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Top Trending Furniture Paint Colors- The Wise Owl’s Guide to Finishes


Choosing a color is the hardest part of painting with Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint!  This blog will focus on the top selling and most adored colors and finishes. My goal is to guide you through choosing the best complimentary shades and finishes.  If you seek color inspiration, this favorite finishes post is your guide!

The one question I get asked more than any is “What is your favorite color?” The truth is, I do have a top favorite and it has never changed… it is JOYFUL!  I’m a turquoise fanatic (in case you haven’t guessed from our color chart).

JoyfulFor me Joyful is the perfect turquoise. It is the pop of color that can compliment many color schemes and finds a way to fit in despite its bold presence. Now that I think of it, being the oddball in the room is something I am familiar with lol. That may explain my love for all things JOYFUL! In my opinion, Joyful is best complimented by Black Walnut Glaze. I love that the glaze adds richness to the finish as well as creates an authentic time worn patina.  It tones down this fierce shade of happiness while still preserving its beauty. Joyful is a vintage shade that plays well with colors such as Gray Linen, Grecian Clay, Peppercorn, Weathervane, and more. Try it with our black hemp oil wax for an aged patina finish that mimics what only time can generally do. Here is the description listed on our website for Joyful: The Perfect turquoise! Just enough green to showcase shades of blue with a slight gray cast to make this an accessible pop of color without being over the top. Black Walnut Glaze and Joyful were meant for each other where vintage patina is desired. It is no secret that this is my personal favorite and it remains our best selling color next to Vintage Duck Egg. It is a versatile color that can be paired with every one of our finishes


Projects: top right and bottom left, Shades of Chic

Vintage Duck Egg


My second favorite color is almost neck and neck with Joyful, it is a natural beauty called Vintage Duck Egg.  This dusty shade of green-blue-gray is a color that is so accessible, it almost deserves a place on the neutral scale.  It provides a pop of color that is just dramatic enough to standout, while remaining serene and not overpowering.  It plays well with Creme, Gray Linen, River Rock, Limestone, and Smokey Quartz among others.  I like to finish it with Driftwood Glaze for a gray washed look, or Black Walnut Glaze where a more dramatic dimension drawing finish is desired.  Also perfect finished with Black Hemp oil wax, this shade never disappoints.  It remains our best selling non-neutral color since its release in the Spring of 2015.  Initially released as a seasonal selection along with Sea Salt, Weathervane, and 1950’s Green, these players all became part of our lineup due to their popularity.  Our website describes Vintage Duck Egg as: Green blue and gray meet, creating a shade reminiscent of lichen growing on a tree. A beautiful pop of color that is almost on the neutral scale because of the natural shade. An elemental soft green gray often found in nature that is pure perfection paired with all neutrals.vde


Projects: Top left Brumley Gap Designs, Top right Painted LLC, Bottom left Almond Road Designs


AntiqueVillaAntique Villa, this shade is a given… its described on our website as: The perfect off-white, not too stark, not too creamy. This shade has just enough warmth to feel inviting while still remaining bright.  Antique villa is the color that compliments all colors.  I adore it paired with Sea salt, Gray Linen, Peppercorn, and Bowie.  Antique Villa has been our #1 selling shade of all time.  It plays well with all colors from subtle to bold and everywhere in between.  If white is not a choice but a lifestyle for you, then here is your selection!  It is complimented beautifully by Mortar Glaze, an oyster gray/beige glaze with just enough richness to highlight details and create a multifaceted finish.  Try our Driftwood Natural Wax for a subtle gray washed finish.  This is the most popular neutral selected for painting cabinets as well.



Projects: Top left The Salvaged Boutique, Top right Painted LLC, Bottom Left Lindsey Atwell




The contender for best selling shade after Antique Villa is Black.  Described as: True and deep, this jet black is perfectly complimented by pearl wax for a luminous washed black, or white wax for a dramatic vintage chalkboard feel. Black or clear wax can also be used to preserved this pigment drenched black.  Black is a dramatic choice for statement pieces and finished simply with our Clear or Hemp Oil Wax, but also can be complimented with white wash for a vintage chalkboard finish, or Driftwood Glaze for a weathered gray wash.  It may also be finished simply using our Hemp Seed Oil.  If Hemp oil is new to you, check out our blog post about all things Hemp oil here.




Projects: top left Maebelle’s Treasures, top right The Salvaged Boutique, bottom left Brumley Gap Designs


Creme-alt2 (1)


Shabby chic and eclectic style lovers agree, Creme is a shade that blends in and makes itself at home.  The quintessential french creme, a succulent heavy cream shade with warmth that is not perceived as yellow but a rich shabby white.  It stays far from the yellow scale while possessing warmth and richness.  Creme plays well with all colors and is a common selection for an accent inside hutches, on 2-tones dresser drawer fronts, and more.  Mortar glaze will add a dramatic richness while our Hemp Oil Umber Wax will add an espresso infused faceted finish.  Creme is versatile and knows no boundaries, so experiment with selections here with ease.




