Furniture: Updating with Black Spray Paint

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Back in 2002, I was on the cutting edge of the black painted furniture craze, when after doing a kitchen renovation at my house in Georgia, I painted my kitchen chairs black (which I shared about 2 years ago here).  And I haven’t looked back since then.  There have been many more furniture transformations using black  paint since that day.   I think this trend actually started with Ballards Designs (at least to me) when I picked up their catalog and began seeing black furniture, a light bulb went off.  I can do that!

You’ve seen countless demonstrations of painting furniture black on the web, but here’s mine….again.  🙂  So, join me today for another black spray paint project.Picture 004

These 2  harp back chairs are yardsale finds (of course, they are!) and I’ve enjoyed them in their brown state for a few years now, but have lately been eyeing them with black on the brain.  So, I got busy and changed them.  First, you take off the seats by unscrewing those 4 screws.   I’ve changed the fabric on these a couple of times which is as easy as stapling and pulling fabric.

liquid sander

Outside they went and first I wiped them down with a liquid sander. This step just deglosses wood furniture and helps the paint to adhere better.   I do this instead of priming, which most wood pieces don’t require.  I hardly ever prime real wood, but I definitely prime anything that is fake or veneer.

I used Rustoleum Black Satin spray paint on these, but any brand will do.  I don’t like using flat or high gloss on furniture,  Satin is always my preference.

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After drying about 10 minutes, the chairs are ready for their spray paint debut.  Try to spray evenly with minimal drips.  If it does start to drip, keep a paper towel handy to blot it before it dries that way.  Not always easy to do if there is any wind outside.  I prefer to do 2 light coats, letting them dry in between.   Easy, easy! Picture 009

After  they are good and dry, I took the sander to the edges.  You want to distress in the areas that would most likely wear with age, like the rails, top and edge of the legs.   I didn’t go too heavy with it, since I prefer a light distressing.Picture 018

Like this, this looks good.

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One little step I like to do after sanding,  is getting out a can of stain.  This is what I had handy, Cherrywood gelstain.

gel stain to distress furniture

Grab a q-tip and swipe a little stain on that bare wood that you’ve just sanded down.  It will give it a nice deep brown tone and seal it up.  I just love the way this looks afterward.  Take a paper towel and wipe off the excess.

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And you’ll be left with some pretty distressing.

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The chairs are back in place and I’m happy with them.  They fit in better with the black console table they are hanging out with.

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Don’t you think?

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I’m likin’ the black a lot. Picture 014

Yardsale chairs rescued and saved.  You gotta love that!

So, do you have something that needs a can of black spray paint to renew and revive?

Added to:

Sarah’s Before and After Party

Kimba’s DIY Day

Susan’s Met Monday

Today’s Creative Blog

- Rhoda


  1. What a great tutorial and they look wonderful

    • Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I’ve been wanting to distress some of my loved, but no longer lovely antiques and now I have the motivation to try it.

      If I am successful, I’ll post before and after pics. 😉

  2. Love, love, LOVE the chairs~~!!

  3. Hello Rhonda,
    I love your black chairs and the animal print fabric that you chose looks great with the brown or black. The destressing makes the pieces look even better.
    By the way, your home is so lovely.


  4. Thanks for the tutorial on distressing. I still love black too. My dining room table and chairs are black, but I may be making them brown soon. Not sure yet. Laura

  5. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I cannot wait for Thrifty Treasures Party. I love this party. It’s coming back during my birthday month…what a present.

  6. I loooove your end result! I’m very much into projects like this. I took a liking to them, since my father is a furniture & auto upholstery master! 🙂

  7. Sweet! Spray paint rocks!

    Necel from the Old House in Texas

  8. I am so excited to learn about the Liquid Sander! How have I never heard about this? The chairs turned out beautiful! Your home is absolutely gorgeous!

  9. The chairs look great Rhoda! Love the sanded edges, give them a lot of caracter. You’ve done a beautiful job. Have a great week!

  10. They look GORGEOUS! I have a drop leaf table I picked up thrifting that I plan to transform with black paint as soon as the snow melts. Great tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing!

