Oh Just Spray Paint It…..


If you’re immersed in the world of design/decorating blogs, an avid DIY-er, an obsessive Pinner, (or all of the above) it’s easy to forget that not everyone is.

Quite often during Consultations, I will recommend a re-purposing of certain pieces – new area, new use, some altering, and of course, painting or spray painting.  Working with what the Homeowner has and using a creative approach to their pieces & spaces is just part of the
re-designing process.

But SO often, these suggestions are met with “Really?  Seriously?  Could I do that?”  And I’m reminded that everyone does NOT live on Pinterest automatically think of re-purposing.  Anything from furniture to lighting that has great lines, size and sturdiness are perfect candidates – just because the finish doesn’t work anymore, doesn’t mean it can’t be given a second life.

So if you’re a fellow design blogger or DIY-er, this post is probably not for you – this is for the “ohmigawd-I’d-have-no-idea-how” people; the “I’m-not-crafty” folks, and even the “but-it’s-real-wood” naysayers.  Just try it.

The other camp of people is the “I’ll-procrastinate-til-my-friend-does-it” group, that my client/friend Dawn belongs to.  When she moved into her new house in early 2011, we worked together on her paint color scheme, window coverings, and some new furniture. 

Amazing room, pretty much new everything.

Given that, I suggested that she make over some of her existing pieces to coordinate with the new space, and she was excited about the idea.  Just not excited enough to actually do it…. So I’m going to use re-doing her 2 little side tables as a sort of  “Newbie How-to”.  Think of this as me holding your hand through your first attempt at spray painting a piece of wood furniture (not literally of course, because you’ll need to use both hands).  PLUS, I’m going to be cheering you on the ENTIRE time…..

Here’s one of the little side tables.
They’re in perfect condition, the legs have a lovely shape, and they’re the perfect size to sit in front of windows flanking the fireplace.  (Which is not where Dawn had them, but that’s where they should will be).

I gave them the once over with the palm sander; don’t worry if you don’t have one, just use a sanding block.  The goal is just to rough up the surface a bit, and take off a bit of the sheen.
Here’s a side by side of sanded and unsanded so you can see how very little is necessary:

Wipe down the piece with a damp rag to remove the sanding dust. Another wipe down using TSP or even Windex will remove any residue, grease, etc.  Usually, I’d use a bonding primer next (I like Zinsser CoverStain Priming Spray).
**Tip – You can prime/paint the inside of a cabinet or drawers, but don’t paint the outside or bottoms of drawers**.
Shake well (paint and primer), this is super important to the final finish, and it’s also an opportunity to dance around the garage pretending it’s a tambourine (maybe just me). 

Now here’s the spraying basics:

Hold the can about 12” from the surface and begin painting in a slow-ish, steady, sweeping motion – start just off one edge, and sweep towards the opposite edge, slightly overlapping your ‘spray edge’ as you go back and forth.  Move back and forth until it’s completely covered.
Don’t spray in ‘bursts’ – keep the nozzle depressed the whole way across.  I start at the bottom of a piece and work up, i.e.: legs first, then flat surfaces/tops.  Keep the can moving to avoid drips or runs.   BUT, if either happens, dab the drip or sag with a lint free cloth.  Your next coat will cover it.

 This time I’m using a (new to me) product, Rustoleum Primer & Paint in one:

Because the best way to experiment is with furniture that’s not your own.  **Another tip.**

If you choose to prime then paint as separate steps, let your primer dry according to directions (usually 30 minutes is sufficient).  Now you’re ready for some color.  Using the same technique as you did for the primer, start sprayin’. 

Here’s how mine looked after 1 coat – a bit patchy, definitely some rough spots.  I’m showing you this so that you’re not panicking after coat 1 thinking that your project is an big fail – it isn’t.  So YAY YOU if it kinda looks crappy at this step…..

Two or even three coats will be necessary, usually 20 minutes apart is fine.  If your finish is rough to the touch, wait a couple hours and gently sand it (in the direction of the wood grain) with 220 grit sandpaper.  This will level off the roughness.  If more sheen or paint comes off than you intended, just spray another coat – this is a very forgiving process.

