Matching New Paint To An Old Paint Job

Let’s talk about the buffet again. Remember the one that we got for a steal off craigslist and parked in our entryway? Here he is now to jog your memory (sidenote: I think everyone should always pronounce jog as yog and jogging as yogging – it’s infinitely funnier).

Dude was gorgeous, but he had a few little bumps and bruises that I wanted to heal. I wanted to play nurse with the buffet, ok?

So file this under super speedy quick fixes – heck the whole thing only took about half an hour and ran me under $3. As for my materials list, here it is:

Yup, all it took was a small craft brush that I already had and a $2.99 test pot of paint from Home Depot in the closest possible color to the buffet (I brought home a ton of swatches and held them up to see which ones melted right in and looked nearly identical). Oh and the winning color was Cricket by Behr for anyone who’s looking for a soft moody green tone).

As for my technique, first I prepped the entire buffet by:

  • using Gorilla Glue to secure any loose trim pieces or small wood carvings to adhere them for the long haul (I noticed some wiggly things that I feared might chip or fall off with daily use, so I stuck it to them and gave everything a full day of curing time before moving on to the next step)
  • giving it an awesomely cathartic scrub-down with a Magic Eraser (there were some dingy areas that were sort of smudgy and gray, like a lead pencil rubbing, and they came up with some scrubbing, so it looks a lot less muddled)

Then it was paintin’ time…

I just used that small brush to paint wherever I saw big chunks of bare wood. First I brushed it on and then I blended things with the swipe of a paper towel. I didn’t want things to be thick or perfect, so that paper towel swipe helped to sort of “distress” that area so it blended right in with the rest of it (which is definitely not pristine at all). We love all of the little imperfections and rough spots – so this process was really just about filling in those big gaping holes where something clearly broke off or was much more damaged than a little timeworn distressing.

Here’s a little side by side comparison to help you see what I mean. I didn’t fill in all the dark spots or scratches, just the big gaps. And once the paint dried (it always looks too light when it’s going on) it looked pretty darn seamless.

Here’s another detail to show you the difference. Before:

And after:

So now she still looks old and loved, but doesn’t put out that dinged-with-a-baseball-bat effect that she was subtly broadcasting before. Boom. Quick, easy, and cheap. Oh and you might notice that our snake-riddled pumpkins aren’t up on the console in this pic (they moved outside to the porch), but I have some plans to do a little fall-a-fying to this surface soon. Oh yeah, momma’s feeling a case of crafty comin’ on…

Anyway, after gluing, scrubbing, and painting this bad girl, all that was left of Operation Buffet-mou-flage was to apply three thin and even coats of SafeCoat Acrylacq (it’s my very favorite non-toxic sealer, which comes in a satin finish so it’s not all shiny and obvious).

We like to apply it with a small foam roller so it’s nice and thinly spread (thick = gloppy).

And as for the more detailed (aka: bumpy parts) a small brush works to get into those grooves. Thin and even is the key though. Otherwise you’re veering off into gloppy territory again.

Now this baby deserves a “lovingly restored” sticker. Except please don’t put a sticker on my buffet or $herdog will get feisty. Thankfully Clara just contains them to various body parts:

Atta girl.

Anyone else out there showing some love to old pieces of furniture without straight up stripping them down and starting over? I gotta say, it’s a nice four-hour project instead of spending a full weekend on something. Those are always nice, right? It gives you more time to gorge on candy corn and then royally regret it about an hour later. Or is that just me?

Psst- Clara’s at it again with her hilariously random conversations here on Young House Life. 


  1. Gail says

    Love quick fixes and the fresh/clean look of new paint, even if its just to clean up an older piece. We just got through painting the exterior of our house..LOTS of work, but well worth it!

    Also, I just checked amazon and my book (that I pre-ordered in August!) has already been shipping and should be here on Saturday! WOO HOO!

  2. says

    I love the way that looks. I have this antiquey looking shadowboxy shelf that I bought from an antique mall and the more I look at the dings (similar to your befores), the more irritated I get. I think I might tackle that thing on a slightly warmer day so I can love it again. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. tracy says

    I love this fix. I really liked that console, and all the character it has, but the one thing that was kind of bugging me was the broken off pieces.
    Bonus: the comment above prompted me to check my book shipping status, and it says “shipping soon” and should be here by next Wednesday!

    • alisha says

      HA! I was going to ask the same thing! I wondered if a sexual reassignment surgery was also preformed during this little sprucing up project =]

      And I must admit when I saw the post title I thought “NOOOOOO!!!!! Leave that buffet alone!!!” BUT that paint color is an excellent match and the finished project emphasizes it’s (gender neutral) charms instead of hiding them. Well done!

    • says

      Mmmm no I have to disagree. Not Jimmy.

      I really see this piece of lovely furniture as a classy lady with the name Chantelle because for some reason her older feminine vibe makes me have this song by the Big Bopper pop into my head:

      “Chantilly lace and a pretty face
      And a pony tail hanging down
      That wiggle in the walk and giggle in the talk
      Makes the world go round”

      And so from chantilly lace the name Chantelle just seems a natural fit.

      Am I crazy or what!? :)

    • says

      Oh just saw that further down in the comments you agreed to name her Phoebe :) well I’m glad she’s a girl! Maybe her middle name could be Chantelle :)

  4. says

    Wow! You would have never known that was a different paint than the original! Impressive. I also just got really excited at Gail’s comment about her Amazon book coming Saturday. I got mine through Amazon too so they had better be on my door step on Saturday!

  5. says

    This looks great!! This post is motivating me to touch up my old hand-me-down dresser. I can’t believe I’ve never thought of just touching up the spots.

  6. Mahareen says

    I found an inlay chest of drawers at Homegoods during their “India” sale that needs some loving care where some of the inlay came off. Its sooo pretty and will be even better when I finish using your tips – thanks!

    On a whiny note, I was SO looking forward to attending your book signing in NJ this week, but after 3 days without power I had to give up and head south to my parents place in MD. I work from home, so no power/cell service for another 7-10 days (I live in a shore area) just wasn’t going to happen, especially since there wasn’t even any public places that have power and all our friends close by are in the same boat. I am SO BUMMED to be missing it, but thanking my lucky stars that at least we only had exterior damage and no flooding.

    Hope I catch you guys at a future one!

  7. says

    I have to say, as much as I love this antique buffet mini-makeover, I would love to see it completely re-painted. But you might lose that lovely antique feel! (and taken 20 billion hours.)

  8. says

    It looks perfect! and in response to the “jog=yog” idea…I literally laughed out loud because just yesterday my hubby asked if I had an empty “yug” in my craft stuff… we replace “j” with “y” more often than I should probably admit…but oh well. We have our own lingo and we like it ;)

  9. Karen says

    I just thought you should know that whenever I read your posts I play a little game with myself. I skip where it says who wrote the post, then try to guess if it’s you or John. I’m pretty good if I do say so myself! Totally cool, right? Not at all dorky!

  10. Kellee says

    Love the way it looks now! It’s definitely looking worn but loved.

    I have to admit that your buffet has inspired me. We have been looking for something (I was leaning towards a small desk) for our entrance and after seeing your buffet, I thought that could work for us too :)

    I was at an antique store a few weeks ago where everything was outrageously priced. I was about to give up on the place when I found an old buffet in the back marked at $45! It’s not painted but we are definitely going to have to strip and restain it (in need of a lot of love) but I think it’s totally worth it.

    Thanks for all the awesome ideas you have!

Leave a Reply

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