Inspiring Update: Painting Furniture Black

painting old furniture black Not your ordinary Queen Annes……Someone asked me after I posted about painting those Queen Anne chairs black in the redesign I recently helped with, to give some instructions on how to do that, so I thought I would. I’ve been painting furniture black for about 6 years now, starting with my kitchen table and chairs way back then. Now, Pottery Barn is onto the trend (along with some other fun colors!) that I think was started by Ballard Designs in their very inspiring catalogs several years ago. I have always loved browsing through the latest Ballards catalog, even though I don’t buy all that much from them, the inspiration is wonderful.

So, in a very humbling moment, here are my table and chairs in their before state from my kitchen in Georgia. You can see I was caught up in the early 90’s decor of dark Hunter green and burgandy. That ivy wallpaper was really very stylish for the time….yes, it really was, LOL. You’ve probably been right there too. When I look back at these pics, I can breathe a sigh of relief that I have learned a lot about decorating after all.
So, let’s get started with painting those chairs black…..
I purchased those chairs completely unfinished and stained and polyed them myself . They stayed that way until I decided to paint them black. So, the first step I did was to wipe over them with Liquid Sandpaper. I don’t know how it works, but it does. It deglosses the finish and gets it ready for paint. Just get some of this and I wouldn’t even recommend priming. I didn’t.I used Satin spray paint from Walmart, but you can use any good quality Satin spray paint. Lowes has a line from Valspar that is very good, as is Rustoleum and Krylon. You’ll need about 1 can per chair (if that) . Take them outside in a well-ventilated area with a drop cloth and after reading the Liquid Sandpaper directions and they are ready, begin to spray a light coat of black all over. Try not to let any of it run or if you see that, take a paper towel and blot the drips. Spray a coat, let dry and then go back and touch up as needed.

This is oil-based paint so the finish will dry very nice and smooth. After they were completely dry, I went back with a small hand-held electric sander and sanded off some of the paint in strategic wear spots, which you can see below.
painting old furniture black
Then I took some wood stain that I had around the house (something like Provencial or Walnut) and rubbed over the bare areas with the stain. This just gives it a nice depth to the distressed areas. You don’t have to distress, but I chose to on mine.
painting old furniture black Worn spots that mimic real wear.
Base of the table was painted black also.
painting old furniture black
I went back later and added these appliques with creamy paint added for more of an aged look.
Just adds a little bit of personality to the chairs.
And there you have it…the whole kitchen table and chairs all painted. I’ve enjoyed them like this for 6 years now and can’t imagine changing them back to stained wood (or another color) anytime soon. I really think black painted furniture is a classic now. When I was working for Ethan Allen back in 2003 and ’04, they came out with several pieces of black painted furniture and the trend continues throughout the furniture industry. You can find it everywhere now. So why not take something old and give it an updated look yourself without buying new? Old solid wood furniture are good candidates for this paint treatment. It can totally change the look instantly of a dated piece.
This is our upstairs guestbath and as soon as we moved in, I painted it a dark brown/black called Turret Stairs by Ralph Lauren. Really gave it a nice new look too. This was just plain white laminate, so I did have to prime it well and then gave it 2 coats of paint. There is also now a primer just for laminate, which I’d highly recommend if you are painting a lot of the stuff. It’s pretty slick and can chip if not primed correctly. I used a roller on this piece, as a small foam roller gives a lot of control.
You’ll also probably remember the project (click for details on painting) I did last fall when I bought this cute nightstand for my guestroom and painted it black. I used a foam roller on this too.

It’s very hard to get decent pics of black painted furniture, by the way.
It now looks great with the black painted sleighbed that’s in this room, one that came from a yardsale and I painted black too.
Down in the den is another yardsale find, a solid wood vanity by Henredon that I decided was a good candidate for painting black. I sanded down the edges again.
And, it has some nice details on the leg which I highlighted with a little gold Rub N Buff.
And last, this is a chest I picked up for $5.00 at a yardsale, definitely not a nice piece, it’s mostly particle board, but I painted it black and we are using it in the master bedroom until I find just the right antique chest to go in here. I replaced the pulls which cost a lot more than the piece did. In fact, I spotted a very pretty mahogany chest on chest at an antiques store yesterday, which I think I’m gonna go put on layaway. It will fit perfect on this wall and give us so much more storage. Very good price too!
One tip I have learned is that spray paint works great on smaller things, like chairs, but if you have a large surface, like a headboard or chest, it’s hard not to get overlap marks with the spray paint, so in those cases, it’s probably best to buy a quart of Satin paint and roll or use a paintbrush. Just something I’ve learned along the way!So, take a look around your house and see if you have some old dated pieces of wood furniture or something else that could use a facelift. It might be that all you need is a few cans of black Satin spray paint to give them a whole new look…for pennies! And if you’re a cottage girl, then you can also consider antique white. I know that’s a really popular look too. In fact, all of those Pottery Barn colors in the above pic are really fun!

Happy Painting!
I am so excited to be meeting another blog friend. Judy from Gracious Southern Living lives in Montgomery and is coming to Birmingham for the day and we are going out on a shopping/junking spree. I can’t wait to meet Judy, since we’ve been talking for a year now. She has a son who lives very near me, so I hope we can meet up more often. Fun, fun!


Lastly, go on over to Pampering Beki’s website for a jewelry giveaway! You have until June 11th to get your name in the hat….who doesn’t love new jewelry? Sign me up!

- Rhoda


  1. Veronica Gonzalez says:

    Love the queen Anne chairs. Can you find them unfished some where. Would really love to kind some.

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