Projects: Top left and right The Salvaged Boutique, bottom left Darling and Distressed Boutique




Limestone is a new player in the neutral game.  A whisper of cool Gray that is on just barely on the white spectrum. Vintage Duck Egg is my personal favorite to pair with Limestone. Driftwood wax is a beautiful finish that adds subtle dimension to this shade.  Limestone has quickly become a favorite due to its agreeable disposition when paired with almost any color.  Grays are a traditional favorite, and this pale mix of alabaster and crushed limestone have been a top seller and personal favorite of mine.  Try it with Mortar, Charcoal, or Driftwood glaze or dry brushed with Antique Villa.




Projects: Top left Dreamin’ Big Designs, top right Dearly Distressed, bottom left The Furniture Art Studio



Mermaid KissNow for some excitement!  Mermaid Kiss is a turquoise lovers dream.  It has is a bold happy selection that can still be toned down with Charcoal or Black Walnut Glaze, Black Hemp Oil, Umber wax, or White Wash Glaze.  Pair it with any neutral or Coral Reef or Begonia for a tropically drenched pairing.  Layer it with Deep Turquoise and Joyful for a Caribbean inspired trio.  Here is what we said about Mermaid Kiss on our color description: Paint is therapy and this gorgeous turquoise is your happy place! Bright, fun, electric, and versatile. Tone down with black walnut glaze for a vintage patina or use white wash glaze to soften this shade. Umber wax can be used to create a union of opposites attract. Peppercorn and Coral Reef are two personal favorites to pair with Mermaid Kiss. This is a bright, energetic pop of color this is simple stunning paired with so many colors. Try it with antique Red for a surprising harmony.mermaid


Projects: Top Left-bottom left Wendy Wilshek’s Handpainted Furnishings, top right Junque with a Purpose,



Smokey QuartzSmokey Quartz i is my go-to shade on many projects both as an accent color, and a stage stealing neutral.  Described as: Perfectly balanced true gray. Just enough cool and warmth to be situated in the middle of the gray spectrum. Accent with peppercorn for a 2 toned beauty but also coordinates with any shade because of its versatility. Try Black Hemp oil wax paired with it for added dimension.  My favorite combos include pairing it with Limestone or Peppercorn although, it plays well with many others.  Charcoal Glaze is a great finish where dimension and rustic appeal are desired.






Projects: Top Left Kenosha Retro & Chic, Top Right Alexa Kamrad, Bottom Left A Shade of Teal


PeppercornSince Peppercorn and Smokey Quartz are pretty much besties, they deserve to share the spotlight.  Peppercorn is: Almost a graphite, this rich gray is a beautiful yet dramatic choice for cabinets and more. Deep cool gray that is a favorite paired with Higgins Lake, Limestone, Joyful, and complimented perfectly by our Black Walnut Glaze.  This deep shade of gray is another fave of cabinet painters.







Sea SaltIf you want a show stopping unique beachy shade, Sea salt is a great selection!  Beachy salty air inspired this shade of lovely. Gray, Blue, Green, and White all combine to produce a color that seems to change throughout the day depending on the suns influence. Pair with Smokey Quartz, Peppercorn, Limestone, Gray Linen, or Snow owl. Pearl wax or Pearl glaze can be used to add luminescence without being over the top.  This alternative to white has plenty of ocean inspired tones that is truly the most multifaceted color in our lineup.




Projects: Top Left Bergshire Manor, top right The Salvaged Boutique, bottom left Darling and Distressed Boutique


Gray Linen


Gray Linen is arguably the most versatile of all the neutrals.  This shade of greige (gray/beige) has enough gray to balance well with blacks and grays and enough warmth to pair with Espresso and browns.  It is a french inspired soft shade that compliments both modern, traditional, and vintage decor.  My favorite pairing is with Grecian Clay.  Mortar Glaze, Black Walnut Glaze, and Black hemp oil wax are a few suggested finishes to use with this warm unbiased neutral.  The most versatile of all shades, a greige with equal parts gray and beige to create a tone that lends itself to cool and warm accents equally. 



Grecian Clay



Grecian ClayThe more dramatic counterpart to Gray Linen, a richer shade of greige that is reminiscent of homemade hot cocoa with enough gray to reserve its place as a versatile neutral. Glazed in Black walnut glaze or waxed in black hemp oil wax, this neutral will reveal unexpected richness.  This color has been a best seller from the beginning because of its versatility.  Pair it with Gray Linen, Creme, Tourmaline, or any neutral.





