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How-to Test a Paint Color Before Painting Furniture

Have you found that perfect furniture piece at a flea market or consignment shop and want to paint it? Want to know how to pick the right color, before committing to painting the furniture?

If you recently read my post about not having to sand before painting furniture, you may now be interested in painting some furniture! Are you feeling nervous about picking the right paint color?

Painting furniture is a bigger commitment than painting a wall. Here is an easy and inexpensive way to test the paint color, before you actually paint furniture!

See how I’ve used this color sample process in my home, to decide if the paint color I saw on Instagram will work for my large entertainment center.

Choosing a Paint Color

Luckily, I’ve written an entire post on how to go about choosing a paint color. If you feel lost on that front, start there and then come back to this post! 

As I was surfing Instagram, I landed on the most amazing picture of a nursery room wall in a color I had to have!

Have you had that happen? I think we all have fallen victim to seeing a color on Instagram or Pinterest and want it in our homes. 

Finding out when it’s too late, that the paint color doesn’t work in YOUR home.

Family Room Porch Daydreamer

Post contains hand selected products, with affiliate marketing links throughout {full disclosure here} 

See this soft pretty view of the family room in my home? Well you aren’t seeing the massive entertainment center because I typically avoid it in pictures!

Shop the Look

This furniture was purchased years ago and recovered, so I’ve linked similar items to try!

It’s literally the last dark stained item on my lower level open concept home. The armoire / entertainment center has been the perfect solution to hold our large TV, speakers and components.


When I tidy up for company, I close the doors for a neat clean look – no TV in sight! BUT, see how it looks so dark compared to the rest of the room?

Now it’s time for a paint facelift (I think).

Choosing a Paint Color for a Large Piece of Furniture

Painting a larger piece of furniture becomes more critical because it takes more visual space in the room! Plus the color of the piece will shift the other colors in the room.

When you get it right, it’s amazing! See how I transformed a piece in my dining room and painted the furniture in my bedroom and it now MAKES the room.

Also, painting a large piece takes a lot more time. You don’t want to regret your color decision because repainting can be a major pain!

What to do? Try out a sample first! Yes, I am sure you’ve heard about this before but have you done it for furniture? I never have 😉


In the past, I took about 3 chip samples and taped them on to see how it looks. That is not the most effective option, but I’ve gotten lucky!

Testing Shark Fin Paint Color

How-to Try Out a Paint Color Without Painting

Seriously, why I haven’t done this before I’ll never know! Paint samples are AFFORDABLE! Usually $8 or under.

Here is the process I used and I’ll tell you what I thought later!


Truth be told, I only purchased one color to sample because I really thought it was what I wanted. Keep reading to see how this furniture paint sample unfolds:

Materials-need-to-sample-paint-colors-to-test-for-furniture woman-painting-sample-boards-to-try-different-colors

Since my armoire is quite large, I decided to paint 4 each 8 x 10 board samples. It took about 5 minutes and I let them dry OVERNIGHT. 

The samples need to be completely dry, so you don’t transfer any wet paint onto other objects. By the way, I do my BEST work in my slippers 🙂

How-to Test Paint Sample Colors

The paint color I fell in love with is Boothbay Gray from Benjamin Moore. It’s this great color that is a blued gray, with a hint of green.


In a small format, it seemed like I could use it and it would coordinate throughout my lower level. 

Test your color in the following way:

  1. Look at it propped or taped with painter’s tape on the furniture itself
  2. Understand the value (light or dark) by holding it against other paint colors
  3. See what it looks like against white (moulding or white walls)
  4. Try it against key fabrics in the room
  5. Look at it in all environments: daytime (sunny and cloudy) and nighttime (with lights on and off)

Test Against Furniture to be Painted


You can see that this color is light and will be a MAJOR change from the dark stain.

Test Against Other Painted Furniture



I recently painted this foyer console table Valspar Academy Gray 5001-2A. You can see from the online paint sample it’s MUCH darker than it appears in person.

Shop the Look

In general, I’ve found you can’t trust online samples to be color accurate. 

Why I wanted to test Boothbay Gray against Academy Gray is to see if it is lighter or darker (the value) and it is definitely lighter!


Then I moved to see it against the credenza in the dining room. Click here for the full tutorial on how I painted this piece a pretty shade of blue. 

Again, you can see it will be much lighter than both of the painted pieces downstairs in my home. This is giving me some concern.

Test Against White Trim or Walls


Next, I tried it up against a warm white wall with direct light to see how that changes things. It looks REALLY gorgeous against white and I’m considering changing my family room walls to this color.


OK, so onto the really important test. How does it look with the existing fabrics?

Test Against Fabric in the Room Where the Furniture Sits


For this test, I took this picture at night with my iPhone (lamp lights on) to see how it changed the color. While it looks great with paisley fabric, I’m not loving it with the blue Swiss dot fabric. 

I have an entire chair covered in this fabric…


There is too much green in the Boothbay Gray sample. It does “go” with the fabric, but I am concerned with the armoire being so large it will really be obvious how green it looks!

Hmmm, should I paint it white like the cabinet pictured above? I really don’t want to do that.

Try Paint Colors Online in Your Room

Next, I tried an online tool from Benjamin Moore to see some other options, before buying another paint sample. Other than registering, the process to set up an account was easy.

Just upload your own photo and start painting the area that you want to change. They make it straight forward and you can save your pictures.

Here are the options I tried:


In this exercise, you can REALLY see how green Boothbay gray would look in my room. Plus I’ve painted my ceiling a color from Valspar called: Winter in Paris to further complicate matters!

This family room was decorated close to 9 years ago, as I was building this spec home. All of the items were planned together and installed together. I had my current furniture reupholstered to work in unison and chose the paint colors to work with the fabrics.

That is why selecting a color for the armoire / entertainment center is getting to be very complicated! Change one thing and the rest may need to change 🙂

Mama doesn’t have a budget for all of that right now!

What Color Would You Choose?

Based on this process I’ve put this project on pause. Now I am thinking I need to go about this in a different manner. My plan is to recover or buy new furniture overtime. When I do, I’ll find a color that works with that fabric.

That really is the best way to decorate a room – with a plan!


OR I may choose to do white or a gray. We shall see, but the jury is out on this one! What a great exercise for me to go through avoiding a major mistake. I hope it will help you find that perfect color for your furniture piece, before you paint!

Out of the 4 above, what paint color would you choose? Post in the comments below!

As my FREE GIFT to you, with email sign-up a detailed paint sheen project guide! 

You will know the right sheen for every project…


Please consider following me on Pinterest and Instagram for daily inspiration.

Until next time…

Porch Daydreamer


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  1. I am not usually afraid to try, because you can always redo. But I love your house, and I think
    I thing the Overcoat or the Boothbay Grey gives some depth.

  2. I agree with the comment about Overcoat. It’s much less of a contrast than the current wood stain, but it makes a great statement. Jan

  3. I too vote for Overcoat. The piece is large and grounds the room and there needs to be some contrast there instead of more light or pastel tones.

  4. I like Marina Gray the best. I think it looks great with your existing furniture and the other colors in your room.

  5. I like Timber Wolf the best. It is soft and calming but yet makes a statement. The intensity and depth of color is not too light or too dark. . It coordinates w the other pieces in the room nicely (especially the wood furniture)! Good Luck!

  6. I like Overcoat best of the 4 choices. It is darker than the rest so offers a bit of contrast yet doesn’t clash with the ceiling or other colors in your room. I totally get why you want to wait though! You have to love it 😊

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