A Case Study on Case Goods

The other day we talked about one of the things I learned about myself at the Painted Cottage–I tend to rely too much on my accessories to carry a room.  I went on and on about how the bones of a room can be part of the room itself–molding and paneling and flooring and stuff.  But also, bones can be the large pieces.  The furniture.  Yes, I’m totally making this up as I go.  But here’s the deal, contrary to what people said in the comment section: Bones don’t have to cost a lot of money.

Take that dining room “set” up there that is anything but a set.  I’m starting a new club Women Against Sets.  W.A.S.

People, it’s 2 parsons chairs with slipcovers {I see parson’s chairs all the time at yard sales for an average of $7 each} she got hers from IKEA slipcovers can be easily made or bought from target for $15.  Plus 6 schoolroom chairs that Angela found at Scott Antique Market because she is a lucky dog and lives somewhat close enough to frequent it were $20 each.

The table is an old picnic table they had that they paid $30 for.  I was in love with the paint finish on the table so I ruthlessly inspected it so I could copy it as soon as I got home.

I asked Angela if she had any painting tips and here’s what she said::

…. I just used what paint I had lying around and didn’t have an end product in mind when I started painted–except that I wanted it to look layered, interesting, and weathered.  I like to start with a dark paint, that I want to to peek through the final layers.  Then I start layering in a dry-brush technique lighter colors.  If it starts to look too bright, then I add layers of an umber glaze, that I wipe off.  I don’t know if those would be considered tips.  I think painting in this way is really an experiment and you have to be willing to do multiple layers until you find the look you like.  Playing around, really.

Here’s a shot from under the table.  You can see some of the individual colors.

She also painted this coffee table.

And the door.  Layers people.  Layers, patience and faith.  Try it on something small first.  Paint is such a cheap way to give old furniture a fresh look.

This cypress table made quite the statement compared to its cost of $35.

This turquoise piece was one of my favorite things.  I was sure it had a history.  It did, it came from a land called Home Goods.

This makes me want to cry out for sheer joy–I love the freedom of having something half painted and half wood and all beautiful.

Angela found this painted dresser in its current state. There are layers of thick, chippy paint, I saw gold, red, blue and green.

One of the most expensive pieces she bought was this bed for $400 at Pottery Barn Outlet.   It looks like a super sturdy bed and it cost less than our first bed.

Look at the detail–isn’t it glorious.  I’ll trade my bed for it.

The dresser and mirror were not sold together in a set at Rooms to Go. W.A.S. Oh no, Angela just painted two mismatched pieces the same two colors to make them work.  Hey, I have a dresser just like that in my closet, I could paint it up to make it look all cute like that if I wanted for free!  You can find dressers for supa cheap.

Remember my $18 dresser?  How could you forget, I talk about it all the time.

Nor will I let you forget the $15 table I found on that same fateful day.

Or that $80 dresser I got at the thrift store {which now I feel like I paid too much for but, whatever} I think it needs some layers though…

Lest you forget my painted TV cabinet.

It started out a $75 yard sale find, one of those Spanish pieces that are everywhere.

Today our focus was on the case goods, tomorrow, I’ll show you some upholstery pieces that inspired me.  Are you sick of me talking about Angela, Angela, Angela yet?

Moral of the story:: if you only have enough money for either accessories or large pieces {now that we all agree that you can find large pieces for the cost of a few accessories} find the large pieces first.

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  1. Jessica Y says:

    Ok….so I was wrong. I guess what I should have said was not that you needed alot of money to have some good bones pieces, but rather you needed to have at least SOME MONEY…which we dont! HAHA! You, as usual, are most right friend. Large pieces reign!

    • true, sometimes it seems like you need more patience/time than money. but, usually, it’s easier for me to come up with the time than the $$!

  2. I will never tire of you talking about this gorgeous cottage and it’s lovely owner. I love the painted layers on the furniture. I think I need some layered furniture.

    • me either, I think I’ll start a blog all about the cottage and write about it every day until I die. I could write abut it forever.

