How to Paint Furniture: Antique Vanity Makeover

Hi friends! I recently refinished and painted my Mom’s antique vanity with my husband – and when I was sharing some BTS on Instagram, I asked if I should share a blog post on the process. Well, that poll got a 100% yes vote – so here we are! This was my first time refinishing and painting furniture, but growing up, we inherited a lot of old furniture from relatives that we repainted. Ok, mostly my Dad repainted, but my sister and I helped sometimes! When searching around for a tutorial, I found this guide and used it as a starting point for painting my old vanity.


Wood Putty
Medium Grit Sandpaper
Fine Grit Sandpaper
Kilz Primer
Sem-Gloss Paint
Foam Roller
Finishing Wax

The Process:

Step 1: take off the hardware, wipe it down, and fill in any dents, holes, and dings with wood putty.

Step 2: sand with medium grit sandpaper to get rid of the glossy finish, smooth out the wood, and get the furniture ready for paint primer!

Step 3: clean off the furniture with a lint-free cloth. Use a paintbrush and small foam roller to apply paint primer. We learned this the hard way, but roll over all of your paint strokes with the foam roller to smooth over any harsh lines!

Step 4: let primer dry, use fine grit sandpaper to lightly sand, wipe with a lint-free cloth. Repeat your paintbrush and foam roller painting with your semi-gloss paint. Let dry for 1-hour.

Step 5: continue the previous steps of sanding and painting up to two more times. We did a coat of primer and three coats of semi-gloss paint to completely cover up the dark wood.

Step 6: let dry 24 hours before applying wax top coat and then let the wax top coat sit for 24-48 hours before adding hardware/touching the piece!

Step 7: add hardware and line drawers if you wish! I used some leftover removable wallpaper from our master bathroom water closet wall – so this was the perfect touch to dress up the piece.

The result was a beautifully repainted vanity that I just adore so much now. As I said earlier, this was my Mom’s vanity and growing up, I remember her using to every morning to put on her makeup. I used to sit at her vanity wrapped up in a big red bathrobe as my Mom blowdried my hair or taught me how to do a french braid in my hair. I have so many memories with this piece of furniture and it makes me so happy to give it a new life after it was dropped and beat up over the years. It’s a meaningful piece of furniture that I will continue to use for years to come! Scroll through the image carousel below to see more before/after photos.