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. says

    I’m so glad you did this! Every time I saw pictures I cringed a little with the big spots that were obviously broken/something missing. Now it looks much more aged vs. ugly.

  2. says

    Im impressed you found a matching swatch! Looks great :)
    1 question for the spray paint queen- I just spray painted Isla June’s children’s table and chair set. Left it outside for 4 days to “off gas” (was that enough time???) and now I am wondering if I need the Safecoat? Is that how you “seal” after you spray paint something or do you normally leave it?

    • says

      If it’s for a kid’s room I usually try to use no-VOc paint and this sealer, so yes I would try to get this sealer on it of you can. Hope it helps :)


    • says

      Thanks! Would have LOVED to use some No VOC paint on this but it was one of those projects that had to! kind of things. Plus, We don’t have any of our tools here :( When we finally move out of this condo I’m anxious to have space (and storage) to finish all my projects with material of my preferred choosing!

  3. Mandy B. says

    This looks amazing…I was wondering if you think this sealer could go on over some old doors that could possibly be painted with lead paint? I love the antiquy (not a word, I know) look, and hate to strip down the beautiful patina they’ve gotten sitting in someone’s shed, but don’t get so warm and cozy at the idea of our little one accidentally ingesting paint chips. The doors are planned to be made into a headboard in our room, btw.

  4. Liz O says

    I love that buffet! And I’m glad my child isn’t the only one that puts stickers all over his body. Why do they do that?

  5. Ryan says

    I was a fan of the chippy green paint, but I think it still looks great without the nekkidness in spots. :)

    Have fun at your first signing! I hope you’re awkwardly awesome! :)

  6. Amanda says

    Looks AMAHZING!!!!!!

    I’m all for a restored by Sherry sticker on the back (where it’s not finished/visible). I inherited a piece of furniture that my ancestor had stuck a label to, saying who first owned it, where and when. I noticed it when I was moving it, and I have to say it was seriously cool!

  7. Julie Anne says

    OOOOh. Dear.

    I usually love everything y’all do, but in this case, I do feel like a gentle word of caution is in order before all your fans run off to buy paint and sealant.

    Restoring the color and finish for a contemporary piece that just looks old is a-OK, but to mess with an early or original finish for a real bona-fide antique (anything over 100 years) is a no-no.

    Changing the finish can reduce the value of an antique wood piece by huge (and I truly do mean huge – in some cases thousands o’ beans) amounts of money.

    So it’s good to check what you got including its age and relative value before getting too jiggy with the paint or stain.

    Sears 1974 = OK to paint
    Shaker 1774 = not so much

    The other school of thought also, is that because collectors would never touch the finish of a real antique, that those little bits of wear and tear on a faux antique make the piece look more swanky and real-life-collectible. Just an opinion, not everyone might share it.

    Still love ya, and really glad you weathered the storm well – go cheer up those folks in Connecticut!)

    • says

      Oh yes! We definitely aren’t encouraging folks to go crazy and ruin antiques! But if you have an old chippy Craigslist find or hand-me-down that won’t sell for a pretty penny and isn’t a truly valuable heirloom, this is a nice way to make it work in your house :)


  8. Allison H. says

    I loved the buffet before and it looks ever better now! Great job!

    Did you know you can take things (for example, the door of your buffet) to the paint center and they have a machine that will match the color dead on? You did a great job matching the color without their fancy technology though.

  9. says

    Love that! You have such a beautiful home, definitely found the balance in having a modern and clean look but still loading it up with cute and playful accessories.

  10. Gabby says

    Such a small amount of work but a BIG result. It looks beautiful!!

    BTW Sherry, what name does Miss Buffet go by? Phoebe, perhaps?? (After Phoebe in Friends)

    Have a safe trip guys and the very best wishes for an awesome day tomorrow!! :)

  11. says

    I am in the process of giving some love to my dining room table. I painted the legs and am refinishing the top. Do you use that same sealer on stained wood as well. I love how your buffet turned out. Now it looks very loved, not abused ;)

  12. says

    It looks awesome! You’d never be able to tell you patched her up (picture me slow clapping here) And call me crazy, but I liked the big ol’ chippy version as well! Either way she’s a winner ;)

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