The Shocking Thing We Did to an Antique Bed

Last week I talked about getting rid of vintage furniture that you don’t love anymore, namely my own antique spindle bed. Some of you may have believed that I shouldn’t have parted with it. So, what can you do if you don’t want to part with your antique bed, but it needs a facelift? Today I’m sharing one of the two things you can do to freshen up antique furniture.


There are times when it might be best to paint your wood furniture, even if it’s vintage or antique. I know it’s shocking – your husband will probably think so, at least! But here’s the deal: you aren’t enjoying it if you don’t like it in its current state, and you can bring an old piece new life with a couple inexpensive coats of paint. freshen up antique bedroom furniture.

This antique spindle bed has been in my client’s family a long time. Although she likes the bed, it’s dark color made it difficult to update the room which we recently remodeled (its bathroom was expanded and a closet was added). Plus, she has another bed almost identical to this one in another guest room! She wanted to know how to freshen up antique furniture without getting rid of it altogether.  Here’s the room pre-construction:


I recommended painting her bed in Porter Paint White Umber – it matches her newly added trim molding- and also suggested she paint the dark wood mirror and side chair in the same color. Don’t be afraid to mix stained and painted furniture in a bedroom! You’ll notice new hardwood was installed (to match the rest of the home), and we had the room painted a fresh light green and added new lighting and bedding, as well. The rest of the furniture was existing already in the home. Since we already had painters in the house, they were happy to prep, prime, and paint these three furniture pieces for my client.

freshen up antique furniture


My client loves the way these pieces turned out – it’s amazing how much the white paint brightened up the room and the shadows just disappeared. This is where her parents stay when they are in town to visit. Here’s a close-up of the bed, and you can you se the sweet kitty in the reflection of the art above her bed. She’s perched on the window in the neighboring hallway!


Here’s a money-saving tip:  you can mix in new bedding with some of your old for a whole new look. We mixed in a patterned comforter, shams, and throw pillow with her existing coverlet and navy shams. Layers are good!

Now let me ask you: WOULD YOU or HAVE YOU ever painted a piece of antique furniture? Did you love it or regret it? And for you purists: next time on the blog I’ll show you the other guest room and show you another way to freshen up antique furniture – without the use of paint.


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29 thoughts on “The Shocking Thing We Did to an Antique Bed

  1. Laura P. says:

    Hi Kristie,
    I did just have two 1980s small Shaker Ethan Allen end table/cabinets painted! After 3 moves in 18 months and raising a family and pets before then, they were pretty beat up and I was tired of the light pine color. I loved the function of them and decided to glam them up and modernize the color with a gorgeous metallic paint (Modern Masters shimmer metallic in Mystical Green, reminds me of a mermaid)! You would not recognize the pieces and the before and after photos show a dramatic change. I would encourage anyone to paint or give new life to furniture!

  2. Laura P. says:

    P.S. My goodness, I forgot to add that your room makeover is spectacular! I like the mix of old and new, like the metallic lamps with the classic wood pieces. Also, I bet your clients appreciate that you work in some of their existing belongings!

  3. Jerry M says:

    Neat pictures, however the after bed is different from the before bed when you look at the carvings (the shape of the vertical piece where the top horizontal piece enters on the foot board, before is cylindrical and the after is round, plus the carving on the horizontal piece is different). Still, I get the point of your article when viewing the beautiful after picture.

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      You know what? You’re right. Your attention to detail is obviously better than mine, haha! I totally forgot, but my client decided to switch the two very similar beds and paint this one from the other guest room rather than the one in the only “before” picture I had of this room. You’ll see what we did with the OTHER bed in the next post! Thanks for keeping me straight, Jerry! 😉

  4. Kathy says:

    I have painted some old pieces. I never regretted it. Like you I gave it a very long time to decide if I should paint or not. I wouldn’t paint very fine piece of antique furniture. Also painting something isn’t necessarily the end of the world. I’ve also stripped many a painted piece of furniture and wood moldings too.

  5. Sandy says:

    Just thinking – how about a future post on painting our old ceiling fans? When old ones work well, and new ones are either hideous (plastic) or hideously expensive, I’m wondering about painting at least the blades.

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      I have painted a few fan blades in my life! Oak ones look much better painted – either white or black. I wouldn’t get fancy with color here – just something that helps them fade away.

  6. Laura says:

    It looks great! I can’t believe how big a difference it makes in the overall room to paint that wood! I also really love the bedding.

  7. Dana Black says:

    I have a hall table that belonged to my G- Grandmother. It’s made of mahogany I believe. Mom lent the table to a friend, long story short, friend called and said come get the table. I went and got it and immediately took it to be stripped and painted it white (crackle). I was never crazy about it but was determined to make it work after all, it was a “family piece”. Next I decided to take the table and have it painted a beautiful ocean blue color with AUTO paint!!! It’s gorgeous, bright, vivid, it’s everything I wanted it to be. The best part is you can throw the keys on the table and it will never scratch the paint! It speaks volumes when you open the front door and see this table along with the mirror I had painted in Auto paint in hot pink hanging above it. I’m getting braver in my old age and enjoying the beck out of the freshness it brings to a room.

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Sounds really cool! I have several pieces that I had to paint a couple of different ways/colors until I got a winner. That’s the beauty of paint – you can always try another color. 🙂

  8. JL says:

    Love it. As The Nester says in regards to painting old furniture: “You can’t ruin something you hate”. That statement totally set me free with a bunch of furniture I’ve inherited.

  9. Kay says:

    It all depends on the quality and condition of antique furniture. Anyone would be nuts to paint antique Stickley–and doing so would destroy the value. But ordinary antiques and vintage furniture often benefit from a few coats of chalk paint. I have a large oak framed antique mirror that I painted a soft matte black–to great effect, although to my housekeeper’s shock. It looked so oakey before and didn’t go with my other antiques. But the antique ladies writing desk below it I would never paint–there is beautiful inlaid wood on the front, and it looks wonderful with the black framed mirror above.

  10. Laura P. says:

    Dana, your colorful pieces sound amazing!
    JL, the quote is priceless. I can see how that perspective is very freeing, and I will keep it in mind!

  11. Jodi says:

    Serendipitous post, Kristie! I just painted two dark stained antique chairs that sit either side of my dining hutch. I think the wood engraved design shows up wonderfully with the fresh paint. I chose a beautiful mustard yellow.

  12. Susie says:

    That also looks like a different room, although I love the blue-green gray and the painted version much better. I have been planning to paint my kitchen table for a while…it was once beautiful, but the top is a veneer that has had it and the wood tones no longer fit my style. If it were a nicer piece of wood I would refinish, but it’s just not worth it! Great transformation.

  13. Julie says:

    I am an old broad. It is the 1960’s again…..paint all the furniture and woodwork. This too will change again. At least they are not trying to bring back antiqued wood finishes, or pickled wood finishes. Just do not paint proper antique furniture.

  14. Linda says:

    I found an antique headboard for $10 and that is what I needed for our Queen Bed. My husband made a wood frame at the bottom to attach it to the metal queen frame. I painted it a white and I really like it. My husband and his friend picked it up and the friend could not believe I painted it !

  15. Vicky Riddle says:

    Yes!! We paint old furniture all the time, amazing some of the transformations!! Totally agree with mixing painted furniture and stained furniture together in a room. The room and bed look great Kristie!!

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