To paint or not to paint…

I’ve become slightly obsessed with pinterest and last week I found an image that I can’t get out of my head.

Isn’t it pretty? This bookcase was designed by Annie over at Relish Small Pleasures.

I immediately thought it would go right at home in my dining room:

Orange is a reoccurring theme in my dining room. They are pops of it in my seat cushions and artwork.

Now I don’t need a bookcase in my dining room, but I do have china cabinet that I have yet to tweak:

{Excuse the mess in there. All of wedding china just thrown in there with my milk glass collection and I have yet to style it.}

I haven’t tweaked it yet, because I actually like the wood tone on it. I find it warm and I’m happy that it’s a thrift store that was pretty much in brand new condition even though it is vintage.

So now the dilemma…Do I whip out the paint and give it some color like my inspiration piece or do I leave at is?

I’m totally on the fence. The one main thing holding me back is that from the chair rail down the wall is white and my inspiration piece calls for me to paint the outside of piece white. Not sure if it’s too much white on white.

Another option is to leave the outside as is and simply paint the inside a color. Since the wood is so warm though I don’t think an orange shade would really pop and I’m at a loss for another color that would work.

I’m horrible at making decisions about my own home so I need help/suggestions.

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54 Responses to To paint or not to paint…

  1. Kelly says:

    Since you’re not over the top committed, I’d leave it the wood tone and paint inserts for the backs on the inside. That way you’ll get a pop of color and if you tire of it you can go back to the original or repaint them for a new accent. :)

  2. Mary says:

    I think it is really pretty and doing something to just the inside would look great.

  3. Alanna says:

    I like the wood, too.
    I think I would cover the inside with fabric or wallpaper, instead of paint and see if that works for you. Both options are a little less permanent than paint and would help the piece to pop.

  4. Lisa says:

    Given the condition of the wood I’d definitely not paint the outside white! If you painted the interior back panel and shelves the duck-egg blue colour of your chairs it wouldn’t pop as such but it would definitely make your plates etc look pretty.

  5. Paint it! It would give that corner so much unexpected, visual interest.

  6. Fran says:

    It’s a beautiful piece. I agree w/you, though that by leaving it the existing color and painting the inside orange, it wouldn’t pop as much. I’m leaning towards painting it white and even though your wall is white (below the chair rail), I think the inside color of the orange will diffuse that. When I looked at the inspiration pic, orange was the first color I saw!! Good luck w/your decision.

  7. You’re right – that wood is in such good condition and is so beautiful it would be a shame to paint it! Have you thought about using the same blue color from your dining room chairs on the inside of the china cabinet and leaving the outside wood?
    Loving a little peek into your home this morning – good luck with your cabinet!
    Meredith

  8. I love the cabinet as is, but you’ve always got a fun punch of color…

    megmacdesigns.blogspot.com

  9. Stephanie says:

    too pretty to paint!!

  10. kathysue says:

    When I see the gorgeous grain pattern on the front I would tend to not paint it. I like the idea of adding a color to the back wall to make a great backdrop for your china. I would not add orange might look too harsh with the wood, maybe a contrasting color that is in the fabric of the chairs. I think the robins egg blue would be pretty. Just use some foamcore for the back and then you can change it whenever you like, Maybe some new knobs to make you feel like you dressed it up a bit. Kathysue

  11. Leave as is! I like having a mix of painted and natural wood pieces in a room (and more natural wood than painted).

  12. Melissa says:

    I wouldn’t touch the wood since it’s in such good condition, but it’d be easy to back with wallpaper or a decorative paper.

  13. lisa says:

    i have the exact same set, my husband’s aunt gave(!) it to us just after we got married and i’ve been debating similar things. since it’s always easier to figure out what to do in other people’s homes i second the idea of using wall paper, fabric or another type of decorative paper to line the back. i think something that is mostly a blue similar to your chairs will be a nice contrast to the warm wood tones and maybe you could find one with hints of white and orange to tie it all together?

  14. Miriam says:

    I wouldn’t paint it. I usually paint everything but that thing is in fantastic condition and you might regret it way down the line. I agree with some of the other commenters to use fabric or wall paper to line the insides then if you change your mind in the room its an easy fix. I am sure something in your house will need a book shelf down the line so you should keep this for then!

  15. I’d start with painting the inside, and installing little cabinet lights. If it doesn’t take it where you want it to be, you can go for painting the exterior as well.

