A Garage Full of Old Mismatched Furniture Becomes Harmonious

8 Materials
34 Hours

A friend was clearing out her mom’s apartment and asked me to re-paint a hutch for her, to match the colour scheme of her own apartment. After some back and forth we narrowed down her colour choice to charcoal grey. Over the following week, she contacted me about several other pieces that she wanted me to paint the same colour. In the end, there were eight pieces in total, that her son loaded up in his truck and delivered to my garage.



I removed all the hardware and gave everything a light sanding with my orbital sander using 220 grit paper, and a sanding block. 


The red hutch had been painted previously, with a layer of primer underneath, so that piece took a lot more effort to sand than the rest! I switched to an 80-grit paper and got down to serious business. I also used a putty knife to scrape and chip away at the layers. I finished with 220 grit to smooth it all out.  

Trouble maker


I gave everything a good cleaning with powdered TSP, dissolved in warm water.


Because there was so much painting to do, I was planning to use a 6” high density foam roller to help speed up the process. I started with the dresser…but I didn’t love the finish, it was a little bumpy looking for my taste. And because this was my very first paid gig, I wanted it to look as great as I possibly could, so I switched to a paint brush and gave everything it’s first coat of grey.

For the ornate chair, I used a little precision artist brush from Dollarama. My friend is having someone reupholster the chair so I didn’t have to be too careful. I love how the dark grey looks black inside the carvings on the chair - so pretty.


The barstools and tv-trays were easy enough to lift, so I brought them inside to paint because the lighting and temperature are much better inside.

Before & After
Before & After

After everything was dry, I circled back and did a second coat of paint.


I placed the hardware in warm TSP water and cleaned them with a toothbrush. Then I rinsed, dried and spray painted them matte black. One of the faceplates was missing for the roll-top desk, so I filled the extra holes in the drawer with wood filler (to use the pulls without the plates).



I’ve always used poly tough coat over fusion paint. But thankfully I just happened to read the back of the jar and saw that it is NOT recommended over dark colours, due to possible streaking! I’ve never painted a dark colour before, so I guess that didn’t register the dozen or so times I’ve used that particular sealer in the past. I was so happy that I read that before applying! After some research, I discovered that Fusion Stain & Finishing Oil is recommended over dark paint colours. And fortunately, I was able to exchange the poly at my local store.

I applied the new product with a paintbrush. The directions said to immediately wipe back excess. But when I did that, it appeared to leave lint in the finish (even though I tried a couple different lint-free cloths). So I was careful not to apply “excess” and painted everything with the finishing product. When I was done everything looked so nice!! It added depth to the colour and had a beautiful sheen to the finish. Awesome!

I left it to dry overnight. I was so excited to have this project behind me. I just had to re-attach the hardware and done! The following morning, I headed out to the garage to admire my work…and…it had STEAKS!!!!! I guess the “wipe off excess” step was more important than I realized! I tried smoothing out the streaks with a 400 grit sandpaper, but it didn’t work. 


So. I. Painted. Everything. Again!!!! This was a very frustrating turn of events. But after that final coat of paint, everything looked really great. And I can only assume(!) that this furniture will never chip. I told my friend she can probably dance on them if she wants. And she’s a pretty fun lady…so that could happen.



My friend picked up her stuff a couple of days ago and said it didn’t even look like the same furniture! She seemed pretty happy to incorporate so much of her mom’s items into her own home. And while I spent a lot of time and effort on this project, my friend being pleased with the outcome of her family’s heirlooms was exactly what I had hoped for. 

PS Taking great 'after shots' was a challenge due to my ugly garage and poor lighting…but just visualize with me how great these would look perfectly staged in a stunning environment. 😉

Desk before
Desk after
Dresser before
Dresser after
Hutch before
Hutch after

My key takeaways from this project:

  1. Paint rollers on furniture, no matter how good the quality, is not for me.
  2. When using a brand-new product that you’ve never tried, test it on a small section before committing to the whole kitten caboodle.
  3. I think I may actually like dark paint colours after all!

Resources for this project:

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