Painted furniture is all the rage.
You know it. I know it. Every Red Apron customer and First Friday shopper in Kansas City knows it.
The blogging world knows it. Pinterest knows it. Every thrift store knows it which is why they have raised their prices (read about it here).
Repurposing and repainting is in!!!!!
Every once in awhile (thankfully not often), when I am selling a piece of furniture or working at The Red Apron (where I sell most of my painted items), I will hear someone who doesn’t like the price of painted furniture. They will make the comment that “for that price… I can paint one myself”. Most people aren’t being hateful…..they are just merely thinking painted furniture sometimes costs more than they think it is worth.
Or sometimes they are being hateful.
Either way it bothers me.
Perhaps there are times when some things do get overpriced.
But for the most part, I think most painted furniture is UNDER PRICED. There…. I said it. I think alot of the prices need to be RAISED.
I just don’t think most people realize what goes in to painting a piece of furniture. And why the price of painted furniture is not too high.
So, I am gonna break it down for you! Not to be nasty in any way….just to help educate people.
The REAL Price of Painted Furniture
Let’s say I have an end table/nightstand for sale like the one picture above for $100 (which I really do have for sale) .
I bought it for $25.
But before I bought it, I had to find it. Which meant driving to 10 garage sales that day with nothing good at most of them. Driving from one sale to another store to another sale, etc. I spent money on gas and my TIME is worth SOMETHING.
Then, after I found the cabinet, I bought it and lugged it home (thankfully this piece fit in my vehicle, but with larger pieces…I have to call in the hubby for help!).
Then we had to clean it.
And do any minor repairs to it (ie: drawers sometimes don’t slide. Backs sometimes need re-tacked on. Legs sometimes need screwed on tighter. Sometimes it reeks of smoke. Sometimes cracks need repaired.)
And then we had to sand it.
And prime it.
And paint it.
And if we didn’t have the paint for it, we had to drive to the paint store and get some.
And stencil it or glaze it or distress it or topcoat it.
Or, on the piece above….we added metallic paint to the trim.
Then we gotta go to Hobby Lobby to purchase new pulls for it (you know I don’t mind that part).
And put the piece back together.
Then we tag it for the Red Apron sale (which means MAKING a tag) or list it on Craigslist or both.
We then have to load it and haul it over to the Red Apron.
And unload it.
And take pictures of it.
And post it on Facebook for sale.
Then we wait and hope we have found the happy medium between “what we have invested in the piece in both time and money” and “what we hope to make out of it”.
Every repurposed store takes their cut on the sale of the painted items/furniture that sell. It’s how they make their money and how they pay their bills . So, they get their cut of the price of the piece once it sells.
Then don’t forget that Uncle Sam gets his cut of the sale too. Because I LIKE staying out of jail.
And THEN…..finally then…..I get my cut.
So that piece of furniture you thought was priced too high…is worth every penny. The price of painted furniture is worth it. When I think of how much time we spend on some pieces of furniture and what we made on it……ouch. I wanna cry. The piece above probably broke down to me making less than $10 an hour.
But we paint furniture cuz’ we love it.
And there is much joy in the hunt of finding furniture for me.
So please…… hear my heart. I LOVE it when people are brave enough to take on a piece of furniture themselves!!!! There is great pride to be had by picking up a paint brush and making a piece pretty all by your little sweet self!!! I encourage you to paint your own pieces. I will be your biggest cheerleader. I will tell you all of our painting secrets. I will walk you through all of the steps!!!!
But please…. don’t ask us to come down on our price of painted furniture. And please don’t make us feel bad for pricing pieces the way we do.
Cuz’ it makes me cry inside.
And I’m an ugly crier. Not a Demi Moore pretty kind of crier. But more on a rubbing-snot-all over-my-sleeve kind of crier.
So…. if you know someone who is trying to make a living off of painting furniture….support them!
They are NOT getting rich painting furniture. Believe me.
They do it because they love it.
AWESOME post…may I please share it on my facebook page?
You said what I have thought for a long long time, very well indeed.
I’m certainly not getting rich painting furniture, but I love doing it!
Great post! I love the thought that went into this. Of course, anytime you skip the middle man you can save money, but painted furniture is an art! I’ve attempted it, I suck at it, and now I leave it to the pro’s. It’s worth it!
