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How to Paint Furniture for Beginners (Vintage Vanity Makeover)

vintage vanity makeover

Easy Steps for Redoing a Makeup Vanity

With this vintage vanity makeover, I show how refinishing furniture the right way is easy with these simple tips and tricks!

Whether you are updating a family heirloom or restoring a roadside rescue, you want to make sure your furniture piece will last for years to come by updating it the right way.  There are lots of products on the market that promise a durable finish but only certain ones can really deliver on that promise.  And they won’t cost you an arm and a leg!

In this post, I will share with you all of my tried and true furniture painting tips and tricks and use the form at the bottom of the post for a free checklist!  Hopefully, this process will save you from some of the mistakes I have made throughout the years, saving you time and money.  More importantly, these simples steps will help you make over your furniture piece so that it’s even more beautiful and durable than the day it came off the factory floor.

This is a great post for you if you:

  • Are brand new to furniture refinishing and need detailed instructions
  • Want to know how to update a family heirloom like my vintage vanity
  • Need the best tips for quickly and easily painting a curvy mirror
  • Want to know the best products and brushes for furniture refinishing that won’t break your budget!
vintage vanity makeover

(As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see my full disclosure HERE).

Vintage Vanity Makeover – Why This Piece is So Special

A couple of months ago, my uncle drove down three pieces of furniture in a U-Haul van all the way from New Mexico to Central Texas.  These furniture pieces included this vanity, a tallboy dresser, and a small china hutch – all of which belonged to my grandparents in their house in Beaumont, Texas.

They had been in storage for decades and when I learned about them, I knew I had to get my hands on these beauties!

All three pieces are stunning, each with long spindle-y legs and gorgeous details.  But more importantly, they have immeasurable sentimental value. 

This vanity in particular is special to me because my grandfather is the one that used it.  He and I had a strong relationship and were absolutely inseparable!  He would get home from his job at the refinery and put his keys and wallet (he called it a ‘billfold’) in the top right drawer of the vanity.  I remember going over to their house and sitting at it as I pretended to put makeover on.

My mom would sit at it when she was little and do the exact same.  She also remembers running her fingers along the scroll details in the drawers.

What an amazing opportunity that presented itself when my uncle said he would drive all three furniture pieces down to Texas!  THANK YOU, UNCLE DON!

vintage vanity makeover
vintage vanity makeovere

Vintage Vanity Makeover –  Supplies Needed: 

Latex Paint – I used a quart for this project and had plenty left over.  I recommend Sherwin Williams ProClassic or Behr Marquee (Home Depot) as my second favorite.  My Free Must-Have Painting Tips for a super smooth finish are available in my resource library – get the password using the form at the bottom of this post!
Primer – My favorite primer is Zinsser Bullseye 123 (click here for the current price).  You can also find it here.
Brush Zibra brushes (see the current price here) are my favorite and I used a 1″ square Zibra brush for the details of this project.  You can also get this low-cost set of brushes that I’ve also had good luck with!
6 Inch Roller – Not all rollers are created equal and the ‘Best’ 3/8″ roller is a must-have!  Here is where you can find the handy red roller cup I use in the video:  Red Roller Cup  and here are the liners that I use:  Roller Cup Liners
Sander  – This is a great tool to have at your disposal and you can find a great electric sander here!  Here are my favorite sanding pads: Assorted Sanding Pads
Baby wipes (optional)
If Repairs are Needed:  Use this White Caulk, Wood Filler & Metal Corner Brackets for Structural Support

IMPORTANT:  Does your furniture piece have any damage like deep scratches, gaps, or chipped drawers?  Check out this post for an easy fix: The Ultimate Guide to Fixing Wood Furniture Before Refinishing

For my best tips on installing hardware and filling old holes, be sure to visit this post: How to Install Hardware Handles and Knobs (The Easy Way!)

How to Refinish a Vanity Table: A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Here is a full step-by-step video showing you the process from start to finish:


Because of the exquisite accents and milled legs on this piece, I wanted the color to live up to its beautiful detail.  I love the look of old-world furniture but you don’t have to be an expert at painting furniture to achieve that look.  BUT you do have to have a plan!

