Making the transition from a DIY ‘er into a full or part-time Furniture Painting Business has it’s challenges. One of the questions I’m frequently asked is How Do I Price My Painted Furniture?
Although I’ve been re-styling furniture on and off for many years, I haven’t been selling my pieces for all that long. This business is relatively new to me and I’m the first to admit I still have a lot to learn. This does not exclude how to price my work. For now, I price my pieces on the conservative side without apology. This is probably because I’m a ‘Bargainista’ at heart and I LOVE passing on affordable deals.
With that said, I know first hand, if you’re painting and selling furniture for profit, pricing your one-of-a-kind pieces can be confusing.
The basic formula: (cost of piece) + (supplies used) + (time/mark-up) = $$PRICE doesn’t always work. And this is especially true if you’re just starting out. There are so many variables and factors to consider… and for all of you who asked, here are my thoughts on just a few of them…
Punching a Time clock. The other week, M-M-M innocently asked me how many hours it took me to complete a piece of furniture. I shrugged my shoulders because I didn’t have an exact answer. Some pieces I finish quickly and other pieces seem to take me forever!
I’m well aware that in any venture, time equals money. The longer it takes me to find, prep and paint a piece of furniture, the less profit I make. However for now, I need to let my business grow organically while enjoying the process and creativity… without punching a time clock to determine my pricing. I know that in time, my furniture painting techniques and skills will become faster and profits will continue to increase.
If punching a time clock is going to discourage you from moving your business forward, consider looking at your pricing strategy differently. Enjoy the process and know the gap between time spent and pricing will soon close organically.
Pricing in Winter Spring Summer Fall … and Other Occasions. The last 2 months my sales have been down due to freezing cold weather. Living in the snow belt of Southern Ontario, we’ve been having -30°C temps with snow storms galore! Who wants to venture out and shop in this?… not me!
Keep in mind the weather, seasons and holidays may increase or decrease sales. Being aware of yearly trends while while being flexible with your pricing is a great strategy to keep your income flowing.
A Dollar Saved is a Dollar Earned. I’m always on the look-out for furniture I can refinish. And I look for the lowest price and best deals possible. I also keep track of the cost of supplies used for each job. This information is then factored into my asking price. The old saying “A Dollar Saved is A Dollar Earned” is very true in a furniture painting business. If I find a great piece for $25 at a garage sale rather than pay $125 for a similar piece online, my dollars saved have turned into income.
If you can minimize your initial expenses without sacrificing quality, you will earn more per sale.
Increased Confidence = Increased Income. As my skills develop and I gain more experience, my confidence level is growing. I’m feeling comfortable asking more for my one-of-a-kind pieces and painting services. Also, I find I’m not as quick to lower the price on items that don’t immediately sell.
As your skills and confidence improve, so will your income! This is a natural progression. If you’re just starting out, be kind and patient with yourself. Everything takes time and that includes growing confidence in any new venture.
Pricing What Sells Fast. I created a chalkboard from a $5 mirror and sold it for $100 + delivery within hours of posting it online. After it sold, I received numerous requests asking if I had any others just like it. The old adage of supply and demand applies in every business. I could have priced it a little more aggressively but more importantly, I wish I had duplicated it!
If you notice an item is selling quickly and in demand, price accordingly. By the way… if you know where I can buy these corner pieces… please let me know!
Compare Yourself to Yourself but Don’t Compare Yourself to Others. I find it extremely beneficial to network with other furniture painters. Networking and developing friendships with other DIY’ers and business owners encourages me to learn, grow, gain inspiration, and gauge asking prices. But I sometimes fall into the trap of comparing myself to all the fabulous talent out there! As my very wise sister likes to remind me; compare myself to myself and not to others. I may or may not be pricing my painted pieces for the same dollar amount as the furniture painter who’s been painting for 20+years… and that’s okay.
Keep yourself focused on developing and improving your skills and business while enjoying your own path and journey.
Location & Market. Know your area and your target audience. If you paint a piece of furniture and placed it in a NYC Boutique, it may quickly sell for $1200. If you shipped that same piece of furniture to a Flea Market in a quiet rural town, it may take 2 months to sell for $200. Take your location, venue and target market into consideration when pricing your furniture.
Passion + Purpose = Profit. I didn’t start this business as a get rich quick venture. I LOVE thrifting for great furniture bargains, salvaging for fabulous furniture finds, painting and re-styling, meeting wonderful clients for custom jobs, staging, photographing, blogging and writing tutorials. This is all FUN for me! I can spend an entire afternoon painting yet it feels like 45 minutes has flown by.
Are you in it for the love or the money? If your in this business for the money and you’re not loving what you do, you will most likely have a difficult time. I’m a believer that Passion + Purpose =Profit… IN ANY BUSINESS!
If you’re just starting out, or if you’ve been in this business for some time, feel free to chime in with your thoughts. I always learn something new from your comments and I would love to hear your thoughts on pricing!
Enjoy your day!
