A $4 can of spray paint saved me over $200

Lynda Makara's DIY home decor

Lynda Makara’s DIY home decor

A new coat of paint can do wonders to revamp your decor. And you’ll be amazed to see how far one cheap can of Rustoleum spray paint can go.

My old and tarnished porch light, floor lamp and dresser pulls were instantly transformed. Now they look like new and I saved a lot of money by not having to replace them. And that makes thrifty me very happy!

At my local hardware store, Rustoleum spray primer and enamel each cost around $4 including tax. The coverage is really great and it comes in several different colors and finishes. I prefer enamel gloss but you can also get matte.

Spray painting is easy to do, keeping a couple of simple things in mind. Following are the step by step photos and a breakdown of how much money I saved on each project, totaling over $200.

How to spray paint metal lights, lamps and knobs

  1. Clean the surface by washing with soap and water or by using glass cleaner
  2. Lightly sand to give it some tooth
  3. Either mask off the area (if painting in place) or put the items on top of a large piece of cardboard
  4. Paint outside if possible
  5. Begin spraying before the piece, sweep across it and finish beyond the piece. Try to go at an even speed.
  6. Use spray primer first. Do two coats, letting it dry for a few minutes in between. Follow up with two coats of the spray enamel.
  7. Several light coats are better than one heavy coat

Porch light

Porch light “before” photo

porch light before photo

Porch light before photo

With the outside of the house being recently painted, the old black mailbox and tarnished porch light needed attention. After all, they’re right by the front door, and that’s the first thing visitors see.

I was able to get the mailbox looking pretty good by just cleaning it and switching out the rusty handle. The 15 year old porch light, however, needed more than cleaning.

Porch light taken apart and cleaned

disassembled porch light

Disassembled porch light

I unscrewed the bottom so I could remove the glass inserts and set them aside. The other pieces were placed on cardboard for painting.

Light fixture masked off

porch light taken apart and masked off

Porch light taken apart and masked off

Using painter’s tape, I covered up the light socket. Then I took a large piece of brown packing paper and taped it around the fixture.

Primer coat applied

primer coat on porch light

Primer coat on porch light

The light fixture and these loose pieces got two coats of primer.

Porch light sprayed with gloss enamel

spray painting porch light

Spray painting porch light

Everything was sprayed with two coats of black gloss enamel paint.

Masking paper and tape removed

porch light with two coats of spray paint

Porch light with two coats of spray paint


Porch light “after” photo

porch light after spray painting

Porch light after spray painting

Everything put back together. Looks like new!

Floor lamp

Floor lamp “before” photo

torchiere before photo

Floor lamp ready to spray paint

This torchiere lamp is about 20 years old. The gold finish is tarnished and wearing off.

Here the shade was removed prior to being spray painted. I also masked off part of the cord.

Once again, two coats of primer and two coats of paint.

Floor lamp “after” photo

spray painted floor lamp

Spray painted floor lamp

All shiny and new. Maybe it will last another 20 years!

Furniture pulls and knobs

Dresser pulls “before” photo

old brass furniture pulls

Old brass furniture pulls

These brass dresser pulls are nearly 50 years old. They were really gunky and gross. This is what they looked like after being cleaned. I wanted to give them a more modern look by painting them shiny black.

Dresser knobs “before” photo

brass furniture knobs

Brass furniture knobs

The dresser also had knobs.

In this picture you can see that the knobs are screwed onto cardboard for painting. Once again, these received two coats of primer and paint.

Dresser “after” photo with handles and knobs installed

spray painted dresser pulls and knobs

Spray painted dresser pulls and knobs on newly painted dresser

The directions on the can of spray gloss say that you can apply a sealer on top. I called Rustoleum to find out if that was necessary. Since handles get a lot of “handling,” I didn’t want black paint rubbing off. They told me that was an optional step so I skipped it. After several months of use, I’m happy to report that there is definitely no paint transfer. I’m very pleased with the durability as well as the look.

The dresser also had a matching chest of drawers. Altogether there were 21 pulls and 24 knobs.

Breakdown of savings

Total savings: $270.50

Based on the prices in effect today, I would have paid:

$24.00 porch light
$78.00 floor lamp
$153.50 furniture handles and knobs (45 pieces)

$255.50 subtotal
+$23.00 tax

$278.50 total
-$8.00 primer and spray paint

$270.50 grand total

Now that’s a pretty good return on investment!

Whimsical painted furniture ideas, painting DIY

Photo of black and hot pink polka dot cabinet © 2014 by Lynda Makara

Photo of black and hot pink polka dot cabinet © 2014 by Lynda Makara

When I inherited my mom’s wood furniture, most of it had already been around for a good 50 years. I was grateful to get it, but also tired of looking at it. So I decided it was going to get a fresh whimsical look with paint.

Many people are reluctant to paint wood furniture, but it makes such a dramatic difference for a small investment of time and money. By creating fun designs on furniture, you can break out of the beige box and your give your home a unique personality.

This furniture painting tutorial provides the basic instructions along with a gallery of photos to inspire your own whimsical designs.

