I’ve been buying furniture on the cheap and painting it myself for years for two reasons: 1) I have no money to buy new furniture, and 2) I’m generally looking for something very specific, which is tough in general, and especially so when your funds are limited. When you paint your own furniture, you get exactly what you want – even if what you want is mint-green with gold accents – and when you buy super-cheap thrift-store furniture the fear factor associated with DIY projects disappears. If you mess up, so what? Repaint it. Or toss it and start over.
When I bought my black-and-white vanity (pictured above) at the Salvation Army for $45, the salesman was nice enough to throw in this rickety old chair for free. I think he just wanted it off his showroom floor, but I was happy to take it off his hands. My favorite color scheme is pale green/white/gold (this is what I chose for my wedding, plus pale pink and a splash of chocolate brown), so I went to the local hardware store and had them custom-mix me a quart of Benjamin Moore Spring Leaf. I also purchased a tiny vial of gold leaf (the same kind that I used for my lamp refurbish), which I used for the accents.
A few things to remember when painting furniture:
1) Whenever possible, strip furniture that’s already painted and sand it down along the grain of the wood (if you want to get really fancy, start with 80 grit and move up to 150 grit or 220 grit, using a tack cloth to remove sawdust between sandings).
2) Use water-based paint on wood furniture.
3) Gloss paint shows everything…only use it if the surface you’re painting is pristine (use semi-gloss or matte for a more forgiving finish).
4) Put down a (big) drop cloth. You’ll think you won’t splatter paint on everything, but you will.
5) Nail polish remover gets the stains off of furniture/floors that have been splattered, but spot-test first to ensure that you won’t take off anything you don’t want to.