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A craigslist Ethan Allen nightstand rehab

Attention: If you are the type of person whose heart breaks when someone paints old furniture, today’s post is not for you. You should probably go visit another blog just for today. 😉

I’ve been on the lookout for a paintable nightstand for Zoe’s room, so when this one popped up on Facebook Marketplace for $25, I picked it up.

Ethan Allen nightstand before

The finish had definitely seen better days.

Ethan Allen Heirloom Nightstand painted

Ethan Allen Heirloom Nightstand painted

But that doesn’t matter in the slightest if you’re painting!

I sanded it down, using my Bosch orbital sander.

Ethan Allen Heirloom Nightstand painted

I also did some hand sanding to get the areas where the orbital sander can’t reach.

I never worry about getting every last bit of the old stain off. When you’re painting, you just need to get the sheen off so that the primer will stick.

Ethan Allen Heirloom Nightstand painted

This is why I like to paint rather than stain! I can be much lazier with the prep. 😉

Ethan Allen Heirloom Nightstand painted

I always use a hand broom to dust off the furniture at this point, and then I wipe it down with a damp cloth.

Priming comes next, with Zinnser 1-2-3- primer. It’s water based, which I love.

Ethan Allen Heirloom Nightstand painted

Water-based primers and paints can be cleaned up with water, which makes things 10000% easier.

Primed furniture always looks completely terrible, but that’s all right. The point here is to create a surface that paint will stick to.

Ethan Allen Heirloom Nightstand painted

I give the primed surfaces a really light hand sanding, dust them off, and then it’s time for paint!

I still had about a half gallon of the paint I bought for Sonia and Zoe’s beds and for Sonia’s dresser: Benjamin Moore Advance, semi gloss, in Cloud White.

Bassett mission dresser painted white

(Which, incidentally, is also the paint I used when I painted my kitchen cabinets.)

oak kitchen cabinets painted white

The first coat of paint is still pretty splotchy, which is as it should be.

Ethan Allen Heirloom Nightstand painted

Multiple thin coats are always preferable to one thick coat.

Eventually, you get good coverage. But you have to be patient!

painted Ethan Allen heirloom nightstand

Once I’m done with the last coat, I usually like to let my furniture sit for a day or two before use, just to make sure it’s completely dry.

I think this is especially important before adding hardware. If you try to screw that in before the paint is dry and hard, it’s easy to screw it in too tight and leave marks in the paint.

Speaking of hardware…I had some pulls leftover from when I rehabbed Sonia’s Bassett dresser, and luckily, the drawer pull was precisely the right size for the existing drawer holes.


Zoe's painted nightstand

Interestingly, I was able to sell the original pull on eBay for $12, which means I recouped half of the original purchase price!

Ethan Allen batwing drawer pull

Conclusion: it never hurts to list random things on eBay.

Remember when I sold the hardware from Sonia’s dresser for more than I paid for the dresser?

Anyway, this project cost me $13 out of pocket, which is very respectable for a solid wood nightstand.

nightstand paint rehab

Start to finish!

If Zoe ever doesn’t need this anymore, I’m sure I could sell it for at least $13. 

painted vintage Ethan Allen nightstand

And that is the nice thing about solid wood furniture! It has a very long lifespan.

Plus when you buy it secondhand, you end up spending way less than you would even if you bought a cheap brand new piece.

And that’s the end of what I have to say about this nightstand project. 🙂

What’s the last thing you painted? Furniture? Wall? Deck?

Right now is a good time to tackle a painting project. 😉

P.S.I embedded a short video in this post showing me sanding, priming, and painting. But if you want a more thorough look at my process, I also made a slightly longer YouTube video, which you can see right here.

(I am a total YouTube newbie, so don’t mind the amateur level of the video. I’ll get better with more practice!)

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Monday 12th of October 2020

Hi! I'm about to embark on a furniture redo project and have read a few of your posts. Do you only recommend the Benjamin Moore Advance paint for furniture now? I read your older one about using Rust-Oleum Painter's touch. Do you recommend that one anymore? I'm trying to decide which to use. I'll be doing two twin beds, a nightstand and a dresser for my boys in black. I don't think they would like it to be too glossy, so I was thinking more of a satin finish. Thoughts?


Monday 12th of October 2020

I do like the Benjamin Moore Advance paint better. I think it holds up better over time. Plus, Rustoleum has changed its formula since I first started using it, and I don't love how thick the paint is now.

I use a satin sheen in the Advance paint; it has just a tiny amount of shine, but nothing obnoxious.

If you can't get Benjamin Moore where you live, look for an alkyd paint in another brand; that's the type of paint that the Advance is. It hardens like oil-based paint, but it cleans up with water. Truly the best of both worlds!


Thursday 6th of August 2020

Nice write up. But if you sold the pull on Ebay for $12, you only pocketed about $7 after Ebay fees, PayPal fees, and USPS shipping.


Thursday 6th of August 2020

The eBay fees and Paypal fees are in addition to this, yes. But I charge shipping separately, so the buyer paid for that over and above the $12.


Friday 15th of May 2020

It’s beautiful, Kristen. Gotta love a bargain beauty!

Grandma Bev

Friday 15th of May 2020

The video is very good, wouldn't it be nice if chores could go this fast!! Good Job.


Friday 15th of May 2020

Haha, yes! We could redo furniture so quickly.


Wednesday 13th of May 2020

I love your time lapse video. I too love using BM Advance paint. I love how the dresser looks.

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