To paint or not to paint is a heated question when it comes to vintage furniture. Most people side with one or the other and don’t find themselves switching sides. If you don’t have an opinion or have never given any thought about what to do with a piece of vintage furniture, specifically rattan, wicker & bamboo, I’m sharing a few things to consider that will hopefully make you feel less overwhelmed next time you’re in the market for a piece of vintage furniture.
To paint or not to paint:
This determines the furniture’s fate. Non-painted furniture will give a totally different vibe than painted furniture. Before considering anything else, ask yourself this – “What do I want the room (the piece will live in) to feel like?”
If you want the room to FEEL vintage, do not paint the piece. Painting vintage furniture almost always takes away the vintage feel. If rattan, wicker or bamboo are painted, it’s often done in a punchy way.
Think fun, bold and bright. You wouldn’t have to paint the piece in a color as bright as turquoise, but I think rattan, wicker and bamboo will always be poppy when painted. I would always go with a high gloss paint (lacquer if possible).
My friend, Mallory from Charming in Charlotte, painted a bamboo dresser in a gorgeous hot pink for her guest room. You can see the rest of the room in the link above, but it very much compliments the fun, hot pink piece. Every time I look at this piece my eyes actually get stuck because it’s so mesmerizing.
Jana Bek houses a gorgeous white bar cart and it adds the perfect punch to her bar area. White is not usually thought of as punchy, but it does the job here.
Here is an example of a painted piece that I don’t really agree with. Of course, I have no idea what condition the chair was in before it got a paint job. If it was in bad shape, the paint probably saved it.
If the chair were left in its natural wood state, it would add some needed warmth to the space. There are already several pieces that are the same teal color, and a change in finish would be nice. Very fun beach-themed space nonetheless.
I acquired a pair of rattan chairs a while back and had no plans of spraying them. I personally prefer natural wood because it’s such a large part of my style and aesthetic.
Unfortunately, the move got the best of them. They were left outside and got pretty beat up. I probably could have saved them by sanding them down and restaining, but it didn’t happen. I sprayed them in a high gloss blue and then with an outdoor protectant spray. Lesson learned.
If I’m being honest, I don’t love them now, and it kind of makes me sad to compare the two photos above, but since they live outside, they don’t throw anything off. Besides, if you want to have a poppy moment, outside is the best place to experiment.
My bar cart on the other hand, would NEVER be painted. The mixed tones are especially warm, which I love.
Here are some spaces that I love with natural wood finishes.
I love that the chairs were left in their natural state, but if the cabinet were also left natural, it would have been too matchy-matchy. I love the contrast the white painted cabinet adds.
It comes down to the space the vintage piece will live in. If the space reflects a poppy vibe, go for it. If not, leave the piece natural. As long as your space compliments the piece, you can’t go wrong.
What to expect to pay:
Reasonable prices are subjective for everyone, but my I think anywhere from $50 – $150 per piece is reasonable for rattan, wicker and bamboo considering how popular they are right now. Anything under $50 is a steal. It really depends on where you are buying. My bar cart is from a local vintage shop, and I paid $100. I thought that price was good for this store, which is mostly high end vintage. I would have negotiated that price on Craigslist although I wouldn’t have thought it was outrageous. A “reasonable” price to me is not a steal – it’s just what I would expect to pay from the stores I frequent. Prices do vary from city to city.
For trendy items like rattan, wicker and bamboo, you can usually take 25% of the prices listed on Chairish items and expect to pay somewhere around that when you are searching on Craigslist or thrift shops. Ex: There are a couple of bar carts similar to mine on Chairsh listed for around $350. (I would never pay this.) 25% of this is $88 which is reasonable to me.