Projects: Top left and right Ms Peddler’s Boutique, bottom left Dreamin’ Big Designs


Higgins Lake


Higgins lakeOne of the most loved and best selling blues in the Wise Owl Palette. A truly versatile blue that has a slight turquoise cast while remaining an approachable and very complimentary color to most every shade. Pairs with all neutrals and Driftwood Glaze has quickly become a favorite finish. Its safe to say that Higgins Lake Plays nicely with all colors. Inspired by its namesake, a clear and almost Caribbean looking lake in Michigan.  This continues to be the favorite blue in the Wise Owl collection, try it with Creme, Peppercorn, or Grecian Clay among others.  This is a very versatile vintage inspired blue.  I love it finished with Black Hemp Oil wax!




Projects: top left Farmhouse Lane, top right Reimagined Restorations, bottom left Homespun Market




Bowie: A true show stopping peacock blue. Navy with a slight emerald cast create an unforgettable and one of a kind color. Dramatic and attention demanding, it is a gorgeous accent to whites, Gray Linen, Smokey Quartz, and more.  Released Spring 2016 as a tribute to its namesake David Bowie (a personal lifetime favorite artist), Bowie possesses a unique, androgynous, unusual, and  exciting beauty. With these attributes, we found it necessary to name it after a legend that possessed these same traits. Since its release, it has risen as a favorite dramatic and jaw dropping selection.  It is a distinct alternative to navy due to its emerald green undertone paired with a rich nautical navy.  It is perfect paired with whites, Smokey Quartz, River Rock, Joyful, and reds.  For a surprising but inspiring pairing, try complimenting it with Neptune.  You can add dimension with Black Walnut or Charcoal Glaze or Black Hemp Oil Wax.  Checkout our blog featuring Bowie here.bowie


Projects: top left New Life Creations by Al, top right Rehab To Fab, bottom left The Salvaged Boutique.




Tourmaline: A medium vintage natural shabby chic green that is simply sweet. A muted green compared to our brighter 1950’s green. Black Walnut or Black Glaze is a beautiful compliment but Tourmaline remains a receptive color to all of our finishing products. Creme and tourmaline pair together to create nostalgia and paired with petal you may be reminded of spring peonies.  This green has become a new favorite in the last year.  Pairs well with Petal, Creme, Limestone, Smokey Quartz, Grecian Clay and more.  It is a vintage shabby chic green with modern appeal.




Projects: top left Ms. Peddlers Boutique, top right Urban Farmhouse Finishes, bottom left Maebelle’s Treasures LLC.




Weathervane is a deep bronzed gray/brown that is almost black.  It has much more warmth than the cool gray tone of Peppercorn and adds masculine drama to pieces.  This shade is a luxurious combo of coffee beans and vintage black chalkboard.  It is great paired with neutrals, Greens, turquoise, Anchor and Bowie among others.  Despite its unique shade, it pairs so well with gray, beige or rich brown decors.  Add more drama with Black or Charcoal Glaze or tone down with White Wash Glaze.  Black Hemp Oil Wax and White Wax are 2 more recommended finishes as well.




Projects: top left Brumley Gap Designs, top right Painted LLC. bottom left Urban Farmhouse Finishes.







In addition to favorite colors and finishes, I thought it would be helpful to showcase a few of my favorite paint brushes.  My #1 favorite go-to brush for all projects is the Cling On O40, this medium oval brush makes painting enjoyable offering a brush stroke free finish, easy cleanup, and this workhorse of a brush is just the right size for most projects.  Check out our blog post here to find out what makes these brushes so special and why they are the go-to brush of professional furniture painters.  O40


For cutting in and smaller projects, I recommend the Cling On R12.  This dainty round brush is the smallest round brush in our lineup and one I find myself using often.  R12




If you are creating a more distressed, shabby chic finish try our HQ 45mm  paint and wax brush, the large round natural bristle brush is essential for creating texture and dimension as well as applying wax.  This is my favorite size brush for waxing and it really helps speed up application of wax, and you will find you use less wax than application with a cloth.  The HQ brushes are incredible brushes for getting into detailed areas and painting spindles.



It was hard to just pick a few colors to feature but these colors of Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint are my personal and customer favorites alike.  Don’t stop here, explore all of our colors here.  Discover your own favorite colors and finishes, choosing a color is the hardest part!




Happy Painting!

Karen Chouinard







Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint

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What is the big deal about Wise Owl’s hemp seed oil?

If you are part of the furniture up-cycling world, you have likely heard about hemp seed oil.  This miraculous product is powerful super tool that lends itself to an array of beautifying and strengthening finishes.  This is definitely a product that lives up to its street credit!

What is hemp seed oil?