  3. I love Angela’s style–it’s like a breath of fresh air.

  4. Such inspiring pieces! Now that you’ve promised not to get rid of all your accessories, I’m all about the big pieces :) I love that cypress table!

  5. Shoot. Now I’m probably going to spend my entire day sanding my painted buffet to distressed perfection.

  6. I will dream tonight of layered paint…dreams of how to do it, what pieces to try, and how great they will look. I will blame you when I am tired in the morning. Oh you and Angela! ;)

  7. Those half painted and chipped pieces are simply gorgeous!! Great post, with out side of the box thinking, anyone can have a beautiful home!

    Love the W.A.S. idea!! :) Janell

  8. Lauren@SimplyLKJ says:

    Great article! Some of my most favorite pieces are those I’ve found super cheap at thrift stores/flea markets/etc. I will paint anything!! It is super cheap, and worst thing that can happen is you have to paint it again if you don’t like how it turned out the first time.

  9. I much prefer something *mismatched* as to a matched set. I am currently on the look-out for 4 chairs to have slipcovered to use with our dining room table, which at this time is a set. The only set we have in any room in our house! LOL I found 2 cane back, upholstered seat chairs at a local antique store for $60 (both) that I want to use as host chairs and then I want 4 chairs to have slips made for. I also love the look of upholstered/slipped host chairs used with wood chairs (such as Angela did). I fell in love with the caned chairs though.

    I agree about finding the big pieces first. I do, however, look for good quality, long lasting pieces and LOVE antiques. Not $$$ antiques, you have to hunt around. My parents instilled in me to buy the best quality you can afford without paying a bundle (and definitely not going into debt for) pieces. Rare to find stuff today built like the old stuff. I have my grandparents first bed in our guest room.

    Thanks for sharing Angela’s cottage – I love it and am loving all these ideas you are giving us. I love the distressed/layered paint look, have a hoosier cabinet in our kitchen that is painted that way. Bought it with the intention of stripping it to the original oak, but fell in love with the chippy, distressed look, especially against the painted walls.


    • I have a dining set too that I’m trying to keep but mix it up a bit just to ward off boredom for me. The beauty of owning a set is that all it takes to break it up is to simply move a few chairs to another room! Set be gone!


      • My problem is I’ve decided I have too much wood in the dining room. Wood table and chairs, wood china cabinet, antique wood chest AND a very old one-seater pew that my (now deceased) FIL found for me. I need some upholstery/slips, etc. to break up all that wood! The two cane chairs I found I might even paint, but the other stuff is nice wood antiques, not to be painted.

        I’m not crazy about the chairs with my dining table – I’m think they are a bit dated looking but I may move two of them to the breakfast nook and possibly even sell the remaining 4. Not sure. It’s always something!

        Oh! I meant to mention before that I love the birdie lamps!


  10. Thanks for sharing this post. I love the simplicity of each room. I appreciate that in the current decorating style we don’t have to spend a lot of money on the ‘good bone’ pieces. I enjoy your blog. Thanks.

  11. I’ve really enjoyed this series of posts about Angela’s cottage. First of all it is so informative to hear a breakdown of what makes it work and then how we can all do it ourselves for not alot of money! I am not a fan of “sets” either. A room is much more interesting when it is put together using different pieces that work together. Loved your little bit of furniture “history” of something coming from HomeGoods. Too funny! Love the W.A.S. slogan too!

  12. I’m not tired of you talking about Angela. She sounds like such a delightful lady.

    Another fabulous post, Nester! And I will be your first member of WAS–ha, so funny and true! :) I adore the pieces that you scored for peanuts. And that armoire is a perfect example of how a piece can reinvent itself completely just with a coat of paint. Thank you again for the love–and, wow, you’ve really done your homework!


  13. ….love love love the picnic table …for we have used the picnic table out of our backyard for years and years…and belive me it is weathered!!… when our sons were in middle school we decided to carve our initials in the table where we always sit…down the middle i carved the date my husband i were married…1970…every ten years we have added another date…this year we mark our 40th year of marriage…we agreed no new initials could be added unless the person was married to one of our sons…6 years ago our daughter in law(love) added her initials next to our younger son’s and he carved a heart around them…AND THEN!! drum roll…last year we got to add a grandson’s name (we also decided grandchildrens would have their names in place of initials) …i told all this to say this to all you beautiful young people building your nests…the best ” bones” of a home are always the ones you add yourself…laney…ps i live in atlanta and love love love scotts

    • LANEY!!!!

      Thank you for sharing this! Ok, world, starting now, everyone needs to replicate this idea in their own way! I want a picnic table.

    • oh, this makes me cry! how beautiful. and i, a young person building my nest, love to imagine having a story like this of my own one day. thank you so much for sharing!

  14. I would TOTALLY buy a W.A.S. shirt. One of the greatest gifts my mom has bought for me was an old, pine pub table at an antique wholesaler. We painted 6 black chairs to go on the sides and also used 2 black parsons chairs for the heads of the table, a la Angela! I cannot get enough of your blog. Keep it up!!!

  15. Loveofthesea says:

    WOw – I love these photos. I am brand new to your blog – so I don’t know who Angela is yet..but I will be reading to find out more. I love, love the dining set with the two Parson’s chairs…actually, I love everything…and the photos themselves are beautiful!! So happy I found this site.

  16. Michelle says:

    Excellent post! Very inspiring! I have an armoire simliar to yours in my room…I’m thinking it needs a makeover!

  17. I wish I wasn’t such a scaredy cat….I wish I was like Angela – no plan, no colors – just whatever.
    I guess when I get my OCD in check then maybe I could tackle a carefree layered paint job!
    Lovin all the “almost free” ideas girlie :)

    ps – I heart the turquoisey drippy paint on the underside of the picnic table!!!

  18. I am a firm believer in your new philosophy. I started out with a FREE room and board english roll arm sofa off craigslist (in off-white cotton duck non-the-less!)!! I added other case goods at bargain prices using Craigslist, flea markets, closeouts, etc. This took me about 2 years to complete and I spent a total of $1100. Selling my old items reduced the costs further. It gives me such satisfaction to complete a room knowing that I didn’t spend a fortune!

  19. I love the land called “home goods”, that made me LOL :)

  20. We’re in the market for some casegoods, and this post has given me renewed hope! Love all the details in the chippy paint.

  21. I just did a post about sewing slipcovers for the ikea parsons chairs!

  22. Christie says:

    I have 3 pairs of black chairs for my diningroom. They all have matching upholstery but are all different in style. I just got a great bench from Goodwill that I am also using. It is much more interesting than everything being matchy matchy. Love everything, as usual.

  23. Couldn’t agree more…I am on a super tight budget to decorate my 1 year rental and I actually am having a ball coming up with ways to decorate for pennies…without sacrificing style of course! This was a great post in how to really look at every day items in a different light. I am linking your blog to my new blog!!!

  24. I will so join W.A.S. I hate the “matchy-matchy” look. Collected over time is a much better way to go. I am enjoying seeing the cottage from your point of view.


  25. I was ready to give up on a few pieces of furniture on my house, but with all the half empty cans of paint around they can be resurrected! Thanks Nester :-)

  26. Nester, your photos are so great that I had to come back to this post just because I wanted to look at them again.


  27. I just love everything about your house. I love how you manage to make it look “beachy” and “shabby chic” without it being ALL WHITE or shabby in the least. It’s perfect.

  28. Start the WAS club–I’d join in a heart beat–I don’t think any of our furniture matches and I likey it like that!

  29. amen sista! i am so excited about yard-salin’ this saturday i can’t stand it!! looking for a desk to turn sewing table – fingers crossed ;)

  30. Nester, I’m laughing right now because I never realized what your painted blue armoire looked like before you painted it blue – I had that *exact* same armoire in my apartment! With bookshelves on either side! I got it at a place in Houston called Home Source- imported goods and such – in the mid ’90s. I *loved* it so much then. When I moved from my apartment to my condo in 2008, I sold the armoire and bookshelves. Never once thought about painting it!

