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I absolutely love finding antique pieces, especially when they look like they’re ready to be thrown on the side of the road. There’s something fulfilling about being able to refurbish an old piece of furniture and giving it life again.

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The awesomeness of finding an antique nightstand

I found this nightstand originally as a great, big and old vanity that had two parts, that I bought for about $20. It was quite messed-up and unfortunately, couldn’t be fixed, but I really liked the two parts attached to it. Since my husband and I wanted new nightstands anyway, we took it apart and I decided to give it some love and life!

Very basic tools

For something that seems like a grand piece of work, you literally need a few items with an excited spirit of DIY:

Antique or non-antique nightstand which you can most likely find at a thrift store or maybe perhaps the community dumpster. I know that you can definitely find some antique vanities and nightstands online. Ebay sells them by categories like 1900 until today! It’s quite cool to see the options that they have but some that are quite old might also be quite pricey. That’s why I run to junk that’s left on the side of the road or possibly scream inside with excitement at a thrift store.

Paints by Fusion

I love paints by Fusion. If you haven’t heard about this line of paints, do take time to check them out. They are perfect for early DIY or painter beginners and their quality and durability is excellent. They are also non-toxic and known for zero VOC, volatile organic compounds, which are known to cause acute symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and may be carcinogenic! If you’re a Mom like me, you definitely don’t want these chemicals, especially around your little kids! Being lead-free, phthalate-free, formaldehyde-free, ammonia-free, and virtually odorless, Fusion paints are environmental- and health conscious- friendly.

For this nightstand project, I recommend using the color Brook or Inglenook by Fusion. I describe these two colors as “muted green” or “muted mint” and it’s a delicately pretty color. Of course, you’re welcome to explore other colors of your preference. I’m a fan of these pastels and I like the dainty and feminine vibes it gives off, making my furniture pieces look extra cute! Check out the line of pastel paint colors I have on my online store and you’ll see what I mean.

Prepaint cleaner

Krud Kutter’s Prepaint Cleaner TSP Substitute is one of the best tools for cleaning and prepping furniture. You can usually find the bright orange chemicals in Home Depot or Lowes and they may work for your furniture but they are tough, “hard core” chemical degreasers that have TSP- Tri Sodium Phosphate. Commonly known as “white powder,” TSP is typically used as a cleaning agent, stain remover, and degreaser. It is definitely a powerful, tried-and-true cleaning agent that has to be used with caution but if you use TSP, you’ll have to go back and rinse it from your furniture when you’re done.

If you forget to rinse after spraying your nightstand with TSP, it will leave a film and will eventually let your paint chip off. And we don’t want that to happen after you’ve worked hard-  another reason why I prefer Krud Kutter’s Prepaint Cleaner TSP Substitute! It also doesn’t require wearing gloves because it’s not chemically harsh AND you don’t have to rinse it! So you basically spray, wait a few minutes, and then you can paint over it!


A basic sanding pad or a sanding block with a 220 grit is what I’d recommend for this project. Avoid using an electric sander as it can be too rough for your dainty nightstand. You really just need sandpaper to get rid of any wax or polyurethane and it’ll help produce a better quality of paint coats.


It is amazing how dramatic of a change you can make to a piece of furniture. Especially if you’re a new DIYer or painter, seriously – take the time to do this simple, extra step. You’ll be proud of yourself when you compare it to your after picture. If you’re going to sell your refurbished pieces of furniture, before and after pictures are going to be your big seller. Plus, sometimes you may feel like there’s no progress from the time you started working on your piece and then you’ll say to yourself, “Wow! That was a pretty dramatic change!”. Believe me.

Empty picture frame

Prepping your pretty piece

Take out those drawers

You don’t ever want to paint with the furniture’s drawers still attached or in place. Especially if you’re using paints by Fusion, painting with the drawers in place would make it stick and eventually ruin your beautiful painting job. Fusion paints dry quite fast and if you’re not familiar with other paints, they may dry fast as well. You can always sample paint before starting on your DIY project to be familiar with the paint you’re using.

