How to Paint Furniture Like a Real Pro

how to paint furniture

This painted hutch and table were featured in Better Homes and Gardens Do It Yourself Magazine. Yee haw!

better homes and gardens do it yourself

I painted them myself!

If you are a regular around here you know I’m always forthcoming with step by step instructions with how I do a project.  Usually that involves some hot glue and a high heeled shoe. This project isn’t any different.

For years people have been asking me how I paint my furniture and for years I’ve been doing it all wrong and honestly, It’s never really mattered. My paint usually sticks just fine and the finished product is pretty great. Not perfect but good enough.  But there are lots of tricks and tips I’ve learned from people smarter than me.

I’ve had this furniture for 6 years and from the moment I got it home I kind of secretly regretted getting black.  A big black piece like this hutch demands attention. It’s all, “Look over here, look at me!” and “Come here light, let me suck you in and make the room dark.”

Which is fine unless you don’t want it to demand attention and you don’t want a darker room. And since it’s so big, I felt a little limited in what paint colors I could use on my walls.

And since I know you are wondering…here are some before photos:

You can see the table here, it’s a thin wood grain, kind of orangey.

Here’s a close up of the hutch in all of it’s black glory.

For years I’ve been thinking about what color to paint it.  I knew I wanted to paint it but ugh, the work, and what if I didn’t like the color?

Going to the painted cottage changed my perspective.  Remember how Angela talked about her layers of color?  Finally, I realized that if I didn’t like the color I used, I could just add another layer.  That was so freeing, motivating and inspiring.  Since I like the look of layered, weathered, chippy paint, I figured I really couldn’t mess it up.

paint your furniture!

So, I just grabbed my left over paint from my family room.

From the family room walls.  Gasp. Did you get that? I used Satin/Eggshell left over wall paint for my furniture.  The color is Village Square a BEHR color from Home Depot.  However, I can pretty much guarantee that whatever color it looks like on your computer screen is not the color it looks like in real life.  Never pick a paint color from seeing it online, OK?

I wasn’t too worried about painting the right way.  I just wanted everything to be a new color and for the paint to somewhat stay.  Did I sand?  Nope.  But there wasn’t a super shiny finish to begin with.  I just slapped paint on. I did it all wrong.  And it turned out good enough.

I hesitated to even tell you how I did it because I just played around.  I painted a layer of that wall color and while it was still wet I painted on some blue from another room.  The blue was a shinier sheen so it helps make it a little satinish.  And I used the dirty brush.  I had two containers but one brush and just went back and forth whenever I felt like it. Very scientific.  Really, if you have a piece of furniture you don’t love, grab some satin paint and paint it.  Unless it’s an heirloom or an antique, it’s not much risk if you already hate it.

My advice: start with a small piece like a side table and once you get that good enough {not perfect} move on from there.

If you hate a piece to begin with, even better–you can’t ruin something you already hate.

However, when it came time to paint my table top, I knew I had to do that part right.  Next to the toilet seat, kitchen counter tops and sofa, the table top gets the most wear in the whole house.  I didn’t want to mess that part up.

So, I went to the experts: other bloggers who paint furniture for a living.

I ended up using a sander (like this) just for the table top, but then still used my flat wall paint, but I finished it with a few thin coats of clear wipe on poly.


There’s a PLETHORA of information out there, hard earned tips and tricks and types of paint that can make your life easier–the kind of information you don’t even know to ask or google. If you haven’t painted furniture yet, or haven’t had much luck with it, it’s nice to have someone hold your hand. Someone who’s learned how to make all types of wood and finishes and paint look spectacular. Someone like Allison…

paint tips

I think you’ll love The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Furniture Painting : 115 Tips, Tricks and Shortcuts to Save Your Time, Money, & Sanity. It’s 114 pages and it’s only $10. I have read it and laughed and learned, and decided I’m going to tackle another project after reading it.

Allison knows what she is talking about.

There are a ton of photos, tips on where to buy supplies or hack them, and information on wood types, when to sand/when not to sand, when to prime/when not to prime, using latex paint, oil paint, chalk paint, and milk paint, waxing, distressing, sealing, curing, and of course tips on best painting practices.

we really use the table

all the time we use the table

did I mention, we use this table?

