Vintage Nightstands Makeover

Check out this vintage nightstands makeover with some paint and stain. It’s another great makeover to add to our list of painted nightstands ideas.

I’m so excited to share these light gray nightstands with you today! We updated them with one of my all time favorite colors, and it’s not white!

Matching Pair of Wooden Vintage Nightstands with Drawer

These wooden nightstands are so cute!! They had seen better days, but hey, that’s why we paint furniture right?

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I also may earn from other qualifying purchases with other companies or get free product to review and use. All opinions are my own.

Supplies to Paint Vintage Nighstands

Preparing Furniture for Paint

These cuties were definitely in need of a refresh and were pretty worn out!

I started out by cleaning them up and prepping them for paint.

Learn exactly How to Prepare Furniture For Painting here.

Sanding Wood for Stain

worn out wood nightstand tops with scratched finish and water damage

I sanded the tops of the nightstands down right away since the finish on the top of one of them was worn down (see picture).

It would have been so much easier to strip them with a chemical stripper instead of sanding them because of the details on the edges. I typically strip them instead, but something about a worn off finish makes me want to sand.

Here’s How to Remove Old Stain from Detailed Wood.

If I would have had my SurfPrep Sander back then, it would have been a lot easier to sand the curved edges.

sanding wood nightstands with folded sandpaper

If you aren’t familiar with the different levels of sandpaper, the lower the number, the more coarse or rough the sandpaper is.

So it will be easier to take off a finish with lower grit sandpaper.

But, the wood will be rough after that.

So it’s always best to work your way up to a higher grit sandpaper to smooth everything out and make that wood shine.

Protecting from Overspray

Once the tops were completely sanded down, I taped them off with Pre-taped Plastic and Painters Tape.

I also taped off the drawers with the plastic and the tape.

plastic and tape protecting the top and inside of drawer while spraying paint

You can see more ways for how to prevent over spray when painting furniture here.

I lightly sanded the legs down, and then wrapped some brown paper around the legs with tape (the pre-taped plastic is also great for this!) to prevent over spray on them since I wanted to keep them stained.

Changing the Hardware

To update the hardware, I filled the holes in with Bondo.

Bondo is a great alternative to wood filler since it dries super hard pretty quickly, and it doesn’t shrink and crack like wood filler does.

The biggest downside is how bad it stinks! You can see our comparison of wood fillers for Filling Holes when Replacing Cabinet or Furniture Hardware here.

Learn more about this process of How to Change Hardware here.

Learn more about the best wood filler for furniture here.

Priming Before Painting Furniture

Since it was nice and warm, I took the nightstands outside to paint. I simply laid down a few large cardboard boxes on the ground, and then got to work.

Before I went any further, I sprayed 3 coats of Clear Shellac onto the nightstands.

In the furniture painting world, there is this ugly thing called “bleed through” and you really never know when it’s going to strike.

But shellac really helps with that issue. So I shellac everything now.

And I mean everything.

But especially light colors that won’t hide the bleed through.

I let the clear shellac dry for at least a few hours, but overnight is best.

Painting with a Paint Sprayer

I love to paint my furniture with a paint sprayer. Mostly because I love the brush free finish, but also because I love how much faster it is!

There is a little bit of a learning curve to thinning out the paint, but to help you with that, I wrote to help you with how to use a Wagner Double Duty paint sprayer.  

I used Country Chic Paint’s Lazy Linen for these nightstands.

Lazy Linen is the very best light gray chalk paint I have come across yet! It’s a warm grey or greige, and I just love the modern touch it gives furniture.

So I thinned out the paint and painted about 3-4 coats of Lazy Linen on the nightstands.

Here’s How to Thin Paint for Wagner Sprayer.

I used 3-4 coats because of how light the paint is.

Not because it doesn’t cover well, but because no light paint covers very well. And when the paint in thinned out for the paint sprayer, another coat is usually necessary because the coats go on thinner than if you were to brush them.

But, when you use a paint sprayer, and since the chalk paint dries so quickly, it all goes very quickly.

Check out my list of the top chalk paint brands for your future furniture makeovers.

Distressing Painted Furniture

After the paint was dry, I lightly sanded everything down with 220 grit sandpaper.

The sanding makes the paint feel smoother, and it also distresses at the same time.

Learn more about Distressing Furniture: 6 Techniques Anyone Can Do here.

light grey painted nightstand with a stained wood top and distressed paint

For this vintage nightstands makeover I wanted a more distressed and worn finish.

So I made sure to sand all the edges until wood started to show through.

I also sanded a few areas on the flat surfaces to create a worn look.

Staining Wood Furniture

Once the body was painted and ready to be sealed, I took off the plastic on the tops and the legs.

I stained the tops with walnut gel stain.

Gel stain is a stain that is usually used over an existing finish, like how these legs weren’t sanded down to bare wood.

Light grey vintage nightstands makeover with wood stained tops and legs

And then I used an old cut up shirt to wipe the stain onto the legs. Gloves and a mask are best for this process!

Learn more about how to restain wood furniture here.

When I wiped the stain on, I wiped around the legs, all the way from the top to the bottom. When in doubt, look for the grain pattern, and follow it. I worked on two legs at a time.

See gel stain in action with this tutorial on how to stain wood darker.

Topcoating Painted Furniture

To finish up these nightstands, I sealed the paint and stain with multiple coats of my favorite polyurethane.

If I used a paint sprayer for only one thing, it would be to topcoat painted and stained furniture.

A brush just leaves behind too many imperfections and streaks, but a sprayer makes it easy to get a smooth even finish.

And poly is super important! Not only does it seal the chalk paint, but it also creates a strong, durable and smooth finish.

Learn ALL of my tips and tricks on How to Spray Polyurethane here!

A lot of people use wax to seal their chalk paint, but wax really isn’t as durable as poly, and it takes so much longer to wax on and wax off. haha! But really.

It takes forever compared to spraying the poly on.

Learn more about Topcoat for Painting Furniture here.

Changing Hardware

closeup of gray painted furniture with distressing

To finish it off, I drilled new holes into the center of the drawers, and added some fresh new clear knobs to finish out the look.

And here’s what they look like now!!

side view of gray painted vintage nightstands makeover

What a makeover! I know there were a lot of little pieces to this tutorial, and I hope that doesn’t overwhelm you!

Please let me know how I can help and if you try doing something similar!

I would love to see!

Light gray farmhouse nightstands with stained legs
The Light Grey Farmhouse Nightstands with stained tops and legs

Vintage Nightstands Makeover

light gray painted nightstands

Bust out some paint and stain. Here are the steps for this vintage nightstands makeover.


  1. Clean and prep your furniture for paint.
  2. Tape off the top and drawers of the nightstand to protect them from overspray.
  3. Fill in hardware holes.
  4. Spray nightstands with 3 coats of Clear Shellac to prime.
  5. Apply 3-4 coats of paint.
  6. Once dry, distress the paint with 220 grit sandpaper.
  7. Stain the tops of the nightstands with walnut gel stain.
  8. Seal everything with a few coats of waterbased polyurethane.
  9. Attach new hardware.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

More Resources

Follow us on YouTube to get more tips for painting furniture.

Or share your project with us on our Facebook Group and be part of our community. See you there!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *