Monday, November 2, 2009

Antique Piano

I have a very valuable resource.

Her name is Elizabeth.

She paints with me.

Sometimes she paints with me but I actually just sit there and watch.

When her family came over for dinner a couple of weeks ago I showed her two projects that I needed her help with...a piano and a fireplace. She signed a binding contract that explicitly stated that both projects would be transformed to spectacular focal points in the living room and den. She also committed to completing both projects in one day.

Really, I knew all of those objectives would be met without a legal document, so we just set a date and I started picking out my colors.

I will show you photos of the piano from start to finish. Here's the start:

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My great-grandmother, Bessie Lee was given this piano by her father. She gave it to my mom when I was a baby. This piano was in my house as I grew up. I learned to play on it and Dave took a year of lessons when we lived in our little cottage in Ardmore. It holds a tune very well. It hasn't been tuned up since I lived in Charlotte, 10 years and two moves ago.

It has been in need of refinishing since...well, always. It has a bubbly, grape-nutty texture to it. And a reddish tint. It's not a desirable finish for any sort of furniture, antique or not.

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The keys are real ivory and it is a good size for any home.

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I am super-inspired by the antique clocks advertised by A. Tyner Antiques. I have seen them in fancy home magazines and love the look. Laugh at the price. Not that they aren't worth every penny, but they're not in my budget.

Based on photos with finishes similar to this, I picked out a base and a dominant color:

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None of the photos that I took during this project showed true colors. It's a shame, because the colors were the best part.

First we applied the gold with dry brush strokes (I told you Elizabeth knows painting).

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Dave came in at this point and told us how good it looked. Later he confessed that he was shocked at what we had done. Anna Jane told us in her polite little way that "you might want to paint the piano a little more."

We moved from the piano to the fireplace at this point. I will post about that later. I haven't decided on exactly what to do with the mantel, but when I do I will show...

When we returned to the piano we painted the green on with the same technique as we applied the gold. In some places we went over the paint with a rag (well, really it was a sock. clean.) and in other places we left it just brushed on. Again, the colors in the photos don't do justice to the real thing.

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The super-yucky texture became the best thing that ever happened to this piano after it had been painted...

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It allowed the new paint to crackle in ways that we couldn't have planned. The antique effect accomplished by painting over the old finish implies years and years of worn off paint.

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Now the outside beauty of my piano matches the inside beauty that is its history. All thanks to Bessie's gift from her father, my mom's giving it to me, and Elizabeth's way around a can of paint.

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Thank you, all!

I've linked this post to the following sites:

The Shabby Chic Cottage

If you want to see more great projects, click the links!


  1. Holy cow! That was a huge job to tackle and you did a fantastic job! I love the fact you had the nerve to paint a piano ... go girl!!


  2. I want to paint my piano too. How did you avoid painting the keys? Did you tape?

  3. WOW! Most fabulous!! I have a piano that is also a perfect size for our home. I think, maybe you have given me the courage to tackle painting it. Thanks so much for the inspiration~ Deborah

  4. This turned out so great! Gutsy move. I've been offered an old piano--may have to reconsider if it can look this nice.


  5. What a brave thing to do! I can't bring myself to paint mine! Yours looks fabulous!

  6. I love that Dave said it looked so good when you had just begun, thinking it was done. that is hilarious. I could so hear him saying it! I love how supportive he is, even if he is "not so sure" right away. :)

  7. So pretty! There's just something about a painted piano that I find very appealing and I love the color that you chose. Found you through Restyled Home. Have a great day!

    pk @ ROOM REMIX

  8. just beautiful... and so brave! love it!

  9. Years ago I begged my hubby for a shiny new black laquer-y piano, which he got me. Did I say me? I meant "the family".

    Now that I've lived with it for so long, I wish it looked as funky (read fabulous) as this one. Shiny black has no character. Or hand smudge hiding ability ;)

  10. Fabulous... I also lust over those Swedish clocks... I would be satisfied with one that doesn't even work!


  11. Beautiful! Now I want to paint my piano...


  12. I have a piano that the finish is doing that same bumpy thing! I'll get around to redoing it someday!

  13. Oh, and it even has the exact same shape and design, but it also has a design carved into the front. But, the legs, cover and everything else looks the same! I wonder if they were made by the same piano maker??

  14. very nice! I have an antique piano that needs the same treatment! I didn't notice you saying that you primed it? I think I would be nervous to try more scaredy cat question...did you sand it first? :-}



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