We purchased this buffet over ten years ago originally for our Dining Room, several houses ago. As you can see from the before picture, it has shades of brown with some floral motifs painted on it. I loved the painting on this piece for many years and never dreamed that I would paint it. Then my love of tan and brown toned rooms was starting to make way for a new love of all things white, blue and gray. While I still loved the style and function of this piece, I was less enamored with the color and floral design. There was no way that it was going to fit with the style and color of the light and airy home we were designing.
So, after a lot of agonizing (what if I screwed it up?) I decided to see if I could make over this piece so that I would love it again. I had seen a photo in a magazine that was almost the identical piece of furniture, only it was gray and heavily distressed. It was also thousands of dollars. I decided that I would try to make my buffet look like the gray distressed piece from the magazine. First things first, I took the door handles off and sanded the wood lightly, using a fine grit sandpaper and sanding block. I usually use both paper and a block to get the whole piece sanded (sometimes I go crazy and use my little mouse electric sander, but not on this piece as I tend to take a little too much finish off when I use power tools.) This buffet is such a heavy piece of furniture that there is no way that my husband and I could move it into the garage for sanding and painting, so I sanded it right in the dining room of our rental house. It made for a messy dining room for a few days. Once the sanding was complete and it had a dull surface, it was ready to be wiped down to remove all of the sanding dust. A tack cloth works well for this.
Ready to paint! This is the fun part. Because I had my stash of thirty sample sized paint cans of varying shades of gray latex wall paint that I had purchased for deciding on the interior wall colors for our house, and I wasn’t entirely sure which color I wanted to use, I took the three that I thought would work the best and painted a small section of each on the top of the buffet. (I’m a big believer in using the left over paint you have from other projects, sometimes even mixing the shades myself to get the color I want.) I went with Amazing Gray by Sherwin Williams (http://www.sherwin-williams.com). If you decide to take this approach and try out more than one color on your furniture, the most important thing to keep in mind is that the paint color will look different on the furniture in different light and at different times of the day. So, paint a small section of your two or three top color choices, let it dry completely and look at it during different times of the day. The one that you think looks the best in the morning may not be the one that looks best to you in the evening. After the paint dried, I was able to see which gray was the best match for the look I was trying to achieve. I then gave it the first coat of paint. I did not remove the doors or the drawers – I’m always in too much of a hurry to see the piece finished to do that. As long as you are careful and watch for drips or runs, this method works fine on a single piece of furniture.
After letting the paint dry, I painted a second coat of paint. I usually let paint on a piece of furniture dry for an entire day just to make sure it is ready for the second coat. After the second coat had dried, I took my fine grit sanding paper and starting sanding the areas where I wanted the original stain and paint color to show through. When you are deciding what to sand, think of how the piece would look if it had naturally aged. The part that has been touched the most, around the handles, edges of the doors, raised portions of the piece would be the ones that would most likely show the most distress. After I had sanded those areas, I stood back and looked at the piece and determined where else I wanted to see the original stain and paint. There is no right or wrong on how much to distress a piece of furniture – it is all about what looks good to you. Once I had the look I was going for, I took a tack cloth to the buffet to remove all of the sanded off paint.
After I had the sanding completed, there were areas where I felt that too much of the dark wood was showing through so I took a small amount of white latex paint (left over from our house interior trim paint) and added a little bit of water to it to make a runny white wash. I did the mixing of the paint and water right on a paper plate – it doesn’t take very much of either water or paint. Start with a small amount of water as you can always add more. Once I had my white wash ready, I dabbed it on the sections of the buffet that seemed too brown with a paper towel. The beauty of using the water and paint combination is you can easily wipe it off if you’ve used too much. Once the white paint dried, I finished the buffet by applying a coat of clear varnish.
While the varnish was drying on the buffet, I took the handles that I had removed and painted them with two coats of a silver toned craft paint. I like to use Martha Stewart’s craft paint, but I’ve had pretty good luck with just about any silver craft paint. I could have replaced the handles with silver toned handles from the hardware store or online, but the handles that came with the buffet were the perfect style and size so painting was a more cost-effective option and I always have silver craft paint. Once the handles were dry, I reattached them to the buffet and it was ready to go. While I was very hesitant to paint this piece, I’m thrilled with how it turned out and am so glad that I did it.