How to Make Furniture Look More Expensive With Black Paint!

March 07, 2023

How to make furniture look more expensive with a few coats of black paint!

I recently finished up a quick painting project and was so happy with the result...I was reminded of the difference black paint can make on a piece of furniture!

Black is one of my favorite colors to use in a room because it's a classic -- black furniture is a chameleon that works in nearly every space, no matter the wall color. I find black accents to be more neutral because they ground a space and give your eyes a place to rest. 

I've transformed many items over the years with a few coats of dark paint, but this recent nightstand project is one of my favorites because it calmed the room so much. 

I'll show you more and a quick how-to on how to paint furniture black in a bit, but first -- some of my favorites I've painted black over the years.

The brass hardware on this second hand dresser popped when I painted it with Graphite by Benjamin Moore:
graphite black painted dresser
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If you want to update the whole look of a piece by adding new knobs, check out this tutorial for filling old hardware holes

Graphite is a very dark gray, almost black color that I used to paint all of our doors in our last house. I love that paint color!

I found this sewing machine cabinet on the side of the road and a few coats of black paint brought in back to life:
painted vintage sewing cabinet

In our current house, I went with a semi-gloss black paint for all of the makeovers. 

I transformed this Hemnes cabinet from IKEA for additional bathroom storage: 
DIY black and wood IKEA hemnes cabinet

My favorite black paint color is Tricorn Black in a (semi-gloss or satin finish) by Sherwin-Williams. It is the BEST black furniture paint!

I left the wood finish inside of the cabinet -- I love the two-toned final result! 

I've also used this paint color to get great coverage on our black doors as well: 
black five panel interior door

I LOVE a door painted's one of my favorite home decor details. 

When we moved into our home years ago, I made some simple updates to these IKEA Tarva dressers turned nightstands
blue painted wood stained nightstands

These come unfinished and much taller -- I cut down the legs to make them more of a nightstand height. I love all the storage the three drawers provide. 

I had the pretty blue paint (called Gale Force) and it was a lovely color that looked great with the wood stained trim accents I attached to the fronts.

But for the past few months, I've been wanting to calm the color scheme in our room. The grasscloth wallpapered walls and dark gray color (Westchester Gray) are so soothing, and the bright colors felt out of place. 

I finally pulled out the gallon of black paint the other day and got to painting these nightstands. I find a few lighter coats gives a better finished result than fewer heavy coats:
painting over wood stain

By the second coat, you'll notice a BIG difference in the coverage.

I don't usually fill nail holes in stained wood (it's hard to find a good stainable filler, and you don't notice the holes anyway). But once the first coat of black went on, they were glaringly obvious. 

I used my favorite hole filler for wood to touch up all of the nail holes and once dry, sanded them all down:
plastic wood nail hole filler

sanding nail hole filler

After cleaning them up one more time, I gave the nightstands two more coats of paint (for a total of three) to cover the original paint and stain. 

These dressers are not what I would call high quality furniture, but they've held up pretty darn well over the years. The whole piece is made of inexpensive pine. 

A few coats of black paint made it look SO much better!:
Tricorn black IKEA nightstands

The steps and helpful tips for painting furniture black:

  1. Give the furniture a good cleaning with a mild cleanser before starting. 
  2. Lightly sand with a low to medium grit sandpaper to knock down any kind of protective coating and/or grease and grime on the surface. (You do not have to do a drastic sanding down to bare wood.) Vacuum up any sanding dust before painting.
  3. I rarely use primer on painted wood, but it's always a good idea on unfinished surfaces. 
  4. But if you're painting a light piece black, you can have your primer tinted dark so it won't take as many coats to cover it.
  5. Latex paint is more than enough for a durable finish with full coverage. I've never used oil-based paint for a furniture makeover.
  6. I use my favorite square-shaped paint brush for detailed areas first, then ALWAYS use a small foam roller for the flat surfaces to cover the brush strokes. A quality paint will self-level to a lovely, smooth finish. 
  7. Let your primer and/or coats of paint dry and cure between coats. The instructions on the can will tell you how long to wait (although I rarely wait quite THAT long between each one.)
  8. If the surface has a rough texture after the first coat, do a very light sanding before continuing to the second. 
  9. I find a protective coat over painted wood is not usually needed, unless the surface will be actively used. So for a foyer table that you rarely touch -- not needed. For our nightstands I did two coats of poly since we use them every day. 
Be sure to let the paint dry for a few days to a week before installing hardware or placing anything on it. I installed our brass knobs when the paint was dry, but didn't fully screw them into the drawers till days later:
black dresser brass knobs

I will never tire of a classic black piece with brass accents! Chef's kiss!

By the way, that gallon of black paint has painted two doors, the tall bathroom cabinet and our two nightstands...and I still have half a gallon left!

Don't underestimate the difference a can of paint can make in your home.

I couldn't believe how much the room "calmed" after these were painted black. The room flows so much better -- my eyes don't stop at the nightstands anymore:

Tricorn black nightstands

You can still see the wood grain on the front of the drawers, but I don't mind that at all. Overall the look is so elevated!

The best part of this makeover is that I didn't spend a dime. I love the change, it's so soothing and peaceful in here now: 
black three drawer dresser IKEA

I've been making a few more free updates in here that I'll share with you soon! I'm thrilled with the small changes I've made. 

P.S. Yes! You can spray paint furniture black as well! Check out how I spray painted our wood nightstands

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  1. Love the updated nightstands. More peaceful!

  2. So much better! I have to admit I didn't love the night stands when you first did them much classier now.

  3. Hi! Where did you get the brass knobs? And what black paint is it?

    1. Hello! I got those at Hobby Lobby I believe! And the black is called Tricorn black.


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