“How do I paint…?” : Painting Campaign Furniture Tutorial


April 16, 2013 by Decorum DIYer

The illusive ‘painting furniture’ tutorial.  There are so many tutorials on the blogosphere, but everywhere I go, people ask, “How to do paint ‘x’?”

I am a painting enthusiast, but a paint amateur, nonetheless.  Most of what I have painted is real wood, so it is REAL easy.

I needed to get my act together with respect to non-wood (laminate, mdf, pressboard, and the like) surfaces.

In an effort to aid others, as well as to get a few more ‘how to’ projects under my belt, I decided to tackle the job of painting two very distressed/damaged campaign night stands.

As I have shown you, in two previous posts, here is how my night stands started out:

Spray painted bases and hardware.  Horrible faux finishing.

Spray painted bases and hardware. Horrible faux finishing.

The tops were pitted and swollen and damaged from some sort of spill.

The tops were pitted, swollen, and damaged from some sort of spill.

With a lot of blog reading, Pinterest searching, trial and error, sheer fearlessness, and some patience,  I was able to turn the above into a pair of these:

Beautiful little emeralds, they are.  (Pardon the awful background, but I just finished.  No time for styling.  I promise better pictures, once they have fully cured.)

Beautiful little emeralds, they are. 

I originally posted the finished night stands on St. Patrick’s Day for a bit of fun. You can see that post here.

In that previous post, I had promised better pictures, once the paint had cured.

So, here is one of the beauties all dressed up and ready for the ball:


Parenthetically, may I just say that I love the emerald green against the pale, lavender wall?

If Clairisse were a little older, I’d consider keeping these, but alas; I have too much ‘one day’ furniture clogging up my basement as it is.

Moving on…

So, how did I do it?  How did I transform theses duds to gems?


Patience and confidence.

Here are the general steps to follow:

  1. I removed the nasty drawer liners and vacuumed all of the pieces separately.
  2. I removed, cleaned, and polished the hardware.  (You can see that process here.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  3. Using a magic eraser and some vinegar (highly recommended among Pinterest pinners), I cleaned the night stands bases and drawers inside and out.
  4. Using wood putty, I filled any holes/rough spots and allowed same to dry.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  5. Using an orbital sander and a 120 grit sandpaper, I lightly sanded all surfaces to be painted.  The tops were severely damaged, so I sanded those spots more aggressively until the spots were level and smooth to the touch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  6. I wiped the surfaces clean with a tacky cheesecloth and repeated the wood putty/sanding method until I was confident that the really damaged spots were near perfection.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  7. After cleaning all surfaces again with a tacky cheesecloth, I used blue painter’s tape to tape of a border on the inside of the night stands, around the interior drawer hardware (one could also remove it), and sides of the drawers.  This is a neat and attractive way to start and stop the exterior/interior color and avoid painting the entire interior of a piece.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  8. Next, I applied one coat of primer.  I elected to use latex primer, but most tutorials suggest an oil-based primer.  Basically, if you chose an oli-based primer, you need to give the primed surfaces a long time to cure – like a week.  I may try an oil-based primer for the next furniture attempt, as the curing time is less than 24 hours,but the clean-up is a bit messy.  I used a 1/2″ foam brush, a 1″ foam brush, and a small foam roller (to minimize brush marks on the larger surfaces).  HOWEVER, BE SURE TO PRIME THE BACK OF YOUR FURNITURE PIECE AS WELL, AS YOU WILL WANT TO PAINT THE BACK, TOO.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  9. I used several coats of primer on the tops, both for coverage of those horrid spots and for durability.  Then, I waited.  I waited a full week, all along patiently stalking my prey of two little night stands.  It wasn’t difficult to wait, as my children and motherly duties kept me quite busy.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  10. Next, came the paint.  Following the same process as with the primer, it took me three complete coats to be satisfied with the coverage and finish.  I used Behr’s ‘Precious Emerald’ in a semi-gloss finish.  I made sure to also paint the backs of the furniture pieces.  VERY IMPORTANT FOR A FINISHED LOOK.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  11. I let the paint cure for three days before adding the hardware.  Admittedly, the sealant/poly/wax, or whatever you want to use should be applied and thoroughly cured before affixing the hardware.  So, pretend I didn’t do that. Instead, after the paint has cured, apply your protective top coat.  I plan to use a ploy finish also in a semi-gloss finish.  Use what you are comfortable with.  I have heard that wipe-on poly is great, but I haven’t used it yet.
  12. Okay, NOW you can add your hardware, after the protective topcoat has cured.  Also, feel free to add drawer liners for a pop of color/texture and to complete the finished feeling of the piece(s).

Now, for some more photographs of one of my finished emeralds:


So, what do you think?


I need a lot of work with photographing and styling, but not too bad for my first attempt at painting a non-wood surface.

Pin Me!

Pin Me!

Although, using what I have, I did take a few pointers from two bloggy friends as to styling:

Jennifer of “Brave New Home


Christina of “Floriday’s Mom

Thank you both, ladies, for your wonderfully friendly manner and great night stand styling tutorials!

I must stay, I am really in love with the emerald campaign night stands against the lavender wall.  I think this would look equally stunning against a navy wall.

I would like to list these night stands for sale.  Any suggestions as to price or venue for selling?  I don’t want to deal with shipping costs, so a local pick-up is ideal (even through e-bay).

Thank you all for your input!

Have a great day!


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Be sure to click the ‘Pinterest’ hyper-links for the original Pinterest pins!


38 thoughts on ““How do I paint…?” : Painting Campaign Furniture Tutorial

  1. They look awesome! You are not seriously asking where you can sell these are you? I wish I had your eye for putting together decor. I can’t do it.

    • Thank you, Sharon. And I know I could utilize Craigslist, but I am hoping for something a bit more concrete in addition to Craigslist.
      And you do have an ‘eye’. Pretend the room is your stage, your fabrics your costumes, and your accessories, well, your accessories. You can put together a theme like nobody’s business, decorating is the same thing. 😉

  2. Craigslist is really a good way to go if you are wanting to do local pick up. Places like Ebay and Etsy take a percentage of your sale and/or charge to create a listing. At least try craigslist first and see what happens. I have always found that the end and beginning of a month are slower on cl because of people
    moving and rent. Good luck with selling these! I’m sure they will go fast!

  3. Simply Chimerica says:

    I almost 95% of the time use SprayPaint, mostly cuz spraypaint (if done with correctly) leaves a streak free paint job!

    I love the colors!

  4. Wow, Christine. I bow down to you and your furniture rehabbing prowess. You have more patience and gusto than I…and I’m really swooning over those gems, especially against those walls and with the styling you did. I agree with Reeves. I think these will go fast on Craigslist if you decide to list them there (which I would try first for ease of shipping). In terms of price…I never know what to do about those things. But I would look around on Craigslist or eBay and see what something similar might be going for. (And I couldn’t resist…I checked “campaign night table” on eBay and it looks like most are going for around $300…for one! This might be a big seller here.) Do keep us posted on where these emeralds end up!

  5. I know I’ve said it before, but I LOVE them. I love how they turned-out and that color is just scrumpdillyicious!

  6. These turned out so pretty and you’re right—they work really well against the lavender walls! And thanks for the shout out : ]

  7. Once again, kudos for these and that awesome emerald green paint job!! I just love them. (and your styling was spot on..thanks for the love 😉 ) Hmmm…price..I haven’t a clue. I’ve never sold an up-cycled piece before. I know you’re the best craigslist scout out there, must be hard to be on the other end. Start out high if you have the room to hang on to them and then you’ll have a better idea based on the calls you get. You’ll have to keep us posted. I can’t wait to hear what you get for them.

  8. xo, Dee says:

    I am not surprised that you sold these beauty’s!!! You did an awesome job, so happy for you!!!

  9. thriftdiving says:

    Great job! Have you ever used chalk paint, or made your own? You wouldn’t have had to prime it first if you have used a chalk paint. I’m in love with Annie Sloan and use her paints for everything, all surfaces. It’s a bit expensive, but worth it, in my opinion.

    As for selling, I haven’t yet started selling some of my pieces. I have tried a couple listings on Craig’s List, but I find that people are really looking for cheap deals on CL, and if I just put all this hard work into a piece, it’s hard for me to sell it for peanuts, you know? Plus, CL gets refreshed so much with people posting, that my stuff can fall through the cracks. I think eBay might be better, as well as getting a booth somewhere at a flea market, perhaps.