For these tables, I free-styled a bit once the first 2 coats of Oil Rubbed bronze were dry.  I lightly and randomly sprayed some Krylon Metallic Spray in Champagne in a few spots.  Then I applied some Grecian Gold Rub n Buff (again, lightly and randomly, using a soft cloth):

See how much fun I’m having with that Rub N Buff?  What you can’t see here is the amount of spray paint I actually get on myself as well – I don’t know how I do it…it’s a talent I can’t teach you, my Friend.


Once I was happy with the metallics, I sanded the flat surfaces with 220 grit, and lightly sprayed the whole thing again with the ORB…I wasn’t aiming for ‘full coverage’ this time, just some blurring of the Champagne  color & the Rub n Buff.  The goal was to create sort of an aged finish, with bits of the metallics showing through, and highlighting some of the edges and curves (which is very difficult to capture in a picture).

Here’s Dawn’s tables back in her living room looking all fancy and gorgeous andintherightspot:

So, that’s it – be brave and spray.  Start small, dance in the garage, and have fun.
If you have any tips to offer, or any questions to ask, I’d love to hear from you!


If you’re planning to re-decorate, re-design, or renovate, I can help you create the extraordinary. Fall in love with your home again.

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  1. Tracy, seriously, the tables look gorgeous!! I can’t believe they’re the same ones sitting in my living room – and yes, they’re still in the ‘right’ place. You really do make it look so darn easy. There’s still a chance I might actually attempt one of these projects on my own. Although, from where I sit, the “I’ll-procrastinate-til-my-friend-does-it” angle is really quite genius……just sayin’. But in the meantime, thank you my friend – I love them!!

  2. Thanks for using AMACO’s Rub ‘n Buff on this project. The tables look great! Looking forward to seeing you do another project in the future. We offer 16 colors of Rub ‘n Buff so you can create a lot of effects. I’m also happy to post on our Facebook page and link back to your blog.

  3. The tables look beautiful. I believe everything can be updated with either stain or paint.


  4. The tables look beautiful! I also love your lamps =)

  5. Yes your tables turned out beautiful but how do I spray those powder room wooden containers and shelf.Maybe a whitewash white (ish) with accents of powder blue on the knobs and stick on blueish flowers. me

  6. Beautiful job, gorgeous room! 🙂

  7. ok, I am inspired now to try to fix/restore my chairs in my front office. I have these chairs and they are old and heavy but they are great for clients when they come to get their taxes down. Problem is they are lacquered and one chair had a chunk of the lacquer come off. I have been looking for new chairs but OMG they are expensive for anything half decent. So, I am going to embark on seeing what I can do with these. I used to be a bit of a DIYer but time and lack of patience made me hesitate to try anything new. Well, here goes.

  8. These are so gorgeous! I found your site via betweennapsontheporch.net. I am so glad since I would love to try a painting project that doesn’t require hours of sanding/priming. You do make it look easy, that’s why you are a professional 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration and the sense of humor in your post!

    • Thank you Rupa, and I’m glad you found me! I promise, Brownie’s Honor, this really is easy. Once you start painting projects, you’ll be a convert! xoT.

      • Tracy, I have a question if you don’t mind. I have a child’s table/chair set made of solid pine and it has a shiny varnish on it. I am thinking when I get some time, this would the piece I would experiment on. I take it that it’s best to sand the top layer off and then use a primer/paint two in one? My hubby has a rotary grinder that I know how to use…Does this technique make sense? Looking forward to hearing from you.

        • Hi Rupa! You can do a light/scuff sanding, or look for a product called “Liquid Sandpaper”, (use as directed) which eliminates the sanding step. If children are actually doing to be using this set, I’d probably do the primer step on it’s own (instead of a paint/primer)…I just think it might add durability. You can use a spray primer (I like Zinsser Cover Stain for wood), then spray paint then whole set.
          As for the grinder, I’m not sure where that would come into play on this project, but sure sounds fun, lol! Good luck with the project, have fun! xoT

  9. Beautiful! I love what a little spray paint can do! So easy and FUN! Off topic but what color are her walls?

    • Thanks Alison – spray painting IS fun! Her Great Room is painted in Sherwin Williams ‘Mega Greige’… thanks for visiting! xoT