When I sell a piece of furniture that I have painted here are the responses I get
I am here to tell you that Thrift stores, flea markets, craigslist, and Facebook for sale pages have caught on people. Their prices have increased ten fold and causing it to be outrageous for us as creator to make a living refinishing and repurposing furniture. You have to do a lot of digging to get a bargain. Go to Garage Sales, Look on For sale or wanted post on Facebook by individuals, the side of the road anywhere where you can find a good piece of furniture to redo.
When I was gathering furniture to repurpose or refinish I would look for really beat up pieces that were either all wood or very little press wood (where I could replace with real wood). Because that was the cheapest pieces you could find that you couldn't just paint and turn over a profit those were rejected a lot of the time by the just wanting to paint people out there. I went a little further into detail about my repurposing and refinishing a lot of pieces needed repairs, replaced pieces that were broken and or missing, etc. With the little background I had in woodworking it helped that my husband grew up around woodworking all of his life. So he taught me how to use power tools and not be afraid to make a mistake it can be fixed.
Now on to refinishing a piece of furniture. I will give you an example of what goes into this piece that I bought a while back to refinish and walk you through the process.
I call her the ugly green monster.
I was out searching one day for something that I could refinish. I was looking for something that wouldnt take a lot of time because I only had a week to finish the project. I went to 7 flea markets and or thrift stores that day. And then, I found her outside unwanted and barely hanging on. The owner of the flea market said you can have her really cheap if you want it. I was going to throw it out to the dumpster soon if there were no takers. I said I will take her off your hands!! I immediately knew that I had seen a french side table with these same lines on pinterest that I could use for inspiration to redo her.
So I snatched her up for $5 what a great deal!!
What happens next is my process for refinishing furniture. I go home and map out on paper what I want the finished project to look like. Jot down all the supplies I think I will need to complete her.
The next stage is gathering your supplies. I love General Finishes projects and knew this would be the brand I would use to complete her. (No please don't boo me but I am not a fan of Chalk paint at all. And, no I don't use wax either so no hate emails or messages just my preference). I head about 20 minutes from my home to get the General Finishes products. Java Gel Stain, Linen Milk Paint, and Van Dyke Brown Glaze for a tune of $69.14 (granted I did not use all of what was in the container I still had to fork out the money upfront).
Then I was off to purchase the wood and the screws to replace the top of the table and the sides. One piece of 3/4" oak board for the top and 1 piece of 1/4" oak board for the 2 sides and back, and One 1x2 board for supports on the top and bottom to a tune of $28.76. I already had the kreg jig, jigsaw, miter saw, sanding paper, and the screws but had I not had that it would have been an extra expense as well. Are you keeping a running total? I will add it all up when I go down a little further in the post but I want to see if you can follow me in the pricing. Then I drove back home to get started.
Once home, I organized all of my supplies. Then, I started ripping the piece apart like Chip Gaines says, "woohoo its demolition day". I took off the top which consisted of a horribly flimsy cardboard over rotten press wood. Then, I removed all of the sides and back leaving just the good bones of the table It looked like this at this stage.
You can see in the picture below how we attached the sides and back with our kreg jig screwing it in tightly where it will have lots of support and durability. After this stage, I got out my circular sander and sanded the crapola out of the remaining wood to get it back to original wood and to make everything flow smoothly once the paint is applied.
'I drew out an image of the shape I wanted to create on some brown paper I had on hand to make a pattern to lay on top of the 3/4" wood to make my top. I wanted detailed edging so I went very slow cutting out the top with a jig saw, sorry I didn't get a pic of this just the after. Then I decided that wasn't enough so I had my husband route around the entire top to get a little dimension going into the top. Attached it to the base
Painted the entire bottom with the Linen Milk Paint on the drawers and the base which you can see also in the above image. She is starting to turn into the piece I dreamed she could be. I get so excited to stain because it is such a dramatic transformation on any piece. I wanted a light dark contrast so that is why I chose the java it is a brilliant dark chocolate color.
There are only 2 stages left to refinishing this piece the distressing/glazing phase and then the sealer which we put 3 coats of sealer on pretty much every thing we refinish.
The Grand Finale She is Gorgemous
I couldn't leave the drawers as they were because I wanted a little pizzazz when the drawer was opened so I bought some tissue paper from Hobby Lobby for $3.00
So have you been keeping a running tab of the expenses it took to refinish this piece. Let me break it down for you
It took me a total of 8 hours on and off a few days between drying times etc. to finish this piece. The cost of labor I charge $30 an hour because I have years of experience and I know the quality of my work is worth it. Charge what you are worth because if you don't think you are worth it no one else will. Do you think a Doctor thinks twice about how much he charges just to give you a check up? Do you think with 10+ years of experience you would want to make under minimum wage if you worked for someone else? So please stop sort changing yourself because you dont think it will sell for it so you short change yourself on the cost of your time.
The Grand Total for labor and materials is $368.49 and yes I would sell this piece for that and not bite my lip at the price because I know what goes into a piece when I refinish it. When people tell me things like I could paint it myself for a whole lot cheaper than that I do not back down or bargain because like I said I deserve to get paid just like everyone else for my time.
Please don't mistake what I am saying giving you justification to charge $30 an hour on your pieces. I am just telling you that if you are serious about your creative business stop selling a piece for $45 because you only bought it for $5.
I am here to encourage you today to go out and paint furniture because by golly painting furniture is my stress reliever. Some people bake and it calms them. Not me!! I am here to tell you that baking absolutely stresses me the heck out I will be wanting to pull out my hair and cry big crocodile tears when I am baking but when I am painting I throw on some good old rock and roll (polyester power hour is my fav) and get to painting and all my worries just seem to disappear. Sometimes there is no music at all just a good old talk with God while I am painting.
So please hear me from the bottom of my aching heart please don't ask me to lower my price for you. If you know someone who is trying to start painting furniture for a living support them, give them encouragement. Stand up for them when someone is telling them their piece is not worth the price. Direct them here to this post so they can see for themselves what actually goes into the pricing of a piece. Trust me they are not going to get rich by painting and selling furniture they do it because they LOVE it!!!
If I have helped 1 person boost their confidence level with their pricing I know that I have succeeded in writing a blog post that helps creative entrepreneurs.
I want to hear you thoughts. Tell me what you think about people undercharging for their pieces!!
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Commissioned Work Pricing Guide
Do you struggle with pricing your commissioned/custom work? It have worked on this pricing guide for over 4 years coming up with the right range of pricing for just about every piece of furniture, Kitchen Cabinets, Doors and more for you. Have it at your fingertips the next time you go to do an estimate and stop guessing at what to charge and make a profit in your business.
Commissioned Work Contract
Are you a Furniture who does Commissioned/Custom Work? I have with the help of legal advice created a contract that I use for every custom refinishing job that I do. You must protect yourself and your client with a proper contract that lays out the spec's of the job and what is expected from the clients point of view and the business owner.
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Hi I am Tess, Owner of Renewed Treasures Studios, a Decorative Painting Company In Louisiana, And Creative Business Coach. I am beyond excited to be your biggest cheerleader & help you achieve your goals & finally realize your dream as a Creative Entrepreneur!
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