Hemp oil or hemp seed oil is an 100% natural oil produced from extracting oil from seeds of the hemp plant.  In its natural form, it is medium amber to dark greenish brown depending on the region from which it was harvested.  When unrefined, it retains more of its super powers including but not limited to; antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties, wood and leather refresher and conditioning agent, Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint sealant, and more.  Wise Owl hemp oil is different from many hemp oils because it is cold pressed (retaining the most antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties) unrefined, and it is also second pressed (preventing it from spoiling like first pressed and refined food grade hemp seed oils.  Hemp oil is considered a drying oil because of its ability to polymerize into a solid form.  What does this mean exactly?  It will harden and become one with the surface (cure) and reach its strongest finish and bond once it has fully dried, lending its strengthening property to the finish of paint and wood.   This can take between 2 weeks and a 30 days depending on environmental temperature and humidity.  You may still use your piece finished with hemp oil in the meantime, but take care to protect it from water and heavy wear and tear until it has cured.  Hemp oil is suitable for outdoor use, and may be applied in multiple coats to produce a more water resistance finish.



What can hemp oil do?

  1. It may be used on finished wood to clean and protect, or on unfinished wood to bring out the richness of the wood grain and protect it from water. It is also food safe, making it an excellent choice for beautifying and protecting cutting board and butcher blocks.
  2. It makes an excellent sealant over stained furniture! Simple allow the stain to dry for 3-4 days, then apply hemp oil onto the surface and let it absorb then wipe away any excess oil.  Hemp oil may be reapplied at any time to re-freshen the surface and bring out the wood grain.
  3. It removes oxidation from various metals and may be used to clean corroded hardware and remove tarnish.
  4. It provides a strong alternative to waxing chalk style paint. This strong paint finishing product will rival polyurethanes in terms of tenacity!  If applied properly, it produces a finish that is not only strong, but also buttery smooth and uncharacteristic of many chalk style paint finishes.  It will not add any shine, and will preserve the matte finish of Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint.

    Hemp oil helped reveal serious beauty and dimension on this raw spalted maple slab.

    Hemp oil helped reveal serious beauty and dimension on this raw spalted maple slab.

Raw walnut slab finished with hemp seed oil.

Raw walnut slab finished with hemp seed oil.











How to apply hemp oil to seal wood:

Simply apply hemp oil straight out of the bottle, with a brush, or with a lint free cloth, and allow it to penetrate the surface.  Wipe away excess oil.  Repeat as necessary to renew and refresh the woods finish.

Results after hemp oil on rustic pine table.

Results after hemp oil on rustic pine table.


Hemp oil renewed the natural beauty of this chair.

Hemp oil renewed the natural beauty of this chair.


This rustic table top revealed its hidden beauty with some light sanding, staining, and hemp oil.


How to use Hemp oil to seal Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis painted pieces:

  1. Paint
  2. Apply
  3. Wet Sand
  4. Buff Well

Wet Sanding Instructions to seal Wise Owl Paint:  Make sure the paint has had time to adequately cure (at least 24 hours).  Working in small sections, apply hemp oil with a brush, cloth, or straight out of the squirt bottle.  Sand the oil into the surface of the paint.  Use fine sandpaper (300 or above) to work the oil into the surface of the paint (this is called wet sanding).  Distress at this time if desired.  If distressing a piece with raised wood grain or detail, a beautiful result is the illumination of the wood grain beneath (see picture below).  Buff the excess hemp oil/paint dust slurry with a lint free cloth immediately after sanding and move on to the next section and repeat.  The finish should feel dry to the touch when adequately buffed.  Leaving too much residual hemp oil on the surface will produce a tacky or sticky finish as the hemp oil dries, so take care to buff well.  If you notice any areas that look like they may not have absorbed enough hemp oil (blotchy or uneven finish) simply apply a a small amount of hemp oil with a lint free cloth and buff well to ensure the area has been saturated.  Do not apply any additional full coats until the hemp oil has cured from initial application.  Wet sanding is only necessary with the first application and this is generally all that is needed for most furniture.  Hemp oil penetrates through the paint instead of sitting on top like wax, this strengthens the painted finish dramatically.  Furniture intended for outdoor use may benefit from additional application of hemp oil.  You may still wax over hemp oil if desired such as when using an antiquing or colored wax.

Wet sanding with hemp oil can produce a wood grain defining beauty like this rustic pine primitive cabinet.

Wet sanding with hemp oil can produce a wood grain defining beauty like this rustic pine primitive cabinet.

*Note:  Due to the natural amber color of hemp oil, it may not be ideal for use over whites.  It could add a slight antique/creamy color on whites but will not produce a noticeable difference on most colors once sanded and buffed well.

Dresser finished with Smokey Quartz and sealed with hemp oil. It is the softest and strongest piece in my home, and I make everyone "pet it" to feel its buttery smooth texture.

Dresser finished with Smokey Quartz and sealed with hemp oil. It is the softest and strongest piece in my home, and I make everyone “pet it” to feel its buttery smooth texture.


How to clean tarnished hardware and oxidized metal with hemp oil:

Saturate hardware or oxidizes metal with hemp oil.  You may soak smaller items in a bowl of hemp oil, allow to sit on metal surface for a minute, and gentle wipe away oxidation with a cloth.  This is especially helpful to bring back the life to metal straps and hardware on antique trunks!  If you have an old trunk that seems dry and thirsty, it may just be calling for some hemp oil!