  16. I actually like it as in- you have a lot of colour already and I think every space needs a little wood just to keep these warm…it’s a gorgeous piece!!

  17. PAINT PAINT APPPPPPPPAAAAINT!!! In my humble opinion :)

  18. autumn says:

    i like some of the other suggestions about adding fabric or wallpaper to the inside.

  19. Danielle says:

    I am on the paint wagon, I think every room can handle a big dose of white!

  20. I say change the hardware and tape some colorful wallpaper to the back of the interior that wont be permanent. And down the road when you are ready to paint, change the glass for antique mirrors!

  21. I second some of the commenters who suggested living it as is, then painting (or wallpaper-ing) the back in a color similar or slightly deeper than your chairs. Good luck with your decision!

  22. Dee says:

    Fabric behind the dishes.

    Dee

  23. Elizabeth says:

    I would totally leave it as is and do something inside. Why not use the tie-dye wallpaper/fabric that you wanted to use!? I think it would work great :)

  24. Heidi says:

    Oh my.. it’s in such gorgeous condition! I don’t think I could paint it. Though.. I think it would work even better in the room if it WAS white! You’re right.. this is a dilemma. I’m not sure from the pictures, but the piece matches your table, right? With the table covered, the hutch looks out of place in the room. But I bet when the table is uncovered, it looks great! I’d like to see a fuller shot of the room with the table & hutch.
    Sorry! I know I didn’t help AT ALL, heh :-D

  25. Marina says:

    This wood is too pretty to paint, please leave it as is. Now for the inside (or rather the BACK) I’d buy a piece a foam core and go to town with it – painted it or wallpapered it) Easy-peasy switch if (and when) you get tired of a particular color or pattern

  26. I agree about the inserts. Try out the interior color for a while. It’s lovely piece and I don’t think I could commit to white paint just yet either!

  27. Chris says:

    Try wallpaper!
    i just did my bar cabinet which has glass doors with wallpaper and it looks great. I used a sage green geometric print….looks very cool and hip for my bar glasses and shakers and accessories. And i put it up with double sided foam tape, so if i get tired of it, it can come right off!

  28. Debbie says:

    Think I’d paint it – especially knowing your style. But then I’d also repaint the whole room – the chair rail and (bead?) board – at least in these pictures – chop up the walls and make them look rather short. Paint the walls and ceiling the same solid color, something a little cheerier than the current shade (maybe the light turquoise of the tablecloth?), and let the trim and the cabinet be the white accents.

    Oh – or maybe throw up some wallpaper above the chair rail and keep the white base. Something like a light turquoise ikat. Then the white cabinet with orange inside…

  29. Barb says:

    How about wallpaper in the back of the hutch? Something graphic and bold!

  30. J&J says:

    I would paint. I’m planning on painting a very similar one for my sister in white and the inside in a coral/pink color.

  31. Amy says:

    its so hard to decide, eh??
    I would say if you’re happy with the warmth of the piece then leave it as is, and other commenters had great ideas to make inserts that you could switch out so as to not fully commit!!
    Good luck xo
    I always enjoy reading!

  32. I’m on the paint wagon. Ever considered a chartruese green color in the back? That way you are not copying the chairs exactly and your beautiful milk china would pop. I also thought about swapping out the hardware…

  33. Erin Walsh says:

    I would paint the inside duck egg blue (or) wallpaper the interior in an orange print so it’s not so orange http://totalwallcovering.com/p22058/Trellis-Wallpaper.aspx?cid=84 and leave the outside natural wood! Either would look fab I think :)

  34. Gerry says:

    I would definitely leave the wood but I agree with those who suggest either painting or papering the inside with the blue to match your chairs.

  35. Cathy Wall says:

    So many great ideas and suggestions! I like the ideas about just doing the back of the cabinet and leaving the original finish on the exterior. And the blue would be fabulous, whether paint, wall paper or fabric (both of which would be fun in a smaller scale geometric pattern).
    Can’t wait to see how you solve the puzzle.

    Cathy @Room Rx

  36. Meghan says:

    Love the inspiration piece! Recently someone (can’t remember who, apologies!) posted a project where they took foam board, cut it to size, painted it, and inserted it into bookshelves for a pop of color that’s not so permanent if you decide you don’t like it…I’d do the same concept here and I vote do it in the same pretty blue as your chairs :)

  37. I don’t have a comment about your cabinet (which is gorgeous), but just had to tell you that I, too, am wasting loads of time on Pinterest! What a fun way to while away the hours!