Make sure that you take the hardware off, like those cute drawer handle pieces, before you paint them. What I like about this nightstand, or furniture drawers in general, is that they don’t have to be painted the same color as the whole furniture itself. You can definitely do something different like painting them a different color or shade, adding stencils or patterns, it’s entirely up to you! I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do with the drawers of my nightstand so I left them aside for a later project and just focused on the whole piece itself.

Free your pretty piece from dirt and dust

Clean that pretty piece with Krud Kutter! Spray it all over and let it sit for a few seconds. Again, as a friendly reminder, if you’re using TSP like that bright orange chemical, WEAR GLOVES and something on your face like glasses and a respiratory mask. You could also go ahead and wear long-sleeve clothing. Use your old rag to wipe the Krud Kutter (you don’t need to wear gloves for Krud Kutter as it’s less chemically harsh). I like to give it a good wipe down all around. And if you did use TSP, don’t forget to go back and rinse it off!

Sandpaper time!

Time to rough up your nightstand and get the existing wax and poly off of it. Sandpapering will help the paint to soak in and stick better. Sometimes, there are tough stains that are best removed by sanding it down. As mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t recommend using an electric sander because it will be much too rough. I like to use the sandpaper block; start from the top and work your way down to the sides and the front and back.  

Optional but I do it anyway …

Spray your nightstand with prepaint cleaner again. You don’t have to do it with TSP but I like to give it another good wipe after the sandpaper step. Be sure to wipe the legs, if your nightstand has legs as there’s usually more dust that collects underneath and around the bottom. Make sure you get all the dust off. You can also use tack cloth, since it’s a good tool for getting dust particles that would contaminate a surface that is to be painted.

“Make-up” aka painting time

Now you’re ready to paint your nightstand! This is when you see what a difference paint can do for a piece of furniture. Before you begin, bear in mind that a dark wood nightstand or furniture would need an application of primer. Since Fusion paint already has a primer, I wouldn’t need to apply primer to my pretty piece. It never hurts to go the extra step and prime as needed. It’ll only make your DIY project prettier!

Get your brush and get started. I like to start on the sides, from top to bottom. Paint in long and thin coats, with an up and down stroke. Fusion paints cover well and they dry fast enough for another elongated coat of paint. Be sure to pull your hair back if you have your long hair down! I don’t always abide by this rule because I forget to, but believe me, it helps to not have hair all over the place or potentially caught in paint.

Painting nightstand 2

Painting the nightstand

The final stage

Top coat is not necessary

Especially if you are using paints by FusionFusion paints have a top coat included already, but if you’re going to use your nightstand as a desk, then feel free to add the top coat. It protects your paint and adds a nice finish as well. If you happen to have a big nightstand that will most likely have lots of use, it’ll help to paint multiple light coats.

Second coat it

I usually tell other DIYers that the color of your paint starts revealing itself in the second coat. Don’t judge your paint color by its first coat. You’re going to say to yourself, “Ah, there’s the color that I saw in the can!” Your first coat of paint may scare you because it may seem lighter or duller than what you expected, but the second coat of paint will reveal the actual color that you desire. With some paints, the actual color may appear in the third coat. Again, it’s useful to be familiar with the paint you’re using. Just make sure that your first coat, or second coat (if you’re needing a third coat to reveal the actual color) is dry before you re-paint.

Priming nightstand

There you have it!

Ready for your bedroom

Antique Nightstand without drawers

You did it! Your antique nightstand is ready to be shown off and used with it’s beautiful paint job done with TLC by you! Doll it up with a table lamp or a big candle, some of your favorite storybooks or some vintage glass DIY Dollar Tree items that you can spray paint! My chocolate chip mint ice cream colored nightstand (check out my video here!) complements well in my bedroom due to the natural colors of my bedroom walls. And I absolutely love it!

Some hints to sum it up

One final hint about salvaging

When you salvage, take time to look for that one piece in the midst of all the other pieces, even if the majority of it is just junk. You never know what you can use or how you can transform that piece of junk into something that is unique from furniture for which people would break the bank!

Get ready to put life back into your finds!

If you start collecting all those pretty pieces of furniture and don’t get to beautify them right away, it’s totally ok! I have lots of old junk that I have yet to transform but you’d be surprised at how often your mind is thinking creatively on how to give life to your junk, even when you’re doing something that’s not related to DIY projects! I hope that you can share your finished nightstand with me!


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