-= cathy´s last blog ..How to Create Healthy Meal Plans – Start with Fresh Local Food =-.

  12. I agree with all of these points, especially painting wood. Life is short, just paint it! :)
    .-= Traci Hutcherson´s last blog ..Burlap Stool =-.

  13. Denise Runions says:

    Hi Melissa!

    I love your blog and I definitely love the advice from House Beautiful.

    I have paintings and furniture in my kitchen and bathrooms. The room labelled “family room” on my blueprints is being used as a library/study because, frankly, I don’t understand why anyone needs two living rooms (and that’s what a family room is – a living room). My third bedroom is going to be an upstairs sitting room, with my “cabinet of curiosities”, Louis XV and XVI-style chairs, tree stump and metal tables and dark bronze walls and curtains.

    With the exception of my tree stump, metal and ceramic tables, all my furniture is painted. I dislike most brown furniture. Instead of curtains in my master bedroom, I’m going to have a six-panel screen upholstered in a gorgeous fabric in front of the lower windows. I’ll leave the upper, arched window bare.

    It feels so good to do exactly what I want to do in my own home! I tell those who don’t like my decorating style that they don’t have to copy it.

    Thank you for a wonderful post!

  14. In our home that we built in Florida, I didn’t want an eat in kitchen so we just built a dining room.

    Our home that we just moved to in Kentucky had an eat in kitchen. I made it into a sitting area. I bought two beautiful chairs and an accent table and it looks great. I don’t follow trends to much, I just do what makes me happy.
    .-= Melanie´s last blog ..Getting To Know You. =-.

  15. Melissa says:

    So supposedly the comments are now FIXED!! Let’s hope!!

  16. You go girl! I love your spunk and your wonderful outlook on life and cheer you on!! Love Janine

  17. thanks reaffirming the painted wood. I love painting furniture. however, one small dilemma…i have two pieces of antique oak that my mom lovingly stripped down. i have the fondest memories of her doing it as a girl. she used to antique hunt and found some really great pieces. i have two of them. i’ve been thinking of painting them for a really long time, but just can’t seem to do it b/c I think of those memories. any advice on this?

    one more question? do you think you need a little wood in a room to balance it, or is it OK to have it all painted? I’m just so stinkin in love with painting it and the look!!! If only I had time!
    .-= Mary Jean´s last blog ..Be Still Mondays =-.

    • Melissa says:

      Hi Mary Jean,

      First of all, on your mom’s piece of furniture…I would say that if you LOVE it like it is, I’m all for leaving it like it is. But if you feel like you would enjoy seeing it painted, then what I would do is take pictures of it as it is to remember her handiwork. Then, lovingly paint it and think of yourself as taking after your mom in working on that same piece to make it beautiful. The memories will still be there and you will treasure that piece just like you did before!

      And yes, normally I am all for a balance of painted and wood pieces because I love the warmth and beauty of wood. I enjoy the different textures wood brings to a room. And I think it makes a room look more lived in and less decorated. However, I see some beautiful rooms with all painted furniture and if that speaks to you then I think you just go with it. My daughters and I were having the same discussion the other day, looking at the only two remaining wood pieces in our living room and dining room….one of them we wanted to paint and we hesitated thinking there would be NO more wood pieces in the living room! Ack! But then we thought about it and decided that maybe I just don’t have the right wood piece in there right now so it is OK to say goodbye. :-) If the wood is right, it makes the room beautiful. If it isn’t right, I wouldn’t keep it just to have a balance. If you want wood, find a piece you really love.


  18. Catherine says:

    I agree but sadly I have a seven and eleven year old boys. Anything other than industrial flooring, carbolic soap and dark towels doesn’t really cut the mustard in our house after a rugby match mid winter. Once the boys have left their rugby days behind them I’m taking the ‘accessorized bathroom’ route.

  19. Great tips. I love them.

    I do have a question about art in the bathroom, though. I have always hesitated to put art of any value — sentimental or monetary — in the bathroom because I fear the effects of the moisture.

    You haven’t had any problems?
    .-= Lesley @ TheDesignFile´s last blog ..Home tour: A Sears catalog home – updated =-.

    • Melissa says:

      Hi Lesley,

      No, I haven’t had any problems with art in the bathroom. I have always used original art and it has held up just fine. I was thinking back even to our last bathroom where we hung several pieces of original art and we didn’t even have an exhaust fan in the room…still I didn’t see any sign of any ill effect.

      However, if something had extraordinary value it wouldn’t hurt to keep that one out of the bathroom just in case! Most of my art is fairly worthless as far as its monetary value so I don’t worry about it.

      Right now we have an original oil painting (that we bought for cheap at a garage sale!) hanging in our master bathroom. It looks fine to me, we’ve had it hanging there for a year. We do use the fans when the shower is running, and the oil painting is maybe three feet away from the shower so it doesn’t really get much moisture near it. We also have functioning windows that we can open if it felt damp in the room so that might help keep the air circulating!

      I would be more concerned about priceless family photos under glass as I think the steam could build up under the glass or on the photo paper. If you can’t replace something easily, I would definitely hang it elsewhere just to be safe. That is the beauty of garage sale or flea market art. You can enjoy it wherever you want and if anything were to ever happen to it, it isn’t the end of the world to find a new one.

  20. Thanks for the reminder to be myself! I am using a huge, old, gold frame in my dining room to “frame” four watercolors by my kids (that I hotglued to the paint) and I LOVE it! And soon I’m going to hang an old bread board on the wall – it’s the perfect colors and says “give us this day our daily bread” and is all nicked and scratched. Oh, and the saying is in another language, maybe Norwegian? But I LOVE it!

