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How To Guide

Decorative Furniture Painting

The Moby Dick inspired chest I painted for my home

1 | Find your inspiration for the piece

In the past I've embarked on a decorative painting project for two primary reasons: firstly, I have an idea for a decorative piece of furniture I want to create, or secondly, I have a piece of furniture or element of my home which I think would benefit from a bit of sprucing up.
In the former scenario, it can be a breeze coming up with a design idea. For example, after many hours spent on Pintrest looking at old Nantucket Whaling posters, I got it in my head I was going to create a cabinet entirely themed around Moby Dick. The story gave me all the inspiration and characters I needed to take pen to paper and start designing.

An example of a Nantucket whaling poster
Preliminary drawings on my notice board for the painted chest
The finished chest in the studio

If you are starting from the second scenario, the blank page can look quite intimidating. Spend some time looking at images until you find something which gets you excited, and then dig into that image. You don’t have to just look at painted furniture for your inspiration, try textiles, wall papers, ceramics and nature. By looking at these images, rather than just focusing on other examples of decorative painters, you will end up with something more unique to you.
If you are after inspiration, I really recommend all the books by John Gillow which are brimming with incredible images.

For example, when moving into my new studio, in the creative area I wanted a large table but didn't have a large budget. I am lucky to have a very handy father who was able to make a table for me out of scrap wood and a large sheet of MDF. However this, of course, didn't look particularly stylish. The scale of the piece was perfect for decorative painting but I had no clear vision of what to create, so referred to the John Gillow books. The final creation was inspired by the suzanis of central asia.

2 | Pick your colour palette

My sitting room photographed by Tom Griffiths for Oka

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Our decorative painting virtual course

About the course

Over the course of 80 minutes, this course will teach you how to decoratively paint frames. We will introduce you to all the materials you need, the considerations which go into creating designs, as well as over a dozen freehand painting motifs. You will then go on to learn some more advanced techniques such as stenciling, using tape to create designs and reverse glass painting for mounts.