Don’t Be Afraid to Paint Furniture

white painted buffet

Do you have that piece of furniture sitting in a room you want to paint but haven’t? Are you afraid of what would happen if you mess up? Don’t be afraid to paint your furniture! I had so many worries when I finally decided to take the plunge but the end result (even when I mess up) is always better than when I started!

The top 5 reasons people are afraid to paint their furniture:

  1. Lack of Skill
  2. High Cost
  3. Bad colour choice
  4. Ruining the furniture
  5. Mess

So allow me to ease any of those fears!!

1. Lack of Skill

I was in the same boat! The first time I used and made chalk paint, the first time I sanded and tried using stain, the first time I try an artistic finish…I didn’t have a clue! My best plan of attack is to sit down and read blog posts, used Pinterest and Google to find advice. Looked at different products and checked out their websites for tutorials and Youtube videos! It sounds like a bit of overkill but I felt confident going into projects, knew of some tips and pitfalls before hand and when thing didn’t go as planned I had a resource for advice.

Also practice! I will try a new technique on a simple board and see how the paint, technique or brush works. I have also found that when you know better you do better, experience has made each project a little easier and I am a bit bolder too!

2. High cost.

Some products are expensive! There are brand names that have amazing colours and products options and step that can cost a pretty penny. Sometimes you are paying for the brand name but you are also paying for the consistency and quality. You can check for DIY’s too (chalk paint recipes galore all over the internet!) and see if that can cut costs. There are also second hand stores that sometimes carry used or barely used paint and supplies you can check out, or mis colours are hardware paint sections are often at a massive discount.

I also look at what is an investment. Waxes go FAR and you barely need any and I looked at the high cost as a staple. Brushes are another staple and investment, you can go cheat or expensive but it all boils down to taking care of your tools, washing afterwards and storing properly so you do not have to re-purchase down the road. I have used the higher cost paint and have often loved how they perform and will splurge on them because I know I will be happy with the result. I also remind myself that the cost of the paint and diy will still be cheaper then buying remade from a store.

3. Bad Colour Choice

What I worried about the most was a bad colour choice. Millions of colours and what if I choose the wrong shade? Colour tone? or worst change my mind?! It happens. The best part is you can change the paint colour (yes the price then goes up but what is the cost of happiness??). To make sure I am making the right colour choice I run through a few exercises.

First, what colour family do I want? Warm or cool? This does make a big difference! A big airy room would handle cool tones beautifully but a room that doesn’t have as much light may end up feeling very cold and dim. For my home the wood trim is a warm tone downstairs so I try to stick to warm colours!

Second, does the brightness or reflectability (auto correct says I made up that word but it makes sense to me) matter? For example, in my dining room we do not get any direct sunshine. The window faces north and a rock wall. That room is ALWAYS dark. Dark wood trim, dark floors…dark and dim. My buffet was also dark. That room felt like a dark little hole. I painted the smaller buffet white and the room felt brighter! I then painted the large buffet pure white and BOOM! That room was not as dark as it felt before. What little light we had was bouncing off that white furniture brightening the entire room. Now with the little girl’s bedrooms, they face the south and have sunshine morning till night. I didn’t need to worry as much about brightening the room and could go with a darker colour!


$100 to decorate a pink and green girls bedroom

My last step is finding a colour palette image and seeing all the colours in a room together, seeing if they work. This helps me when I am adding a bolder colour too! is an amazing resource!

4. Ruining the Furniture

I bought that buffet second hand with the full intention of painting it white. The first thing out of many people’s mouthes was, “Don’t paint that Carla! You will ruin that beautiful wood!” It sat for two years unpainted. A dark relic paying homage to the 1970’s. Was the wood beautiful? Yes, it didn’t have a single scratch on it and the guilt of wanting to paint over that beautiful wood was STRONG. But I almost hated the fact it was in such great condition, I hated knowing it was the prized possession of the previous owner.  I finally grew the courage because my husband reminded me that if I ruined the wood I can sand it down and stain it. Sanding that beast would have been a HUGE task but it did give me some comfort knowing that I could bring it back if painting it was a huge mistake.

I was thrilled when I finally began and the second coat was pure joy! Josh sanded the top and stained it and then a mistake DID happen! A cup was set on the not dried stain and left a ring mark. So we followed our own advice and sanded the top down a bit more and stained it again. Problem solved!

painted wood buffet

5. Mess

Painting is messy business. When you are trying to paint with NO basement or garage it can be a bit tricky. I like to use old newspapers laid down, buy drop cloths to use over and over, or the plastic sheeting. I have seen people use paper plates for tables and chairs (which I think it brilliant). When I paint furniture it means either a section of the house will be off limits or painting after my littles go to bed and animals in their kennels for the nights. Majority of the paints are clean up friendly and I use my Lysol wipes ready for any mess that escaped the boundary of the protective covering. Wear old clothes you don’t mind ruining (I need to take this advice because I have ruined too many nice shirts because I was to excited to go an change quickly).

I have found that making a plan for the mess was the easiest way! Painting in the doing room meant east suppers we could grab and go in the kitchen, painting upstairs means not painting in the evening because the kids would be sleeping and I worried about odours or fumes. Going slow also helped keep that mess under control. with planning the mess was never a huge issue.

The very best advice for anyone who is afraid to paint their furniture is to just start, done is better then perfection. I try to remember why I want to paint that piece, I will think about it for a week or two in case I change my mind. I have made mistakes before (I have a shelf that is a bit of a disaster sitting in the sunporch),  and I have found that stepping away and making a plan B has always helped, and worst case scenario I can always sand it down or repaint!

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DIY, massive (slow) renovation on a budget, momming 5 little ones, farmhouse & vintage goodness, Canadian Mom blogger

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