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some things look better painted black

The evidence:


Don’t let the shabby-chic charm of this piece fool you.  In real life it was crusty, stained, and icky grody. And globbed with too many layers of paint.  And it didn’t stand out on my practically-white wall (don’t get me started on the paint the builders picked for this house).


Yes, it needs a few more tchatchkes with color and height to dress it up, but now this is the perfect piece on which to perch them (hm, maybe a trip to the flea market is in order. Or Homegoods.): 


It still has charm with nicks and dings and some of the woodworking details still visible.  And I love those antique roller-feet (I’m not sure that’s the technically-correct term).  But no more grody stains or lumps and bumps of paint.

Notice the tag on my lamp.  You must think it’s a new lamp.  It is not.  In fact, it’s probably at least three years old.  I have a tag issue at my house.  That’s for a later post.

Before Icky Grody Handles:

After Clean, Simple Handles purchased at Target ($16 for 6):

This could have easily been a weekend project.  Of course, it wasn’t because I can’t seem to see a project from start to finish without lots of week-long recesses in between.  But it’s finally done.  And I’m really happy with it.

Some tips:

  • I used a paint stripper, but eventually switched to sanding it with a circular sander, which was easier.
  • I sanded with three different grits – ending with super fine. Take the time to at least finish off with a super-fine grit. The paint will coat more smoothly and the resulting finish is better.
  • Since I didn’t know when it had been painted last, I was concerned about lead paint. I was careful to wear a mask at all times and change completely out of my clothes immediately upon returning indoors.
  • I used flat black paint at first, then decided to switch to satin. Don’t try to switch paints without making sure the first layer is completely cured. It was an aweful mess and I had to sand it again before applying a new coat of paint. In fact, just use satin to begin with.
  • In order to get a consistent finish, I used several light layers.  I swept from side to side past the edges of the piece, so that paint didn’t coagulate at the far left and right.
  • Don’t cheap out. Spring for the Krylon at 3 or 4 bucks a can. I’ve used cheap stuff in the past and it doesn’t coat well. I used Krylon this time.

Seriously, depending on your particular aesthetic, you might find your things suddenly seem to make sense if you paint them black.  I wish I had before and after pictures of my friend Melissa’s house.  A lot of her stuff felt mismatched and dated.  In particular, she complained about the 14 year-old brass mirror that was hanging over her mantle.  “Paint it black,” I told her.  Her eyes lit up.  I told her if her stuff seemed dated, it was worth a coat of paint before she went out and bought a bunch of new stuff.  She took me VERY seriously. When I arrived at her house a week later, everything but the kids were painted black.  The little white baskets on her counter, the ivory lamp and silver mirror  in the foyer, the multi-colored frames on her built-ins — she painted a slew of her things black.  And her stuff suddenly made sense together. I really, really wish I had before pictures.

I have a couple of other things I’d like to paint black.  If the experiment goes well, you’ll see it here.  If you don’t see it here, then a) the experiment did NOT go well or b) I am taking forever per usual. 

Lucy S. R. Austen - I am feeling smothered and cluttered and mismatched at my house at the moment. One of the things I’m working on is switching to all black picture frames in the library/office/computer room, but it had never occured to me to paint the existing ones–or the furniture. Thanks for the tip!

Phillip - Impressive!

4 little men & twins - Oh…. I love it! We painted an old kitchen table black and LOVE it.
oh, i think i found your blog through Andrea.

vanessa - I love the black! I’ve done a dresser before and it took me months and finally finished it in a weekend when Hubby threaten to throw it away! I would have my whole house with black furniture but with all the moving nothing would look to good with all the scratchs the movers seem to make.

Mee Crafty - That looks absolutely fabulous.
I love old furniture and that piece has alot of charm.
Great work.

Lacey - I agree I love black furniture, but for some reason woods go good with my living room. I have throughly enjoyed using up all your old spray paint. As a matter of fact, I usually run out and have to by more. I used all of that fushia color you used on E’s little rocker so long ago. I painted an old chest that said Foot Joy. Geoff got it for free at the golf store. Now it is perfect for holding all the blankets that accumulate in the living room. Enjoy your re-designing!

Andrea - Crystal… you are good, girl! Very good! What a great job you did on that dresser!
I especially love the class the handles bring.
Black paint… I’ll have to remember that. :)

Brianna Dupuy - Crystal……what an amazing job you did on that dresser. I am coming to see that your talents just seem endless! Terrific writer, great sewer..wonderful photographer.. excellent cook….awesome friend…. amazing mom…nifty at crochet….. geez I am jealous ha ha :) Anyway when you painted the used like a can of paint with a brush right? And do you also use spray paint? Seriously I love your blog… I hope you keep it going. On another note my friend Tara is battling cancer, and she is a wonderful person. In fact you can read her story password: HealedbyHisStripes Today between 11:00 and 1:00 pm they have asked for prayers to God for healing of the sick…if you get a chance please say a prayer for her. She is a wonderful person. If you get a chance read her story on carepages. Have a good day! :)

Michelle - That chest looks very nice. I am just finishing my own paint-it-black epiphany. We were given some secondhand bedroom furniture…dressers, mirrors, bedstands. They were a white, chipped wicker type style. They look 10,000 times better black. Of course, in my house, the black will make the dust easier to see. Can’t win them all :)

LeeAnn - You did a fabulous job – just wanted to tell you that I think it’s beautiful!

LeeAnn - What a fabulous job you did!! it lookks beautiful.

Susan Graham - Thanks for sharing this useful information with all of us.Keep sharing more in the future.Have a nice time ahead.