March 12, 2009

Paint Something Old, Create Something Brand New or…

Filed under: Furniture, Paint — Tags: , — Leona Gaita @ 12:50 PM

Top 10 reasons you should roll up your sleeves, and paint some old dilapidated furniture.


10- The look is beautiful, versatile, original and unique.

9- You can breathe new life into something old, and save it from the land fill.

8- You can maintain a connection to the past by saving the old, instead of replacing it.

7- Used furniture stores are overflowing with inexpensive old wood furniture pieces of every size and type.

6- It’s totally customizable! You can make unmatched pieces match with a common paint color……or you can use several colors from the palette of your room and paint each of several pieces differently. For example a cluster of three small painted tables, instead of one large coffee table.

5- You can give an old piece of furniture a sleek modern update, or lend it an antiquated look, using various paint techniques.

4- It’s fun to be green by recycling old furniture, instead of buying new.

3- We’re in a recession, and it’s cheap.

2- It will make you feel good about your self.

The NUMBER ONE REASON you should paint some old furniture is:

1-It’s the weekend, and you have nothing to do!!


Some things to keep in mind:

  • Do paint an old piece of furniture. Never paint a fine antique…..know the difference!
  • Make sure to prepare the surface well . Good preparation is half the effort, and will get you the best long lasting results.
  • You can further change the appearance of a piece by changing the hardware. This is a good way to modernize an old piece, or add a bit of whimsy to the style.
  • You can choose a semi gloss paint finish for a sleek soft sheen, or you can use an eggshell paint for an almost flat finish. The shinier the finish, the sturdier.
  • It’s OK to hire your painter to paint some furniture for you. It’s still relatively inexpensive, and much easier on your manicure. I won’t tell any one!


Some fancier techniques (but still for beginners)

  • Once you’ve painted a piece, you can add a textured glaze finish. Use semi gloss paint, if you’re planning to add a glaze finish.
  • Choose a pretty wallpaper that co-ordinates with your paint color, (or matches your walls) and apply it to smooth drawer fronts of a bureau, the back panel of bookcase or a table top. You can then apply a coat or two of clear polyurethane for protection.
  • Paint two coats of a very bright color (like apple green) Once it’s thoroughly dry, add a good coat of black paint (two if necessary). Sand and distress the surface so that the bright green peaks through here and there. Finish it off with a coat of satin polyurethane.


  • Paint the drawers a contrasting color. Or the top, or both. A beige chest of drawers with light aqua drawer fronts and top is serene and classic. Trim it up with crystal knobs.


  • You can add stripes (or other imaginative motifs, like the tree design on the bureau above) by using blue painters tape to block off the background color.
  • A simple floral design can be stenciled on, using craft paints and ready made stencils
  • Be daring, you can’t do wrong!

An updated take on the Swedish style of painted furniture.

Here are some excellent books devoted to painted furniture which will offer both inspiration, and instruction:

  • Painted Furniture: Simple Techniques for Fresh NewLooks by Diane Weave
  • Painting and Decorating Furniture by Sheila McGraw
  • Painted Furniture: From Simple Scandinavian to Modern Country by Virginia Patterson


A Chinese game table , painted, which leads me to:

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  1. Great ideas. I love the thrill of going to a flea market or even Goodwill and finding a piece of furniture that’s shouting “save me”! With a little elbow grease, you can find the charm in almost anything.

    Comment by Merri Cvetan, The Design Coach — March 17, 2009 @ 10:49 AM

  2. Gaita,
    Check out my design blog at too.

    Comment by Merri Cvetan, The Design Coach — March 17, 2009 @ 10:51 AM

  3. How do I have my furniture maker create a finish like the Swedish furniture pictured above?

    Comment by judith nadler — May 23, 2009 @ 7:21 AM

  4. Hi Judith,
    Here’s what I recommend: Put on a good coat of a dark brown. Apply candle wax to “heavy wear areas” Then top it with two coats of a cream paint. Then artfully rub off the areas where you applied wax using steel wool. The paint will not adhere to wax. Use a screw driver, and awl to add distressing, revealing the darker paint beneath. Be careful not to remove the dark paint along with the light paint. Benjamin Moore Affinity in French Press AF-170 for the dark brown, and Hush AF-95 for the Ivory top coats would be nice. I would use all flat finish, then top it off with a coat or two of satin polyurethane for protection. Here are several methods for antiquing from a pro: Let me know how it goes!
    Leona G

    Comment by admin — May 26, 2009 @ 1:30 PM

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