  38. I am totally in love with that inspiaration bookcase. It’s darling! That being said, I don’t think you should paint over the perfectly good wood finish of that china cabinet. My vote is to paint the back of the cabinet a light blue (maybe the same as the chairs) Or, since your dishes look quite simple, you could use a fun wallpaper behind them.
    Now that i think about it.. you cold probably use some colored construction paper to see how different color options might look ;)

  39. Vickie H. says:

    Oh my! A beautiful conundrum!!! I would paint it…BUT FIRST: wrap foam core in a fabric you like and place it in the back of the shelving to see how it looks (ala Eddie Ross). Then if you love THAT, paint that bad boy white and sail away. I know it is a beautiful piece of furniture but it will be gorgeous in white with either fabric or painted shelving as well. Can’t wait to see what you decide.

  40. Colleen says:

    As an antique collector who has spent too many hours stripping paint jobs, please don’t paint it. I do think the sample piece is lovely and understand why you’d want to duplicate the idea. Maybe think about selling this one and buying a piece that isn’t vintage.

  41. Bonnie says:

    How about a compromise? You could get some orange colored wallpaper or fabric or paint and make panels that could be placed inside against the back, on the sides, etc. That way you can always change it back or differently in the future too.

  42. Sarah says:

    I would leave the wood as is on the outside. I liked someone else’s idea of painting / fabricing / wallpapering panels to put in the back and see if that does it for you.
    The wood tone is beautiful and I think you would regret painting it if you like it as is now….

  43. The china cabinet is beautiful and I would hate to see that nice wood painted…but and idea you may want to explore on the inside is this…instead of painting the back inside of the china cabinet, experiment with color first by cutting foam board to fit the back walls of each shelf…paint that and see how it looks first. You could even cover the foam board with decorative fabric. You can attach it to the back of the china cabinet with the double sided foam tape or even some adhesive velcro. I’m always skeptical about painting nice wood…if it’s scratched and yucky I’ll slap a coat on it in a flash! Good luck!

  44. I’m with those who suggest wallpaper or fabric inside. Or, if you do paint, using foamcore to line first. It’s really pretty and in excellent condition. I’d try just changing the back before committing to paint.

  45. This is so hard! The china hutch is beautiful as it is… so I would lean towards not painting it, but defiantly paint to inside. Orange might not me the best choice, but it should be a color that will make your milk glass collection pop! Maybe a shade a slight bit darker than your dining chairs… it will compliment the orange tone of the wood and stand out against the white walls! Good luck with your decision! I have the hardest time with my own house also… Almost like I need someone to come in a do it for me so I don’t have to make any decisions!

    Tiffany {Living Savvy}
    www. savvydesignwest.com

  46. Katie says:

    The style of the cabinet is so traditional that I think adding paint, paper or fabric to the back will clash, left alone or painted. I don’t think you should worry about white on white and in fact it may help to make that piece look so heavy. But I just can’t see the original idea translating all that well to your existing cabinet.

  47. effortless says:

    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks so much for all of the comments, tweets and emails on this subject. The dining table is actually the same tone wood so the china cabinet really works in the space as is.

    I feel horrible painting the outside of it. It is in really great condition so I think my final solution is to just switch out the hardware and paint the back wall of the inside cabinet.

    I know many of you recommended the foam board solution, but in my opinion it doesn’t work. I’ve tried to a handful of times and whether I paint the foam board or apply paint it always starts to curve. I’ve tried attaching it with velcro, but it always pops up again. My only solution has been to nail it in a bunch of places. I don’t want to make a bunch of holes in the piece so I’m just going to paint it directly.

    For those of you that have had luck with the foam board solution please give me some tips on how to make it work for me.

    Thanks again for all of the help!

  48. Merci!!!! Happy to be inspiring fellow furniture lovers. xo

  49. LaSandra says:

    I have become a bit obsessed with pinterest too!

    I love the color of your dining room chairs! Did you paint those yourself?

  50. Najla says:

    Oh my gosh – I am facing the same struggle with my china cabinet AND floor to ceiling dark oak built in bookcases in my family room. Since I can’t decide, I am doing the foam board route. My plan is to velcro the foam board in place for the oak bookcases. My plan is to take careful measurements of the area I want to cover – use an X-acto knife to score and snap my boards… then use spray adhesive to attach the fabric to the board. I am going to velcro the piece to the back of the bookcase. That way it can be changed out!

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