Ideas for making furniture pop with paint.

Posted on 07.10.14

Let’s say you have this old dresser. It’s not an antique. It’s not mid-century. It’s just something that’s been floating around your house since you were a kid and you don’t love it.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time: 5 hours
  • Tools: Variable


So it’s time to transform it with paint.

Sure you could paint it white but there’s a whole color wheel out there. Let’s have some fun.

Be bold.

Try painting your dresser a bold solid color and then painting drawers or cabinet doors a vivid graphic in contrasting colors.

High gloss = high class.

Go high class with high gloss lacquer to add a formal or funky look to cabinets and credenzas. Just imagine the visual impact a red lacquer coffee table will have as an accent.

Go heavy metal.

You can modernize a style with metallic paint. Begin with natural materials such as rattan furniture or a cane-backed chair that you normally wouldn’t associate with metallic. You’ll end up with a one-of-a-kind piece.

Think farmhouse.

If you want to age your piece, you can paint on several layers (taking time between each layer.) Then you can sand random areas of the furniture to release a layer or two below for a distressed look.

Color your collection.

Do you have a dining set with chairs that are just too matchy-matchy for your tastes? Go ahead a paint each one a different color to liven things up. Or maybe you have a collection of unmatched chairs that sit around your table. Paint them all a single color to unify them.

How to paint furniture.

Painting is fast and easy if you follow these simple steps. Painting also provides instant gratification with a whole new look in no time. Here is how you should paint your furniture:

  1. Sanding.
    First you have to remove existing paint and finish. We suggest you use an electric orbital sander. Be patient, you may want to break up your sanding efforts into a couple of sessions. For intricate trim, sand by hand to reach portions that the orbital sander can’t reach. If you can’t get completely down to the wood, as long as you remove the sheen, new primer and paint should adhere.
  2. It’s prime time.
    You can use a spray primer for a thin, consistent coat. It’s better to paint several thin layers instead of a single thick one. Let the primer dry 15 or 20 minutes between layers. In the end, the furniture should be completely covered.
  3. Add color!
    Now it’s time for the fun part! Of course, before you grab your brush, you’ll want to make sure your paint is suitable for wood. Like primer, several thin layers are more effective in covering the wood. If you’re painting a large surface like the top of a dresser, long strokes across the entire surface create a smoother finish.