    I agree with you about the furniture. When I bought my condo, I didn’t have any living room or dining room furniture (confession: I did, but I’d had it for 13 years and my taste had changed and I wanted new stuff), and I was so fortunate that I moved in July at just the right time for all the big furniture sales. I got some really nice pieces from good furniture stores in Houston for at least 50% off, sometimes even more, and I am so glad I did that.


  31. Oh, and more of Angela’s cottage, please! It is adorable!

  32. oh, wow! I can’t believe that your blue cabinet was once one of the spanish pieces! I am surrounded by those in South Texas! I have passed them up at many garage sales, because I’m tired of that style. Now, I think I’ll grab one and try a coat of paint!

  33. I love your site! A friend and I are starting to try painting some old furniture. We went thrift store shopping this past weekend. Thanks for the inspiration!!

    I would love it if you visited my site! Thank you!!

  34. sign me up for W.A.S.
    part of what makes the feel of a room interesting is the perception that it evolved. A person’s style evolves and the space she lives in should too, but that doesn’t mean everyone can afford or wants to ditch everything and start over! Non-matchy-ness is cool!

  35. Maggie Mae says:

    I admit I did not read all of the comments. So, just in case some else didn’t mention it, Knock off wood has a knock off of that Pottery Barn bed.

  36. i am totally digging this series. that cottage is to.die.for. and i think you are totally right about the accessories last approach. i am constantly finding something i *must* have and then thinking, “what surface will this rest on?”

    i have a conundrum for you though: how do i “quiet” built ins in a rental?

    i am fairly happy with the arrangement i have there now, but i really just wish they WEREN’T THERE. more often than not, i am longing to rip the dang things out, and just let it be wall. they are an ugly honey wood color, and they surround an ugly-colored, soot-stained stone fireplace with a tragically ugly mantle and ugly brass-ish fireplace surround. i truly love most of my house, but i am fixated on this ugliness that is my living room.

    photo: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_uDRAWzIkASU/SgJSBcZzuuI/AAAAAAAAC1g/MPVSq8MWzVo/s1600-h/DSCF6409.JPG

    i’d love to know if you have any ideas…

    • Sarah, one time we had that kind of shelving and fireplace and then brown awful paneling in a rental. I hated it so much that I up and painted it.ALL. Then I painted the kitchen cabinets. They kept our deposit but, I still think it was worth it. So, if you are like me and it drives you so insanely nuts that you are going to die and you think you might live there 3 years, paint it, but don’t tell them I said so. Just choose white b/c it’s the most neutral and do a good job. And then know they might keep your deposit.

      bad advice.

  37. HI Nester, I would like to be the Vice President of W.A.S. Or, maybe I could be the captain of the cheerleading squad. You are SO speaking my language here. I loath very few things as much as matching furniture sets!

  38. Erin in Indy says:

    My most favorite pieces in my home are the chipped pieces I picked up for a steal! It’s the fact that I have something unique and beautiful that I got amazingly cheap or if I transformed something ugly to something beautiful, that makes me love them so much.

    As a matter of fact, when I walk people through my home I can’t help but say things like, “And I got this piece for $10 at Goodwill!” I’m just so proud of those things. LOL

    And I NEVER pay full price for anything and I don’t buy anything new if I can pick it up on Craigslist in LIKE new condidtion for a song. It sometimes takes patience (like the 2 years I drooled over sectionals until the perfect one showed up on Craigsist at my price point recently!) Why waste my money, let someone else lose their $ in the depreciation. :)

  39. I wanna join W.A.S.! But wait, I never got a P.O.O.P.I.E. shirt or even a IDHTBPTBB shirt. Are those still available in my size?

    I’ve found one thing that has really helped in my anti-setting: you don’t have to get rid of your sets or even split them up. You can just add a couple of unexpected things and kill the matchy look. For instance, I have my mom’s dining furniture. Way too Queen Anne for my taste, but it was my mom’s, so I’m keeping it. I have an old deacon’s bench in place of two of the chairs and a VERY primitive piece functioning as a sideboard. It’s amazing to me how case goods of various types and vintages will all play nicely together.

    Don’t stop talking about the cottage. Maybe we could start an “IBA” club–Inspired by Angela.

    • YES Richella, mixing it up is such a great way to keep what you have but freshen it up if you are tired of your set!

      I can’t believe you remember P.O.O.P.I.E

  40. I want to be a member of WAS! I can’t stand that uniform look you see at EVERY furniture store

  41. LOVE that dining set…I’m on the hunt for midcentury modern chairs just like those. Lucky girl. :) It is amazing what some paint can do to freshen up a piece of furniture!

  42. Sarah Anderson says:

    I’ve been meaning to ask, where did you get those adorable striped curtains?! And I’m sorry if others have asked you before, but i love the crisp look of them!

    • sidebar search type in the words “striped drapes” or striped fabric or striped mistreatments ack, I forget!

  43. So I’ve got the opposite problem stuck up here in the middle of nowhere Alaska. I can have any piece of furniture I want by building it, but no accessories! LOL! Love this post, and love the painting technique! Had to share. Blessings, Ana

  44. RuthAnn says:

    nester- totally off of the subject, but the kids and I were watching some old Brady Bunch episodes on youtube, and I could not help it but zero in on Mike Brady’s study/den… his curtains are the same print/colors/stripes as your beauties in your family room (except his are that outdated material that screams 70’s…but I loved that it reminded me of yours).
    You should totally check out a show and watch for his study/den. The one I was watching was: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o46H0Z2FCVk check at about 4:47 min/secs. Theirs are probably gold and cream, but reminded me so much of your great khaki/white… (or whatever the accurate color is!!)

    thought you’d enjoy!

  45. Ok. I am in deep covet mode. LOVE how simple those rooms. *deep breath* I think I am ready to throw out my faux plants. Nester, hold my hand please. :)

  46. Speaking of matchy-matchy sets, have y’all seen this? It’s been floating around on FB. I thought some of Nester’s readers might appreciate the humor:


  47. I could never tire of Angela!

    I’m glad you asked her about the ‘technique’ or not for the table. I’ve admired that for a while and want to do something similar on a table we’re going to use in our freshened-up, renovated basement.

    It is so true that you just have to look to find good furniture for great prices. I bought my in-love-with-them dining chairs at a yard sale last summer ($100 included a big table which I will craigslist-sell). Fresh upholstery (burlap) and I’ll repaint them as well. My coffee table was $3.50 at an estate sale and is all chipped-paint, rugged. I love it. I bought two DARLING!! four-poster twin blue beds for my son’s room for a whopping $75 at an auction (that included mattresses and box springs, which we gave away to a needy family via freecycle). My dining table, a small farm table, was bought at a consignment shop for less than $200! These pieces always have more character than the shimmery shiny new stuff for far more at the furniture shop, and they wear well…so no worries about my son wreaking havoc. Pick things with lines you love. It’s all in the lines, as angela so aptly demonstrates.

  48. I too am crazy about that gorgeous semi-blue/wood table from the land o’home goods. That place is fantastic! My first-stop-shop for sure!! Great post!

  49. Gina Kinard says:

    Wow!!! Love the cottage and love your posts about it. I live in NC and may just have to look into staying there sometime. The style is exactly what I have been trying to achieve! Thanks for all the tips!

  50. Hi, I too am new here and yet to discover who Angela is. However, she can come over any time and work her magic in the house I live in. Oh, of course that invite is extended to you as well. Double the fun and magic. Much like Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother. I’d be more than happy to act as one of the little mice who assisted. Angela has created my dream home…at this moment it’s a fantasy….lol. Have a great day!

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