As with any DIY project, I recommend you look online so you can know exactly what you want your piece to look like when it’s done.  This makes the entire process easier because it rules out any guesswork.  When you aren’t sure what color to paint the hardware or maybe what sheen of paint, you just look at your image.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Dressing Table Restoration Ideas

Want to “Stain” Over the Old Stain without Stripping?

Another option for redoing your furniture piece is to stain it.  But staining using involves stripping off the old finish with a furniture stripper.  However, this post will show you several options for faux stains with paint:  The Easy Way To Stain Furniture With Latex Paint You can even do a faux driftwood, Restoration Hardware or raw wood finish

Step 1:  How to Prep a Vintage Makeup Vanity

Stop! Before you do anything…take a before pic.  When you are done, post the before and after pics here, so I can see the amazing work you’ve done! ❤️

First things first.  Always, always start by sanding your piece.  Some people will tell you that you don’t have to sand but you don’t want to risk having to completely refinish your whole piece later on only because you didn’t spend 5 minutes sanding the first time around.

vintage vanity makeover

Also, as I mention in my post How to Sand Furniture in 5 Minutes, you are not sanding off the old paint or stain.  You are just merely roughing up the surface so that it is not as slick.  Paint does not stick well to slick surfaces so you are giving the paint something to stick to.

Use a higher grit (60-80) sandpaper for this first sanding, I like to use my electric sander.  If you can use an iron, I promise you can use an electric sander and it’s much more fun!  Trust me, it’s amazing and you can see my favorites here – The Best Sander for Furniture. 

vintage vanity makeover

Just run the sander over the surface as you see in the video.  Parts of the mirror were pretty curvy so I just barely went over them with a piece of sandpaper.

Now that you have sanded, you can wipe off the sanding dust with a damp rag.  I like to use baby wipes for this because they are so convenient!

How to Prep the Vanity Mirror for Primer and Paint

To avoid getting paint on the vanity mirror, I used index cards and tucked them under the edges, and added painter’s tape just to keep them in place.  I didn’t use painter’s tape on the edge of the mirror because it can be really time-consuming and frustrating to apply on a curved edge.  You can see exactly how I used the index cards as a paint guard in the video.

vintage vanity makeover

Step 2: How to Prime a Refurbished Makeup Vanity

Now that you have sanded, you can brush on some primer.  This will be sure to block any stains that might otherwise soak through your paint.  Also, it helps the paint adhere well to the piece.  Remember, primer sticks to things, and paint sticks to primer.  If you don’t prime, you will have to do an extra coat of paint anyway to get enough coverage –  so it’s not really any extra work.

The primer I used for my vintage vanity makeover is Zinsser Bullseye 123.  It is water-based so it isn’t very messy, settles out well for a smooth surface and there are very few fumes.

Zibra brushes (see the current price here) are my favorite paint brushes they hold a lot of paint without getting gloppy.   You can also get a cheaper set of brushes here that work well also.

TIP:  If your final paint color is dark, have your primer tinted a color slightly lighter than your paint.  This will give you better coverage and save you from having to paint on an extra coat of your latex paint.  Just ask the person at the paint counter for help.

vintage vanity makeover
vintage vanity makeover

Step 3: How to Repair a Vintage Vanity Dresser with Mirror

TIP: You might be wondering why we primed first before making repairs.  That’s because the white color of the primer brings to light any irregularities with the surface.  It literally highlights any holes that need to be filled or cracks that can be caulked later.

a beginner's guide to furniture painting
vintage vanity makeover

Sometimes after getting furniture home, you realize it needs a little more help than you previously thought.  But don’t let that discourage you!

Most of the time you can easily fix structural issues.  Don’t let repairs deter you from refinishing a piece you love.

Because my vanity looks like it might have sustained some water damage, the entire frame was loose and coming apart.  Fortunately, it was nothing a few metal brackets couldn’t handle.  I just screwed them into the bottom where joints were loose to tighten everything up.  You can see how I do this in the video.

