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  • Writer's pictureThe Rural Legend

Easy Tips for Painting Furniture and my latest furniture flip

antique sewing cabinet refinished with black spray paint.  home office supplies and decor, house plants

black antique dewing cabinet refinished, affordable home styling ideas, plants in baskets

My parents are getting ready for an office makeover of their own and my mom offered me my grandmother's sewing cabinet. At first glance I wasn't sold, but remember how I felt about that antique wood bench I flipped??? I had a hunch this cabinet would look gorgeous with a coat of flat black paint - and the worst case scenario was that if I didn't like it, I could gift it to someone else!

antique brown sewing cabinet

vintage antique brown sewing cabinet

But this little makeover turned out so beautifully that my mom joked that she wants her cabinet back! Sorry, Mom!

home office, feminine styling, farrow and ball dead salmon wall color, gold etageres with affordable office and art supply storage, black vintage sewing cabinet refinished with spray paint, gold hardware, cabinet in front of window

While showing off this beauty is a blog post in and of itself, I want to share my easy tips for how to paint a piece of wood furniture that you don't want to strip (meaning remove the finish and stain).

antique vintage sewing cabinet with brass cabinet pulls

Take note - make sure your furniture is actual wood and not covered in veneer. If you're dealing with veneer, never fear! There's just one extra easy step that can't be missed for a flawless finish!

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First and Foremost - Clean

Your project is not going to be successful if you don't start with clean surfaces. Warm water and mild dish detergent like Dawn are an easy option. I like to use Krud Kutter, which is a degreaser and easily removes everything without harming the wood. Also, remove all hardware to make painting much easier!

Lightly Sand

You don't need any special tools - just sand paper with a low number grit and your hands. This will rough up the surface enough to allow the primer and paint to hold on and will prevent scratches or chipping down the road. Once you're done sanding, wipe all surfaces down with a damp cloth to collect all the dust.


If you are working with a piece of furniture covered in veneer like this hall tree I refinished, you are going to want a good quality primer. I asked the associate at Home Depot what they recommended (that's always the best thing to do!) They recommended PPG Gripper primer. This can be applied with a paint sprayer, by brush or by roller - painter's choice! Make sure to follow the drying/curing instructions on the primer container!!!

antique hall tree ready to be primed and painted
antique hall tree covered in veneer

primed with PPG gripper

painted flat black


If you're working with real wood, there's no need to prime separately as long as your paint has a primer in it! Major time saver! I love to use Behr Marquee in a matte finish on wood furniture. Below, you can see a few examples of the pieces I have painted! Again, make sure to follow the instructions on the paint for drying and curing. Just because paint feels dry to the touch doesn't mean it has cured fully!

black bench with upholstered cushion and bun legs
$20 Facebook marketplace bench

painted bench refinished with farrow and ball pigeon paint
painted with Behr Marquee matte finish with a brush

2 drawer night stand repainted with behr marquee yellow paint
painted with Behr Marquee and a roller

antique armoire refinished, shelves added
antique armoire also covered in veneer and primed with PPG Gripper

unique idea for vintage armoire, art storage for child's playroom
paint sprayer for the outside, paint brush for the inside

Spray Paint

Yes, I used canned spray paint on this sewing cabinet! I followed all of the steps above and used my favorite - Rust-oleum Painter's Touch in flat black. If you have a smaller piece like this cabinet and want a basic color like black or white, spray paint may be the way to go. I love the convenience of it! A large piece like the dresser I will be repainting for my office is not something I'd want to spray paint because I'd be spending WAY more money than simply buying a quart of Behr Marquee.

antique black sewing cabinet, loloi alice rug

Cleaning Hardware

cleaning antique brass hardware with bar keeper's friend

If you've got yourself a vintage or antique piece of furniture, it is definitely worth considering cleaning the original hardware versus buying new. Of course this depends on your style and the condition of the hardware! I thought for SURE I would be replacing all of the hardware on this sewing cabinet...until I cleaned it! Hello gorgeous gold patina!!!

antique hardware polished with bar keeper's friend on black sewing cabinet

If you're noticing that the larger cabinet handles look a little different in the "after" pictures, it's because I broke off the heart-shaped top parts. The metal was thin between the top and bottom and easily bent until it snapped in half. I used a metal file to smooth any rough edges. I think it tremendously elevated the piece! In theory, it could have ruined the pulls, but I thought it was worth the risk. If you are happy with the clean original hardware, that is a major money saver!!!

Here's how to clean it. Run your hardware under warm water and lay on a towel or work surface. Sprinkle hardware with Bar Keepers Friend (which also comes in a liquid form now) and use a toothbrush or rag to buff and clean the metal. Every few minutes, rinse off the BKF and dirt, and repeat the process until the metal is shiny. Rinse well when you're finished and dry thoroughly.

inside of black antique wooden sewing cabinet

I'm not going to be using this sewing cabinet to actually sew (that's what my new work table is for!!!) But it has such great storage for all of my sewing materials! And it looks pretty gorgeous in front of this window as a plant stand! Talk about the perfect accent for my vintage boho glam office!

house plants in baskets on top of black sewing cabinet, antique, in front of window

My new desk/work table is the next reveal coming up and you are not going to want to miss that transformation! Make sure to subscribe at the bottom of the page to receive email updates when new posts are published! And follow along on Instagram for more peeks at the home office transformation!

xoxo, L

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pinterest image of black swing cabinet

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Mar 03, 2022

Another big WOW!!!!!! It looks awesome ... is a terrific storage cabinet for your supplies ... and I'm sure you have already noticed how the wood detail on the front mirrors the design in your carpeting! Don't you just love when things come together like that? And your Grandma would love that you are loving and using something that has passed on to you! Smiles and hugs ... Aunt Patti


Mar 02, 2022

mouth dropping wow. It is the boldness of color, seeing the grain through the color and how spiffy and different you got the hardware to look by cleaning and altering.

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