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To Paint or Not to Paint That is the Question

Are you looking at a well-loved piece of furniture in your home, staring at your dark stained cabinets with disdain, or considering tackling a new flea market project?

It comes to mind at times like this: To paint or not to paint? That is the question.

Before and After Paint Project Ideas

Let’s think about some reasons you may want to paint a piece of furniture or cabinetry:

  1. Change the color
  2. Repair the finish
  3. Create a whole new look

You could be considering painting something you currently own, a consignment piece under consideration, or a flea market find. Paint can be transformative and breathe new life into anything!

My Paint Passion

Over the past year, I’ve tackled a lot of cabinet and furniture painting! After working for Valspar for 5 years, I learned a lot about paint and painting in general.

It included learning how to make paint and gaining The Master Painters Institute – Architectural Coating Technologist Certification. Here’s the proof 🙂 Gotta love rocking the glasses with the eye protection. Sexy…

Porch Daydreamer Making Paint

When I say I know something about how to paint really anything, I hope you believe me.  My passion runs deep.

Before and After Paint Projects

Below are 7 examples of recent paint projects in my home and that isn’t everything! The before and after pictures tell quite a story and I’ll link the associated posts, if you’d like the details.

There is a pervasive theme  – I started to loathe anything dark in my home!

Dark stains were popular 10 years ago and now color is king, so I decided to bring color into various rooms of my home.

Guest Bedroom Makeover (CLICK HERE)

Painted Bombay Chest Before and After_Porch Daydreamer

Taking the Man Out of the Man Cave (CLICK HERE)

Painted Table and Chairs Before and After_Porch Daydreamer

Master Bathroom Update (CLICK HERE)
Painted Cabinets Before and After_Porch Daydreamer

Master Bedroom Furniture Makeover (CLICK HERE)

Painted Armoire Before and After_Porch DaydreamerNightstands Painted Before and After_Porch Daydreamer

Foyer Update (CLICK HERE)

Painted Hall Table Before and After_Porch Daydreamer

Office Update (CLICK HERE)Painted Office Cabinets Before and After_Porch Daydreamer

Most projects were simple updates, but my office looks like you aren’t in the same home! That was a massive makeover and painting the cabinets changed everything.

When to Paint Cabinets and Furniture

  • You can’t afford to replace it, but want a change
  • The look you want can’t be bought
  • Add light or color to an area
  • Create visual interest
  • Embrace a new home decor trend
  • Highlight carved details
  • Update an outdated piece

The master bathroom project started because I love the new soft gold cabinet hardware trend and that didn’t look good with dark espresso.

The office was dark and felt closed in, so lighter paint and walls opened up the space. Choosing navy for the lower cabinets expressed a new trend.

Going from black to a mix of white and driftwood in the man cave created a look I couldn’t buy. The dark brown hall table in the foyer was well – boring. Painting it a new color created visual interest.

Leftover paint from my master bathroom cabinet makeover transformed an outdated Bombay chest.

My “divorce” master bedroom furniture was bringing me down and paint highlighted the carved detail, lightened the room, and made me happy since I couldn’t afford to replace it!

When to replace

  • You want a new look that can’t be achieved with paint
  • Your budget allows for a new purchase
  • The piece is beyond repair
  • An item is associated with a negative time in your life

As my budget allowed, I also replaced items as part of my makeovers. I LOVE the look of upholstered headboards and the comfort too. In both the guest and master bedroom, I donated and consigned the headboards instead of painting them.

The dark walnut media wall in my son’s man cave was replaced with a bright white media wall because the original was cheap and falling apart. Plus it was associated with a negative time, so BYE! Off it went.

When not to paint

  • It’s a family heirloom
  • An antique with value that would be lost by painting
  • Stain brings a rich warmth to your home decor
  • You love the beauty of stained wood more than a painted finish

Not everyone wants a painted finish and there are gorgeous pieces of furniture that it would feel like a sin to paint.

In my home, there are pieces I love stained and the warmth they bring to the room.

anksgiving Sideboard-Wheat on Lamps-Last Minute-Porch Daydreamer-Wheat

Personal Preference

To paint or not to paint is really about personal preference. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. My best advice before you cover over a stain with paint is to prime first!

My favorite primer is Valspar’s Bonding Primer (Amazon affiliate link) that sticks to just about everything. It was used on every project featured.

Create the look you love and can LIVE with for years to come. A painted or stained finish is all beautiful in my eyes 🙂 What is beautiful in yours?

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. You say not to paint a family heirloom. What do you do if it just doesn’t match in the room? My sister has our grandmother’s sideboard. It fits perfectly in her dining room but doesn’t match the other furniture pieces, the wall color, rug etc. Do you stain it a different color?

  2. I am about to do my first chalk paint project. It is a two door rolling cabinet/bar.
    So, I know nothing!! Do I Killz it first? Then paint? What type brush? In on of your pictures, your brush looks round, like a stencil brush. Any advice will help! The cabinet is shiny mahogany wood/ laminate, I’m not sure.

    1. Ruthie,

      First, good! I’m glad you are going to try chalk paint. I’ve covered this subject in two posts. Please read this post FIRST https://porchdaydreamer.com/stop-chalk-paint-bleed-through/ and read this post SECOND (which is linked in the other post as well) https://porchdaydreamer.com/chalk-paint-stained-furniture/. ALL of my best advice, products I recommend, the brush I used, and how I applied are in those two articles. Hope they help! Follow my advice and test a couple of areas first with chalk paint to see if you get any bleed through and then if you do prime with Valspar Bonding Primer, which you can buy at Lowe’s.

      Best regards,

  3. The spray painted white armoire is gorgeous. All of you work is beautiful, I did my first chalk paint the other day. It’s fun.

  4. Tracey – what is a good “white” or light color to use for painting a dark dresser? and do you have suggestions on replacing pulls on the dresser?? would love your suggestions!!

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