    And really, if I could find cool, comfortable chairs, I would give up my sofas! It would be much easier to arrange the living room in a cozy way.

  21. I have always loved painted furniture. My mom however, loved the grain of wood and never ever painted furniture except an ugly coffee table. I am getting over the phobia and actually paint some pieces these days! We still leave our antiques as is though.
    .-= Linda @bushel and a pickle´s last blog ..Always a MOM =-.

    • Melissa says:

      Hi Linda! Usually antiques are so beautiful as they are I wouldn’t feel the need to paint them either! I love to see the imperfections of aged wood, too!

  22. Thanks for permission to have my house like I want it. ;-) I sometimes find myself all caught up in the “rules” and being dissatisfied. A few years ago, I used a beautiful quilt as a shower curtain (with a liner, of course). It added so much warmth and color to the room. It’s still one of my most favorite things I’ve ever done to my home.
    .-= Beverly @ The Buzz´s last blog ..Saturday Shout Outs =-.

  23. hello melissa.
    did you know painted wood is my middle name? well…actually wine at 5 is my middle name…but painted wood sounds good also.
    .-= kasey´s last blog ..Train like a girl…. =-.

  24. OMG!!! i LOVE LOVE LOVE painted anything! :) plus the worst part is i’m totally a plain Jane..:) gah! :)

    I love all your wonderfully inspiring advise!

    Hey come and check out my giveaway or at …. It’s a surprise! :)

  25. I agree with you on all counts!

    My decorating motto is “If you love it, then it’s ok.” Be free, people!
    .-= Mrs.Rabe´s last blog ..This and That =-.

  26. GREAT advice about the toilet seat cover LOL :)


  27. Great post Melissa, I do have art in my bathroom and I do plan on four matching chairs in my living room and I just painted a mahogany antique rocker white. So Bravo for this post it is right up my alley, Kathysue
    .-= Kathysue´s last blog ..Color Spots =-.

  28. Bluezette says:

    Paint your furniture but please, please, please don’t paint your home’s unpainted woodwork if you have a Craftsman, Foursquare or other home who natural trim is a key element of the original style. I thank the previous owners of my home every day for not painting the original woodwork.

    • Melissa says:

      Oh, yes, that is a delicate one!! Our old house was an English Tudor with RARE original mahogany woodwork, board and batten and crown molding. The people before us painted over it in the dining room, but thankfully left the rest of it natural. Yes, I adore white trim and woodwork. But it is preferred to paint over YUCKY wood, not rare beautiful mahogany. It might look pretty to have white trim, but it does devalue the worth of your home to people who love the original features. I would say do not buy a home with beautiful original natural woodwork if you want white painted woodwork. Sigh. But, if you are going to live there forever and don’t care about the value of your home’s beautiful original woodwork or staying true to the character of the home, to each his own and it is your home. Tough call on what to do there! Eek.

  29. Condo Blues says:

    I completely agree! When I bought my home, all of the accessories from my old rental ended up in totally difference rooms when I decorated my condo and I love it!

    I also agree with you on the padded toilet seat cover. Don’t. Just don’t.

  30. Danielle says:

    I have a lot of wood furniture and hardwood floors and lately it’s really felt like too much. Just when I’d almost decided to buy a new bed, I see this! The option of painting my current bed sounds so much more appealing. Thanks for reminding me to think outside the box.
    .-= Danielle´s last blog ..I am a college graduate. =-.

  31. I love this post girl! So true! I say do whatever the heck you want — it’s YOUR house for goodness sakes!! Do what makes you happy! Like paint furniture!!!!

  32. One thing I like to do in breaking the rules is to re-purpose a room to suit the needs of our family. Our old living room is now our dining room. Our old dining room is now our library and office. Who says the builder gets the last say in how you use your space. So many people waste the space in the biggest room in their house by reserving it for their occasional company. Kind of questionable when you think about the preciousness of square footage in a home.

    Thanks for always coming up with something to make us think outside the box, Melissa.
    .-= Bonnie Mattson´s last blog ..Can You Believe It? =-.

  33. I love having “real” furniture in your kitchen. In fact, in my last house I had a fabric rocker in it. It was my favorite place to sit and read while I waited for my oven timer…and it was the place that Will sat every time he came to visit me and talked with me while I was cooking. Some of my favorite memories! We don’t have a kitchen that is as large here but we are still looking for just the right comfy chair for the kitchen for just that purpose.

    We do have a dining room that we eat in for every meal…but since we tend to be book lovers we feed our minds a lot…so we have turned our dining room into our dining room/library. Its perfect for us! We read there, work on homework, and eat together as a family. I feel so good in rooms that are filled with books. They bring such warmth. Whoever said that dining rooms were just for eating was missing out!
    .-= Mary Joy @ Snapshots from my Heart & Home´s last blog ..A New Mind =-.

  34. Kristen Hawley says:

    Oh I love painted wood… Its one of my favorite things. We just painted some wood dressers a distressed black. WE LOVE THEM!
    .-= Kristen Hawley´s last blog ..Home Inspiration :: Great Blogs =-.

  35. wow – thanks for this one! I’ve wanted to paint me antique hall table (which is a huge dark wood intricately carved Victorian styled cabinet) in our hallway for ages – it’s too dark for the area, and everyone says “don’t don’t’! it will ruin it etc etc. But I’ve always thought, well if I don’t paint it a light colour it has to go – which kinda seems like the worse choice doesn’t it! So it’s great to hear someone say – just paint it – seriously, it cost me less than $500 on ebay – if I want another original I’ll just go buy it again! Big deal – make it look fab now! right! agreed! The detailing in the timber will probably come of moreso too… so it’s a win win!
    .-= Annie@A View On Design´s last blog ..Marylands cottage circa 1850 =-.

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