ask Mr. Kate: painting wood furniture?

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Hey Mr. Kate,

I discovered your YouTube channel three days ago and I am now obsessed. My parents own a rental house and while I am in college they are letting me move in. And, I have free range to decorate/paint/etc. It’s been crazy. But, always I painted my room a soft aqua color, and am going to have a white bedspread with tons of funky throw pillows to bring some color to it. However, the bed frame I have a cherry wood and I’m thinking about painting it. How difficult is it to paint an entire bed set? And, do you have any color recommendations or should I leave it brown?

Thank you so much!

:) Bailey

my answer….

Hi Bailey!

Congrats on moving and going to college and thanks for loving my YouTube channel!

I’ve painted a ton of wood furniture over the years. One of my favorite things to do is find old dressers, chairs, coffee tables, etc. for super cheap at thrift stores or flea markets and then paint them to bring them new life! I actually get a lot of questions about how to paint wood furniture, so I’m glad you’re asking!

Painting wood furniture is really an easy process, meaning skill wise, anyone do it! You can absolutely paint you cherry wood bed a different color to fit with your room design. Some people may be aghast at the thought of painting wood, especially if it’s a beautiful wood, which cherry often is, but the good thing is if you paint it, you can always sand the paint off later to restore the natural wood look!

Prep It:

  • sandpaper – around 100 Medium grain would be good (you only need this if the wood has some kind of varnish or sealer on it which you will know if it looks shiny or feels slick to the touch. if it is raw wood, you don’t need to sand!)
  • latex (water-based) paint in the color of your choice – usually an eggshell or matte finish sticks the best but you could do glossy if you want that look.
  • white spray paint primer or paint primer (you only need this if your wood is dark and you want to paint it a light color).
  • paint brushes – maybe one large one and one smaller one
  • screw driver to remove any hardware before painting


  1. using your screwdriver, remove any hardware like metal details or drawer pulls – if you’re doing a bed, this may not apply. you don’t have to take it apart or remove screws or anything.
  2. if your wood is sealed with a varnish – rough up the finish with a piece of sandpaper – you don’t have to go crazy, just sand it until it looks more matte finish – this will help the paint stick.
  3. using a damp cloth, wipe off any dust left on the wood from sanding.
  4. if you want to paint a dark wood a light paint color, prep the wood with a white spray paint or coat from a can of paint primer. this will make your life easier when you paint the color because the color will look more true and bright, without the dark wood showing through, and you won’t have to do as many coats! **if you want more of a weathered ‘antique’ look, skip the primer and let some of the wood show through the color.**
  5. paint your color with your brushes. use the big brush on large areas and the small brush to get into cracks. careful to not leave any drips of paint. you may need to do a couple coats to get the color you like. let the coats dry in between.
  6. once totally dry, re-attach your hardware (pulls, detailing, etc.) and you’re done!

As far as color scheme, I love the color aqua in bedrooms. If you want a serene look, I’d paint your bed white or ivory. I think these are successful serene aqua-themed rooms…

aqua walls with a white painted bed and a white rug

aqua walls with white bed, fun throw pillow and white lamps

If you want a more rustic look, you could paint a layer of white or light yellow and then a layer or aqua over the wood (no primer), wait until it’s totally dry, then sand off parts of the paint to get that “shabby chic” look, kind of like these examples…

Here are some other aqua color palette options that I think work well…

different shades of aqua and blue with a green bed

aqua, green, black side tables, vintage chandelier, natural jute or sea grass rug

aqua, white wall, grey accents

Hope that helps! Enjoy painting and decorating and college!


- kate

check out more Ask Mr. Kate and ask me your question here!

all photos via Pinterest

  • contemporary furniture

    Love the vintage design! The color is nice too.

  • Interior Paint

    Aqua is my favorite color and I’ve used it in my bedroom and our front door! It always feels so refreshing and inviting. Perfect for a beach cottage or city apartment as well.

  • Sulma

    I would like someone to paint, my bedroom set for me, professionally.

  • Maggie Tuczapska

    I love your style, I adore working on solid wood furniture, yet they are difficult to come by at decent price. I have found walnut one recently, which was an old telephone table with nice bottom shelf. I have upholstered the shelf with piece of faux black leather, and the whole table has been sanded down (which revealed amazing wear & tear marks). For the top I have decided to go with the native american theme, and sketched the Bull Skull silhouette, which I have later filled with black oil based paint. What do you think: