before and after

before & after: colorful paint jobs

by Kate Pruitt

Color, color — I need you in my life right now! I’m a neutrals kind of gal, and a fickle one at that, so it’s difficult for me to pull the trigger on anything large and bright because I almost immediately end up hating it. I wish I could show you pictures of my recently aborted Miami Vice-inspired salmon and aqua door project . . . yikes. I keep seeing great uses of color from you readers, though, and it’s inspiring me to take the plunge.

This morning we have two awesome colorful paint jobs: this kitchen organizer made from old shuttered doors by Jamie, and a lovely nursery room dresser in subtle pinks and peaches from Jen (after the jump). Both projects make great use of just a pop of color over a mostly untouched piece, which might be my new favorite way to go. I know many of you are against painting hardwood, but personally, I think the addition of a color can sometimes emphasize the wood’s beauty and make it stand out more in contrast. That’s definitely the case with Jen’s dresser. Great work, Jamie and Jen! — Kate

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See more of Jamie’s organizer and Jen’s dresser transformation after the jump . . .

Time: 4 hours

Cost: $30

Basic Steps: I spray painted the door white with Rustoleum paint and primer in one. Then I used painter’s tape to tape off the diagonal line and spray painted the top portion of the door in Sun Yellow gloss by Rustoleum. I straightened the diagonal line with a white painter’s pen and a small paint brush. I applied my command clear hook, wire baskets, and over-the-door hooks to the door, and organized my kitchen supplies to fit my needs.

Take your time organizing the door to fit your needs. What do you use most? What takes up space in your cabinets that can be hung? Command clear utensil hooks are awesome because the hook is very thin and will fit on almost any kitchen utensil. They also won’t peel your paint off if you decide later that you want to move them around. Command also makes clear caddies that are super handy for spices, clothespins, or seasoning packets. — Jamie

Time: 10 hours (including drying time)

Cost: $100 (includes dresser and supplies)

Basic Steps: I did this dresser for a friend; she’s putting it in her baby girl’s bedroom and hoping she can keep it until she’s all grown up. The oak on this dresser was just so beautiful, I had to change my plan to paint the whole piece. I sanded the top with an orbital sander, but I sanded the sides by hand so that I could ensure a super smooth finish with no scratch marks from my slightly low-budget sander!

Putting in the extra time and effort with sanding made the rest really easy. I also sanded the drawers by hand, but I could have done them with the sander. Then I carefully taped the edges of all the surfaces that were going to be painted — this was particularly important for where the top meets the front of the dresser. I primed all the surfaces that were going to be painted, then painted two coats on each of them (with a night to dry in between the first two). I like giving them a very light sanding between coats to take off any grit. I used Briwax on the sides and other wood surfaces — super easy to brush on with steel wool then buff off a bit later. Lastly, it was time for the ceramic knobs (that I got in India for super cheap!). — Jen

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  • Though the pinks are lovely shades, if she wanted this to be a piece her daughter would keep for a long time then painting it ensures she’ll get tired of it. Wood is classic and beautiful (especially this wonderful oak piece)…

    • erin

      as the owner of the same painted red shelf since high school, i can tell you that not all kids tired of something if it’s painted ;)


  • The second one looked better before. It was so beautiful! Just needed some care and attention.

  • I absolutely love the dresser. Painting it in the way this was done, gave an out dated looking, oak dresser, new life. I love the combination of the classic shape of the k with modern painting and choice of colors. And, the knobs are gorgeous! Well done!

  • The dresser is amazing! And the kitchen organizer! Wow! I agree that not all painted items get boring, also when I see painted wood it helps me take the leap to paint over it, while bare wood always scares me a little even when it’s not in good condition.

  • …or her daughter can add her own creative touches/change the colors as she grows up. It is a piece that will grow with her.

  • WOW! This piece looks amazing. I love the shades of pink and to me they give it a classic + timeless feel while still maintaining the beautiful rich wood tones on the majority of the dresser. The knobs are that extra special touch. LOVE IT!