Amen and amen! Thank you for posting this, Jennifer. I agree with every word.
Think about this — How much would you expect to pay for a quality nightstand in a big box store that wasn’t lovingly brought back to life, and has no unique characteristics?
When I went to one of the KC monthly events for the first time, I was absolutely shocked at how LOW some of the prices were. I think when fellow furniture refurbishers set their prices at rock bottom, it devalues how much work truly goes into something like this and skews the expectations for those who price our work more realistically. (But sometimes still not making much of a profit.)
I probably *could* cut my own hair, but I pay good money for someone to do it for me.
Sharing on my FB page as well. xo
Great Post! I agree. If someone goes to a furniture store to purchase a piece of furniture they are going to pay twice the amount a refurbisher may charge for a quality piece of furniture that has more character than anything else they can find.
Sharing on my FB page!
You are right! I do love you! (although I already kinda did) I hear that ALL the time at my store. Drives me crazy too. Thanks for putting it out there like it is!
If I could copy and paste this to my own blog, I would! I totally agree. Once upon a time, I was “that lady” so I went invested a LOT of time, and eventually a LOT of money to do what I love doing. It makes me sad when someone wants me to give all that away for nothing. Thanks for validating me 🙂
Thanks for this post. I’ve just started selling my pieces in the last few months and sometimes I feel like I price things too high. Then I remember everything that went into it! Our time and effort is definitely worth something! ~ Angie
Love, love, love what you had to say, I had to feature it on my blog post http://itsstilllife.com/2013/01/24/painted-and-refurbished-furniture-pricing/. You have a way with explaining it that so many people just need to hear. Love that gray side table, night stand. Wish I lived closer to Kansas.
Well said fellow artist…..
Great post! We forget to take into account all the “little things” that make a piece awesome. We need to pay ourselves too!!
Well said!! You do a beautiful job too, and one of these days I will get down to liberty to buy something. Thanks for being an inspiration!
Preach it girlfriend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Preach it girlfriend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Great post…hopefully you opened some eyes! I posted this to Pinterest…maybe it will reach even more people.
Words can’t express how important this post is. Many of us who do the exact same thing as you are finding the exact same problems. I have a chair that I am finishing up on now that came to me literally in pieces after being found on the side of the road in hopes that I could do something with it.
In my area (Auburn, AL), I should be asking at least $250 for it, but know that I will never get that and my price will have to be lowered to at least $100 if I am to sell it. Why? Because people think that I got the piece and waved a magic wand over and it suddenly “fixed” itself; therefore, I should be asking no more than $50 for it!
It’s driving me and my husband crazy to the point that we are seriously considering moving to a more lucrative area where I can get close to the prices I’m asking for.
Those who *think* they can paint it themselves for a lesser price have NO clue what goes into each piece as you have perfectly laid out. I have nearly used my weight in “Quikwood” repairing gaping holes that the majority of people would throw the piece away before attempting. I have been sore to the point of barely moving, for days, after heavily distressing and dark waxing a large hutch. When we say they have no clue…. we mean they have NO CLUE!
Let’s not forget that amount of researching and videos we each have poured over in order to do what we do.
I am definitely reposting this blog post to my blog at http://www.vintageresurrections.com, because this needs to be talked about more. Buyers NEED to be educated in the what’s and how’s of what we do. It’s not as easy as that *magic wand* they think we use.
Thank you for this!
You need a sign that simply says “but will you?” That’s the answer to I could make/paint it myself!!
Very well said!! A new follower from –
http://pinterest.com/source/themagicbrushinc.blogspot.com/ to see how many times your articles have been pinned. 🙂
Even Miss Mustard Seed has stopped selling her furniture at Luckett’s b/c she’s making more money via her blog.
Thanks for explaining! 🙂
And don’t forget credit card fees!!
This is right on point!! Even if you don’t paint furniture, people don’t realize that you had to find it, clean it up, price it and get it in your space. Sometimes you spend a lot of time trying to find out just what that item really is. Thanks for sharing this. It needs to be said OFTEN!!!
I think this should be posted on a BIG sign and on the front door of every antique and resale shop in America!
Great post!!! I also think that the fact that pieces we sell are completely unique and one-of-a kind – nevermind that it was made from a used piece of furniture – people would have to pay much, much more if they were to buy it new AND even then, might not be able to get something as cool as the pieces you and I paint 🙂 http://www.facebook.com/retrochicrestorations
Hopefully people will hear you roar.
