I’ve been painting again.

Those of you know know me in real life will not be surprised by this because for the last several months, I’ve been on a roll with the whole furniture painting thing. For some reason, we’ve been blessed to receive an awful lot of solid-wood furniture recently on Freecycle…since March, we’ve gotten four dressers, a desk, a chair, and two nightstands. Oh, and a wooden file cabinet too!

Anyways, my latest acquisition was a little nightstand. Here’s what it looked like before:

and here’s what it looks like now, with new paint and new hardware:

I’d probably have chosen some rounder hardware, but I wanted it to match the hardware on the dresser in that room, which is also from freecycle. Here’s a picture of what that looked like when I brought it home:

That’s actually a very flattering picture…in real life, it looked a lot more beat up. I wanted it to be white, to match the crib in the room, so I painted it(of course!).

So, now Zoe has two pieces of solid-wood furniture(with dove-tailed drawers, even!) in her room, for the cost of primer, paint, and hardware($8 on paint, $3 on primer, and about $13 on hardware, and I still have more white paint left).

Freecycle rocks. We were going to buy a solid wood dresser and paint it(which would have cost at least a couple hundred dollars), and even then we’d still have had to buy the primer, paint, and hardware. The nightstand didn’t really save us any money per se(it’s holding her books and her diapers, which were in baskets before), but her room does look neater without the baskets, which makes me happy.


  1. says

    Hi Kristen, very glad Freecycle has grabbed you. The nightstand look beautiful, thanks to your creative make-over. We heat our home with a wood stove and have tons of wood in our shed. It’s hard for me burning this stuff as I’m always imagining what I could have made with it. Sometimes you have to let go and just be glad for the warmth. I’m a regular DIYer and it’s amazing what you can do with some tools and imagination.

    Keep up the creative work, it not only looks great, but serves the environment as well.

  2. Kristen says

    Thanks, Richard! I’ll have to post some more of my freecycle makeovers here…I find it to be very thrilling to take something old and ugly and give it new life. Paint is a wonderful thing.

  3. Lou says


    First to Kristen,: What I really like is that you either lucked into or waited for pieces with a matching apron (if that’s what the bottom front edge is called) and similar body lines. The effect is furniture that matches in style as well as paint color – Yum-o! as Rachael Ray would say.

    to Richard: Consider “letting go and being glad for the warmth), when the wood is new-ish (only cured long enough to burn well) and perhaps listing excellent wood bits on FreeCycle or CheapCycle, where someone who builds might luck into them.

    Congratulations to both of you that you for moving beyond the easy consumerist options and showing creativity in your choices. On behalf of my granddaughter’s generation, I thank you. Peace.

  4. Kristen says

    Lou-That did work out nicely, didn’t it? I actually went to pick up the nightstand sight unseen, hoping it would work out for my bedroom(I have one freecycled and painted nightstand and am patiently waiting for another one! lol), but it wasn’t the right style, so I decided to use it for my daughter’s bedroom. The only thing I’d change about it is the scroll detail on the drawers…I’m wondering if I could fill those somehow. If I did that, then the two pieces would match realllly well.

  5. Indrani says

    Your furniture pieces are amazing. Is it all paint? Have you worked with spray paint at all? I am in Australia and came across your site by chance while looking for painting tips. I thought spray paint may be best for the two projects I want to work on, but you have made painting look easy. Maybe I could email you the photos for advice?

  6. LaToya says

    Hello Kristen,
    I’m so glad you took the time to post pictures of your painted furniture and to write a how-to. I have dresser and nightstand that is amost identical to the nightstand you painted with the scrolls. I bought my furniture from a used shop 15 years ago. So they have the same dingy white look to them. One day I thought maybe I can stain or paint the furniture. I started looking for tips on how to paint furniture and I didn’t see anything that was really informative. After several days of looking, I found your blog. I just love everything you have done with the old furniture. I have the confidence to paint my furniture now.

  7. Betty says

    Kristen, Thank you for the great tips for painting faux (firmika?) wood. I’ve been researching tips on faux wood painting, but nobody seemed to address the “other wood”. I’m a visual type person so it was nice to get photos along with step-by-step instructions. I plan on painting my daughter’s bed & I hope it turns out as great as yours. Glad I came across your blog. Thanks for sharing:)

  8. Mairsydoats says

    But Kristin – I looooooove the scrolls on the nightstand. While they look over the top on the original configuration (especially with that over the top hardware!), they’re subtle and cool all painted monochrome…

    Or maybe we’ve just discovered exactly the amount of frou-frou that floats my particular boat! I don’t think of myself as a decoration-oriented girly girl (at all!), but I do love me a little subtle something-something. Like the ruffle on the bottom of the repurposed white skirt – it’s just enough.

    Anywho – love your blog. Love reading absurdly old entries. And LOVE the vanilla homemade yogurt I made yesterday!

  9. says

    I need to figure out Freecycle it sounds amazing! I went to the website and searched for Pittsburgh (where I am currently living) and it said there were no members? argh!! bummer :(

  10. Jennifer says

    I have that same nightstand and finished it the same. Believe the drawer pulls are the same, too. Ha ha we both have great taste, unlike the prior owner who had painted mine a bright yellow.

  11. Vicki says

    Wow I wish i could borrow you for a weekend. This is amazing and I am really not a fan of wood painted white but wow you are rocking this craft of yours!

