Helpful Tips

Best Colors to Paint Furniture: Giving Your Furniture a Makeover

Paint brush

Painting your furniture is one easy and affordable way to totally give your home a whole new look and for the fraction of what it would cost to replace the furniture with a new piece.

If you’re searching for resources online to learn about the best colors to paint furniture then your search is over. Many people will spend countless hours searching Craigslist or flea markets, yard sales, and thrift stores in search of pieces of furniture that are unique and in need of a makeover. These affordable pieces can be made into something unique with the right techniques and of course the perfect color. Just a coat of paint can magically transform even the most ordinary piece of furniture into something special. But picking the right color is a lot harder than some people think.

The best colors to paint furniture will ultimately depend on a few factors including the size, style, and type of furniture. For smaller pieces, bolder colors are a great option, while larger pieces should be painted muted colors. If you have a piece that’s more masculine, meaning all straight lines, then painting it a muted, neutral color such as beige or white, is a great option. Feminine pieces have molding, carved designs, and curves and can be painted pastels, milk paints, and muted colors. Many pros recommend leaving a portion of the wood exposed and staining it. This will help to anchor down the painted portion of the furniture while giving the entire piece a unique look.

While choosing the right color for your furniture can seem like a challenge in the beginning, once you have it down, you’ll find that painting your furniture can be a great and affordable way to give your home an entire makeover, for a fraction of the cost of what you’d have to pay if you purchased all new furnishings.

Choosing the Perfect Color

There are several shades of chalk paint, fusion mineral paint, and milk paint available, all of which can give your furniture that unique special look that you’re striving for.

Painting a new piece is considered one of the most crucial steps in the makeover process. If you choose the wrong color you may end up back at square one, but if you select the right color scheme you can really make an old piece of furniture shine.

There are a few questions that you should ask yourself when choosing a color for your next furniture project. These questions will help you choose the right color scheme with confidence.

Piece Size

Essentially, bold colors are better suited for smaller pieces. The smaller the furniture is the bolder the color it can easily handle.

Larger pieces actually look better in neutral colors such as grays, blacks, and whites. These muted colors will really make a large piece of furniture shine. However, there are always exceptions to the rule.


Close up view

The style of the piece of furniture in mind is also important to consider before you choose a color. Does the piece have any sharp angles or straight lines? Is it more of a masculine piece? Does it have some feminine touches such as molding, curves, or carved wood? Typically pastels and milk paints are often a better choice for feminine style furniture such as an antique chest of drawers that’s all about molding, curves, and carved trims. Simple, older dressers that are all straight lines are best suited for plain colors such as white or beige. These masculine colors will make the straight angles pop.

Typically, fun colors such as milk paints and pastels should be reserved for embellished pieces of furniture only.

Wood Tone

Many people who are familiar with repainting furniture will often consider whether or not they’re able to keep the wood tone as opposed to painting over the piece. When you’re picking a color scheme this is one of the biggest stylistic questions to ask yourself. Do you plan on staining some of the wood, leaving some of the wood exposed, or do you want to paint the entire piece?

Most woodworkers recommend leaving some stained wood on any piece that you makeover. However, if the wood isn’t in the best condition and there’s no hope of salvaging it then painting over the entire piece is your best bet. If you leave the stained wood, whether it’s the drawers or a stained top, it essentially anchors the color scheme of the piece. It also offers a type of traditional backdrop for the new design, which can balance out a more non-traditional colorful element that you want to add.

Find the Perfect Match

Leaving some of the wood exposed is really your best shot at incorporating a brighter color scheme successfully. But, if you’re forced to paint the entire piece go with a neutral muted color scheme.

Once you become more relaxed and accustomed to painting different pieces you can try experimenting with your color schemes and push the boundaries to try out bolder colors. But in the meantime, if it’s a piece you plan on selling or you want a look that will easily blend in with the rest of your decor, then opt for these neutral colors.

Refinishing Tips

Before you can get started painting, make sure you use the best palm sander to remove any existing paint or finish. This will allow the new stain or color to meld with the surface of the wood, for a clean, smooth look. If you don’t have a palm sander, then I recommend the BLACK+DECKER Random Orbit Sander. If you’d like to learn more about how to bring back old pieces of furniture, click here to read my article on reclaimed wood finishing techniques.

Once you’ve refinished the wood, you’re then ready to stain any exposed portion of the piece, then paint the remaining areas in the color of your choice. Additionally, there are a wide variety of stains to choose from, but I recommend sticking with a color that’s very close to its original stain. This will give your furniture a unique look that will make it really stand out in your home.

Final Thoughts

Painting an old piece of furniture is a great and fun way to give your home a makeover. It’s also a more affordable option than buying all new furniture. If you’re not sure which colors will look right in your home, feel free to check online and visit forums and websites that are dedicated to repainting old pieces of furniture. These sites will give you plenty of ideas that you can try out on your next piece.

Finding the best colors to paint furniture can be challenging, but by following the tips I’ve included here, you can easily play it safe and give an old piece of unused furniture a total makeover and breathe life back into some of your favorite pieces. Remember, for smaller pieces, you can feel free to use bolder colors. But for larger pieces, you’ll want to use milk paints, neutral colors, and pastels. Feminine pieces of furniture, such as those with embellishments, curves, and molding, can be painted pastel colors, while masculine pieces that are all straight lines should be painted neutral colors. With any luck, over time you should have no problem easily choosing the right color for any piece.