In 1989 I was laid off. Instead of looking for another job, I painted a chair…and got rave reviews. The artistic business started. For over a year and a half my then husband and I would haul our wares to art/craft markets…and I used to hear that all the time. “Oh, I have a piece in my garage I was thinking of painting, I could do this.” And they said it 2 feet away from me, to their friend most of the time. Really? And really? you can do this? My pieces were painted with intricate designs, images, stencils, etc.
The saving grace and something I hold onto and retell when this conversation is present in my life, is this:
A woman said something like the “I could do…” and another woman in the booth said, “yeah, I thought I could, too, then I started it and found out how much work it is and there it still sits in my garage.”
Here I am 24 years later of successfully “doing it MYSELF” and being grateful still for that comment. It was a gift from her, because otherwise I would have just the negative words in my head.
Oh, and don’t forget the schlepping, fitting, contorting, getting up early in the a.m., to fit the pieces into the automobile without damaging them, and then packing what’s left up and doing it again after a long day of selling, to bring it home and unpack it….on the weekends…after a full work week.
i’ve done a few pieces around our house that were found in my grandma’s attic. after sanding, filling, painting etc. it would have been well worth the money to pay someone else to complete it! i agree with one of your other commenters… that’s why pieces stay in garages and attics for so long because as a non professional we don’t always do it best!
well said! my hubs and my dad both build furniture and gets the same often. my mom recently said, “make sure you get your money out of it when you decide on the price. you’ll rarely get your time out of it.”- basically saying- make sure it is worth it, but people aren’t ever going to fully appreciate what it is TRULY worth! if only the buyer were there for every step of the process…
I recently painted two bedside tables and a chest of drawers. All three pieces came out very nice and I am proud of them but they were a lot of work! I do a lot of home sewing and I also work full time. Many friends and neighbors want me to sew curtains for them-which would be fun but when I give them a price-and I don’t think that I am that high, they tend to shy away. My time is limited and valuable. I can’t do these things for free!
I am so glad you spoke up to this elephant in the room. I own a resale shop and I am not only trying to find great deals on furniture but also other resale items. I wish I could make a living on just painting furniture but I can not. Our local Goodwill and other resale shops are priced higher than I sell my wares. My goal is to find the BEST deals I can and pass the savings on to my clients. Fortunately I LOVE TO SHOP. People need to know that people like us HAVE to love what we do OR we wouldn’t be in this business. GREAT POST!
From someone who is not crafty, cannot paint anything, could not come up with a crafty idea if her very life depended on it, cheers to you! It is worth it.
So timely! I am in a discussion about this in a private chat room with like minded artists. I found your blog last night when searching for paint finishes, then this morning, my friend sent me this link! I was meant to find your blog. I am sharing this link. You provide so many good points to remember. Thank you for reminding us to not undervalue our work!
This is getting an applause from me in Minnesota!! Nice job..I’m sharing this on my FB page too!
So well said….thanks for saying what so many of us don’t!!
Found you through my buddy, Allison @ Fab Rehab
Soooooo glad to have found your blog and your post on painted furniture!! I have re-furnished/re-finished furniture for years now and believe me, I’m not getting rich!! People seem to think that “all you got to do is paint it” and spit-spat, you’re done. Well, sister, I’m glad to hear there are others out there who know the pain, sweat, painted-fingers and yes, joy, that goes into each and every piece. I do love it so much and I found your message very refreshing! Looking forward to hearing from you again,
Pat, A Remade Life
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I agree overall that salvaged/painted furniture is often underpriced or we furniture refinishers have to reduce our asking price to sell pieces. My husband and I refinish/deal furniture and have many conversations about this. We don’t think it’s as simple as just raising the price-you know we deserve it but it won’t override economics.
We sell through craigslist and have an etsy shop. The majority of our sales are through “local” craigslist buyers and a few have been on etsy. Shipping furniture is very expensive. We’ve found that esty buyers are willing to pay closer to the value of the piece but often they are used to higher costs being located in larger cities. But that brings up another topic-location. We’re in the metro of a big Midwest city and still have to reduce the price of most pieces, sometimes 3 or 4 reductions.