Most of the time, you won’t have to go to these lengths to fix furniture but I wanted to mention what I did in case your piece needs some extra love!  If you have different issues with your piece and need some advice on how to repair it, just ask me in the comments below.

How to Refinish a Wood Vanity Top That’s Cracked

There was also an area where the top was cracked.  It was structurally stable but the crack was very noticeable.  So, I just used some wood filler to fill those areas, applying it so it was a little higher than the surface of my piece.  I let it dry and sanded it level at the same time I sanded the rest of the piece.  You can see what I did in the video.

vintage vanity makeover
vintage vanity makeover


Step 4:  Sand Again for a Super Smooth Finish

Now you want to take a second to sand over the primer and any places you have used wood filler with a higher grit sanding pad (200+).   This will only take a couple of minutes and will give you a finish so smooth it looks sprayed-on.  Sand over the flat surfaces very lightly (don’t worry about the curvier parts & molding).

On areas that you filled with wood filler, take this time to sand those flat with your high-grit sanding pad.  As you can see in the video, rub your finger along the filled area to make sure you are not sanding off too much filler.  Once you are done, wipe down your vanity with a damp cloth or baby wipe to remove any dust.

vintage vanity makeover

Step 5: How to Caulk Furniture

My vintage vanity had lots of seams coming apart and cracks so after my first coat, I caulked those long gaps with white caulk.  Caulking is entirely optional but it makes a HUGE difference in the final look of the piece.   Whenever you caulk furniture, you want to have two things on hand at all times:  1) baby wipes and 2) a trash can.

Apply your white caulk to the crack in one long bead.  It’s ok if your caulk is messy when it goes on – you are going to wipe most of it off anyway!  You can see exactly how I do this in the video.

After applying it, moisten your index finger with a baby wipe and then smooth the caulk out. Wipe any excess on the wipe and put the wipe in the trash.   (If you get distracted and throw the wipe on the floor, you might have dried caulk on your floor the next day – which is a nightmare to get up.  Ask me how I know!)

As you can see in the video, keep smoothing and wiping off your finger until the caulk just fills in that crack.  Let it dry overnight and you are ready for your final coat!

vintage vanity makeover
vintage vanity

Step 6: How to Paint an Old Makeup Vanity

Now it’s time to paint!  As I mentioned in my post the Best Paint for Furniture, I Benjamin Moore Advance.  It is a water-based paint but has a lot of the properties of oil-based, meaning it does not leave brush marks and is super durable!  Also, the satin sheet looks just like chalk paint if you like that look!

The Best Light Blue Paint for Furniture: Sherwin Williams Meditative

If you have followed the blog for any amount of time, you’ll know that I have an obsession with painting things blue, whether a desk, china cabinet, or pumpkins!

But after much deliberation, I’ve finally found the perfect light blue for furniture.  Sherwin Williams Meditative is a cool blue that isn’t very bright but saturated enough that it doesn’t look gray.  I absolutely love it and it plays nicely with the Sherwin Williams Silver Strand on our master bedroom walls.

I like to apply my paint, first with a roller (as you see in the video) and then I like to catch any details that the roller may have missed with my 1-inch Zibra brush (check the current price here).

You might need a second coat depending on how dark your piece was before you started and how light your paint is.  I could have gotten away with one coat for my vintage vanity makeover, but I decided that since this was such a special piece, I wanted to give it two coats to give it extra protection.

vintage vanity makeover
a beginner's guide to painting furniture

Step 7: How to Refinish an Antique Makeup Table’s Hardware

I like to spray paint most of my hardware instead of cleaning it.  My favorite brand is Rustoleum Universal Metallics.  You can use it on just about any material and it’s will protect your finish long-term.  I used oil rubbed bronze and just sprayed on a light coat every 15-20 minutes or so until I got full coverage.  You can see how I spray the knobs in the video.

After allowing the knobs to dry for 48 hours, I added them back to the drawers.  I also attached the mirror to the back with new screws.

For my best spray painting tips and tricks, click here:  How to Get A Flawless Finish with Spray Paint


Now that you are done, I’d love to see how it turned out! ❤️  Post your before and after photos here!

