Skip to content

Green and Frugal Decorating Ideas: Paint It!


A couple weeks ago I did the first in this series of posts about using inexpensive frames to decorate. Today I want to show you what a little bit of paint can do.

I mentioned last week that before we moved to Scotland we sold all the furniture we had (except our bed and the crib.) Thankfully, when we returned this summer, we were blessed by a whole house full of furniture. My mother in law had inherited some and didn’t need it, so she gave it to us. This was a huge blessing because we definitely could not afford to completely furnish a household from scratch. However, a lot of the furniture wasn’t our taste or it just needed updating. So, we painted it and replaced the knobs!

Our policy with painting furniture is that it must at least have good lines and it must be well built. Otherwise it isn’t worth our time. The furniture we received fit into those two categories, so we got to painting.

I am going to show you some before and after pictures. I wasn’t blogging about this at the time, so some of these aren’t the best before and after shots, but you’ll get the idea.

The coffee table

This coffee table is fairly old and had a not so great stain on it. My husband took the stain off and then we painted it using a can of Oops paint that we had picked up really inexpensively. You’ll notice that it has a “distressed” finish. I really like this kind of finish because when my kids say, “Look Mom!” and bang something down really hard on my table, I can smile instead of weeping. Just adds to the charm of the table.





The “sideboard” and the lamps

(I’m going to talk more about the lamps next week.)



Its over in the corner behind the quickly moving child. Sorry for the bad picture.


This is the house the furniture was in before. Thankfully I don't have a bunch of trophies sitting around. (Probably because I've never won any!)



I took the mirror off, painted the whole thing white, and then replaced the knobs. I sprayed painted the body of the lamps white and then redid the shades. (I’ll talk about redoing the shades next week.)

The side table

We sanded the table and then painted it white.



Its on the left with the lamp on it. Again, sorry for the bad "before" picture. This is also not my house, by the way.



My sewing cabinet



Sorry about the missing drawer. I think I must have already started painting that one and then remembered to take a Before picture.




Besdies painting, I took the doors off. I still need to get some hardware for the top drawer and replace a drawer pull that just broke.


The candelabra thing has also been painted. It used to be black with some gold on it when I bought it for a few dollars from Goodwill. I spray painted it.

Our Front Door

Our front door was looking really bad and the paint was all cracked and peeling off. Our landlord (a.k.a. my MIL) was going to buy a new door, but this is an older house and it has settled, so the door frame is not perfectly shaped anymore, even though you can’t tell from looking at it. So, the entire door frame and door would have to be replaced, which was going to be super expensive. So, we decided to strip and paint the door. When we started stripping it, we found out that it had about 9 (!) layers of paint on it. It took way longer to do this project than we had planned, but I like the way our door turned out.



Try not to gasp about how awesome me and my MIL look here. This is us putting on the first coat of stripper. (That sounded funny.)


You can see some of the layers of paint here. The door had been dark brown and dark green in a previous life.




Again, try to look past how awesome I look and see the door. :)



Please excuse the coats hanging behind the door. It would have looked better without all of those back there, but I didn't feel like moving them last night.

As you can see, a little bit of paint makes a big difference! Don’t be afraid to paint things. I used to not want to paint over wood, but it is way more work to strip and re-stain a piece and oftentimes, that won’t even work. I was going to strip and repaint my sewing cabinet, but when I started, the stain had seeped down into the wood and I wasn’t going to be able to do what I wanted to do with it. So, I changed plans and just painted it and I love how it turned out!

Blogs for Inspiration

There are so many people online doing this kind of furniture refinishing better than me. Here are some blogs that I like.

Like Merchant Ships Budget Decorating – This lady does not blog anymore, but I really wish she did. She had such a knack for using what she had and for finding deals at yard sales and second hand stores. I particularly like this post where she mixed a few Oops paints together to get a lovely new color for her living room. Brilliant! She also had wonderful ideas for being a gracious hostess. You should look back through some of her archives.

How to Paint Furniture — Young House Love

How to Paint Furniture Like a Real Pro— The Nester — This is a tongue-in-cheek title, but I love how her furniture turns out. The Nester has repainted a lot of her furniture.

There is even an eBook available from Mandy at Altar’d who runs a furniture refinishing business.

How to Paint Cabinets — Thrifty Decor Chick –If we weren’t renters, I’d definitely be painting my kitchen cabinets.