The basics of furniture painting

A good video demo.

Step by step instructions for preparing and painting wood furniture

  1. Remove all the hardware and clean it. You may also wish to prime and paint it using Krylon spray paint.
  2. Clean the piece thoroughly. I recommend washing with Murphy’s Oil Soap. If you intend to sand all the old finish off, you can skip this step.
  3. Lightly sand the furniture with fine grit sandpaper. Wipe down after with a tack cloth.
  4. Apply a coat of primer. I recommend Kilz brand if not using spray primer.
  5. Apply at least two coats of paint. You can use Krylon spray paint, latex paint or acrylic craft paint in semigloss or gloss. Use a small foam roller (if you’re not using spray paint) for faster painting. You’ll also need a small brush for tight areas.Let dry completely in between coats. Lightly sand before the next coat.
  6. Add your decorative paint designs. Go crazy!
  7. Apply a coat of sealer (optional). This will make the surface more durable.
  8. Put the hardware back on.

Tools for painting furniture

roller and brush for painting furniture

Roller and brush for painting furnitur

My funky furniture transformations

Before photo: Microwave stand/cabinet

before photo: cabinet

Before photo: cabinet

I thought I had a better photo of this without a chair being in the way, but I think you can still see most of it.

I never liked this setup with the microwave stuck in a corner of the kitchen. After my mom died, I relocated it to the countertop and debated whether or not to chuck the cabinet. It was one of the few pieces that was not solid wood, just particleboard. So I banished it to the garage for a while.

Later I decided it could be salvaged after all.

After photo: Black cabinet with hot pink polka dots

Photo of black and hot pink polka dot cabinet © 2014 by Lynda Makara

After photo: black cabinet with hot pink polka dots by Lynda Makara

By far my favorite furniture transformation! This cabinet now has a proud place in my living room. The colors coordinate with my furniture, a hot pink sofa and black club chairs.

I also modified the design of the doors. I took off the old cabinet pulls and added that round piece of wood in the center, a craft store wood plaque cut in half with my jigsaw. Then I glued and screwed it onto the doors, covering up the two holes left by the old cabinet pulls.

I had two crystal knobs left over from making curtain rods and finials, and they were added to the doors. Now I love it!

Glitter anyone? Yes, please! A closeup of the cabinet detail.

crystal knobs and glitter on cabinet

Crystal knobs and glitter on cabinet

The outer edge of the wood circle is painted silver then layered with silver glitter. A fun accent for the crystal and silver cabinet knobs.

The wavy stripes were penciled in, then painted.

Before photo: Chest of drawers

before photo: chest of drawers

Before photo: chest of drawers

I liked the size and relatively simple design of the chest, but it was just blah (and in desperate need of cleaning!).

After photo: Chest of drawers painted white and black with polka dots

after photo: black and white polka dot chest of drawers

After photo: black and white polka dot chest of drawers by Lynda Makara

This one shows a bit of restraint for me, but it still pops. I decided to accent the top and bottom trim, along with the knobs, by painting them black. Then I simply added white polka dots here and there. It sits in my craft room, along with the cabinet pictured below.

Before photo: cabinet with shelf

before photo: cabinet

Before photo: cabinet

Another uninspiring piece. It had been used to hold a large stereo with enormous speakers, along with other assorted junk.

After photo: Cabinet with black and white swirls and dots

after photo: funky black and white cabinet

After photo: funky black and white cabinet by Lynda Makara

This cabinet has been turned into a table for my craft room by using it with a file cabinet and a piece of wood laid on top. It now holds my printer, Betty Boop doll and trash can, with storage below.

Gallery of whimsical painted furniture

Funky painted bench

funky painted bench

Funky painted bench by Lynda Makara

This was just a plain wooden bench I got at Walmart. I added all the little triangles, finials and doodads such as wooden beads and ceramic animal heads. Then I painted it a bunch of different fun designs.

Note: If you’re painting outdoor furniture, make sure to use outdoor paint.

Really clever dresser makeover with paint and decoupaged Marilyn Monroe poster, a video tutorial

Side table

painted table by patti haskins on flickr

Sunflower painted chair

colorful painted chair by donna reed on flickr

Red stool with purple motif

Colorful red and aqua bench

custommade bench by sarabbit on flickr

custommade bench by Sarabbit, on Flickr

Glitzy makeover of old dresser with white paint and silver glitter—LOVE!

Whimsical chair

an artful chair by marilyn roxie on flickr

Revamping a girl’s dresser. Repairing, painting and decoupaging tips.

Rustic cabinet

Rustic commode by Meg Lessard, on Flickr

Fun parrot chair

Parrotdise by grahamc99, on Flickr

Small funky painted table. Furniture painting motifs.

Swirling vines painted chest

Treasure Chest - Nadeau by Seth Anderson, on Flickr

Abstract blue and yellow table

Painted chairs galore. Photo gallery of funky painted chairs.

