This bedside table makeover is the last in my trio of chalk paint makeovers. Many of the DIY projects i’ve undertaken at home this year have involved second-hand furniture and a tin of chalk paint. In fact, looking back, nearly every room in my house has had a makeover of this nature at some point. There’s just something so satisfying about bringing a piece of unloved furniture back to life and adding a crisp new coat of paint to totally transform it from shabby to smart. And as much as I think about varying it, it’s usually always white paint, although i’m determined to try an actual different colour next time.
When I was decorating my bedroom I knew exactly the type of bedside table I wanted. White-painted wood, with a New England / Coastal feel, smart brass handles and a pull out drawer. However, it’s one thing knowing what you want, but another entirely to realise that painted solid wood bedside tables are expensive. And whilst well-made furniture is always worth the investment, I just didn’t have the budget to invest at this point. But I didn’t want to buy cheap, MDF ones either that would fall apart in a couple of years. So I had to get creative.
After much looking I finally found an almost matching pair of tables in TK Maxx. They were clearly from different batches as they had different handles and slightly different wood varnish on top but they were the same shape and size. They were cream coloured, not the white I was looking for, but they were really well made and a good price. I brought them home, put them in place and tried to see if I could live with them. I could, of course; they’re only bedside tables. But as I slowly bought and assembled the rest of my bedroom furniture (in crisp white) the cream and wood combination started to look a bit incongruous and a bit too ‘rustic’ looking. So, inspired by my earlier kitchen makeover I decided to give the bedside tables a fresh coat of crisp white chalk paint and update the handles for a fresh (and matching) look.
I started by giving the tables a light sand down. You don’t need to when using chalk paint, but I think it helps to speed up the process, especially as the existing wood had a glossy varnish on it. I then applied the first, thin coat of chalk paint. This is always the moment where I start to wonder what I’ve done. It looks scruffy and messy and when you see the wood grain disappear I know i’ve gone past the point of no return. If you feel the same, this is the point where you need a little faith in your vision for the finished result! In the spirit of sharing the ‘do’s and ‘don’ts’ of painting furniture though, I chose this photo to show you a prime example of everything not to do when undertaking a paint makeover. The golden rules for painting furniture are:
1. Paint outside in a well ventilated area
2. Place the feet on solid cardboard or wooden coasters
3. Remove everything from drawers before you start
4. Make sure you can easily reach all sides of the piece of furniture
As you can see, in the photo above i’ve broken every rule. I was in such a rush I thought I could just quickly paint it in-situ with a little bit of paper underneath and the drawer still in place. I couldn’t. So after I took this photo of shame I moved the table outside and painted it properly, following my Dad’s maxim that ‘if a job’s with doing, it’s worth doing well’. I used three coats of Pure White paint by Annie Sloan (bought online from Rigby and Mac) to give a clean, crisp surface and finished it with one layer of clear wax.
To add a bit of character I bought these sleeping-fox drawer handles from Oliver Bonas to replace the existing chrome ones and added them on once the paint had dried. I’ve kept the old, chrome handles for future projects.
And this is the finished result. I did think carefully about painting over the wooden top as it was lovely, solid wood and it seemed a shame to cover up the grain, so I could have sanded it down and just lightented the varnish, but i’m happy with the final effect as I think the white really emphasises the beautifully shaped edge of the solid wood top and the table now has a lovely crisp outline.
Have you updated a vintage second-hand piece of furniture? Let me know in the comments below!