  11. Just gorgeous. Love the way they look now beside the table.

    If you have time I invite you to my blog to enter into a fab giveaway I’m having in celebration of my Etsy store Grand Opening.

  12. Rhoda, they look fab!! I love them in black! I love black paint too — nothing is safe around here. 🙂

  13. What a difference. I really like them.

  14. I too have been in a black furniture faze. I just love it! Those chairs look perfect now next to the table.


  15. love them in black! I have a minwood stain pen that is sold for touch-ups, but it is perfect for filling in those distressed areas!

  16. ohhh rhoda, YES, I have tons of projects I want to spray with some black paint! however! mother nature is not cooperating with me at the present time. Usually we have many days over the course of a winter that we can such outdoor things… this winter, not so much!
    Love the chairs in their new outfit! I also liked seeing your “canvas” that you spray paint on. I’m a “background” viewer. Love to look in the background of pictures.
    have a great week!

  17. Great rescue Rhoda…love the tip with the gel stain!

  18. Oh these chairs look fabulous!

    Please stop by and enter my giveaway.

  19. Looks GREAT! I’m jealous….we still have snow on the ground and I haven’t been able to spray paint for months!

  20. Great post. Love the new look and the instructions were so helpful! Thank you-

  21. Rhoda talk about making old look new again, you surely did that with these chairs. They really look wondeful and so Rhoda!! Have a great week, I think you have started out GREAT!! Kathysue

  22. Neat! I have a tired, inherited dining table set that is totally not my style. After a few moves it is really scratched and this might be what it needs!

  23. Wow, great tutorial. I love the stain tip on the distressed areas. They look great!

  24. These look great!!

  25. Thank you very much for this. I have barstools that I’ve decided to take from wood to black. I was wondering about the best way to go about this. Now I know!

  26. Thanks Rhoda. You should do a book on decorating tutorials!


  27. Wow, great tut! I’d love to do this with my old dining table and chairs in my kitchen. I wonder how well this would hold up to everyday use?

  28. Oh yes, beautiful in the black, Rhoda! I think you’re right ~ I believe I first started liking black furniture when I would get my Ballards catalogs. I love the harp back on these chairs.

  29. Looking great Rhoda! You’re such a talent! 🙂

  30. Looks great!
    Glad Thrifty Treasures is coming back.


    barbara jean

  31. Your furniture, and your home, have such beauty. I relish your blog and the wonderful photography.

    They say “what goes around, comes around,” and that’s true of furniture too. In the 1950s when I was around 10 yrs old my mother and I were at an estate auction. All the furniture was beautiful, but everything was black! When I asked my mother “why” she said, “Oh, when a piece got worn and had scratches on it everyone got out the black paint.”

    My dad bought a gorgeous used library table in 1938 before I was born. Of course, it was black. The table went from our home, to grandma’s house, then back to our home where it was stored in the basement, then in 1982 my husband and I brought it to the city to our home. My dad and I started stripping all the thick, gummy layers of black paint off of it. I intended to stain it walnut, but when we got to the bare wood, it WAS walnut. We didn’t stain it, only hand-rubbed it with tung oil and now the beautiful piece sits in my home and is admired by all.

  32. What type of spray paint black did you use. And did you put anything on top after you destressed the wood.
    This is so pretty and I’m liking them to.

  33. They look terrific! I took down the name of the Liquid Sander to use for future projects.

  34. Black spray paint is one of my favourite tools …. everything looks better black. I have spray painted brass lamps, wooden shelves … everything … even the heels on my boots when they get worn away on the edges!!

  35. Now I want to get out the spray paint and transform something. Your chairs turned out beautifully. Your home is lovely!!

  36. since we get a bunch of product returns in our warehouse we have to refinish a lot of furniture. looking through your pictures makes me cringe! refinishing takes hours and hours to do and there’s a ton of noxious odors to deal with. kudos if you have the time and patience!

  37. I LOVE IT!!! Very nice!

  38. Rose, that’s a great example of how trends come and go. So, black has been in an out and back again. That’s the way life is, huh? Thanks for sharing your story & how you revived a beautiful old piece by stripping the black paint. I’m sure we will all tire of it again.