Wise Owl Hemp Oil in action!

Wise Owl Hemp Oil in action!

Pressed leather from the early 1800's was renewed using hemp oil alone!

Dearly Distressed restored and protected this pressed leather piece from the early 1800’s using hemp oil alone!

This thirsty trunk was revived using nothing but hemp oil!

This thirsty trunk was revived using nothing but Wise Owl Hemp Oil!


Once you have found one use for hemp oil, you will find yourself bringing everything back to life with It!  It is a wonderful and natural product that you don’t have to worry about getting your hands in and getting dirty.  Hemp oil is also used in many cosmetic grade products so you can also plan on the added benefit of a hemp oil manicure!

You can find Wise Owl Hemp oil here in 5oz, 8oz, and 16oz sizes priced from $11-$24.  You can also find the closest Wise Owl retailer in your area here.

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Top 10 tips for refinishing furniture for profit

Do you think you would like to try your hand at refinishing furniture for profit?  Do you seek a job that allows you to be creative, maintain a flexible schedule, and has great personal rewards?  Following these tips will help lead you towards success.

Display piece by Painted LLC

Display piece by Painted LLC

1. Have a contract!
Listen up, this is majorly important!!! If you do commission work, start out with a contract.  Protect yourself and get paid for all the those inevitable add ons and all of your hard work. Your clients will respect you for being professional, don’t be afraid to be clear from the beginnings that you are paid according to specifications outlined in the contract. Most of us have had that difficult customer with 20 change orders and you don’t want to go into that relationship without some backup. Specify costs for paint, distressing, glazing, finishing products and size and detail of piece. Don’t forget to include no refunds and costs for touch-ups down the road if available. Communicate with your clientele by setting clear terms and expectations as well as negotiating the ever important factor… price. Send updates, keep them abreast on the schedule if you are ahead or behind, and reassure them that their piece is in good hands.contract

2. Do not cut corners!

snow owl painted dresser

Snow Owl Dresser by The Salvaged Boutique

Us furniture painters, we are a breed that is one in the same usually. We have a touch of ADD, love starting a project but sometimes dread finishing it, and many of our at home projects may be waiting on something as simple as putting on the hinges (I am totally guilty!) I painted my buffet 2 years ago and I never put the hinges back on. You cannot skip the small stuff with a paying customer. Consider lining the drawers, making repairs so that your project is solid, painting the back of a piece even though it wouldn’t likely show when pushed up against a wall, and replacing loose, or damaged hardware. Small upgrades on hardware can dramatically affect the value and curb appeal of your restoration.  And most importantly FINISH THE PROJECT! Do not give to your customer saying you just need to wax it, or they will need to fix the drawer slides. Give them a solid, beautifully finished piece that keeps them coming back for more of your creations.

My Buffet I painted in Joyful with black walnut glaze... still missing hinges! Oops

My Buffet I painted in Joyful with black walnut glaze… still missing hinges! Oops

robins egg salvaged boutique

Robins egg desk by The salvaged Boutique

3. Do not undercut your value and the value of other painters!
This should really be #1!
Some points to remember;
A. Furniture is not made the same these days, they do not last 150 years like that Eastlake dresser you may be refinishing. The materials used in most antiques cost an arm and a leg in today’s market (hence the reason furniture is no long “crafted”.)
B. Your time is valuable! Murphy’s law applies here more than ever. Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Think about the time it will take you to finish a piece and then add 20% more time as a buffer. This will help protect your profit margin and give the customer a realistic time frame when their piece will be finished. This may help eliminate the “When will I have my finished piece?” questions from clients that may lead to you feeling rushed, and you need to proceed without the need to hurry your projects.
C. You are stepping into a job market where your presence could potentially take business from fellow colleagues. In this small niche of the market you will find some of the most helpful people. We will reach out from far and wide to offer you tips, techniques, advice, and emotional support on business and personal alike. In my past professional life I have been a forester, a debt collector, and a tree trimmer. In these trades, I thought most everyone was too caught up in the rat race to help a fellow comrade.  Furniture rehabbers will share their knowledge, offer advice, and guidance.  This unique quality of the furniture business, is the second most rewarding part (#1 obviously being that paint is therapy) of a job that offers mentors around every corner. You would be hard pressed, to find another profession where individuals are more forthcoming with shared tricks and trade secrets with one another.  With that being established, please do not price your pieces to undercut your fellow friends that may have helped you everywhere along the way. Painting and restoring furniture is hard work, and yes it is our passion, but we should value that it is a respected line of work that you shouldn’t price yourself or others out of work.  If you just think about the economics of it long term, you can’t help but predict the crash of this business that is the livelihood of your fellow painters.  Pricing your items at or below bargain basement prices takes away from the legitimacy and value from this line of work. Offering your customers a fair price is important, but be mindful of the time and effort that goes into restoring furniture.  One thing is for certain, your brothers and sisters in the field will respect you for pricing your work based on your value, and you may even gain referrals from them because of it. We all have other painters we refer to when we get overloaded. You will reap benefits and create great networking relationships. You will never tear down your own business by building others up!