Here’s how the vanity turned out!  What a transformation.  I think it would make my grandparents proud!  What do you think!?!

vintage vanity makeover
vintage vanity makeover
a beginner's guide to furniture painting

To see the full bedroom transformation, check out my post here:  Master Bedroom Makeover in Sherwin Williams Silver Strand.

Vintage Vanity Accessories

If you want to add to the look of your vintage vanity makeover, you can add some of the accessories below:

Vintage Vanity Brush and Mirror Set

Makeup Mirrors with a Light

Vintage Vanity Stool

Makeup Organizer

Vintage Vanity Tray Set

vintage vanity makeover


Every time I refinish a piece of furniture, I am reminded of the makeover God does in the life of every single one of His children regularly.

From the time that I asked Him to forgive me of my sin and come into my life, He set a process in motion in which He has been intimately involved.  This process is called redemption, where He uses my brokenness to transform me and teach me to depend on Him.

He realized I was damaged and deeply in need of repair.  But my broken and tarnished state didn’t discourage Him.  On the contrary, He sought me out, already fully aware of what my transformation had cost Him.

So, He cleaned me off, and braced me with His own strength, making me far stronger than I could have ever been on my own.

My Heavenly Father realized I had some rough edges that needed sanding.  While not always pleasant, He peeled away things in my life that tried to fill His place, showing me how He could smooth my worries and calm my anxieties with a peace that comes only from Him.

He prepped and primed me for what was ahead, always going before me in every trial I would endure, while simultaneously walking beside me during the entire process.

Just like pouring a fresh coat of clean white paint on an antique, He covered my sin with the sacrifice of His only Son.

Like pulling a broken piece of furniture out of a trash heap, He rescues us, mends our broken places, and transforms our lives to have a new beauty and purpose that would have never been possible apart from His grace.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

For more spiritual encouragement, click here for the rest of my Renovate Your Faith Posts.

a beginner's guide to furniture painting

Free Must-Have Painting Tips for Furniture!

Get the password for the library with the free pattern and SVG files here by filling out this form:

vintage vanity makeover
a beginner's guide to furniture painting

Vintage Vanity Makeover – Related Posts:

The Absolute Best Paint for Furniture (24 Brands Blind Tested & Reviewed)

Benjamin Moore Hale Navy Dresser Reveal – What You Should Know When Painting Furniture in Dark Colors

Master Bedroom Reveal in Sherwin Williams Silver Strand

Best Spray Painting Tips (Free Checklist!)

How to Sand Furniture in 5 Minutes

Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint on Furniture

The Best Paint for Furniture – Chalk Paint vs. Milk Paint vs. Latex

How to Fix Damaged Wood Furniture (The Ultimate Guide)

The Easiest Way To Add Ribbon To a Christmas Tree (The Ultimate Guide!)

How to Add Legs to Furniture Pieces (The Easy Way!)

vintage vanity makeover

Vintage Vanity Makeover: YouTube Video

Final Thoughts on How to Paint a Makeup Vanity

This vintage vanity makeover goes to prove that any piece of furniture, no matter how damaged or worn can be restored and refinished.  Using the right products and these easy tips, you can update furniture so it’s not only gorgeous but lasts for years to come!

vintage vanity makeover

I love to hear your thoughts and questions!  Scroll down to leave a comment and I WILL reply! ❤️







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how to paint a mirror

Vintage Vanity Makeover: Refinish a Vintage Dressing Table in 7 Easy Steps


  1. Hello, thank you for the step by step instructions. I’ve painted 2 pieces. The first was an antique, I didn’t sand after the final coat because it was smooth. The other piece, a newer piece, I did sand because it was very rough after the final coat. But, it now shows the sand marks. Is this due to the type of wood, because it’s a newer piece, the sand paper grit, or something else? I used 200+ grit. Any advice? Thank you.

  2. I’m wondering if you painted the drawers inside and out? I’m doing a similar project. The vanity had previously been painted red and I’m using the SW Meditative Blue. The drawers are pretty messy….they were not painted red but there are red spills onto the original finish. What would you recommend? Thanks!