  39. I like them black too! Great job Miss Rhoda!

  40. They do look very snappy now! Thanks for the little tip about touching up the distressing with gel stain.


  41. Wow, such a great tutorial. I love the look of the chairs. They look fabulous. Thanks for sharing. Hugs, Marty

  42. The chairs look great! I’m looking forward to warmer weather so I can get out and spray paint! I already have 3 pieces in mind!
    Thank you for all the great tips!

  43. LOVE IT! The black looks so fabulou with the animal print! I’ve been a Ballard Stalker a long time too. I purchased my first antique BLACK painted chest when I was 21~! I’m 39. Crap, did I just type that out loud! I just posted a semi debut of our black painted cabinet kitchen! WHOO HOOOO! Glad to see that you’re in love with black furniture too!

  44. Great looking chairs. I don’t have anything to paint black at the moment, but love the idea. Like you, I think Ballards was and continues to offer inspiration for those of us who enjoy decorating.

  45. It was so nice meeting you Saturday. Your site is just beautiful!

  46. Your chairs look great! I love black paint!

  47. the chairs came out great!! also I love the Armoire from your other post.

  48. I am a big chicken when it comes to painting furniture but always love when I see others! I have a harp back gossip bench (your chairs’ missing triplet!) that was a yard sale find (to quote you, “of course it was” 🙂 that’s been sitting in my basement since this past summer as I ponder. Maybe if the snow ever melts here I’ll take it outside and pull a Rhoda on it. 🙂

  49. The chairs look WONDERFUL, love how you distressed them then did the stain thing…I wouldn’t have thought of that so thanks!!!!!! XO, Pinky

  50. Such a fun alternative to painting everything white! Love them!

  51. Rhoda…these really turned out great! Love the tip on staining the sanded edges at the end. The leopard print fabric looks fabulous with the black! You’re comment made me laugh on my MM post. So funny! 😉

  52. Gosh, you are somethin’ else! I love it! Wish I was as brave as you are!

  53. Rhoda, I love the black chairs. I have a round little table that I am going to do that to….tired of the brown wood..I have some brown wood sconces, I think I could paint them, too..refresh and renew..

  54. Rhoda, The chairs look wonderful in black and the sneak peek into your other rooms look beautiful.

  55. Love the gel stain trick! It is stunning, thanks for sharing!

  56. Hey Rhoda! I just saw where you linked up after me at Today’s Creative blog so I had to come by and say hey! My husband and I painted everything in our guest bedroom black about a month ago and love it! My mom kept singing that song “Paint it BlacK” to us, haha.

  57. Ok, now I’m inspired. I’ve been meaning to transform an old side table for months now. Your tutorial/guide is the easiest one I’ve found. Guess I know what I’ll be doing this weekend!

  58. turned out great!!

    I’m hosting a giveaway on my blog – come and check it out!!

  59. Absolutely gorgeous, Rhoda.

    Those turned out so divine!

  60. LOVE how your chairs turned out, Rhoda! Don’tcha just love that liquid sander?! I just used that and painted a dresser in my living room black.

    Have a wonderful Wednesday!
    ~Michelle 🙂

  61. Your article made me want to run out and start sanding all my furniture down! I was looking for an article on how to do this with photos. Thank you very much. You have a beautiful home!

  62. I LOVE it. I’ve been diggin’ black furniture lately 🙂

  63. Beautiful job. Didn’t know about Liquid sander. Thanks for the tip!

  64. I’m late to the party but had to say these look gorgeous! Great job!!!! <3

  65. Hi! I love the chair it looks great! I just sprayed painted an end table that i wanted to be black. It looks horrible… I am not sure why this happended. the paint seemed to buble in certain areas and craxk in others. All around it looks dull not shinney at all… Any suggestions?

    • Annette Herrera says:

      Sounds like a NON-POURS surface or you may have heavier in those areas that bubbled or moisture could have been present?
      Try to go back over the table with very fine sandpaper (the finer the better) and give the peice a light sanding.
      Afterwards wipe down with TACKY CLOTH to REMOVE any dust particals left from the sanding.
      Try to be sure to stay at the recommended distance when spraying & move in a long even stroke motion.
      Be sure you are Shaking your can of spray paint OFTEN!
      Good luck! If at 1st you do not secceed, try try again.
      In short…Dont give up! You’ll get the hang of it and then…LOOK OUT WORLD!

