Painted Furniture Ideas
I’m sure you already know that painted furniture is very in style these days. Many people are even applying paint to antique wooden pieces, covering up the beautiful old wood. Okay, I’ll admit that sometimes makes me cringe a little. I don’t think I could ever do that to something like a lovely piece of tiger oak, for example. I prefer to paint cheap pieces of furniture. They might be made of solid wood, wood veneers, or pressed wood. My husband and I create and refinish a lot of painted furniture, and we sell a lot of pieces. Some we sell from home via my Facebook page, South of Paris, and some we sell in our booth at a local vintage and antiques store.
Painted Furniture Ideas
Painting furniture is really fun, and it can be super easy, too. What style do you want to create? Do you want your furniture piece to be sleek and modern, whimsical, funky, beachy, vintage, or rustic? If you don’t already have a specific style in mind, flip through some magazines, surf the internet, or visit some boutiques until you find a style you like.
If you want beachy, use a whitewash. You might also want to add some streaks of grey or turquoise. You can also use stencils of lighthouses, scallop shells, blue crabs, conch shells, starfish, etc. For rustic pieces, use old boards to make a plank top. If you don’t have old boards, distress some new wood by scraping it with nails and painting it with varying shades of grey, brown, and black. To give furniture an old vintage look, use a crackle medium, sand off the paint in a few spots, and/or use a dark antiquing wax. Just go with your imagination!
Types of Paint for Furniture
There are lots of different types of paint you can use on furniture. Personally, I prefer water-based paints because they’re easy to clean up. Since those are my preference, I’m going to stick to them in my discussion here.
Chalk paint – One of, if not the, most popular paints for painted furniture now is chalk paint. Chalk paint is a thick paint that adheres to almost any surface without having to do prep work like sanding and stripping. The most popular brand of chalk paint is Annie Sloan. I love her paint, but it’s expensive. A cheaper but acceptable brand is Plaid, which I buy at JoAnn’s Fabric Store. Chalk paint offers a beautiful soft matte finish, but it can come off easily. Because of that, it needs to have a coat of wax and/or polyurethane once the paint has dried.
Chalkboard paint – Chalkboard paint creates a surface that can be written on with chalk. This type of paint isn’t used on an entire piece. It’s usually painted just on the top surface, especially on furniture for children.
Flat latex paint – This paint has a matte finish that’s similar to chalk paint, but it doesn’t have the “sticking” capability of chalk paint. The finish, however, is tougher.
Semi-gloss latex paint – As the name implies, this paint dries to a semi-gloss finish. In other words, it’s a little bit shiny.
Gloss latex paint – Gloss paint dries to a very shiny finish. When dry, the painted surface is easy to clean. In most cases, spills and marks can be wiped away easily.
Metallic paints – Metallic paints come in shades of gold, silver, and copper, along with other metal colors. They can be used to cover an entire piece of furniture, but I prefer to use them as accents.
Paint and Decoupage
A great combination for practically any type of furniture is paint and decoupage. Decoupage is easy if you’re working with small cut-outs. With smaller pieces, you won’t have to worry so much about getting wrinkles in the decoupage paper. With larger pieces of decoupaging, it’s easy to wind up with wrinkles if you don’t know what you’re doing.
For my decoupaged furniture pieces, I often use scrapbook paper. You can find books of pages with all sorts of designs, images, and script. These books are available at Walmart and at just about any craft store. Just buy some Mod Podge and a small paint brush, and you’ll be all set.
You can use whole sheets of scrapbooking paper to cover larger areas like drawer fronts. Remember, though: You’ll need to make sure the paper is smooth to avoid wrinkles. For accents, cut out some of the images and use them on painted furniture. Personally, I love decoupaging small images, like flowers, in conjunction with painted patterns – especially with stripes.
And speaking of stripes, they can really give painted furniture some pizzazz! Use a good quality painter’s tape to tape off the areas you don’t want painted with your accent color. Just make sure the base coat of paint is completely dry first. If not, when you remove the tape, some of the paint could come off with the tape. Before adding your stripes, run your finger firmly over the edge of the tape to make sure the tape has good adhesion. If you’re careful, you’ll get sharp lines.
Don’t overlook stenciling, either. Stencils are easy to find, and they’re available in just about any image or pattern you can think of. Tape the stencil on with painter’s tape first. Use a large round brush. After loading the brush with paint, blot off some of the paint onto paper towels. Use an up-and-down motion to fill in the stencil with paint.
Upcycling Furniture – Repurposing Furniture
I seem to have a gift for seeing furniture in a different way. I can usually imagine what a piece could be, instead of what it is at the moment. This talent has helped me create some interesting pieces that have sold quickly.
Sometimes my “vision” requires making some repairs. For example, we’ve bought numerous pieces that were missing their top and that had damaged tops. Mismatched, damaged, and ill fitting drawers is another common problem we see. Broken and missing hardware is something we run across a lot, too. All these things have to be repaired before the furniture pieces can be painted.
What we don’t usually worry about at all is the existing finish on a piece. We know such imperfections can be covered with paint, with decoupage, or with pretty molding. Besides, sometimes we like to see little flaws because they can add a lot of character and age to a piece.
So…what about repurposing furniture? I’ll give you some specific examples we’ve completed. One of my favorites was an old stereo cabinet I found in a thrift store for $2. It didn’t have a top. I loved the three doors, though, so I got my husband to turn it into a huntboard by adding a top and some legs. I painted it green and added some stenciling and some antiquing, and it sold very quickly.
Another popular piece we make is a headboard bench. We find old headboards and turn them into benches. We use short or long planks for the seat part. For legs, we use reclaimed posts or new furniture legs from hardware stores. if the piece includes a footboard, we usually use those legs on our bench.
Old doors can be turned into lots of different things. These could include tables, the backs of benches, and the backs of hall trees. I’ve even seen French doors turned into tables! I’m not sure how functional of durable that would be with all the glass, but it was really pretty.
When we find small cabinets for sale at good prices, we sometimes turn them into standing cupboards. We just build a base and add four wooden legs. And by “we,” I mean hubby. He does all the hard work, and I get to do the fun, creative stuff.
Try It Yourself!
Do not – I reapeat, DO NOT – be afraid to try something new with painted furniture! If it doesn’t turn out the way you want, you can always opt for a do-over. You can sad off the original finish, or in some cases, you can just paint right over it. The next chance you get, hit the yard sales and the thrift stores. Find a piece of furniture you like and have at it. You know what you like, so don’t worry about pleasing anyone else. If you get tired of your painted furniture after a few months, no problem! You can create a totally new look with some more paint, some stencils, painter’s tape, decoupage, and new ideas! Now…go forth and get started with some of these painted furniture ideas!
More by this Author
If you enjoy painting but just aren't inspired, check out these painting ideas. Lots of photographs are included!
Check out these ideas and tips for chalk paint projects! Lots of photos are included.
Information about crabbing, stone crab season, and blue crab season in Florida, along with regulations, great locations, and tips. Discount crab traps, crab nets, photos, maps, and videos included.