Kitchen Reveal –Sarah’s Blue Castle — I really like how Sarah redid her kitchen and the fun paint colors she used. While you are over there, you need to check out the bookshelf she made out of a ladder and some chicken wire. Truly inspiring!


Check out “Transformations and Treasures” every Wednessday over at Pink Postcard!

  1. Tara permalink
    02/02/2011 10:39 am

    I love all your projects! They are all so pretty. We redid a set of old lady dining room chairs and painted them red and reupholstered them…and now I like them more than any brand new options I was seeing in the stores. :)

    • Kate permalink*
      02/02/2011 10:43 am

      Tara, As soon as yard sale season starts again, “new” dining room chairs are on my list of things to be on the look out for. I have a can of cherry red paint with their name on it! And I agree with you–most of the things I’ve redone I like a lot better than I could buy new in a store.

  2. Karol Quinn permalink
    02/02/2011 10:49 am

    Nice work! Our guest room furniture needs a face lift… maybe I’ll make that my summer project! If we have baby #3 we’re going to need to paint or refinish our nursery furniture… my 2 boys have done a number on the crib just by chewing on the rails! I’ve never done anything like this, I may need your advice!! :)

    • Kate permalink*
      02/02/2011 11:36 am

      Karol, I’d love to help. Karie and I have talked about having a DIY night once a month where we help each other with our projects. Hopefully later this spring/early summer I can get something started. I need to redo all of my daughter’s bedroom furniture. It has good lines and it well made, but it is white and gold right now. Eww.

  3. Donna/Nonna permalink
    02/02/2011 11:17 am

    Another important aspect of doing it yourself…a sense of accomplishment. Like Dora the Explorer says, “We did it, we did it!”

  4. Caroline permalink
    02/02/2011 2:04 pm

    I did this with an old (as in 1970s) chest of drawers that my mom had. My grandfather picked it up at a college that was getting rid of old dorm furniture, and it had interesting (?) owl knobs interspersed with the regular wooden ones. I painted it pale blue before taking it with me to South Carolina. It’s amazing how a little paint helps!

  5. Laura permalink
    02/02/2011 2:10 pm

    Everything looks great! I’m dying to do some stuff like this when the weather warms up. I have a loooong list of projects, plus a long list of furniture and decor I’ll be scouting for at garage sales this summer! Have you seen the Centsational Girl site? It’s one of my favorites. Her house looks like she has a lot of money–and who knows, maybe she does–but I’m amazed at what she can do with a can of spray paint and a thrift-store find.

    • Kate permalink*
      02/02/2011 4:28 pm

      I’ve heard of that site before, but haven’t looked at it. I just checked it out and really like it! Thanks!

  6. Karie permalink
    02/02/2011 3:31 pm

    I love to paint furniture. MJ’s dresser used to be red/white/and blue. Wanna get started on some pieces in my living room. You ladies name the DIY date and I’m there. :-)

  7. 02/03/2011 3:36 pm

    I love your new header graphics and the site is very informative. :) These furniture projects are fabulous! I love the sewing cabinet and the coffee table – they are all so much better!

    • Kate permalink*
      02/03/2011 3:51 pm

      Thanks Allison! Brannan designed the header, which I’m sure you already guessed. :)

  8. 02/03/2011 5:24 pm

    Wow! You are so creative! I do so love how enamored of white y’all are- but I will admit, it’s beautiful!

  9. Becky B permalink
    02/03/2011 11:22 pm

    I love how the table has that farmhouse style charm. I’m a big fan of farmhouse style interiors, and your’s look fantastic! Make me want to redo something! (mom and dad would freak though – lol)

  10. Aunt Carol permalink
    02/06/2011 10:04 am

    My friend Tamara and I did DOZENS of furniture painting projects last year and resold them in an upscale consignment shop–$149 for a $5 dollar desk, $70 for a $3 Chippendale dining chair! Great fun and profit! One of the keys is a really good spray primer and one of those special spray can adapters. Hope I will be able to do some more this summer. Right now I’m looking for a small Bombe chest to redo for your Mom. Wish you were closer–we could paint together! Hugs–AC


  1. Green and Frugal Decorating Ideas: Cover it with Fabric! « Kinda Crunchy Kate

Comments are closed.