How to paint furniture like a pro
Out with the old, in with the... upcycled. Paint your furniture to freshen up your interiors with something edgy and characterful. All you need is a little know-how.
Inherited Aunt Hilda’s dark brown sideboard? Bagged a bargain at the Car Boot? Or you’ve simply fallen out of love with something you already own. Painting furniture injects new life into and with a bit of patience and know-how you can create something super-cool, creative and unique. It also ticks the sustainability box – reusing and repairing stuff that would otherwise end up in landfill.
But if like me, you impatiently slap paint on furniture, only to find the results are a bit meh, then read on. Karen Lynch of Country Mouse Home in Warfield is a furniture painting pro with all the advice you need to create a bespoke piece furniture to proud of.
Before you touch a paint chart, give it your piece of furniture the once over. Make minor repairs where necessary and fill any holes, then give it a good clean. It will have collected dirt and grease over the years, so wash and abrade the surface using wet and dry paper with a mild detergent.
If your piece of furniture has drawers, give it a wiggle. If it’s tight you don’t want to painting down the sides of the drawers. It’ll make them even wider and you’ll be constantly struggle to get them open. If you want to expose any wood – some sideboard tops are usually strained oak – sand it down to expose the natural colour and finish with Hemp Oil. Eco-friendly paint strippers can also be used on fiddly bits, like knobs.
ASK THE EXPERTS
One of the biggest mistakes people make is not asking for advice. They end of choosing the wrong paint, for the wrong job and with the wrong finish. We stock three different brands: Annie Sloan, Fusion and Milk Paints. Just because you have read that Annie Sloan paints require no prep that’s it the right one for the job. It won’t be. So ask the experts. Alternatively, learn the techniques and finishes by doing a workshop. You’ll achieve something far superior.
WASTE NOT WANT NOT
You’ll need to apply two coats of paint plus a layer of wax, so don’t buy too much paint. Paint companies talk about square metres but it means nothing to people. If you’re painting a bedside table you’ll need two tester pots. If you’re doing a project that might need three tester pots, you might as well buy a litre. Two tester pots will save you a tenner. Also, if you have kids doing homework on a table, you drink a lot of red wine or you dance on the table in your high heels, avoid a waxed finish.
TOOLS FOR THE JOB
If you’re just painting a chair, then use any old brush will do. However, if you plan to go on a painting spree or you have plans to sell your finished pieces, then get the right tools. A bristle brush will give you that shabby chic textured finish. For a smooth finish, a synthetic brush is perfect. Chip brushes are dead cheap and give you a lovely finish. They’ll give you a smooth finish and are really good for découpage. I’ve recently discovered micro-felt mini rollers which are brilliant on bigger pieces of furniture. if I want brush stokes, I’ll roll first and finish with a more expensive brush.
If you’re painting for yourself, paint what you can see, including the hinges. If you’re painting to sell, I would stencil the inside of the doors to make it look pretty.
GRAB A BARGAIN
Shop your home first. You might find something that needs some love. Very often we inherit unfashionable dark furniture and Granny’s hand me downs will be a lot better quality than anything you own. Mid Century furniture is also hugely popular so keep your eyes peeled for that style too. I also love IKEA hacks – turning cheap furniture into something truly bespoke.
If you’re shopping for a project, head to car boot sales, charity shops like British Heart Foundation furniture store in Reading, The Furniture Project in Newbury and Thames Hospice Home Store in Maidenhead. For a real bargain, search Facebook Marketplace.
STENCILS ARE BACK!
The 80s are back, but better. Stencilling is a huge trend right now but the days of endless Fleur De Lys are over. You can create something beautifully bespoke. Start with your two coats of base colour and then build up the layers. Making sure each coat you apply is dry.
COLOUR ME HAPPY
Surprisingly, the 50 shades of grey trend continues. Black and Blue-Black are massive right now. If you like colour, black is a great colour to ground schemes. Brights are making a comeback and mid shades of green and blue. You can paint pretty much any surface. Teak (a self-oiling wood) is tricky but glass, metal, outdoor furniture is all doable with the right prep and paint.
GET THE KNOW-HOW
Learn the skills you need at a workshop. We do a three-hour morning session that teaches all the paint techniques for chic to shabby chic to shabby as hell (£65). Learning prep, application of paint and finishes. Or you can come for a full day (£120). The morning session is the same, then we have a Bucks Fizz lunch and the afternoon is spent working together on a small piece of furniture they have brought with them. They take away their very own masterpiece.
Country House Home, Moss End Garden Centre, Warfield RG42 6EJ