  66. I love it. your steps were so helpful. Saving this website as a favorite.

  67. i recently attempted to paint our old breakfast table black. I first spray painted the base and was impressed, it was easy and looked great but then I got to the tabletop and it looks splotchy even though I tried to spray in even strokes. Now i don’t know how to fix it. Any suggestions?? Please rescue me!

  68. OMG I LOVE YOU! I’ve been searching the net for a paint treatment exactly like this for some garage sale chairs I bought. They’re painted white, but I’m sure I can scuff them down to the wood grain to achieve the same effect. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing!

  69. Loved it and it looks easy! We have a drop leaf table we’re planning to paint black. Thanks!!!

  70. I’m going to redo my dining room table and chairs and your blog and advice was by far the easiest and simple to understand. The pictures just make it perfect. Thank you…….and by the way I noticed your vinyl or painted verse on the wall 🙂 My house serves Him too!

  71. Thanks so much! I’m just about to go out and spray away and needed some extra encouragement. 🙂 I never would’ve thought to do the q-tip/staining thing though. That’s BRILLIANT!

    Thanks again, Erika

  72. Thanks for the tutorial! I’m ALMOST brave enough to start my first spray paint/refurbish/garage sale find project. This helps a lot!

  73. I love the chairs. After seeing the chairs I decided to paint a chest of drawers black using the same materials. I’m having problems with the distressing, first time some of the areas I sanded left a dull finish around the areas I stained. I had to repaint. I’m going to use a small piece of sandpaper next instead of the sanding block I used first time. Hope I don’t have the same problem, any suggestions?

  74. I have a chair that I painted with a water base paint and then put polyurothain on it. Can I go back now sand edges & apply stain for this same sort of effect?

  75. Michele Roundtree says:

    Found an old entertainment center at Goodwill. Can’t wait to get started.

  76. I used this method today on a giant hutch and it worked beautifully. Thought the thing was a goner, (solid wood piece sitting on the curb!), but after some reworking and sandpaper, the technique you described really brought it to life. Took 5 cans of paint and probably could have taken one more. Thanks!!

  77. Cool! Can you spray paint bigger pieces (like a dresser) or do you have to paint those with a brush?

  78. I had never painted ANY furniture before ASCP, but now I’m ready to try some Ben Moore and Sherwin Williams. Not sure about spray can paint, but what the heck?!

  79. They turned out gorgeous and I love the leopard print you used just goes so well with the black on the chairs!

  80. Mary Ellen says:

    Love the chairs, so inspired to so this on a new (vintage) cane sofa I just found. Did you seal the chairs after at all. Keep wondering if I should use a poly spray after?

    Love your blog!

    • Thanks, Mary Ellen! No, I did not use any sealer after spraying them. That oil-based spray paint sticks really well & I’ve never had any chipping on those chairs.

  81. question: The furniture I ‘m starting with is a country blue. Do i need to do anything different then the above instructions? Thank you

  82. Twylla Walker says:

    I followed your directions as the steps you had looked simple and the product looked amazing….so I picked up three pieces from second hand stores and tried your technique….They look amazing!!!! Thank you soo much for the tutorial it was the simplest and best without a doubt!!!! :o) Twylla from Hatzic, British Columbia

  83. Judy Wilber says:

    Looks beautiful. I want to try this soon!

  84. Kim Collins says:

    I have done a lot with the black paint also I also did my cabinets in the kitchen. Instead of using the srpay paint I used MILK PAINT all I can say is WOW. It is so eay to work with I have carried the black wood into our great room also. I have found out if you don’t like it just change it DONT BE AFRAID

  85. I have chairs very similar to these and I want to reinforce the strength of the seats. They go apart just like the ones you show. Mine are a birds eye maple look and I love the two pedastal table that goes with it. Originally it was purchased from a yard sale and we had six chairs, one chair was broken because the wood is weakening and my husband fell out of it as it fell apart. I wood glued it back together and it worked for a long time so long as no one sat on it. Well we had company and in the busy moments someone sat on it and it fell apart. I want to figure out how to reinforce the other five chairs do you have any idea?? I can send a picture for you.