  • I also have a dresser that has been the same orange and blue from middle school (or earlier) that I’ve carried to three different places and never want it to ever change colors again.

  • The dresser and it’s original hardware were absolutely adorable. It just needed some TLC. Although the new palette is whimsical and fun I am sad to see pieces like this painted.

  • Sweet dresser. I’ve been looking for drawer pulls just like the original ones for a piece I’m restoring. Any chance you’d like to see them have a second life with me?

  • As an owner of a wooden dresser (and a zillion other wooden pieces of furniture) it’s really great to get inspiration for a subtle makeover. Because you know the best part about painted wood…if anyone gets tire of it…sand it and you’re back to square one. Not a permanent deal! The beauty of wood? More like the beauty of creativity. :-)

  • I really love that shutter! Such a great idea to do a pop of color at the top! I would’ve painted the whole thing yellow, and it would’ve been all wrong.

  • um, what did you do with the original hardware?? (don’t get me wrong, with the update, you made the right decision to add the ceramic) But that original…can i buy it off you?? srsly. email me via my website.

  • I liked the before much better, and no I’m not one of the “Never Paint Wood” club.

  • Oy. To me, painting that dresser is a crime! That was one of the most beautiful oak dressers I’ve seen, and now its kind of awkward. And I hate the knobs.

  • So good to read all the feedback – I had a feeling it might cause a stir, painting over some of the lovely oak. I painted over the parts that were most damaged and kept the gorgeous sides clean and woody :) I’m super happy with the result, and so is the friend I did it for.
    Kiki – I gave the hardware to my friend with the dresser, they weren’t the originals, and from close were quite grotty. If you’re still keen to buy them let me know – but might not be worth sending them from New Zealand.

  • Jen you did a beautiful job on this dresser – yes the original was gorgeous but now it’s much more personal and a real point of interest in Florence’s room. I’ve left the original knobs on for now as I really like them but will change them out if I find the perfect match for a good price. The oak left on the sides is really lovely and I’m glad you protected it. Customised furniture is so much better than always keeping something damaged and old just for the sake of it! I wish I’d had a special piece like this when I was a little girl and hopefully my little one feels the same way one day x

  • The tired old pantry doors have seen their updated, quick and easy no waste of money refreshment. What a conversation piece! And – the spice rack occupied by the Taco Bell taco spice? A touching real world addition to any sort of design snob-ery. Citchey lovely!

  • I’m a little torn on the dresser, but only because I really enjoyed the oak dynamic from the start. Still, I think the finished product looks great, even if I’m not sure how much (if at all) of an improvement it is on the stoic simplicity of the original. My favorite is the shuttered door – what an incredibly quick and easy fix that completely jazzes up the door! Very well done :)

  • The great thing about wood is (with a little work) you can get it back to it’s original form whenever you want! I am proud of Jen for making it her own and enjoying the piece of furniture!

  • Once again, very good but I prefer transparent paint for the drawers. but other that it was a good direction. Yeah not a fan of the door with the triangular yellow splash, but it could have worked if there was a bit more color or done a bit more pro.

  • omg that dresser had the most beautiful grain ! It is a shame you ruined it … very sad Not what I would of done at all !!!

  • I can’t believe someone would paint a beautiful piece like that !!!!! What a shame.

  • Love what you did! But wondering what kind of paint and did you spray it on or hand paint it? I am looking for a good little paint sprayer and need some suggestions please!
    Thanks and it looks awesome!

  • Thank goodness we can all appreciate different “flavors” of decorating!!! It is NEVER a shame to paint something if you appreciate the end result yourself!!!!!!!!!! Some pieces I paint and some I don’t….just depends on the feel I am going for. I think paint can make things really fun and take down the “stuffy” factor a bit.
    GREAT!!!! DRESSER!!! especially if YOU and ONLY YOU!!! love it!!!

  • You should never paint a great piece of furniture with a good qaulity wood like oak. Find some cheap pine to paint.