Painting Furniture: Stained and Painted Mix


I have furniture on the brain right now, not only because I found this dresser that I blogged about last week, but I also scored this dresser at an estate sale that I was forced to visit, thanks to some well placed signs on my drive home after running errands on Saturday morning.  What’s a girl to do, right?  Like I had a choice.  After noticing an overpriced crappy dresser in the garage, the heavens opened up and the angels started singing when I saw this (Dixie) dresser inside the house…

Dixie Dresser

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I was bracing myself for a steep price tag after seeing the one in the garage, but imagine my delight when I saw that it was only $50.  I practically raced to the estate sale organizer to buy it and made sure he put a sold tag on it so no one else could buy it out from under me.

It definitely needs some work and some love, but I’m really excited to bring it back to life.  If you look carefully, you can see that the previous owner added a lock to the center door for some reason – it definitely didn’t come that way.  I think I’m going to have to remove that and do some more furniture repairing to make it look … normal.  

The top is a hot mess too, so I’m guessing I’ll be sanding it down to bare wood and starting over.  I made some headway on the other dresser, and bought some pre-stain wood conditioner so that the stain takes to the wood evenly when I apply it.  So, the top went from this:

Dixie Dresser Top Before

To this:

Dixie Dresser Sanded

To this, with the pre-stain wood conditioner.

Pre stain wood conditioner

There are a couple of spots that are being a little fussy, but I plowed forward and stained the top, using a technique called toning, where you mix the stain with the polycrylic (I did a 50/50 mix).  I used General Finishes Shaker Maple and their High Performance Topcoat.  Unfortunately for me, the Shaker Maple came out way more red than what it appeared on the sample piece in the store.  

General Finishes Shaker Maple Stain

Sooooo, I may be going back to my stand-by of General Finishes Walnut Stain like I did on this piece.  Or maybe I should have just put a clear coat on it and kept it natural.

Amy Howard Dresser Redo

I have one of General Finishes dye stains on hand, so that’s something to consider as well.  From what I’m reading, a dye stain goes deep into the wood to magnify the grain.  And the wood in its natural state is pretty darn gorgeous, so maybe that’s the right direction with this piece of furniture.  Lots of trial and error sometimes, and I guess you just have to be open to making mistakes and doing things more than once.  Surely, it’s not the first time (nor the last) that I’ll make mistakes.  But it’s part of the learning process.

While I don’t usually stain an entire piece, I do love the mix of stain and painted finishes.  While it’s certainly more work (especially when you make mistakes like I do), the finished look has much more dimension.  So I’ll wrap up this post with some furniture eye candy.

Martha Leone Design is one of my favorites when it comes to furniture makeovers.  And I love that she takes on all sorts of furniture styles too.

Seriously, her creativity knows no bounds!

And I’m always drawn to her furniture pieces that have such a clever mix of painted and stained wood.

Have a great week!




  • Reply
    March 13, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    How you were to get that beautiful piece for $50! Can’t wait to see how you finish it .

    • Reply
      March 13, 2017 at 3:36 pm

      Total LUCK! I’m so excited about it, as it seems like these scores are hit or miss. The thrill of the score is always fun. 🙂

  • Reply
    Paul Stein
    January 31, 2021 at 6:46 am

    Paint vs Stain.

    I noticed the painted gray piece. Beautiful looking piece.
    The paint vs stain argument.
    Our open plan has the dining area next to the family area.
    We have an Amish stained dark oak dining set close to a Stickley Mission Chair, with a light reddish stain.
    The Stickley Mission chair, with matching ottoman is our showpiece. We also have a Stickley sofa and 5 ft. Stickley ottoman with prominent legs.The legs have a dark stain.
    I hate the dark stain, but wasn’t paying attention when my wife selected them. She regrets the dark stain.

    Back to this month.
    We just ordered an Amish made entertainment center. My wife was adamant that it be painted. She didn’t want yet another piece of stained wood that didn’t match. She ordered it painted gray. I have no doubt it will look beautiful. Yet painting a walnut wood, gray, seems wrong. One thing in her favor. The chair, chair ottoman, and large sofa ottoman, are all luxurious gray leather. Our carpet is also gray.

    I know this is an old thread.
    Any thoughts on this?

    • Reply
      February 11, 2021 at 12:00 pm

      As long as the gray gives some sort of contrast to the existing gray pieces, I would say go for it. But it really stings to paint walnut!!

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