Smokey Quartz nightstand by A Shade of Teal











4. Staging is Important!
Staging your furniture for resale or for your portfolio of work is more important that some may realize. You may have talent coming out of your ears, but if you have a poor camera, a dimly lit staging area, or a drop-zone filled with the kids toys in your pictures, your work could go unnoticed and under-appreciated. Take the time to make sure the correct color is revealed in pictures, experiment with the lighting on overcast vs sunny days, and make sure to capture your pieces beauty. Be sure if you use filters, it is to only enhance the artistic appeal of the photo, not to change the finish of the furniture. Below is an example that demonstrates just how important proper staging can be to selling.   My friends at Brumley Gap Designs intentionally took a bad pic for this example.  They are very talented folks and agreed to share these.  These photos are  of the same desk, which one would you rather buy?  Notice how not only is the second pic beautiful, it captures the true finish of the piece.
brumleygap STAGING


Black desk by Brumley Gap Designs


Ewok finds it necessary to become part of all of my staging.

Ewok finds it necessary to become part of all of my staging.















5. Tract your profit and loss
Ok, admittedly this is the one that is not the most fun, but it is essential! I recommend QuickBooks online because it will sync with PayPal and other payments services and credit cards. You may think that it’s all profit but take into consideration gas for delivery, product investment, accessories for the job like tools, drop cloths, sandpaper, hardware, and other incidentals. They add up, and quickly eat into your profits. All of this tracking no only helps you gain an insight to your business value, but will help 10 fold once tax time arrives. Many furniture painters quickly realize that the business growth is exponential and many have to obtain LLCs and other business licenses sooner than later. This responsible business management practice will also show clients that you are so much more than a crayon and paper welding individual with a paint brush ready to paint your family’s heirlooms.

sea salt salvaged boutique

Sea Salt painted desk by the Salvaged Boutique

6. Know when to say NO!
This part can be hard for many. If a project is outside the scope of your abilities (either artistic, mechanical, or simply time constraints) say NO! It is better to send a customer to another fellow painter and establish a great business relationship, as well as helps those around you that may be seeking work. If you do not have the time to finish a piece in a respectable amount of time, you are doing yourself a disservice my saying yes. take on what you can handle, and accept help if you are getting bogged down with custom work.

7. Paint what you love when painting for resale.
On pieces that are not a commission project, you may consider painting something you don’t really love in the hopes it will sell because it is trending. Why is this a bad idea? You are providing a product that the people obviously like so how could that be bad?
#1. You won’t take the same pride in your piece. Your work is your signature and however small it may seem, is all part of your legacy.
#2. You won’t have as great of a time painting, you will wish the time away instead of relishing in it. Remember the reason we do what we do, because we gain joy from it.
#3. You become known for your work, every piece is part of your portfolio even if you don’t intend for it to be. Paint and create what you love, Don’t be afraid to try new things, but don’t just jump in on the chevron bandwagon if you hate chevron but think it will sell.  It is all about being authentic, and creating a brand for yourself and your creations.  Furthermore, if you see a project that inspires you, apply your own spin on it without completely copying an idea that originated from someone else’s creativity.  We all look for inspiration but it is important to apply your own unique qualities to your finishes and projects.

creme painted french chair makeover

Creme chairs painted by The Salvaged Boutique

8. Utilize the free tools available to you through social media!
Many furniture painters reach a huge customer base by utilizing social media like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, periscope, YouTube, and more. The advertising market is making a huge shift in marketing trends and the good news is, most of it, is free! You may consider writing a blog to showcase your work while helping others learn techniques and tips for restoring furniture. Your blog may become a resource for potential customers to view your projects and seek inspiration on pieces for commission work. Show the magnitude of your talents and abilities and set yourself apart from others by creating your brand. Creating events on Facebook, or promoting events you are selling at, helps yourself as well as others selling there. Think of joining more local sales sites, auction sites, or other sales websites to reach a larger audience. Promote your favorite projects and let your work speak for itself.  Remember to follow the rules of each Facebook sales group and respect them!

