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How to Lighten Dark Bedroom Furniture with Paint

Dark, outdated furniture gets a facelift with a dry-brushing technique.

More in Painting

put hardware back in place when medium is dry

Step 1: Prep the Furniture

Remove the hardware including knobs, hinges and pulls.

To get the furniture ready for a new coat of paint, sand off the top layer of the old paint or varnish. This will allow the new paint to adhere better.

After sanding, throughly wipe off the dust residue, first with a brush and then with a tack cloth (cheesecloth impregnated with a small amount of varnish, which picks up the dust).

When sanding, always remember to wear a dust mask and protective eyewear.

Step 2: Mix and Apply the Base Coat

We took a dark-brown tint and added it to water-based primer to create a light tan paint. We then applied the base coat mixture to the furniture.

Step 3: Dry-Brush the Furniture and Sand the Hardware

After the primer dried, we dry-brushed the furniture with white paint to match our headboard. Make sure the brushstrokes follow the grain of the wood.

While the paint dries, we lightly sanded the hardware. We then spray-painted the hardware with a bronze-colored paint. Wear a dust mask to protect yourself from paint fumes, hold the can at a distance of 12 to 14 inches and spray lightly back and forth over the pieces of hardware.

sand and paint the hardware

Step 4: Cut Out a Stencil and Brush with Varnish

We cut a decorative medallion from wrapping paper and used it to embellish our armoire door. The stencil paper is held in place with matte medium, which acts as both a glue and a varnish. The medium is first applied to the surface of the wood and the back of the paper; the paper is laid in place on the medium and smoothed in place.

A floral pattern or medallion can be cut from a magazine, wrapping paper or computer printout.

cut out a medallion and brush with varnish

Step 5: Paint the Decorative Trim

While the medium dried, we applied paint to the decorative trim.

paint decorative trim on armoire

Step 6: Apply Tinted Medium to the Furniture

The medium for the furniture is tinted with varnish tint and a small amount of tan-colored paint. The tinted medium will go on as a translucent layer to age the light paint.

apply tinted medium to furniture

Step 7: Put the Hardware Back in Place

When the medium is dry, the hardware is put back on the furniture. The pieces have been transformed from dark and dated to pretty whitewashed antiques.

put hardware back in place when medium is dry