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  • Writer's pictureSarah Murphy-Colourfulsaz

Designing Unique Furniture

Updated: Apr 7, 2021

Colour, style and pattern- There is so much to consider when designing a piece of furniture.

Here are a few things to consider;

Don’t Follow Trends

Nothing hurts more than spending days painting something that is not your style. Just because someone you know does farmhouse trends really well doesn’t mean that’s your cup of tea. The same way my pieces might not be to your taste. But the point is if you love a style or design, you will love executing it.

This is the main reason I’m avoiding commissions this year (if I can), as I want to continue to love what I’m doing. As I’m doing this in my free time I have to keep that love alive. I did a couple of pieces last year that made me want to bang my head against a wall. When I was finished them I wasn’t proud despite the amount of time and work put into them, just because they weren’t for me.

Let the Piece Speak to you

I know, this sounds like some yogi crap but I swear I believe in this! Anyone who knows me will be disgusted. Sarcasm is my way of life.

But when it comes to furniture you need to stare at a piece for a while before deciding what its next life will bring. For example; say you’ve been dying to do a geometric design on your next piece. But the furniture you buy is quite a dated piece with mouldings and super detailed edging. Geometric isn’t going to work there- way too much going on! You have to go back to the drawing board and find something that suits the style of your piece. The best way to do this is take photos of your pieces before you do anything. Stare at them and find the inspiration you need. This leads us perfectly to my next tip.

Study Your Heroes

By this I mean look at the furniture painters you love. Figure out why you love them. Could you use elements that will work on your piece? How did they create this? Stare at the details and figure out how they did it.

I love geometric designs. I’m constantly trying to figure out how super complex pieces are completed. Where did they apply the tape? How many layers are there to the design? I do the same with paintings in galleries, trying to see the brush strokes, see how they got the shine in a person’s eye on a portrait. I’m a weirdo, but this is just how my brain works. I need to know how things are done. Now if you’re talking about plumbing a toilet or cooking a beautiful stroganoff, I couldn’t figure that out from looking at it. Give me a geometric design any day.

Look for Colour Inspiration Everywhere

I always find putting colours together super difficult. It doesn’t come naturally to me. But I’ve found a few ways to get past this. I take colour palettes from other designs or from everyday life. If I see clothes with colours I like I’ll take a mental note or a photo. There’s a page on Instagram I follow called @Mr.pugo which is great for unique colour combos and inspiration.

Don’t be Afraid to Change your Mind

This is something I struggled with as I wanted everything to be done straight away. I’d only taken the before photo and I would want to post the after photo. But knowing when to take a step back and start again is so important. We know when something isn’t working straight away. Whether it’s a colour or the overall design- Take the time to fix it. You will appreciate the effort.

Draw Draw Draw

When I first started painting I jumped into everything. I wouldn’t even realise I was painting something Puke Green until the entire thing had 4 coats on and it hurt your eyes.

Take the time to draw a few designs. They don’t need to be detailed but this can really help you to visualise your piece. Use some colour to get a clear picture of how it will look. Because I keep a lot of wood bare on my pieces I use brown paper

Planning is Everything

Again, not my strong suit. But planning can make your life so much easier. When doing a complex design it can help to label each section with the correct colour. This will stop any massive pattern mistakes and just allow you to paint by numbers.

I hope this helps you to think outside the box when designing a piece of furniture!

What helps you when completing a project?

Where do you get your inspiration from?

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