Funky furniture design tutorials

Projects and inspiration

Painting Furniture (anyone can do it!)
Lots of furniture makeovers including this turquoise dresser with asymmetrical flower motif

Gallery of whimsical end tables
Inspiration and tutorials from the Decorative Paintbrush

Painted Ikea Furniture
A boring Ikea cabinet transformed

Furniture painting shortcuts
Purple fantasy dresser tutorial and no sanding involved!

How to paint whimsical furniture
Dresser with handpainted flowers by Shizzle Designs

Recommended reading

Furniture Makeovers: Simple Techniques for Transforming Furniture with Paint, Stains, Paper, Stencils, and More

Painted Chairs: 25 Fresh and Fun Projects “Print on Demand Edition” (Pastimes)

Painting and Decorating Furniture

Fabulous Painted Furniture

How to clean and restore old grimy wood furniture

restored antique desk

Do you have some old wood furniture that needs a little sprucing up? Through the years it’s probably collected layers of grime and some scratches. Well you can bring it back to life without the hassle of stripping off the old finish and staining the piece.

I recently inherited this antique wood desk that was handed down from my grandmother. To say that it was neglected was an understatement. It was grimy and scratched but otherwise sound. I’ll show you step by step the process I used to clean and restore it using a product called Howard Restor-A-Finish. It was easy to do and I think it came out looking great as you can see in this photo.

Why I chose Howard Restor-A-Finish

No stripping involved!

howard restor-a-finishWho wants to strip furniture? Not me! I wanted to get this project done as quickly as possible and get a fantastic result.

It really does make old wood furniture (also cabinets, doors and moldings) look like new. After some preparation, you just apply it in the direction of the wood grain and wipe off the excess.

Be sure to wear rubber gloves and work in a well-ventilated area. You can store the rag and the gloves in a plastic bag to be used again.

Comes in nine different colors including neutral

The directions say to try and match the color to your wood furniture. It’s not going to matter that much because the color is very sheer. I actually got a shade darker because I wanted to change the color of my antique desk. It did end up slightly darker, but not nearly as dark as I had hoped. The product only promises to restore faded wood finishes. So if you’re thinking of changing the color, you’ll need to use an actual stain.

Removes white heat rings and blends out scratches

Fortunately, I didn’t have any white heat rings but there were several scratches, many of them rather deep. I would say the scratches were blended in, not really blended out. By that I mean they were camouflaged by the color in the product. It can’t actually fill in scratches, but it does make them much less noticeable. I’m pleased with the results I got.

Here is the before shot of my antique desk

This antique desk was dirty, grimy and really scratched

old desk before restoration

To really clean this desk I had to take some of it apart

While cleaning the desk I found some “treasure”

something hiding in old desk

The center section was really dirty and I couldn’t get all the way in there to clean it out. I was trying to figure out how to remove that piece when I saw some papers jammed into the crack.

What could it be? A long lost letter? Some forgotten piece of family history? I was excited to find out!

A look at the treasure uncovered

Just an index card and a book of 5 cent stamps

items found hidden in desk

How disappointing! Oh well, at least it gives me an idea of the age of this antique desk. The book of stamps was dated 1963 so the desk is at least that old. I think it’s probably quite a bit older though.

More views of the old wood desk before restoration

Washing the antique desk with Murphy’s Oil Soap

murphy's oil soap

I took the center section out after removing the back. Both pieces were loose and I just pulled out the remaining staples. Then I dusted the desk and washed it with Murphy’s Oil Soap, warm water and a soft rag.

After that, I let it dry for a few hours.

Lightly sanding the desk

An optional extra step

I decided to take an extra step and lightly sand the piece with fine sandpaper. This was done to remove wax buildup and grime, as well as to smooth out the numerous scratches.

After sanding, I washed the desk again with Murphy’s Oil Soap and let dry overnight. You can skip the sanding and second washing and go straight to using the Restor-A-Finish.

Following the directions, apply Howard Restor-A-Finish with a soft rag or fine steel wool

Using steel wool will help smooth out scratches

wiping on howard's restor-a-finish

You get instant gratification once you start applying the product. Do one small section at a time and wipe with a clean, soft rag.

Make sure to use rubber gloves and work in a well-ventilated area. I brought the desk into the garage for this step.

When finished wait at least 30 minutes before going on to the final step. I let the desk sit overnight.

Protect your newly restored wood furniture with Howard Feed-N-Wax

Penetrates and prevents the wood from drying out

apply feed-n-wax to restored wood furnitureThe final step after restoration is to apply Howard Feed-N-Wax which contains beeswax, carnuba wax and orange oil. Wipe it on with a small cloth. Let set for at least 20 minutes, then polish with a clean cloth.

Your old wood furniture will glow with a satiny sheen.

Directions say to use it two or three times a year to maintain the luster of your wood furniture.

See how the scratches look after restoration

Deep scratches are minimized now

scratches minimized on restored desk Another look at the restored wood desk

restored wood desk

Here you can see my antique wood desk after restoration.

Notice how I painted the wood panel behind the slots with one of my favorite colors. (It almost matches the wall color.) I did that because it was such a dark hole I couldn’t see what was down in there.

The center section and back panel were reattached using a staple gun.

A remarkable transformation!