DIY Painted Furniture: Fit for a princess and perfect for a big girl room

Once upon a time there lived a little girl who was in love with her grandmother’s furniture. It was white with gold trim, curvy and lovely and made her feel like a princess. One day her dream came true, and her grandmother’s furniture became hers! And now the little girl had a new dream, that someday when she grew up and had a little girl of her own, her daughter would get to use this princess furniture too.
Well the day finally came when this little girl grew up and her daughter was ready for a big girl room full of princess furniture. But oh the tragedy! She found out this beautiful furniture was painted with lead based paint which was starting to flake off, making it unsafe to put in her daughter’s room! But the grown up girl was determined to make her dream come true, so she rolled up her sleeves and got to work. Soon the furniture was transformed, safely sealed and freshened up thanks to some Annie Sloan chalk paint and DIY youtube videos. And both the big and little princesses lived happily ever after.
There you have the fairytale version of a very long and complicated story. I’ve had this furniture of my Nanny’s since I was a little girl. It originally came with a king sized headboard, two dressers, two nightstands, a chair, a bench, and a vanity, but since I didn’t think I’d ever need all of those pieces I asked my parents just to save a few of them. When we decided to get started on Charlotte’s big girl room (or were forced to get moving on it) we pulled the dresser, nightstand, and bench out of storage. We left the vanity since she won’t be able to use it until she’s big enough to need a desk.

Anyway, knowing this furniture is at least fifty years old I decided I should test it for lead. Sure enough, thanks to a handy lead paint test kit from Home Depot I discovered it was indeed lead paint, which was already starting to fall off thanks to the age of the pieces. I researched the problem and found that as long as you seal the lead based paint off by painting over it it was perfectly safe. I decided this was the perfect excuse to try out Annie Sloan chalk paint, which every DIYer I’ve ever read raves about since it requires no prep work or priming (I didn’t want to sand the paint obviously since breathing or ingesting it is what’s so harmful). This paint is expensive ($35 a quart) but I definitely felt like this project justified the expense. Fortunately there is one place in this area that sells it, so I made a special trip to this design store that I would normally never bother walking into (why tempt myself with all that beauty that I could never actually afford?) and bought two quarts, one of Old White and one of Provence. I decided as long as I had to paint the furniture anyway I should have some fun with it.
After I’d cleaned it up the best I could I decided it was actually a blessing that I had to paint it. It was very distress, but not in the cute, trendy way, more in the old and dirty and stained way.

I started by painting the body of the dresser and nightstand Old White. It took two coats, but I was pleased to see the chalk paint did cover the old paint completely, and the color was almost exactly the same. It just looked so much fresher and cleaner when it was painted.

before

after

I loved the gold trim and wanted to recreate it. I just bought a cheap bottle of craft paint at Walmart and used a tiny brush and a steady hand. It’s definitely not perfect, but it adds a fun hand-painted detail that I am going to say looks charming rather than messy. 🙂

Now here is where it got risky. I decided to paint the drawers with the Provence color, a lovely dark teal.

I wasn’t sure if I would like the finished result, but I figured I could always repaint them back to white if I really had to.

After I put the drawer into the nightstand I had a “oh no what have I done!” moment because it just didn’t look like the two pieces belonged together at all. But I forged ahead, figuring I might as well go all the way, so I spray painted the handles gold.

Such relief! The gold handles on the drawers matched the gold trim detail on the table perfectly.

So pretty! I am absolutely in love with how these pieces turned out. It was a sloooooow process that took almost a week what with two coats of paint on everything (I painted the inside of the drawers too to try to combat the musty smell of old furniture), painting all the gold trim, and applying a coat of wax to seal and protect the paint. Halfway through the process I was definitely wishing we’d just gone out and bought new furniture, but now that it’s done I’m so thankful that these unique family heirlooms have a new life in my baby girl’s room! I know my Nanny would be just tickled pink to see them in her great-granddaughter’s room. Do you think God opens a window of heaven for something as frivolous as newly painted furniture? I hope so.

Here’s the finished dresser, and a sneak peek at the almost finished room! I’m so happy with how it’s coming together, I want to spend all my time in that room.

The nightstand sits right next to Charlotte’s crib. At first I put an open box of books on the shelf, but after C repeatedly pulled the books into her bed to read instead of napping (she’s a girl after her mama’s heart) I decided a closed box might be better.
I can’t wait to show you more of the projects I’ve finished for the space! Next up: artwork taken from another special yet unexpected source.


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