Another day at home, another piece of furniture gets painted! Such is our life at the moment. I feel like when I warned you guys that no piece of furniture in our house was safe from my paintbrush during our time hunkering down at home I was kind of joking, but clearly as the days drag on and I inspect every inch of our house with a completely unnecessary amount of scrutiny, that’s becoming more and more of a reality. Though I really do love it! Painting furniture is my happy place. This time is forcing me to perfect my painting process even more and find new, creative ways to make my finish flawless, make the process all around easier, successfully navigate any little roadblocks that pop up and find my way to paint colors that I absolutely love, like I did on this project! So it’s kind of a fun journey to share with you guys, in case you’re diving into a furniture painting project right now and are wanting to learn a fool-proof process for how to paint furniture with a beautiful, durable, professional finish!
I’m actually kind of shocked that I haven’t given this sad old Craigslist console table any love until now. I guess it sort of faded into the background of one of our guest bedrooms for so long that I kind of forgot it was there. Naturally, I’ve been staring at it like it was the plague for the last 30 days and finally decided that I couldn’t take it anymore and had to give it a shiny new makeover to, at the very least, give it some sort of identity in the larger landscape of our house. If it was going to be here, it should be as pretty as possible, it should be functional and it should live in a space that made sense for its size and that appreciated its assets. Ya know?! Time make magic happen and Cinderella another piece of beat up old furniture!
Now you guys know that I tend to lean toward stained or sanded and clear coated wood or white paint (specifically Sherwin Williams Creamy) when it comes to furniture facelifts. Which is great because those two approaches instantly warm up or brighten up a space, especially in our slightly cavernous little cottage home. Which is a little bit funny because typically, I love color! Color is my friend! In general, I by no means subscribe to the all white, all the time approach to home decor. I just usually reserve color for smaller decorative or accent pieces like pillows, blankets, lighting and the like. This time, though I decided it was time to finally face my anxiety around choosing the perfect paint color with total fearlessness, once and for all. No time like the present!
I’ve said this before here and I’ll say it again – paint colors keep me up at night. Unless you’ve used a paint color before and know how it reads in different spaces and different lights, I’ve always just found that landing on a paint color that I absolutely love can be a headache-inducing process rife with disappointment and way too many samples. It’s so hard! Nevertheless, I had an idea in my mind of a general paint shade I wanted use for this console, knowing where it would live after it was transformed, so I turned to Pinterest to do some seriously extensive research on rich sage paint shades that could fit the bill. Luckily, I stumbled upon a few serious contenders that looked like they had no way of ending up in a paint color disaster, and I ultimately landed on what seemed like a fan favorite, the stunning Sherwin Williams Dried Thyme, which is the most delightful, earthy sage color with a hint of blue/grey in it depending on the light. I’m calling it the perfect “cottage green” and love it so much that I’m now determined to use it on cabinets of some kind and about 100 other things down the road (PS the Sherwin Williams in our neighborhood currently has contactless curbside order pickup, which is awesome!). It’s so charming and my love for it grows every day, which I consider a huge win in my quest to tackle my fear of choosing the perfect paint color. Once I’ve lived with and loved a color over time, there’s no turning back. Consider this another quarantine win!
Below is my tried, tested and totally fool-proof process for how to paint furniture like a pro, with even more (hopefully) helpful tips and tricks for any issues you may encounter along the way. We used basically the same process on our painted bedroom nighstands and our painted IKEA coffee table and media console that we upgraded recently, so if you hop over to those tutorials you can see how this process applied to or was slightly amended for those projects.
Also of note is that this Craigslist find came with matching white wood storage boxes that sat at the bottom of the console where you see those baskets, but at some point over the years those disappeared and I have no idea where they went. They were pretty sad looking, though so it gave me the perfect excuse to upgrade this console even more with some fresh, sturdy hyacinth storage baskets that fit my storage needs and the space perfectly! They’re from the Container Store and I pretty much love all of their storage baskets and rely on them to add function and storage wherever I need it around house. Another side note – no, you’re not imagining it. This console table has a slight dip in the middle due to a missing front leg that mysteriously broke off and disappeared over the years. How does that even happen without us knowing? Rest assured we’re currently in the process of attaching a new leg that should help lift that dip in the middle, even if it’s only slightly, and give it the proper support. Such a mystery!
Shop this How to Paint a Furniture Tutorial:
Supplies for Painting Your Console Table
How to Paint a Furniture Like a Pro:
- I didn’t strip or sand this piece because that would have been really laborious and more effort than I was willing to expend thanks to whatever varnish or material was used on the top piece. All I did was prime the entire console so my paint would easily stick to it and the finish would be perfect. And that rings true for really any surface you want to paint, but can’t sand or just plain don’t want to strip or sand like laminate cabinets, heavily varnished pieces, etc. To prime this I used KILZ 2 Latex (which is now just called KILZ 2) with a 4” dense foam roller and covered the entire piece with one coat of primer.
I let my primer dry for 2 hours then realized that on the top of the console I ended up with some roller marks or “peaks” in my primer, which is no good. Because it’s so hot here right now and I was doing this outside, I think my primer just dried so quickly that when I went back over my rolls with my foam roller to level it while I was applying, it didn’t really do that. To easily fix that, I simply used a super fine 400-grit sanding block and sanded the peaks down so my primer was level all around, without the roller marks, and ready for paint. This concept also applies to the finish of your paint – if you roll on your paint and see that the finish is looking uneven in certain spots or you have roller marks or paint brush marks, simply let it dry and sand the surface with a really fine 400-grit sandpaper or sanding block until your finish is even. Wipe clean with a damp cloth do get the dust off and apply your next coat for a perfect finish. Easy breezy!
After sanding down my primer I just wiped it all down with a damp, soft cloth so there was no dust or primer debris to be seen. You want a totally clean surface before you apply your paint.
After my primer was dry I applied 2 coats of Sherwin Williams Dried Thyme in a satin finish to both the pieces using a 4” dense foam roller for the flat surfaces and a 2” angle sash brush for the detail work and little crevices. I waited 30 minutes in between applying each coat.
I let the paint dry overnight, and the next day I added my favorite topcoat all over the console table to make sure it would be extra durable and stand up to wear and tear, Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane – Water Based in Crystal Clear Satin. Not only is this polyurethane topcoat so easy to apply, but it protects your painted furniture pieces with a Teflon-tough topcoat that doesn’t alter your paint color at all, which is so rare. No yellowing, no darkening, no stripping. Nothing! It also just gives all of my DIY painted furniture projects that professional polish and makes my finish look 100% perfect! I applied 2 coats to most of the surfaces on the console, waiting 2 hours between coats, but applied 4 coats to the top of the console and the drawer fronts for extra protection since those will see the most use. I apply this polyurethane with a 3” wide foam brush because it makes the process so easy and the finish flawless. I simply apply the polyurethane in long strokes that go with the grain and only apply one stroke to each spot on my surface, though I do go back over it with my brush without dipping back into the polyurethane to make sure that it’s evenly applied and totally smooth. Don’t layer up while you apply. All you need is to do one long stroke across the surface, and then keep on going down the line until you’ve covered the entire surface stroke by stroke.