    1. Great question Elizabeth. I usually don’t worry about painting the drawers unless they are really gross or pen marks. And then I paint them so they will have a whole new clean surface. It is totally up to you! Let me know if you have any other questions! Blessings, Karin

  3. Hey, bit of a longshot, but do you have any idea what decade your vanity is from? I have a very similar style one, and am just trying to get an idea of when it’s from. Thanks for the guide! Love the color blue you chose.

  4. Hey! I would love your advice; I too am OBSESSED with Hale Navy (its soon to be the color of our kitchen cabinets). Once I saw your post, it got me thinking about using the color in our bedroom as well. We are painting the existing furniture & were planning on doing a white room with accent wall in SW Iron Ore. Do you think painting our dresser in Hale Navy would conflict with the walls? That’s always my biggest fear factor! Thank you for your input, if you have time 🙂

    1. Hey Isabel, I think Hale Navy would look great against white but I think it might compete some with the Iron Ore. I’d either paint it a different color or just put it on one of the white walls. I hope that helps! Thanks Isabel – Karin

  5. Hi Karin
    Its hard to fathom the timing of God and who and what He places in our path just at the right time! But suffice it to say at the moment, I needed your website right now in my life for a host of reasons. (More later when time permits)
    Thank you for these awesome and practical approaches to transforming our earthly treasures aa we also pursue the transforming of our very hearts and lives in Christ. (My website listed below began several months ago…and I have neglected its very existence until now. Thanks for the inspiration)

    1. That’s so humbling to hear. One of the things I love about this ministry is that I have no control in how God uses it. It’s so fun to see how God orchestrates it in the lives of others in spite of me! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions! Thank you Susan!

  6. Yes, I love your work and thank you for sharing with such detail and care. I am painting a vanity from the Good Will, and how do I sand the spindles. I can’t find it on your website.

  7. Have you ever used Benjamin Moore Advance paint – it’s like the SW pro. It is a wonderful paint (in my opinion). Wondering your thoughts on it if you have…

  8. Hi!!! Thanks for your tutorial, it gave me the motivation. I’ve been procrastinating the repainting of my vanity, but now I’ll do it!! I want to know if you used satin or semi gloss finish.

  9. I love old vintage furniture and love to save the original wood finish if possible. I would have saved the original finish as it looked to be in good condition. But, the vanity is beautiful! I too love blue and am saving this so I know what kind of paint and color to get when I’m ready to begin my next project. Thank you for your uplifting posts! I look forward to receiving them and reading everything in them. And I love seeing your projects for your home. Great ideas and inspiration for my home!

    1. Hey Sherry, Thank you so much for your kind words. I have to admit, I cringed a little when I put that first brush stroke of primer on but the piece needed so much work, I didn’t see how I could keep the original finish while making the necessary repairs. I’m so happy you are liking the blog and let me know if you every need anything! – Karin

  10. Love the color of this antique vanity!! Turned out fantastic! Jw, what size can of the Pro classic SW paint did u buy? Also, did u do a top clear coat or no? Why or why not?

    I’m still refinishing my children’s dressers and stared the polycrilic tonight on a few drawers. I chose to do a top coat because they’re for the kids! I painted with satin finish paint and my poly is satin too so was wondering ur thoughts on me doing 2 coats of poly sanding lightly in between then buying the clear gloss or semi gloss polycrilic for the tops only so they’re extra smooth n wipeable and more durable ? Is that a good idea or should I stick to the satin finish poly? Thanks
    God bless
    IG: Michigan.Mommy14

    1. Hey Rachel,
      I used a quart of the SW ProClassic and it was plenty of paint. I opted not to clear coat. I figured if I get makeup on it, I can wipe it off or touch it up later. I think if you did a semi-gloss top coat, it would be a little more wipeable but I don’t know if it would make a huge difference verses using the satin as the last clear coat layer. Also, I usually don’t sand in between clear coat layers. You probably should but I’ve always gotten away without! Feel free to send any more questions my way Rachel! – Karin

  11. What a beautiful piece of furniture! You continue to amaze me with your abilities to transform your home. Thank you also for your prayers.

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