How to Refinish and Paint Furniture

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks working on several furniture pieces for a client. She’s moving into a new place and has asked me to update a nightstand, an armoire, and an old door (to be turned into a headboard—stay tuned for those) for a fresh look in her new bedroom. I thought that I would take you through the whole process of how to refinish and paint furniture using spray paint.

Red Nightstand Makeover #nightstand #furniture #DIY #makeover #red

The first piece I worked on was this old rustic nightstand.

Red Nightstand Makeover #nightstand #furniture #DIY #makeover #red

I actually like it in its original state—rustic Mexican style, with wrought iron nailed in hardware.

She wanted to change the nightstand up by painting it red and making it a focal piece in her bedroom which will otherwise house various stained pieces.

The best part of this furniture makeover is that there was very little sanding involved. Although the piece is very ‘husky’ and large for a nightstand, the wood has a very light layer of stain without a top coat (sealer), it’s just a matter of dulling it a little bit, priming, painting, sealing, and then patting yourself on the back as you admire the fruits of your (light) labor.

Let’s start with step one…

Furniture Update


Orbital Sander & discs (150 grit+)


Foam Brush

Spray Paint


Step {1}

‘Step 1’ is always to remove the hardware. The problem with this piece is that this is the hardest ‘hardware’ I’ve ever seen. Ever! It’s nailed ‘in’ to the wood, and without the proper tools it’s impossible to remove. So I worked with it—covered it up with painters tape and decided to take my chances and paint around it.

{NOTE: If you’re using spray paint, make sure to tape off any sections you don’t want painted. For large areas such as the inside of the cabinet and drawer, I spread out some newspaper and secured it with painters tape}

Red Nightstand Makeover #nightstand #furniture #DIY #makeover #red

Step {2}

Preparing for Paint: I went over the entire piece with my orbital sander and a 150 grit disc. This was quick (a few minutes)..just enough to dull it down a bit. With a foam brush I added a coat of primer (Zinsser Coverstain) and once it dried, I went over it with the sander sparingly to smooth out the bubbles and bumps that the primer left behind (typical for brush on primer).

Red Nightstand Makeover #nightstand #furniture #DIY #makeover #red

Step {3}

Paint it! I sprayed two coats of this pretty shade of red (Rustoleum), allowing some time to dry between coats. Also in between coats, I went back to inspect the drip marks that spray paint unfortunately leaves behind at times. With a high grit sand paper (150+) I went over each ‘drip’ lightly, wiped off the dust, and proceeded with the second coat.

Red Nightstand Makeover #nightstand #furniture #DIY #makeover #red

Step {4}

Distress and Age it! This is optional of course, but with this piece I just couldn’t resist! Using the sander, I went over the edges lightly to remove just enough paint to expose the fresh wood underneath. I took a the corner of a paper towel and dipped it into a can of stain (dark walnut), and went over the exposed wood, immediately wiping it off with the clean part of the paper towel. See this method in action here.

Step {5}

Protect your work: I added a coat of polyurethane (I like a satin finish), and let it dry overnight. The next morning I removed the tape from the hardware, and patted myself on the back for a job well done!

Red Nightstand Makeover #nightstand #furniture #DIY #makeover #red

Red Nightstand Makeover #nightstand #furniture #DIY #makeover #red

Why buy new furniture when you can easily update the pieces you already have?

Do you have plans for any furniture makeovers?

See you all again next time!


Becoming Martha

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  1. Thanks for this. I was just about to redo a find from the thrift store. So thanks for the confidence!

  2. Great color! I also have one nightstand in light pink that needs to be finished…

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