Kaye Yeager says
I know this thread is shall we say “Vintage” ( insert winks here), Anyway as to your quest for those corner pieces this will blow your mind!!! Take that corner you want one more of or fix its twin….dust with a light coat of corn starch or flour well. Grab a tube of caulk (white is best or grey) and top the whole piece you dusted and let dry. Wha La you have a reusable mold to re-create that very corner for other pieces. Now for the piece you simple fill with a good air dry clay (or resin) and let set for a few minutes and pop out. Grab some good construction adhesive and apply to your project, secure with some tape and let dry for minimum of 2 hours but 24 is better if you can a lot the time. All my very best you!!!
Brilliant Kaye! Thanks so much for this! 🙂
I stumbled across your very informative article. I am very new to this. I have done a couple of the day courses in upcycling furniture and just love doing it. I have been doing a lot of my own furniture and have decided to see if I can earn some money from it, so your article was perfect timing for me. I have just completed my first two pieces to sell. They are not even online yes, I will keep a log / diary of the work I do, but – yes what price do you put on them…Is it possible to keep in contact with you for advice
I stumbled upon this post and quickly read it because I have noticed how low people sell their hard work for. I would say this to your readers- please be sure you are valuing your work. Your time DOES have value, and quite frankly, if the cost of piece+materials+time+markup does not equal profit, it is not a business but a hobby. Hobbies are totally fine. However, take it from someone who has been there, increasing prices does NOT always organically happen. It can be a real challenge to start charging more and here’s why: there are different types of consumers. Your target market who are looking for a steal and are bargain hunters at heart are not suddenly going to be willing to pay $600 for that custom dresser. That’s a different target market. When you suddenly start changing your prices, you have to do double the work getting your name out there all over again and you won’t know if it is really a viable industry in your location.
It is possible that some places just don’t have a market at all for a custom furniture venture. Ours doesn’t, so I sell in another location. But unless someone is really happy doing this as a hobby and working for free (which again, is totally fine if they are, like you said you are), it’s much harder to turn that hobby into a business after you have started pricing low.
Anyway, that’s my two cents. There’s no reason why a beautiful, hand painted piece should be sold for less than a mass produced piece.
Thank you for this Anna! I appreciate you sharing your experience with everyone! 💙
Denise,your article is great! I have a real passion for painting but no clue at staging and selling. Thanks for the article on that.
Thanks, Sherry… and follow that passion!💕 The rest can easily be learned. 🙂
Hi Denise! Great article. I love your style and your down-to-earth attitude! Recently, my husband has begun exploring/developing his talents of refinishing old furniture. We’ve thrown around the idea of selling some of the pieces and maybe, eventually starting our own business. But, the big question of pricing has really stumped us. Do you take into account the KIND of wood that the furniture is made of when calculating the selling price? If so, is there a guide to deciphering this detail? I understand it would normally be included in the “initial expenses” i.e. what we paid for the piece of furniture.. but if it was free to us as it was my grandparents’ and its origin/age is unknown, is there a baseline that you start with? Thanks so much!
Kristen Larsen says
Thank you for the great advice!! I am thinking about opening something in the next couple of years; and I am just so lost!! Very great article to read 🙂
Stacey Bravick says
Even though I’ve followed you for years and read this blog before, it was a nice reminder. I’m starting back at the beginning after a multi year hiatus from furniture and things have sure changed!
Hi Stacey! 🙂 Ya, things sure have changed. I guess the ‘trends’ do evolve in every industry. For instance, I find it a challenge to keep up with all the social media updates…lol. But I’d like to think the basics stay the same. Follow your heart/inspiration… and be good to people. That may sound ‘simple’ – but I’m going with it. 😉 Welcome back and all the best to you.
Iam just starting this adventure and I absolutely love it.. I just have no idea what to price my items.. Thank you for the advice. I have been going to auctions for my project items..
Sandra Wilkinson says
I am so glad I stumbled upon this post. I currently have a coffee table I have dubbed “A crowd pleaser” . I think should sell fast but at what price? I always ask myself. Second guessing ALWAYS! as we often do.
Thanks for your words on pricing furniture. I have a beautiful buffet/sideboard that I have custom painted (I wish I could post a pic!) I feel it is worth a lot more than I will get for it. I live in a rather large and growing city and felt it would go for a rather large price but pieces I have done that aren’t as beautiful have sold for a much lower price. I am so hesitant to lower the price mainly because I want it to go to a good home!
Carrie Padilla says
Best article I have read so far!! Realistic!! Encouraging!
Ericka D. says
Hi there, hank you for your pearls of wisdom! Im enjoying your posts! I’m new to this process of selling, even though I’ve done painting for years for my home. I love finding pieces on the curb! I’m working on my first piece specifically for selling. Where do you sell your pieces?
I love all of the pieces you created! I have done only a few pieces and am learning as I go. However, upon my retirement I hope to have had enough practice and
to have gained enough confidence in my skills to turn my hobby into a business.
Thank you Karen! And good luck to you. I’m cheering you on from this end. 🙂
Dianne Denton says
Yes Denise I find pricing difficult. Whether I am doing a piece I found on the side of the road or one I am asked to refinish that someone already owns., especially the ones someone commissions. I find I do need to have more confidence in my abilities. I have really learned a lot in the past few years (you have helped thank you very much!) and need to price my work a little more fair to me and the talent I bring to the job. I am retired and just do my work for fun but profit is always good too! Thanks for writing such an informative article once again!