How to Decorate Furniture with Paint

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Decorate Furniture with Paint
Decorate Furniture with Paint (Image: patti haskins flickr.com, Daveybot flickr.com, deeAuvil flickr.com, Sarah G... flickr.com,)

Decorating furniture with paint is a great option to staining wood. Whether it's for a kid's room, living room or kitchen, a decorative finish can add interest to a piece of furniture and inspire an entire room. Learn a few painting options to transform your furniture.

Things You'll Need

  • Stencils
  • Paint for wood furniture
  • Stencil brushes
  • High gloss paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Sandpaper
  • Acrylic paints
  • Clear paint sealant

Stencil it. Give a chest of drawers or bedside table new life with a stencil application. Paint the whole piece one color, for example, terra cotta, and then apply a stencil. A stencil is a cut-out template that you tape lightly to a surface and then paint in to create a design or pattern. Once your base coat is dry, apply the stencil and hold it in place with your hand or a small piece of tape. Apply a coordinating or appropriate paint color for your stencil with a "dry brush." Working from the outside edges, paint in the cut-out areas to create your image. Move the stencil to another location to repeat the design.

Gloss it over. Apply a high gloss finish to a child's room desk or bed-frame. Prime wood-stained furniture or painted furniture first, and then apply a coat of a bright, primary color, such as red or blue, in a gloss finish. Add a different bright color to draw details for more interest.

Age it. Whitewash a table, bureau or chair, and then apply a light stencil, such as a grapevine, for example. Allow to dry completely. Take a piece of medium-grade sandpaper and sand the finish along the legs, edges and high points. Use fine-grade sandpaper to lightly add some distressing to your stenciled areas to age it further.

Add a simple graphic accent. Paint furniture a glossy black then add a dramatic accent by painting handles or legs a high finish gold, bronze or silver. You can also use a small paintbrush to hand paint some curvy lines, swirls or pinstripes on legs and along edges, for more interest.

Give it a fine-art edge. If you are a talented painter, take your favorite fine art image and apply it to a stool, chair or table top. For example, take Van Gogh's "Starry Night" and apply your rendition of it to a footstool. Start by painting the whole stool black, and then, using acrylic paints, render your fine art reproduction. Seal and protect the whole piece by painting a final coat of clear sealant.

Detail from Van Gogh's "Starry Night."
Detail from Van Gogh's "Starry Night."

Use the rosemal technique (see link in Resources). A traditional Norwegian style of floral painting, rosemaling uses oil paints, but you can also paint furniture with acrylics. Practice the rose mauling technique of brush placement and pressure first, and then apply to a dresser, stool or chair for an "Old World" look.

Apply a faux finish. You can purchase specialty paints for furniture that will simulate iron, leather or suede finishes on wood. Sometimes a 2-step process, you can make give a crackle finish or bright metallic look to any piece of furniture.

Tips & Warnings

  • Dry brush lightly when stenciling. Apply paint to your brush. Then, on a scrap piece of paper, brush off most of the paint. Apply the brush to the stencil, and then to create a light and layered look. Repeat as necessary.
  • Painted furniture surfaces do not always age as well as stained wood finishes so protect important designs with a piece of glass (on a table top, for instance) or a clear coat finish.

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