If you are ready to paint, or wanting to paint or needing motivation to paint and my “I do it all wrong but it still works ok” isn’t enough for you and you want someone to hold your hand, click here to get your ebook. As you can see her work is amazing.  And I’m already thrilled with how my table turned out.  The secrets I’ve learned work and we’ve already spilled food and used our newly painted table and it’s holding up just great.

see the wall behind the striped curtain?  that’s the same paint as the table and hutch!

painted tablethe table over 4 years after I first painted it with no touchups!–we now use it in our refinished barn/gathering space and it still looks fantastic! (see more here)

{update as of July 2015:: it’s been FIVE YEARS since I’ve painted this table and our family of 5 including 3 boys have used this table and it’s still held up–our boys are much taller now! It hasn’t needed a second coat and we moved and still use the table! see past photos here}  I used to walk into the home improvement store and buy what the paint guy told me for furniture:: shiny, glossy paint.

DO NOT DO THAT. There are so many better ways to get the look you are after that will last and not peel off.

Here’s the link to buy/find out more about the ebook, How to Paint Furniture, enjoy!

Furniture Painting ebook
Nesting Place is an affiliate The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Furniture Painting : 115 Tips, Tricks and Shortcuts to Save Your Time, Money, & Sanity and will get a percentage of each sale generated from this post. 

Related Posts::

The Striped Drapes


****This post went viral on Pinterest a year and a half after I wrote it (I wrote it in 2010 before Pinterest even existed?) read about that and how I’ve been surprised at the reaction of what has happened here.

Pin It


  1. What color did you use for the blue sheen on top of the gray?

  2. did you make or buy the book-page-leaf-looking decoration on top of the hutch in that one picture? I must know how to make it!

  3. Tammy Gurdin says

    I would like to by the ebook for $10 on The Complete Guide to Refinishing Your Furniture Like A Pro but I am not sure where the link is. Can you please send me the link? Thank you so much!!

  4. rochambeau says

    What a terrific job you did on all the furniture you featured here! Adore the colors you chose. Congrats on being fettered in Better H&G.

  5. How did you hang your plates so that they are overlapping in your dining room? Love the look!

  6. Where did you get your strip curtains? Love them

  7. I also want to know how you layered the plates!

  8. What a rip off — not going to buy the book– just go to Sherwin Williams

    • monica garcia says

      Roxie I just left her the same comment. I wish their was a “yelp” like feature on pinterest. Because I would give her zero stars

    • Using websites like Pinterest to advertise for free, is ridiculous! Pinterest is meant for SHARING tips and ideas, NOT for selling your crap to people. The best we can do is report the pin as spam so it becomes removed/blocked by the site. For refinishing furniture, ask any trained person in a paint department for advise. Also research it on the internet…it’s FREE :)

      • so sorry, yes, you absolutely can research any topic for yourself online, every ebook that has been written can be researched if you want to spend the time, that is a great idea. For people that want to not have to research, they can get the info from a professional–it’s a very normal business practice. If you want me to tell you how I paint furniture, then I trust Mandie who wrote the ebook.

        • Your blog is a joke lady. You put it on pintrest as free then you want us to buy a book. You have very little class and scruples. I will go to Sherman Williams as well, or do a couple of test for myself and tell people how to do it for free for real. Stay off pintrest if your about the almighty doller!

          • like I said, I’ve never said it was free on Pinterest–I labeled it as an ebook. so sorry if someone pinned it as *free*

    • I was thinking the same thing. I just joined Pinterest and have been kind of overwhelmed by ALL the information available there. I was delighted to see this pin and then disappointed when this ebook was being marketed. Pathetic tease at best.

  9. I just bought the e-book. GREAT instructions! I can’t wait to paint my first piece!

  10. No great mystery iN painting furniture. Sand, prime, paint. Sand in between coats. Top coat with polyurethane if being used. Paste wax gives nice finish.

    • Wish I had read the comments before spending $10, I thought they would have specific tricks to table tops. But, no luck just same old protocal as for any piece…

  11. Thank you! Thank you! Your best practices were QUITE helpful!

    I followed your instructions and painted an old oak hutch a great distressed black. The three best totally cheap tools are (1) the spray can holder that, (2) sand paper sponges, and (3) the flat painting pads — the tiniest one actually works the best at getting an even coat, without drips.

  12. L O'Malley says

    Can you please tell me the model/brand of the chandelier shown in the photos above? Thanks.

    • just now seeing this question so sorry, I found it online and for the life of me cannot remember the brand, I know it was a man’s first and last name but that’s all I can remember, so sorry!