The pieces we pick up to refinish-we don’t pay over $75 big pieces -are in really bad shape. We work to bring them to working/attractive order. The hourly rate we charge is $20 and we tend to get it. In the beginning (about 3 years ago), we noticed certain furniture doesn’t sell well-chairs, side tables, nightstands (unless they are client orders of course)-so we avoid those items because we never see a good return. No matter how good of a deal they are.
Something else we realized was that just because we put a lot of effort and handpaint a piece doesn’t make it intrinsically more valuable. I wish people would value the handiwork of an artist and realize what it takes to do furniture makeovers well. Ultimately, it’s storage and people have a lot of options so as much as we furniture refinishers don’t want, we have to keep that in mind. People are choosing our pieces because they are unique and quite honestly, we have to continue refinishing furniture and must at some point accept a price we aren’t pleased with while not lowering it so much to insult the craft.
We charge for delivery and sell from our home. Most of the time people pick it up themselves. We know being in a shop would wipe out most profit. Often the places here charge a monthly booth amount and take a cut. Some things we’ve done to help get us out there are targeting and working on our craigslist ads and etsy listings to find our demographic. We also have a blog and have found some support, attention and orders through it.
We spend $80 to $175 on dressers (which make up most of our work) plus the supplies and new hardware. We then work 8-20 hours (20 or so on a very badly damaged one), paint,poly then sell it in 4 to 6 weeks between $325 and $475 (which is still under the value other refinishers charge but not shabby). Our clients often want nursery dressers so we design those and look for pieces of that nature. They sell faster and we can then get more pieces we wish to do in our style. It’s worked well.
We’ve also noticed that the reduction of prices in shops that sell unique furniture have had an impact on our business. They need to turn things over fast but then people think that price is what others should charge. Craigslist seems to be full of people looking for a deal and we have people offer us less because some say they have seen other painted pieces on craigslist cheaper and we should accept a lower amount in turn. (Not all handpainted pieces are created equal..) Salvaging and refinishing is our passion.
So, I agree but believe there are steps we can take to avoid some of the issues. We support your work and here’s to hoping we can have a better future in our endeavors!
Absolutely love this post.
Absolutely love this post.
Very well said and I totally agree. Thanks for posting!
Amen sister! i think everyone should paint a piece of furniture and then they would realize it is not as easy as it looks. They do not understand the prep time, cost, searching, cleaning, sanding, priming, fixing, altering, customizing, and just having the skills knowing about colors, technique, and products. i could go on and on. Great post!!
My words exactly!
I sell painted furniture in Oklahoma and I couldn’t agree more with your post. I’d love to LINK to it later this week if that’s OK!
Rebecca @ A Gathering Place
Very well said. Thank you for posting this.
Thank you so much for posting this! You were able to say, so eloquently, what we all feel. I LOVE what I do but I also do it to help pay the bills. If I only charged what some people think I should be charging, my family would be on welfare!
I sell in a couple of local shops here where I live. I do well in the one and practically nothing in the other (moving out the end of the week). I have sold a number of pieces through craigslist where I am firm on my prices. I also sell through my Etsy shop and do fairly well there, too. Shipping large pieces isn’t fun, but I am constantly amazed at what people are willing to pay for a piece including the S&H!
I am NOT one of those ones, tho’ that will give all of my secrets away. I have worked hard, invested A LOT of time and money learning and working on techniques that have worked for me. It irks me when someone sees one of my pieces, tells me that they have to “go home and think about it” and then later come to me telling me they found a similar piece and now how do they do what I did to mine. I’m sorry but I don’t see that as a compliment. I see it as cheap and cheesy! (There! I said it!)
What is a compliment is when someone sees my work, loves it and wants ME to please do that to a piece they have and are willing to pay what I charge! 😉
So, yes….see what I mean by your being “eloquent”. You said it very “nicely!” Big THANK YOU!
I don’t know how you paint, but I know you write with incredible passion with a twist of humor 😉 Thanks so much for sharing. My girlfriend and I are just getting into trying this out. You my dear have already inspired me to go for it. The very best to you 🙂
Thank you for sharing – so, so true and I always say, If you think you can do it yourself cheaper, by all means, go ahead 🙂
True-true-true. And don’t forget the hours to take it apart, reglue, repair and bring it back to life, the wood stripper, the sandpaper, the wood bleach or the hours of classes, practicing that it took to get to the point of being able to do this kind of work!
