You Really Can Do-it-Yourself: Let’s Paint the Furniture

[ 2 ] June 27, 2011 |

My online dictionary does not include the word “upcycle” but I think it will soon. Upcycling is one of those fun new terms for repurposing what already exists (repurposing is another fun word but not so new). Long before I upcycled or repurposed, I began to paint furniture when I thought it needed a lift or perhaps when I did. Because I’m sort of a hurried furniture painter, this post really isn’t meant to be a how-to but more of a go-for-it.


When getting ready to paint a room, it is essential to prepare with steps like filling holes, washing walls and applying primer. However, with prepping to paint most furniture, all I do is give the piece a good dusting with a dry cloth. It’s worth mentioning that I like cottage style where imperfections are appreciated and enough of a reason for me to skimp on extra work. Other steps might include removing hardware that you don’t want to paint, taking off doors and pulling out drawers.

My small arsenal of supplies includes disposable foam brushes in a variety of sizes, a paint roller with covers, latex gloves, blue painters tape, spray paint, a paint tray, a screw driver and sand paper. I keep paper towels handy along with triple size cotton balls and nail polish remover for small messes. Iced coffee is always nice, too.

In addition to or instead of painting you can alter furniture in the following ways:

  • Replace or paint the hardware
  • Decoupage a graphic element
  • Add wallpaper to sides or oilcloth to surfaces
  • Affix an applique
  • Paint-on stripes: For a fresh spin on stencils, use them over paint in solid white or a lighter or darker shade than your main color


  • My technique to “shabbify” or distress furniture is to paint over wood or color, allow to dry, and then sand where the piece might normally show wear to reveal the wood or other colors beneath.
  • Before you close your paint can, look around to see if there are other things that would benefit from a quick matching coat. Small items like picture frames or stools are good candidates for instant makeovers.
  • Whenever I have an open can of white paint, I like to give nearby windowsills a quick zip to freshen things up.
  • It is also worthwhile to experiment with techniques, such a crackle painting, which I found to be challenging but again, am very pleased with the results.

Stress Reducers

  • Plan to work on your furniture in a low-traffic area of your home. Protect any surrounding areas as needed. Sanding and spray painting are best done outdoors.
  • Unless you plan to make painting furniture into a family project or teachable moment, you may want to tackle a project when you have time sans kiddos.
  • Most furniture painting projects can be done in small stages. Plan a schedule that works best for you and is least disruptive to family life.

Pep Talk
Each time I am about to paint something I am simultaneously relaxed in knowing that I am not striving for perfection yet slightly panicked at the prospect of potentially ruining a piece of furniture. So far, I have been very happy with everything I have tackled with color and pattern. If you are considering altering furniture, perhaps first try your hand on a neglected piece or something trash-picked. Or do as I do and just go for it, trusting your idea and comforted in the knowledge that the piece can be repurposed and upcycled until it’s just right.

Category: design/decor

Elyse Major

about the author ()

Elyse (Press) Major has been creative since childhood. In addition to being a longtime contributor to Kidoinfo, Elyse has authored craft and DIY home décor books, and been featured in, produced projects and written for many home décor publications. She lives in her beloved Rhode Island with her awesome boys and husband. Follow Elyse / tinkered treasures on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and her blog

Comments (2)

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  1. Arthur Middleton says:

    That table looks great!

  2. stevie says:

    I love Elyse’s creations!

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