9. Make sure you invest in the necessary tools to do your job!
This may be the time that you put away your hacksaw and invest is some serious tools. Know how to use them and don’t skimp on the quality of finishing products used. If you know a poly is prone to yellowing, obviously don’t use it on a piece because it is cost effective. Invest in good brushes, a good camera, obviously a cling on paint brush since they are clearly the best! Find which tools and products work for you and don’t be afraid to try out some new ones along the way. Be proud of your stash of goodies and take care of them. Paint brushes shouldn’t be disposable so take care of them (this is a hard one for us painters… again with the ADD… I need to wash out my brush… Look! A squirrel!)Cling On! Brush Care

10. Balance
This has been the single hardest step in my own career. I don’t have the answers on how to win the battle with this huge obstacle we all face. I do know, time for family must be made. Many of us choose this career path to spend more time with family, if you are successful, you will inevitable battle this dragon.  Take time to include family in your



projects if they are receptive, or have a little project for your kids to finish when working alongside you. Hey it keeps them off the streets, right? I have a bunch of cabinet doors my daughter keeps painting for me when we paint together. She gets a huge kick out of it. Yes, sometime I shoo the kids out of the studio too, they can be a real damper on productivity lol. Finding a balance is imperative to a successful business because if your family supports you, there is no end to the places you will go!

Cabinet door painted by my daughter Claire at age 5.

Cabinet door painted by my daughter Claire at age 5.


Mermaid Kiss by Wendy Wilshek

I hope you have found this top ten list useful and maybe, you are just having your aha moment when you realize you should be getting paid to paint. If this is the case, I know some of these tips could spare you the hard learned lessons that some of us have encountered along the way. Good luck and go paint! It’s your happy place, after all.




Working on the family balance with Grandma and my girls

Working on the family balance with Grandma and my girls

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Cling On Brush Care


Cling On!

Cling On! brushes are the favorite brush among furniture painters. They offer superior application, resistant to shedding, and smooth flawless finishing.  Featuring premium synthetic filaments, beech wood painted handle, fully locked in epoxy cement to eliminate shedding, and a stainless steel ferrule.  Hand made in Holland, Cling On! are designed for all waterborne materials. Brushes are available in round, oval, flat, block and angled styles.

Cling On! Brush Care

-Keep string intact on round and oval styles.  They are designed to preserve brush shape and are durable enough to withstand brush cleaning. IMG_1331

-Before using, let your brush “get its feet wet”.  Allow the tips of the bristles to suspend in water.  Wring out lightly before use or spin to remove most of the water.  While painting, it may be beneficial to dip the tips in a little water to keep the paint from drying on the bristles and to produce the smoothest finish.

Cling Ons are designed to be used and stored wet.  This feature contributes to the brush stroke free and flawless finish.  This also prevents paint from drying on, and damaging your bristles.  Life expectancy of a Cling On brush far surpasses other brushes for this reason.

-When not in use, return the brush filaments to water (just the tips), do not saturate the head or handle of your brush in water.  Allowing the bristles to rest on the bottom of container can disfigure them, so use a Cling On brush holder or engineer your own.  Start by using a jar with enough water to suspend the bottom of tips in, and a clip to hold the handle so that the tips keep from resting of the bottom of your container.


-When you are finished painting you may rinse with water or just return your brush to your brush holder to let the tips suspend in water, the paint will just slide off of the bristles.  A light rinse before use may be necessary and make sure to change out your water as needed.  If necessary, soap and water cleanup is acceptable if paint has been allowed to dry on your bristles.

Find out more about what makes Cling On! brushes so great here;

Save on Cling On! brushes by checking out our bundle deals!


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Wise Owl Glaze -are you doing it wrong?

Wise Owl Glaze is one of the most amazing and dimension creating finishes.   So many folks are confused about the process so I decided to share application and technique details.  You may be doing it wrong, but you may be doing it right!   Read on to find out.

What is glaze?  Wise Owl Glaze is a water based finishing and dimension creating product that contains either flat or metallic pigments depending on selection.  It can create unique character as well as act as a sealing product simultaneously.  It may be used over painted pieces or alone over wood for a gel stain finish.  Glaze is a thinner consistency than paint and is designed to be applied and immediately wiped away to create a desired finish.

Black Walnut Glaze over Sea Salt

Black Walnut Glaze over Sea Salt

Some Common Mistakes;

  1. Expecting perfect uniformity

Glazing your piece will not result in absolute uniformity, nor should it.  The beauty of glaze is in the imperfections.  Glazes should be used to create a faceted finish with dimension.   The end result should accentuate detailed areas and curves of your piece.  It should be allowed to collect in the details, create a patina, or mimic a time worn effect.  Not all glazes are used to antique pieces, Opalescent Pearl Glaze, for instance, adds a subtle luminescent pearl effect.  Black Walnut Glaze is used to create a vintage patina and to tone down brighter colors by adding a deep antique brown wash to your finish.  Since it is designed to be applied and wiped away, seeking a perfectly uniform finish would be near impossible.  Glaze can mimic what years and years of time can do to a piece.  Imagine age and rustic staining collecting in different areas depending on wear and finish.  To recreate this is a balance, you must dance between too far distressed and not going far enough.   You should think about what time would do to a piece.  Focus on letting glaze settle where it may and experiment with different techniques of application and different tools to wipe it away to create different effects.