Or the staging the photographs, photo editing them and blog writing, FB promoting, Hometalk promoting etc. Or paying the shop its $250.00 cut a month for your space!
Small House / Big Sky Donna / White Oak Studio Designs / SW Michigan
Hand-Painted Vintage Furniture Transformations
Facebook: [email protected] (for portfolio of chalk painted work)
I’ve been working 80-90 hours a week for the past two years between all the hats I wear in this business. If I ever had time to sit down and run the numbers, I’d probably learn that all that time has cost me not only in valuable time lost with my family but in money as well. Everyone needs to stop using their thrift store pricing mentality as their starting point an walk into the Pottery Barns and Restoration Hardware stores… Give yourself more worth, PAY yourself an hourly rate then RAISE your prices
I knew this blog post was existed someplace. Thanks to post such articles. Will unquestionably be using it very soon.
I checked out this blog and it was worthy to explore why the cost of the painted furniture raised, although people usually under estimate it.
painters ashburn va
Spot on. Thanks for this article. So well put. If people only KNEW all that went into redoing a piece, they would understand better why we price things as we do. Thanks so much! Reorting to my Facebook page…
Stacey of Embracing Change
Truer words have not been spoken, while I enjoy redoing furniture, I also enjoy buying items that are redone, as I am not perfect at it.
Thank you for writing this… I’ve had it on my blog list to write about for a while but, didn’t know how to do it tactfully. We have been in the business for 20 + years… many years before the resurgance of repurposing vintage things and furniture. Our business for many years was an extra not a living as it is now. And our time has to be accounted for. We not only have shop rent to pay but, also workshop rent to pay (which is quite hefty I might add) along with utilities and all the things you listed. I even struggle myself with pricing (I’m cheap because I’m broke. lol!!! Doing this as a living certainly isn’t leaving anything in the bank account!) … my husband will give me a price and I say you have to be kidding! I tend to look at the piece itself and not the time spent. We’ve had to raise our prices considerably… and on the other hand with all the competition of many more people in the business of painting furniture and some that do it from home with not as much overhead it can make it a little tough at times.
I could rattle on and on… but, you already know the spiel.
Thank you for writing this post!
The Whistle Stop
This is very true of any handcrafted item, whether it be furniture, quilts, weaving, jewelry, or even photography. There is so much that goes on “behind the scenes” that consumers don’t realize or understand. Thank you for the reminder.
This is a fantastic article!! I agree it applies to everything, including the crafty things I do. This needs to be spread around so everyone understands. Thanks for writing this.
Amen Sista! Well said! Sharing on all of my store pages!
I have never painted a piece of furniture in my life, but am a life long quilter, jeweler and photographer. I have a few “friends” that expect me to just give them my work, so I know what you are feeling. I even had a co-worker ask me why I didn’t give another co-worker a piece for some occasion or another. She thought I should give it as a gift because they all think my prices are outrageous! Not ever gonna’ happen! Thanks for letting me rant! (But I do give gifts to the people who really appreciate good craftsmanship and just total cuteness!)
You do a wonderful job!! I have only one problem with your work!! I’m jealous!! I would LOVE to do what you do!! It’s beautiful !!! Do you do anything for other people?? I have a few pieces I would love to turn you a loose on!!!
Wonderful post!!! I have been painting furniture and wondered if I was pricing items too low. I agree with everything you wrote…..even the ugly crier part 🙂 Now I have a little more confidence to charge what the piece is really worth. Thanks bunches
I just need to ad that the furniture I search for is very good quality to be begin with. All the work goes in to it to make it a “One of a kind piece” Also I say go to an upscale furniture store and look at the prices there! Even at Costco a side table is $200+ And in my opinion not the greatest quality or “special” so if you want a quality useful piece of art be willing to pay a fair price and not expect “garage sale” prices.
Ah! This is so true for any of us in this business! I get the same comments from people shopping for Vintage clothing! Though I am guilty of saying those things myself. Thanks for the reminder and also helping me realize I pay that price because I am also to lazy to do it myself and am paying for the luxury. Also if I did it myself it might not ever get done and that piece would be in someone else’s home instead of mine;)
I shared this on my page! It was brilliant! Thank you for sharing (all of our) thought!!!
I am sharing this on my blog! You go girl! 100% of what I have been thinking :).