  13. monica garcia says

    Nesting place, Your ad on pinterest about how to paint furniture was deceiving. You lead us here to buy Mandie’s book, so you could get more sponsors based on the number of clicks you get onto your site. Cheap. I think that is cheap. Instead of making me want to come back to your webpage, I will never be back.

    I am an avid pinner on Pinterest. Do better. Your website can be great, but this was a cheap shot.

    • I completely agree with this comment.

      • So sorry you feel that way, this post is two years old, and as a blogger, when I write a post, even if it is about something I’m promoting, I’ll title it, well, what it is.

        This post was written in 2010, before any of us knew what pinterest was and was up for 18 months before it went viral on Pinterest and when I pinned it, in the comment line I wrote “an ebook on how to paint furniture”.

        No one seemed to think it was a trick when I titled it here on my blog but I can’t control what others write in their pinterest comment box and I think that has become misleading. I’m so sorry you feel tricked in any way, I actually wrote a post about what has happened with this post on Pinterest here, but clearly, you won’t be back to read it.

        • Kim Hansen says

          Nester, I can’t believe people get on here and post such rude comments. I love your blog and am thankful for your instructions and tips!!! There, I had to say it~don’t let them get to you. You ROCK!!!

          • Smolio Tanglukian says

            NO, you don’t rock. If you rocked, you would actually tell us something about how to paint furniture like a pro, instead of plugging a book by your friend. This is pure B.S.

          • I agree with Kim! Keep up with the good work and doing what you love. Don’t let blind sided comments from people who are not intelligent enough to see you wrote this before Pinterest was even around.

          • Affect you in any way. Your site is beautiful thanks for sharing!

  14. Thanks I enjoyed the journey. You are humbble person. Keep up the great work! God bless!

  15. lol..I have to laugh bc I LOVE the black! I actually just painted my hutch to have that pottery barn look and blogged about it…the green is very nice too… :) Jess Your newest follower..

  16. Wow, there are some freaky commenters! I’ve always loved your stuff and always will! Thanks for the reminder of “good enough” because that’s all my stuff ever is!

  17. I know this may be a silly question, but what is cwall paint? Thanks!

  18. Wonderful post. You know… your painting “technique” made perfect sense to me. lol. The colors are beautiful and whatever you did made the piece which I think was pretty mediocre in black, look like a very expensive, custom-made piece– so brava! Thanks for the info about the e-book. I’m going to make a note of it and down-load it when things settle down a bit. best ~ Laurel

  19. You’ve done an awesome job, bravo!!! Oh, and… do you really use that table? :)))))))

  20. I am soooooooooo xcited bout going to the thrift store now, thank you. Remember, people won’t get you down unless you let them. Keep smiling!

  21. since i am NOT a painter this clearly is a quick how to and i appreciated that.
    i did call the closest paint store and they had no idea what satin paint was ?? lol.
    they did tell me about Melamine paint ( spelling i am sure is wrong) clearly know nothing much about paint. I want to paint my table like you did..a dark colour to match the once piece of furniture that is new.

  22. Wow I didn’t see one brush stroke or roller mark….my nightmare. How do you do it?

    • I think it was because I used a roller on the top, you can see brushmarks on the hutch but it’s not that noticeable.

  23. I downloaded the ebook. Which technique did she use for the tabletop?

    • I started by just painting it with regular wall paint, halfway through, I got scared and called Mandie, so she told me how to finish it. I used her recommended sealers for the finish. hope that helps!

  24. I read your article as I am about to paint several pieces in my home. While I enjoyed learning from your journey I even more appreciated your writing! You’ve got ‘style’ (pun intended). Keep up the good work!

  25. Looks great, I like the colour schemes. What type of primer did you use for the table top?

  26. Where did you buy your curtains

  27. Did you wax the satin finish afterwards?

    • no, but over the years I have applied a few different wipe on types of things, I have some wax now and since you mention it, I think I might try that next time it needs a little shine or protection

  28. I just ran across this on Pinterest and I thought “hey that table and hutch look a lot like mine!” As I am scrolling down through the pictures I see that it IS exactly the same. I have been contemplating getting rid of it or painting it, which is what led me to the pin. I, like you, sort of disliked it shortly after buying it! This definitely gives me more confidence in giving painting it a try! Thanks! ( BTW, I am also a mom to 3 boys!)