Wise Owl mortar Glaze over Snow Owl

Wise Owl Mortar Glaze over Snow Owl

Buffet painted in Joyful and finished with Black Walnut Glaze

Buffet painted in Joyful and finished with Black Walnut Glaze

  1. Glazing over a surface that is less than buttery smooth

Chalk based minerals paints are porous.  It is he negative pore space (tiny air molecules in the paint matrix) created by the minerals that allows the supreme adhesion of the paint.  These little microscopic holes in the paint create tiny hills and valleys in your surface and can produce a muddy appearance when glazed if a little prep isn’t employed.  A smooth surface will allow the most control while glazing.  Furthermore, you have less of a chance of allowing lint from your cloth from entering your finish from the texture of the surface you are glazing.  An unsanded surface will soak up more glaze and can quickly muddy up your entire finish, sometimes creating a more dramatic effect than was intended.  Some detailed surfaces cannot be sanded, so glaze will be absorbed more in these areas and will add to the vintage effect.  To prep for glaze, lightly sand your painted surface with 350 grit or above sand paper or a sanding block.  At this time distress if desired, focusing on the details and edges of your piece.  Once again, you are attempting to recreate a time worn effect.  Over the years, the edges and detailed areas of painted pieces are expected to get the most wear and tear, so focus your efforts there for a more authentic finish.  After sanding, wipe away dust created from sanding with a lint free cloth.

Black Walnut used to accentuate detail over Joyful.

Black Walnut used to accentuate detail over Joyful.

Intended imperfections add character to this drawer painted in Gray Linen and glazed with Mortar.

Intended imperfections add character to this drawer painted in Gray Linen and glazed with Mortar.


  1. Using the wrong tool to apply and remove glaze

Lint does not belong in your finish.  If you use a new fuzzy washcloth for application or removal, some of the lint can be transferred to your finish.  Glaze can be applied using a paint brush, sponge, or cloth.  One of my favorite tools to apply and wipe away glaze is a business sock.  This provides ease of application since they usually don’t have much in terms of lint compared to let’s say, a gym sock.  You can also have more control of your finish by putting socks on both hands.  Yes, like a sock puppet, time to play glaze hands!  Use one hand for application working in small but long sections.  Dip sock hand A in a little glaze and then wipe away immediately with sock hand B.  Continue working while avoiding overlapping the finish since glaze can remove glaze so overlapping areas can result in a lighter glazed finish and produce a striped effect.

Restful finished with Black Walnut Glaze

Restful finished with Black Walnut Glaze


  1. Over working your glaze

Glaze has a relatively quick dry time and you need to work efficiently.  Continuing to wipe away glaze over and over as it begins to dry may muddy up the finish quickly.  Make a few passes until desired amount of glaze is removed from finish, and move on.  Applying too little glaze will shorten your working time, so make sure to apply an adequate amount to length work-ability.  If you don’t like how the glaze is laying down in a particular area you may apply additional glaze to remove some of the glaze finish and begin anew.   This technique has a short window and can only be employed before glaze is fully dry.  If you want a more dramatic glaze effect than your completed finish, glaze may be applied a second time as long as the first coat has fully dried.  Glaze colors may also be layered for added dimension.

Gray Linen glazed with Opalescent Pearl Glaze for a luminescent finish.

Gray Linen glazed with Opalescent Pearl Glaze for a luminescent finish.


  1. Using too much elbow grease to apply or remove glaze

Glaze needs to be applied and removed with a soft hand, pushing too hard is simply recreating the wet distressing technique (using a wet cloth to remove paint instead of distressing with sandpaper.)  This technique is great if you would like to use the glaze to remove paint in some areas, but if you are unintentionally pulling up paint, you need to employ a lighter touch.



  1. Starting your glaze application of the most visible part of your piece

If you are glazing a table, you do not want to start right on the top where your glazed finish will be most visible.  You will warm up as you go, and although I have glazed many pieces, I still prefer to start by focusing on the legs and bottom of my piece first.

Opalescent Pearl Glaze over Vintage Duck egg.

Opalescent Pearl Glaze over Vintage Duck egg.

River Rock Rocker with Black Walnut Glaze

River Rock Antique Rocker with Black Walnut Glaze











Consider practicing on a smaller piece until you decide on the right application method and tools and techniques to create your desired finish.  You may find your own techniques that work best for you.  Finally, glaze produces a strong finish, but a polyurethane (oil based poly), polycrilic (water based poly) may also be used if desired for added protection on high traffic pieces.   Be mindful that if you wax or hemp oil over glaze, it will need to be buffed thoroughly, since there will not be much in terms of pore space for the wax to be absorbed into the surface.  Glaze is my favorite of all finishes and reaps the most curb appeal in my book.  If dimension and character is your goal, try it and see for yourself.  Check out our Color Selection Guide post for some recommended glaze pairings.  As always, happy painting!





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