  12. Emelen says

    Your refurbishing projects are by far the best I’ve seen! I just got a bed frame through freecycle, and am considering varnishing or painting it so it looks a bit more polished. Your how-to instructions make it all seem so possible. Your furniture turned out beautifully…thank you!

  13. Kim says

    These look great! I, too, have been painting/refurbishing furniture. My daughter’s changing table was once a college guy’s well-loved bureau. I’m currently working on rehabbing an old rocking chair for her bedroom as well.

  14. Mary Jo says

    You talked about using the painters touch semi gloss. My question is can the white be mixed to a color. Or is it just white or black..
    I’m repainting a night stand now and would like to do it in a blue color..
    Thank you

    • Kristen says

      I would imagine it could be mixed. Check your Home Depot store, though..this paint does come in a limited range of colors, so you might be able to find a blue you like!

  15. Janice says

    Hello Kristin,

    I just wanted to say thanks. What a wonderful website I have found. Thanks for the tips and instructions for painting wood. I have 3 large sewing machine desks that I want to paint and make them more functional. You have given me the courage to do so. Also thanks for the freecycle website. I’ve never heard of it and I went on to do some research and joined 2 groups in my state. Thanks again. Janice

  16. says

    Hi FrugalGirl,
    Thank you for all these tutorial on painting furniture. I’m considering repainting and your instruction really helps. Now I just need to find someone to haul it to the garage for me :).

  17. Maureen says

    Will Home Depot custom match colors of that semi-gloss paint? I have an old dresser that has that manufactured mahogany color – not an antique – is this type of dresser okay to paint?

    • Kristen says

      I don’t know if they color match that-you’d have to ask! I know they’ve changed their color matching policies a bit in recent past, so you’d want to check with your local store.

  18. Grace says

    Hello, my two adult daughters from my first marriage have passed down their old bedroom furniture for their new twin sisters to have when they are out of their cribs. Reading your blog was extremely encouraging. I now wish I could have encouraged my husband to keep his old 5-drawer chest for me to practice with. Keep the blogs and thanks for sharing your experiences on refurbishing furniture.


    Grace Leon

  19. Carmen says

    I love the look you created with your black nightstand. I am interested in the color. I am terrible at choosing the color and would appreciate if you could point me in the right direction. Color? Brand? Where to find it?

  20. says

    I love the black chest of draws, I’m doing a few pieces at the moment, I have been using home made chalk paint which is turning out brilliant.
    I mix tile grout with water to a smooth batter like consistency and then added it to the paint (non oil) about 60% paint 40% grout, stir well and then you can use straight onto any service furniture without priming it is brill it goes on really smooth and dries rock hard and dries really quick, though you have to be quick as it can go off hard quite quick. you only need two coats cos it dries like concrete,then you can add wax to it to buff to a sheen or leave feeling smooth but chalk like finish. Every goes on about the Annie Sloane paint which is expensive but this cost a few pounds and I’m very impressed with the results, maybe I could post the photos when I’ve finished.
    I hope you give this a try because it will save you a lot of hard sanding and the results are brill.
    Jude x



  21. Carolyn says

    I love your blog!! Down to earth and in plain language. I was looking for instuctions to lighten the furniture I have as I am moving soon. Also I can’t afford new furniture so will need some from second-hand shops and want to customise any I manage to find.
    Love it, thank you!

  22. lorraine says

    hi your website is brilliant and very helpful, i live in the uk and did lots of revamping furniture when my children were younger but stopped somewhere along the way for one reason or another sadly. im very keen to start again and have aqquired a number of items to get started on and your website has given me some great ideas plus inspiration..so thank you and ive always signed upto you blog too..

  23. Tanna says

    I’m so glad to have found your blog! Very informative! I’m going to start a project similar to this chest this week. I did have a question, though. What do you do with the sides and insides of the drawers? Paint or leave them bare? Just curious :)

  24. Dana says

    Hi… Just bought 4 bar stools for my kitchen.. It’s a real light oak… Want to do a red color… My husband thinks I know what I’m doing… I don’t. Should I spray paint or roll it? I understand priming is important …

  25. Julie says

    Hi there,

    I picked up a dresser from a rubble pile…it was once red, and was painted pink (poor paint job, pink paint is severely chipping). I like the effect of seeing the red under the pink, in some spots. How can I preserve this color effect and make the dresser useable? If I sand, I’ll probably remove all of the pink, but I want to put something like an acrylic finish on it, to seal the chipping paint. Would the acrylic finish seal the chipping paint? Is this a lost cause as my husband thinks?

    • Kristen says

      I think you’d probably want to use something like a coat of polyurethane to seal it.

      I personally would probably be inclined to sand it down and give it a new coat of paint, but that’s sort of hard to say without seeing it.

  26. says

    thank you so much for all your tips, I was going to buy a book but have learnt a lot from yourself, going to experiment now, will let you know how I progress

  27. says

    Hi Kristen, I stumbled on your website looking for ways to give a old furniture of mine a new life. Great blog and awesome content. I share a similar passion like yourself in being frugal and I write tips on finding cheap flights at my blog. I am all set to paint, thanks for the inspiration.


  28. rachel says

    Have you used milk paint? I’m interested in trying it . And would like some instruction. I love you site!! I too am a frugal gal. Motto is use what you have and I can do thischeaper. I LOVE your projects! So inspiring.
    thanks a bunch.

    • Kristen says

      I’ve never used milk paint-so sorry! My experience is with the latex paint I talked about in my how to paint wooden furniture post.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *