Today, many old houses see their wooden staircases, their paneling, their baseboards and their beams receiving layer after layer of paint. Yet even though the plastered joinery remains damp, emotions run high, both for those who wield brushes and for those wary of cover-ups.
“I’m not sure if I’m going to list the bad guys or the good guys in this article,” said Brandon Curry, real estate specialist at Signature Sotheby’s International Realty in Michigan, revealing he has no regrets about laundering the woodwork in his own 1920s home. The change made the interior much bigger, he said, and yet, he added, “we have a lot of angry people.” Painting, he said, “is the great divider of people.”
Images of woodwork before and after painting are flowing on social networks. Some renovators brag about “crushing” it by applying high-gloss paint to once-honey-colored planks. The owners of Angstier, meanwhile, admit to whitewashing termite-damaged trim, fearing readers will “take their pitch.”
Morgan Munsey, a Compass real estate agent in Brooklyn, New York, and a preservation activist, said he had been approached by friends concerned “you won’t talk to us again” because they had just painted their Victorian woodwork. long intact. . His own house, built in 1890, is full of wood with original finishes: âFour owners, and no one touched anything,â he said. His loyalty at the time led some to believe that he was living with his grandmother.
COVID lockdowns have accelerated the pace of taste change, experts say. Brown signs have been accused of aggravating claustrophobia and feelings of light deprivation. New shades can provide quick, easy, and satisfying reboots for any all-too-familiar walls, while requiring far less labor and harmful chemicals than the craze for paint stripping in old homes that has emerged in them. 1980s.
Lauren Drapala, design historian and architectural curator who teaches at the Pratt Institute, said that “the tendency to tone down or lighten the interior” may represent a desire “to ease the weight that is experienced in all other aspects of life at the moment “.
Eve Ashcraft, a color expert in New York City, said these days, “I’m going to paint the woodwork so fast it will make your head spin.” Wood left natural, she added, can end up being problematic “bossy and contrasting.” British paint expert Annie Sloan said that when some homeowners have had their first walls repaired, the next question that comes to their mind is, “Can I find something else to paint?” “
Unexpected color choices are gaining ground, like black window trims: âI remember when it was considered so odd,â Sloan said. Shabby-chic surface treatments, with simulated patina and distress marks, appear on woodwork newly subsumed by pastel pigments, and blues and oranges with flamboyant highlights are striped side by side on the wood.
Karen B. Wolf, interior designer in Short Hills, New Jersey, said that for homeowners who choose deeper color ranges, “they don’t feel as bad about painting their woodwork.”
Christophe Pourny, a furniture restorer in New York City’s Brooklyn, said his advice to the hesitant was to “paint it and don’t feel bad.” But make sure the wood is smoothed and well primed beforehand, he added: “Make it a really very precise job” rather than “put on a little paint”.
Of course, certain pillars remain devoted to the warmth of the exposed wood, to the vivid variations, to the sense of authenticity and to the enveloping resonances. Judith Lief, a real estate agent at Corcoran in Brooklyn, said that in venerable properties with woodwork hidden by paint, potential buyers âmost often ask me, ‘Do you think this can be stripped down? “”
In museums, evidence has surfaced of the great historical sweep of fashion cycles in painting, stripping, repainting and stripping. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, for example, has a 17th-century British oak, pine and elm staircase, now unpainted after centuries of cladding and coating, and an 18th-century French oak-paneled room, which has been stripped in the 19th century and shines again in its original hues of cream and gold. But only a few prominent interiors like these, protected by conservatives unfazed by threats of public avoidance or pitchforks, can be kept frozen as a testament to fluctuating cravings for covered wood.