Furniture Painting Projects: A Sultry Makeover For A Provincial Nightstand

I’m so excited to share one of my favorite furniture painting projects! Her name is Scarlet (I name all my finished pieces), and I like to say she’s a little bit romantic, a little bit Gothic, and a little bit rock-and-roll.

I found this used provincial-style nightstand on Marketplace for $25. It’s a solid, sturdy piece and may actually be vintage. The guy I bought it from said it was in his wife’s childhood room. I think he mentioned the 1990s, but I purchased it before I started doing lots of secondhand furniture painting, so I didn’t pay that much attention. It sat in my garage for a good while, and only after I’d completed several other furniture makeovers did I feel ready to update this little beauty.

furniture painting projects

As you can see in the photos, it had glue from stickers and other goo all over it. I cleaned it with TPE substitute, but I still sanded down to the wood with my sander just to make the surface as consistent as possible.

What’s the best paint for furniture painting projects?

You can use almost any kind of paint for a furniture makeover. Chalk style paint has risen in popularity because of its rich colors and appealing matte finish, and because it’s relatively easy to use compared to some other paints on the market. However, chalk paint does tend to have visible brush strokes, meaning you’ll need to take extra steps while painting and do extra sanding between coats if you want a reasonably smooth finish.

That’s why I decided to go with Rust-Oleum Milk Paint in Eclipse, a faux-milk paint that has similar attributes to the real thing. Real milk paint is made from–you guessed it–milk, i.e. organic proteins. It comes in powder form, so you have to mix it with water right before use, and you can’t store it for long afterward because it goes bad quickly (like milk). But Rust-Oleum’s version has the same rich color saturation and smooth finish as the real thing. It also chips easily like real milk paint, which is helpful for giving furniture painting projects with a distressed look, although that wasn’t what I wanted for my Scarlet.

Nightstand makeover: the process


Painting the body and drawers of this piece went smoothly. A few spots needed some extra love, but most of it covered in three coats, with sanding in between. The challenge began when I started painting the pink accent lines. I mixed bright pink, maroon, and a dab of black chalk paint into a delicious dark pink. Then I diligently taped out all the twists and turns along the little channels running along the base. I applied the paint and left it to dry. But, sadly, those twists and turns made it impossible for the tape to form a tight seal, so the pink leaked everywhere.

Recognizing I’d have to do it freehand, I repainted everything black. I wish I could say it only took one more try, but in truth, it took several attempts. The hardest area was the stripe along the top of the nightstand. That bit didn’t have channels, and the way it curved outward while also curving around was trickier than you might expect. In the end, I reminded myself that unless you look at it from very close-up, it appears quite clean. Of course, these days I never notice those tiny flaws.

How Not To Do It



For the body and exterior drawers, Behr clear wax was all I needed. Since the paint was very matte, I didn’t do much buffing on the wax because I wanted the piece to have a bit of a sheen. On the top surface, I let the clear wax cure and then did a layer of Jolie black wax to add more protection.

Finishing touches

I sealed the inside of the drawers with polycrylic, then added these cute floral transfers. It turns out the ones I chose had white edges around the image, so I used my exacto knife to cut those off carefully. That took a hot minute. But once applied, and after a final coat of sealer, my peek-a-boo flower drawers were perfect.

Finally, I used my pink chalk paint mix, Chalk-Tique dark antiquing wax, and Art Alchemy gilding wax to update the original hardware.

The end result

Behold my Scarlet now, feeling like a new woman. Isn’t she the yummiest little black nightstand you’ve ever seen?

Do you have a favorite type of paint, wax, or other supplies for furniture painting projects? Feel free to share in the comments!

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