Painted Furniture: Grab a Brush + Upcycle!

Lauren Cohan's chic Atlanta apartment and home furnishings decorated by interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn. | Painted furniture | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: domino magazine

Turn a beloved, old, beaten piece of furniture into a treasure with value! Upcycling is the best way to upgrade a desk, dresser, sideboard – you name it! With a little elbow grease and some creativity, painted furniture adds instant charm to any room.

Painted furniture IDY ideas | Mid-century modern | Girlfriend is Better
Photos courtesy: White sideboard – West Elm | Blue sideboard – Les Jolis Meubles

Painted Furniture + Personality

Rather than paint the entire piece one solid color, get creative! Paint the drawer fronts only and leave the rest unfinished. This treatment gives a little more impact. You can get away with using bright, bold colors this way without overwhelming the look.

Do the drawer fronts only when upcycling painted furniture | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Joli Place
Painted furniture adds charm | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: woonblog.typepad.com

Paint Inside Shelves

This is a little trick I learned from Martha Stewart years ago. Brighten up a bookshelf by painting the inside only! You favorite collections of books will pop with the contrast in color. Use your favorite color and go to town!

Mid Century Modern Nightstand Makeover | Painted furniture ideas | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: visualheart
Painted furniture | Bookshelves DIY ideas | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: (Clockwise from top)

Try Paint-Dipping

Paint-dipped furniture is a fun and fresh way to fix unsightly blemishes. Dressers and tables tend to have gnarly issues on top. Use painter’s tape to split a drawer and paint only the top half! This works equally well with an old table or sideboard.  Just paint the exterior and leave the drawers natural.  Place your painted furniture in a spot that needs perking up. I absolutely love white paint on dark wood.  Especially with mid-century modern furniture.

Painted furniture with only the top half done | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: domino magazine
Mid Century Modern Nightstand Makeover | Painted furniture ideas | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Reinvent Yourself
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Painted furniture in white | Stephanie and Ryan Sievert | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Apartment Therapy
Broyhill Brasilia chest of drawers | Painted furniture ideas | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Vintage Fresh Shop

Get Creative With Patterns

There’s nothing saying you have to stick with solid panels. Adding a little pattern to the paint job makes painted furniture a piece of art! Say that 5 times fast! :p Create a stencil cutout and pencil the design on first. Use painter’s tape to ensure even, clean lines.

Use patterns on painted furniture for a fun, funky look | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Aileen Allen // At Home in Love
refinishing a mid-century dresser with a modern kick | Painted furniture DIY ideas | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Dream Green DIY
Mod Triangle Dresser Makeover | Painted furniture ideas | Girlfriend is Better
A Photo courtesy: The Weathered Door
Mid-century modern dresser | Painted furniture DIY ideas | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Reeves [The Weathered Door]

Zoe Murphy

If you like the patterned look, but just don’t trust your skills, check out Zoe Murphy. Her Margate Collection is bright and fanciful with interesting plays on shapes and patterns. Using prints based on her seaside hometown of Margate in Kent, she has a wonderful eye for color and detail. Likewise, her Brilliant Print collection embodies the same core ethics of good design and respect for the furniture. This collection includes painted furniture and textiles, too. She promotes the idea of ‘Loving what belongs to you’ and you can feel that in every hand-painted detail.  Très artistique!

Painted furniture | Zoe Murphy | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Zoe Murphy
Painted furniture | Zoe Murphy | Girlfriend is Better
A Photo courtesy: Zoe Murphy
"Painted furniture | Zoe Murphy | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Zoe Murphy

Grab The Right Paint!

If you’ve been thoroughly inspired by all of the painted furniture here, get out there and do one of your own! Be sure to start with a primer to cover stains or unknown finishes. This gives your paint a clean surface and something better to adhere to.  The best types of paint to use on wood furniture are either oil-based or latex paints.  The right paint really depends on you and your project.  Check out the pro’s and con’s of each one below.

Painted furniture looks best when you only paint the details | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: sfgirlbybay / victoria smith

Oil-Based Paint

If you are painting something that will be touched a lot, grit your teeth and go for oil-based paint.  Oil-based paint is much more expensive than latex paint, but will last longer. Cleaning oil-based paint is more difficult, as it requires a solvent. Is is also the better choice for intricate patterns and details.

Painted furniture | Oil-based v. latex paint | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: The Design Chaser

Latex Paint

For a quick paint job with easy clean-up, choose latex paint.  You can clean latex paint with warm water, which makes it much easier to work with.  Latex is best for smaller items, such as end tables or drawer fronts.  It doesn’t have quite the same staying power as oil-based paint.  Use latex if you are doing patterns or designs on portions that won’t have items placed on it.

Painted furniture DIY ideas | Pressed Juicery’s Hayden Slater | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Domaine Home

Spray Paint

Like the look but want to cover the entire piece of furniture?  Try using spray paint!  Spray paint works just as well as latex paint, but is a little messier.  Be sure to newspaper a wide radius and work in a well-ventilated area.  Section pieces off with painter’s tape and and do spray paint portions first.  Then you can perfect the edges with latex on the surrounding areas. For an easy sealer, use a spray paint clear coat in gloss, semi-gloss, or matte.

Mid Century Modern Style Dresser in Lacquer | Painted furniture ideas | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: The Papaya Tree

Stain

Staining is a process that works on wood that has been sanded. You can give your furniture piece the same two-tone type of effect with stain. Dark stains look especially striking against walnut colors of wood.  If you are staining, be sure to seal it once dry with polyurethane.  They call it stain for a reason!

Mid century modern tallboy chest stained two-tone | Painted furniture DIY ideas | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: VintagFreshShop

Easy DIY Projects

I like DIY projects, but they’ve got to be pretty fail-proof for me to try. Step into a vintage furniture shop and get an idea for trendy paint colors. Start easy with just the drawers, or dress up an IKEA piece that is replaceable. When in doubt, remember less is more. Upcycling is all about adding value to an item, and creativity absolutely counts. Grab a brush and don’t think too much about it!

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