Doug Groves, of Mountaineer Auctions, in Clendenin, said he's seeing a lot of "antiqued" (that is, painted) furniture coming through his estate auctions.
"Back in the late '60s and early '70s, it was a fad -- what they called 'antiquing,' with the gold accents," Groves said. Tactfully he said many of the people who had this style in their homes during that period are now passing away, and he's seeing a lot of those pieces in his estate lots.
"There's a resurgence for the painted look, because Grandma had it," Groves added. But he warns do-it-yourselfers to use caution.
"In the short run, painting furniture is increasing the value because it's a trend. But in the long run, the antique value of it is being destroyed. It's detrimental."
How do you determine if something might be valuable in the future?
"In the construction -- if it's solid wood, or veneered, just look at how well the piece is made and that determines worth," Groves said. He added that if it's an iconic piece, by a mid-century furniture maker/designer such as Herman Miller or Eames, painting is a no-no.
The final word from Groves -- investigate first.
"If it's a cheap dresser, paint it. It's not going to be worth anything anyway. But if it's a Victorian walnut solid wood piece, you're really doing a disservice to paint it. Before you start slapping the paint, with the Internet today, look for a label, do the research. It's easy to check things out before you ruin a potentially valuable piece."
Interior decorator Pam Brown said painted furniture is never going out of style, whether it's done in bright colors or with a weathered look.
"When you go to the furniture markets, they sell it weathered," she said. "I think it's a great way to dress up a room. Not a whole house full of it, but a few pieces done in bright colors.
"Maybe in its original form it isn't too appealing, but put on some glossy paint and it looks great."
Brown has painted furniture pieces in her own home, and finds the easy care a benefit.
"I just take a damp cloth to it. ... I don't have to use furniture polish on it," Brown said.
"It's a hard decision to paint wood, so many people think, 'Oh no! Don't paint that beautiful wood!' But it depends on the look you're going for, and it's amazing how it just lightens up a room."
Reach Sara Busse at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1249.