Ready to Paint, But What Color?

By Kate Riley January 20, 2012

Anther great reader question this week, and one I’ve had a couple of times before.  My mantra has always been if you don’t like an old tired piece of furniture you own, then paint it!  Lots of people share that idea and want to reinvent their furniture with a coat paint but like Mina, they get stuck on deciding what color to choose. 

“I would like some advice on some pieces of furniture for my bedroom. I am new at this and really don’t know where to start.  For my bedroom I’d love some color mixed with black, grey, and white.  I want to mix in new pieces of furniture (like a headboard) with old/repainted night stands and an old chest.  What color do you think I should paint them?  Should I brush paint or spray paint? Any thoughts or ideas you have would be greatly appreciated.”  ~ Mina

The answer is completely subjective and depends on so many factors, your favorite colors, the space itself, and of course the style of the piece of furniture. I like to think of it this way.  If you’re looking for a piece that will harmonize with other players in the room then choose a classic or more neutral color, like cream, gray, or black, and then pull color into the space with your wall paint, textiles, and accessories.  But if you’re looking for a showstopper, or one that will be a focal point and be more dominant in the space, then by all means, choose a brighter color.

There’s a great source of inspiration for painted furniture and a site I absolutely love. I wrote about Somerset Bay two years ago, and I find their entire collection so inspiring, every color is spot on.  

Take a peek at a few of their classic neutrals …

little pine key chest somerset bay

somerset entertainment

gloucester chest



These colorful pieces are all so gorgeous too . . .

gustavia cabinet

durango console

st simons dressercape neddick end table

little river chest somerset bay

All images via Somerset Bay

What we’re seeing more and more, especially on blogs, is real people being more confident with their color choices on furniture, and I love it!  For even more images of boldly painted furniture, visit my Color Inspiration file on Pinterest, it’s filled with many inspiring pieces to give you plenty of ideas! 

Finally Mina, there are three basic ways for you to paint those endtables and/or that bedroom chest. You can brush paint, spray paint, or use Annie Sloan chalk paint, all three yield beautiful results.  New hardware or knobs is another way to add color and personality too, so enjoy the creative process of transforming your piece!

What about all of you?  How do you go about making the decision of what color you should paint a piece of furniture in your home?  Have you chosen a bold color and loved it?  Or do you opt for classic black, white, or neutrals?





  1. I like the blacks , greys, white and neutrals.. I just use color in small ways. I do like looking at color in other peoples homes though.

    I need to take a look a that Somerset bay site. they sure have some pretty items

  2. I love grey and white but when it come to furniture its all about a hit of colour. I painted my daughters 9 drawer dresser bubble gum pink:
    and I am working on painting our DVD hutch – a hutch that actually is supusto go on a sideboard that we put legs on. I am painting it BRIGHT teal. I adore furniture painted bright colours. I think its a great way to make a real statement.


  3. I LOVE color, but I tend to opt for furniture to be neutral, and have colorful walls (well I would if I could paint my walls) and lots of colorful accessories. Its easier to change things out that way when I get bored (which I do, often)!

  4. That rich blue table is dreamy!! So many beautiful choices. I tend to lean toward safe color choices where furniture is concerned, but I’m really drawn to colorful pieces lately. The photos in your post are no exception!

  5. I am in love with that first dresser…the color is perfection – especially with the white details on the trim!
    I will be adding this to my inspiration file for an antiques dresser waiting to be painted for my master bedroom re-do!

  6. I love the idea of fairly neutral rooms with one gorgeous, brightly painted piece, like a fantastic end table or chair.

  7. My 2 cents is that you go for color! I can say that I haven’t been happy with a color I chose, but I can not say I’ve ever wished it was more neutral! Looking a bold colors cheers me up :)

  8. It really depends on what it is and where it will stand.
    I have had a wine rack/ buffet table sitting in my dining
    room for quite some time. It was given to me by my
    friends husband after she died. I just can’t bring myself
    to change it yet but do want to refinish it. It’s a faded
    green that needs work. Might just repaint it sage
    green? Your photos were a big help to me after seeing
    the green buffet table… thanks for this post

  9. Love black and white painted furniture, but my new go to has been Benjamin Moore Gentleman’s Gray….a rich, deep peacock blue that looks expensive and classic. And I use rollers and sponges, always. Never brushes. That’s just me! Good luck Mina :-)

  10. Thank you all for the great tips and especially to Kate for sharing my question on her blog! I haven’t decided on color just yet however, I do really like the first grey and white piece which will go with my color scheme for my bedroom. I also really like Kate’s suggestion on adding bold colors with accessories. I’ll keep you all posted on how my first piece turns out:) Wish me luck:)

  11. Love, love, love your blog. I tripped across it via Pinterest and ended up spending an hour here! I’ll be back

  12. If it were me I would add a splash of the most vibrant bright yellow – the colour of sunflowers!

  13. Great furniture at Somerset Bay. I especially like the pale blue Gustavia sideboard. I do like color, but prefer the paler tones for my own home.

  14. I’m a big fan of decorating old bits of furniture. I only started in Oct but I am hooked! The one thing I always make sure I have is a good selection of tester paint pots. I recently started renovating a 1940’s cabinet for my bathroom and have gone from the original dark brown stain to a pale pink. I know, pink does not sound good, but it really works. If it hadn’t been for the tester pot, I may never have had the nerve to try something a little different.

  15. This post couldn’t come at a more opportune time. I snagged 2 great nightstands on Craiglist (after searching for 3 years. No joke.) and am wondering whether to paint them a deep charcoal with my ink/gray/cream/black bedroom OR to do something bold. My dresser and chest of drawers is a nice walnut, and I recently painted my vanity a satin nickel for a little sparkle…

    Decisions, decisions…
    Suggestions always welcome!

  16. Hi Kate, I love bold colors, and when painting furniture for my home usually” the brighter the better”. I also paint for resale and unless it is a custom piece for a client I tend to go black or white or colors for children’s rooms because they sell faster.
    Painted furniture is fresh and eye-catching in any room, love it. Kathy, Petticoat Junktion

  17. Great inspiration. Love your blog. I agree that this post couldn’t have come at a better time. Thanks so much for sharing

  18. Choosing a color is such a personal thing. I wouldn’t dream of painting anything black but in certain instances it looks great. The trick is, whatever color you pick, to try and blend it with other colors in the rooms so that it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.

  19. I’m sort of falling in love with darker furniture. It seems to give a neutral room pop if you know what I mean. All of the rooms are absolutely beautiful.

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