    (Oh, and I totally agree with you about painting the back of a piece for a finished look!!)

    Thrift Diving

    • Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Ms. Thrift Diving. 😉
      I have tried homemade chalk paint and haven’t reached a point wherein I can justify spending the money to ‘try’ the real deal chalk paint. That said, my experiment with chalk paint was okay, but I think I prefer to be a furniture painting purist as to sanding, priming, painting, etc….

      I guess I have the benefit of living in a ‘kid-friendly’ laboratory which subjects my painted furniture to three crazy kids. Also, I am a rule follower by nature, so I feel like I am cheating with chalk paint. 😉

  10. I just love painted campaign furniture and emerald green is my favorite color! So exciting that you managed to sell them so fast. That happened to me the first time I sold a project too. Isn’t it encouraging?

  11. Brittney says:

    Gorgeous! I love, love, love the emerald color. Lucky that you were able to find a matching set! All of the campaign dressers in LA are being snapped up by designers!

    • Thank you! Luckily, I live in a suburb of Baltimore (not the Homocide/The Wire Baltimore that is so often portrayed) which has many a goody given our sweet-spot location between DC, Philly, and New York. Great for inexpensive treasures and diamonds in the rough.

  12. Erin says:

    Wow! This is beautiful! I’m in LOVE with campaign furniture and the emerald color with the gold accents is stunning! I would have bought these beauties in a heart beat had I seen it sooner and lived in the area.

    Also, I linked over from Young House Love. SO glad I found you. I’m following now!

  13. I am completely obsessed with the campaign/emerald/brass combo. Think this may be my next Pinterest challenge!

    • Ooooh, I’d love to see that! My next one is for my son’s room. A tall, five-drawer chest that I am hoping to paint a deep, navy blue. Please share, if you do conquer the painted campaign dresser.

  14. Stacey @ Likes to Smile says:

    Just found you from the YHL link up! Stunningly gorgeous! The emerald color is to die for!

  15. Tamsyn says:

    These are so gorgeous!! That emerald green with the brass accents is just perfect. I would happily have these in my home 🙂

  16. Totally awesome transformation! Wow, I love the vision you had for these. And the emerald looks fantastic. I just bought some emerald paint for a little entry hall chair but am feeling a little chicken about it. Your beautiful tables are truly inspiring.

  17. I love how the campaign nightstand looks in emerald. I have a campaign dresser I need to redo, but I haven’t decided on a color. All your gold accessories work perfectly with it!

    • Thanks! I was quite smitten with these. I don’t know how I mustered the courage to let them go. Somewhere out there, a 10 year old girl has some styling night stands in her light pink bedroom.

  18. Justynn says:

    i LOVE the color. I need to try changing up some furniture soon. great job!

  19. I’m super obsessed with these! I have campaign pieces in the basement just waiting for some attention. Hopefully I’ll get them half as cute as you did yours! 🙂

  20. *STUNNING!* Absolutely gorgeous. I could drool over them, with their deep emerald and their warm gold, for hours. Thanks so much for linking up to Ditto DIY!

  21. […] do you want to see these beauties in place and all dolled up?  You can, just click here for the full […]

  22. Janice Kirwan says:

    I love the color! A question….Do you have to use a finish/poly when you paint with semi-gloss paint?
    A comment: Have you tried spray painting brass lamps? I think using a print shade on a painted lamp would like nice. Maybe different shades would like nice to staging a piece of furniture.

  23. […] I might add a tidge more gloss if I end up choosing this shade. In my carousing, I found some good advice on properly transforming a piece like […]

  24. […] “Green” Furniture Upcycle {with eco-friendly hardware cleaner}: Decorum DIYer […]

  25. sandra says:

    I just finished painting an Ikea Rast dresser in this precious color. However, my dresser does NOT look as pretty as yours…I’ll have to post pictures when I’m done with it. I still need to let it cure one more day b/f adding poly. Have you ever used a “glass-like” spray by Rustoleum? I foget its name, but I bought a can and am tempted to try it. It apparently gives things a ‘glass-like’ finish look. I love your dressers! Very pretty.

  26. […] From trash to treasure for sure! You can see better photographs of the after here.) […]

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