  29. I love your site…what great style and tips…I live in australia and totally decorate my home on super duper yard sale and thrift shop finds accented with a bit of new to update my look…loving your work so keep it up. Ps. love your sense of humour too…great job! xx

  30. Priscilla says

    I LOVE your table! Where did you purchase it from? I have been searching for on just like it. I regret passing up a similar I found with those beautiful legs on Craigslist. I would have bought it had i known it would have been easy to paint.

  31. Smolio Tanglukian says

    This posting really blows: an article about “How to Paint Furniture Like a Pro,” and the only tip you can give us is to buy your friend’s book? Here’s a tip: “How to Create a Worthless Blog to Shake Down People for Information They Can Probably Get From a Hardware Store.” Send me $10 and I’ll tell you all about it…..

  32. I loved the post and the pictures. I do not like the bullies that attack on here. How sad that they have to attack online. If you dont like something move on. I thought the blog was good, and I love the pictures. Thanks and I will repin!!!

  33. Lizzy Oliver says

    I would like to thank you Nester on a great posting….I am a great Pinterest fan and I loved what u did…you took the time to take pictures and post them to give us all inspiration on what we all like to do… all those who slammed you for advertising someone else’s product, then please take no notice, they obviously don’t have good judgment life skills if they can’t actually see past what you actually did for us…..I loved your post and I will be revisiting you….greeting from Cheshire, England… :-)

  34. I’m so sorry to see all of the terrible comments on your blog. I don’t think people realize that blogs are a way for everyday people to express WHATEVER they want online. I did find this on Pinterest and was disappointed to see that it wasn’t what I expected, but that is not at all your fault! Keep doing what you do…you can’t make everyone happy, but you obviously make a lot of people happy.

  35. I read your comments after following your pin on how to paint your furniture. I was a bit surprised by the lack of information and the shameless plug.
    It is not the fact that you refer people to a book, I love referrals and I love a good book, but it is the way you wrote it….I, an amateur, successfully painted my table professionally and you can too, if you follow my advice, but wait, ONLY if you buy Mandy’s book, blah, blah, blah.
    It is an all out plug for a book sale and not really in the spirit of the pin title, even though you explain and explain and explain and explain….

    Boring. Seriously, boring.

    No, the readers who feel tricked will not return to your site, they are no longer interested in you and your tricks.

    The kind comments are from kindly souls who don’t sweat the small stuff.

    Me? I don’t really care enough and i doubt i’ll be back. It was a plain old trick and I fell for it! Unfortunately, I’m sure I’ll follow another of your misleading pins in Pinterest and I will land on on your site again! Your writing was misleading and hey, even I can write a blog about slapping on some wall paint on my furniture – why would i want to read about someone else’s amateur attempts??!!! I guess I sweat the small stuff and don’t really want to read your excuses. Boring.
    Good luck with your sales, I believe that is your ultimate goal and you have generated enough controversy to keep the sales up.

  36. Men are from earth Women are from earth Deal with it

  37. Teri Walker says

    I like to paint rosemal designs on old furniture after I strip off the old finish. Recently, I learned a bitter lesson about gloss and wanted to share. I spent weeks painting a design on a table with acrylic paint. No problem, design came out beautifully. After it dried, I applied Polyshield (it doesn’t yellow like Urethane) and the clear finish fish-eyed all over the whole table. I was sick! Fish-eye is when the gloss looks like swiss cheese. After much research on the internet, I was told by a professional furniture finisher, that it was probably caused by the use of oil based furniture polish sometime during the previous life of the table. When I stripped and sanded it (prior to painting), the friction/heat made the oil go deep into the wood and thus, the Polyshield would not stick on any part of the surface that the oil was on. Acrylic paint went on fine. Only the Polyshield fish-eyed. I hope this keeps someone else from having the same problem.

  38. Hello Myquillyn,
    This is my first visit to your site and I am amazed by the backlash you have received on this article. I am a blogger myself and have yet to go through this myself but I often see people lash out in comment form. I myself liked your article and am your newest follower! I love to paint furniture and often use good old spray paint. Some people frown upon this but I love the smoth crisp finish you can get from it and how fast you can work with it. I find people frown upon different methods as “not the RIGHT way.” I think is it great that you shared that you didn’t get too technical, just went for it. People are often scared of paint and how to do it RIGHT, but I like the just go for it approach. If you do it wrong you can paint it again and I guarantee that mistake will be one you never make again. Keep doing what your doing!
    Your Newest Fan,