    • Hi, Sharon, I am not a furniture repair expert,so if I were you I would take those chairs to someone who does repairs and restoration on furniture and ask them to help you. It might be that they all need to be reglued and clamped in place and that might tighten everything up, but sometimes you have to have the right tools for that to work.

  86. I’ve been searching for a blog on painting chairs…As luck would have it- I’m planning on painting the exact same chairs- and black!! So cool to have found you! Thank you!

  87. Thank you SO MUCH for posting this – I just finished my first DIY project and am thrilled with the results!!! My only question is, how do you care for/clean the chairs? I did this technique on a coffee table and 2 end tables and just want to know the best way to dust, in particular – don’t want to use Endust or something that would hurt the paint job. Thanks again!!

    • HI, Mandi, just dust with a duster or use a damp cloth on areas that get a lot of dust. Black is harder to keep clean, unfortunately, dust does show on them. The paint job should hold up just fine for you.

  88. Do you use anything to seal it? If this was going to be a coffee table for example, would you recommend a spray sealer to protect the paint/stain from wear?

    • Shelly, you could certainly seal it if you want, but I didn’t do a thing to my chairs and they still look great. I did a distressed look, but if you don’t want any chips, then you could easily add a spray poly. Spray paint is oil-based, so make sure you stick with oil on oil.

  89. I have painted a chest the distressed black from your instructions but would like for the furniture to have more of a smoother feel. Do you think a clear laquer spray paint would work over your distressed black paint?

    • Hi, Peggy, you could try sanding with a fine sandpaper like 220 grit and then respraying and that should smooth it out for you more. And a clear coat of lacquer couldn’t hurt either, just be careful and not get it too glossy cause that shows more imperfections. I like a matte finish myself.

  90. So, why has no one told me this before? I am a DIY junkie and follow many blogs, but this is the first time I’ve read how to distress the furniture and then stain the distressing to make it look believably old and worn. Thank you!

    Also, a comment on Miss Mustard Seed’s book – I’d love to be able to afford it right now at Christmas. I’ve read her blog posts many times. What I’d like to know from her book is how to “let go and let God” bring fulfillment to my life creatively. The Creator made me a “creative” creature but I’ve let the cares and sorrows of this life keep me from fulfilling my potential. I’m 66 and it is time I stop sabatoging my own efforts. My house will be paid off in four months and I can quit my job so it is my intent to start some kind of creative enterprise (perhaps a blog?) and maybe Marion’s book would be just the thing to get me started. God bless you and her for the sunshine you bring.
    Betty McLellen

  91. Love the chairs painted black. I’m a big fan of anything black. I’ve used many cans of black spray paint in my decorating days. Loving the cushions!!!!. Good job.

  92. I absolutely love your black chairs! They are so pretty!! I have an entertainment center that I purchased from Walmart a few years back that is CHEAP particleboard covered with a faux woodlook paper that I would love to paint over but I am unsure if I need to remove the paper (faux woodlook) on top before I sand and prime it. Any suggestions?

    • Hi, Misty, you can’t sand faux wood/particle board, so the best thing would be to prime it with a good primer and then 2 coats of paint. That should work fine!

  93. Wow! So glad I found this post. I actually have the exact same chairs! Mine are already black as is my kitchen table and I was thinking of painting them. Now I know how to change the seat part too! haha thanks:)

  94. Help me! I used your blog about distressed black furniture as well as a few others I read online and attempted my first distressed wood project. I wanted the black paint to stick well (contrary to another readers experience) so I primed with oil based primer. Then I painted black and I went to do the distressing but the white primer shows through and even with the gel stain it looks like white primer over wood under black paint. yikes! What can I do to not have the white show but keep the distressed look?

    • HI, Nicole, that’s a tough one! I’ve seen that happen before and you’ll notice in my instructions, I didn’t prime on the pieces I distressed. I used black spray paint and the oil paint sticks well. I’m not sure now that you can do a true distressed look and not have the primer show.

  95. Do you ever finish with a wax or sealer of any kind? I love the stained distressing.

    • HI, Vicki, I haven’t found a need for a sealer on my spray painted things. It’s an oil-based finish and has held up just great for me.

