Earlier this week Paul and I were chatting with a friend whose daughter paints and sells her furniture. Our friend told us that her daughter was wondering if painted furniture was on its way out and if the market is oversaturated since she hasn’t sold anything in a week or two.
A week or two without selling a piece isn’t exactly cause for concern. There are seasonal fluctuations in any industry. I took a look at the last 6 years of data for Furniture and Home Decor provided by FRED® Economic Research and I found that the busiest month for furniture sales is December, and the slowest is January. June ranks near the bottom of the list at #9 so it isn't a surprise that her sales were off a little in June.
So, if you’re concerned because your sales are off at some point throughout the year, this list may help ease your mind.
Ok, with that being said there are a few other things I’d like you to consider if you’re wondering why your sales are down...
You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
Cheap furniture will always look like cheap furniture, no matter what you do to it.
Yes, many cheap thrift store pieces look so much better when they're painted, but if it's not great design to start with, it will just look like a piece of outdated furniture that’s been painted.
It's easy to feel impressed with yourself when you paint something ugly and it looks better. But is it something special? Is it something someone would want to have in their home because it's truly beautiful?
Or is it just…better than it was?
It's crucial to focus on selecting well designed, aesthetically pleasing, and solidly constructed furniture rather than just inexpensive furniture.
The best thing Paul and I ever did was to start being more selective with our purchasing and being willing to spend a little more for a great piece.
We have a stockpile of furniture and it's obvious which pieces we purchased in those early days. Back then, it was the thrill of the chase and the thrill of scoring a 'great deal.' So, we would have a shopping day when we would be out looking for dressers, for example. To make it fun, we might agree on a spending limit, something like $25 per dresser. Of course, it wasn’t hard to find pieces at that price, but can you really call it a 'score' if it's still sitting around unpainted 3 years later?
When you’re considering a piece of furniture, ask yourself two questions:
- Will it look outstanding painted or will it just look better than it is now?
If you can’t answer ‘yes’ to BOTH of these questions, walk away.
If you want to be inspired to do something new, get off the painted furniture pages
The internet – and Facebook in particular – is filled with pages and groups whose sole focus of discussion is painted furniture. In our early days, Paul and I would spend every Saturday morning scouring the painted furniture Facebook pages and blog posts. We'd comment to each other about how this or that looks great, or how we should try that color or technique. Our Facebook and Instagram feeds were filled with people doing exactly what we were doing and after a while…it all felt the same.
At some point, all of that changed. We were getting bored with painted furniture and we were the people doing painted furniture.
So, we cleared out most of the accounts we were following on Instagram and devoted our feed almost entirely to things that inspire us. We started following high end, cutting edge furniture designers, interior decorators, florists, and artists – and we stopped following furniture painters.
And you know what? We discovered a world of design possibilities. It wasn’t about painting anymore, it became about creating.
Creating beautiful and unique furniture pieces that span a wide variety of styles. That’s when we fell back in love with what we were doing. We weren’t just painting this piece that color. With each piece, we could envision the beautiful room in which it would be placed.
For the first time, we both felt free to create beautiful things that were outside the box of what most furniture painters were doing.
Style evolves - Has yours?
I’ve always felt that if I can find something in the decorating aisles of the local mass market store, it’s time to move on because it isn't special anymore.
Just like fashion, home decorating styles evolve. The big, colorful patterns in the 1970’s turned into the muted tones of of the ‘80’s, which turned into the chunky furniture of the 1990’s and now we’re in 2017 and everyone’s doing Farmhouse.
But the Farmhouse style that HGTV is showing us, is evolving right now into something else.
What will it be?
Well, I’m here to tell you that you can’t find that out in the painted furniture groups (stuck in a rut), or on HGTV (production time is too long to be fresh), and certainly not in your local furniture store (too much money tied up in current inventory).
No, you need to look someplace that’s more immediate. Where tomorrow’s design – the design you’ll see on HGTV and in your local furniture store next year - is unfolding right now.
I’m building a list now of the most inspiring, forward-looking Instagram accounts. I’ll share it with you in a few days but first, here’s a little homework for you: if you’re not on Instagram, you need to get on. If you’re on Instagram but the only design in your feed is what furniture painters are doing, I suggest you do a little Instagram housecleaning.
It’s time to get out of your design rut and get inspired!
No, painted furniture isn't on it's way out. But styles ARE changing and in order to set yourself apart in a crowded field, you need to create pieces that feel fresh and different.