Go Glossy!

Sucheta Bhide, owner of the Resplendent Crow, amps up the style in your space with high-gloss painted furniture. 

Edited by Melissa Mauzy
Photography by Colin Miller/Strauss Peyton


She is all about making furniture glamorized.

SLHL: How did you get started painting furniture?
Sucheta: Four years ago I bought an '80s, split-level house, and when it came down to furnishing it I was always drawn to vintage furniture shops and antique malls. A lovely cloverleaf table caught my eye for the reading nook in my living room, but while I loved the shape, the wood tone just wasn't going to work. Instead, I decided to paint it a glossy green and loved the result. After that, I painted a dresser for my bedroom, and at that point, I was addicted! It dawned on me that the only way to keep painting furniture was to sell painted furniture, and that's how it all started.

SLHL:  Where do you acquire the pieces you paint?
Sucheta: I constantly browse Craigslist and estate sales, but lately local furniture resellers contact me and give me dibs on their pieces. Sometimes, clients will tip me off on pieces at resale shops like Miriam Switching Post or Goodwill. As for hard-to-find collectible pieces that may be located in another state, I use websites like Chairish or eBay, just to name a few.

SLHL: Why high gloss?
Sucheta: It is just the perfect finish for clean, modern decor. A glossy finish enhances the lovely design of vintage pieces, makes a bold statement and updates the piece, bringing it into the 21st century. We rescue so many pieces that were exiled to basement storage rooms for decades because they just didn't work with client's current decor. We update the pieces with a high-gloss finish and the exact color the client had in mind. Also, glossy finishes are not just pretty to look at; they are practical and durable. You can set a glass of cold water on a lacquered nightstand night after night and it won't leave a water ring. The finish will create a barrier that will protect the wood from bubbling up and continue to look glossy for years to come.

SLHL: What colors do you think will be big for 2017?
Sucheta: Green. Pantone announced Greenery as the color of 2017. I always thought green was a classic. As one of my clients once said, "Greens never clash in nature." It's all around us, all the time. My personal favorites are kelly and emerald greens. 

SLHL:  Where do you get your inspiration?
Sucheta: I follow a lot of talented people on Instagram that do amazing work. Pinterest, interior decor magazines and home decor blogs -- all are great places to browse for inspiration. Sometimes you just look at a piece of furniture and it screams the color it wants to be, other times you just end up copying someone you admire. 

SLHL: What is most challenging in the painting process?
Sucheta: Prep work is the most challenging and time-consuming part of the process. Glossy finishes are extremely unforgiving of surface imperfections. We spend many days, sometimes even weeks, sanding, filling, priming, re-sanding and re-priming. Vintage furniture is sturdy, but sometimes it is riddled with dents and dings that just happen due to 50-60 years of usage. While it is impossible to get it to look like a brand new piece of furniture that came out of a factory, we do our best to get that glassy smooth surface. 

SLHL: Describe the transformation process. 
Sucheta: The process is quite challenging but very rewarding. We start by removing the original hardware. Then every inch of the piece is sanded to scuff it up so the primer can adhere to the surface. Glaring imperfections are filled with automotive fillers. Then, the piece gets primed with primer that fills the wood grain. Then we sand the primer smooth. Oftentimes, this is followed with another round of filling and sanding. Like I said earlier, it's many many days of prep work. Once the prep work is over, everything has to be completely dust-free before we are ready to spray the final finish. Spraying the the lacquer is like a prize for days of hard work. Once the finish dries, which takes 24-48 hours, the hardware is attached back on. Every transformation causes a "WOW!" reaction amongst the team, even though we had been part of it all along. Absolutely never gets old.

SLHL: Do you have to use special paint or brushes to achieve the look?
Sucheta: We use oil enamel paint and lacquer for the glossy finishes. These materials need to be applied by experienced professionals using a compressor and a spray gun. Brush application is fine for a DIYer, but it will leave texture instead of the smooth, glossy finish our clients desire.

SLHL: How do you choose the hardware? What impact does it make?
Sucheta: For a majority of the time, we reuse the original vintage hardware. We clean and polish the original hardware to match the new finish. If I decide to change the hardware, I tend to pick pulls that will complement and not compete with the design and finish. To me, hardware is to a dresser as jewelry is to a dress. A dresser with simple clean lines can handle bold floral medallion pulls. An ornate dresser needs simpler, cleaner pulls, just like a little black dress shows off the chunky necklace as the superstar of the outfit, but an elaborate frilly dress demands simple, understated jewelry.

SLHL: Will painted furniture go with any design style?
Sucheta: Yes, but to me it's not about “matchy matchy.” It's about putting things together and having fun while doing it. The whole idea is that you buy things you truly love and make them work. You can mix different colors, textures, fabrics and styles to give it that "curated, collected, eclectic" look that is current and here to stay. 

SLHL: Is a room limited to one high-gloss piece of furniture or could you have several?
I think depending on the size and scale of the room you can easily do two to three pieces of high-gloss furniture in a room. A dresser and two matching nightstands? Totally. A china cabinet and a buffet both in high gloss in a large dining room? Why not! If gloss is not the preferred look, we also do satin and matte finishes as well.     

Sucheta Bhide, The Resplendent Crow