  96. What is the paint color on the walls? Love it 🙂

  97. Dana McCurdy says:


    I bought this exact chair at a yard sale also many years ago. Mine is still brown but, I have recovered the pad but now I think under your direction, I am going to paint her black today!!

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  98. I have a set of 6 of those exact chairs and the drop leaf pedestal table they came with, they belonged to my husband’s grandmother. We stripped the high gloss varnish off the table 30 years ago and refinished it with tung oil but stripping and restaining and varnishing six chairs was too daunting so they are sitting in the attic. Now I know how to refinish them. Thank you!

  99. I love black too! Sheila

  100. When my sons left after finishing college, I painted their room a cranberry red. My mother had a beautiul bedroom suite, but it was badly scarred from years of storage. I painted that furniture black and with the cranberry walls and white woodwork, it is the most beautiful room in the house. Even the boys approved when they came for a visit. Like you, I love spray paint. Everything can look better with a fresh coat of paint.

  101. Julie Mignerey says:

    Will liquid sander work on a large china hutch?

    • HI, Julie, yes it should work on any furniture at all. Just wipe it on and let it dry. Follow the directions for the one you have.

      • Do you recommend painting a large book case the same way? With spray paint?

        • HI, Jen, I usually don’t recommend spraying large flat surfaces, because you can often see the overlap spray marks. I’ve done a bookcase before (it’s under my DIY projects tab) using a foam roller and latex paint, so I’d recommend that way instead of spraying. Spray works great with chairs and smaller pieces.

  102. Do you have any recommendations for an old upright stained piano? Does liquid sander work on that too? Spray or roll on? I’m even considering painting it a darker vintage red with some distressing just to add color to my house. Suggestions? Thanks!

    • Hi, Shauna, that’s a tough one. I’ve seen folks paint upright pianos in blogland. So I think you could maybe prime it and paint with whatever paint you want. I’m not an expert on pianos though, so look around and see what info you can find on painting them.

  103. Would liquid sander and spray paint work on painted outdoor rocking chairs?

  104. I have a oak mirror that is octagon shape and would like to paint it but not sure how to do it. I did not want to get into a lot of steps. I bought some spray paint and was wondering if I could just spray and not have to sand.

  105. Thank you for sharing! I am anxious to use this technique on my dining room chairs! I am concerned about the wear and tear on the spray paint since my chairs will be used daily. Do you recommend spraying a coat of polyurethane or is that unnecessary?

    • HI, Bridget, spray paint is oil based and very durable. I never had problems with my chairs chipping at all, so I don’t think it would be necessary to add poly on top.

  106. Can you please tell me the paint color you have on those walls? It is so soft and beautiful! Wanting that look for my house.

  107. Hello!

    I am wondering how the black of the spray paint you’ve chosen compares to the finish of the black table you have it against. The table looks like it has the classic Pottery Barn, etc. black finish. Does it shine equally? Do you not use a protective spray coat or gloss when you’re done? Thank you!

    • Hi, Sashur, I always use Black Satin spray paint and it is a nice finish. It really does look very similar to the factory black finishes I’ve seen and I’ve been very happy with it. Satin has just a little shine, not much at all. Since spray paint is oil base paint, I don’t feel the need for a top coat.

  108. Nancy lucier says:

    Hello. I have a set or pressed back chairs that were painted red. I want to paint them black, would like them slightly distressed but don’t want the red to show through. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks so much.

    • Hi, Nancy, it’s going to be hard to distress them and not have the red show through. You could do solid black, but if you sand them back, I think the red would peek through.

  109. Love the chairs! I’m about to do my dining room chairs black. Btw-sorry, what does the whole quote painted on your wall say?


  1. […] I started doing this about 8 years ago, when I painted the chairs black in my newly rehabbed kitchen to better go with the new flow. Ever since then, black spray paint has been my best friend. Don’t be afraid to paint things black to give them a new and inspiring updated look. Just for the cost of a little black Satin spray paint, there are so many things you can do with it! Click the pic for more details and here’s another post I recently did on painting furniture black: […]

  2. […] via Melissa on […]

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