How to Give Ugly Furniture an Easy Farmhouse Makeover

Hi there! I hope your week is going well. We are so excited because our sweet daughter is coming home for Columbus Day weekend–yippee! Not sure how much we’ll see of her, but it looks like dinner tonight is a go. Today I have a pretty dramatic makeover for you.

Remember the ugly, dark brown bakers rack I bought not too long ago? I finally “called its number” in the makeover line, and it received a transforming coat (or two) of paint. So here is the simple answer to the question, “How to give ugly furniture an easy farmhouse makeover?” Paint it!

Today I’m going to show you how to give ugly furniture an easy farmhouse makeover ๐Ÿ™‚

baker's rack vintage makeoverAre you remembering the piece yet?

An Ugly Baker’s Rack Before Its Makeover

bakers rack before pictureHere she is in all of her 1980’s, dark-stained ugliness.

Tips for Getting That Farmhouse Look

I didn’t promise that the answer would surprise you or that it would involve rocket science, now did I? But I’ll give you a couple of other tips that will help you turn ugly into farmhouse.

  1. Because most farmhouse furniture is fairly simple, buy furniture with simple lines.
  2. Buy furniture with dark stain or paint so when it comes time to distress it, some of that dark stain/paint will show through.
  3. Select a neutral color paint, like antique white, taupe, charcoal, or some variation thereof. These colors are most apt to give you that farmhouse look you’re going after. Although authentic greens and blues can look pretty fabulous too!
  4. Use sandpaper to remove paint from around edges, on curves, and the tips of decorative touches like finials.
  5. Plan on using paste wax to finish off your project because it gives you a buttery smooth surface that looks vintage-y rather than glossy and brand-new.

vintage baker's rackI painted her in my foyer because my workroom simply doesn’t have enough space for a project of this size. I shared a photo of said workroom with readers on my email list–it is overflowing with supplies, in-progress projects, and vintage goods. So down went the drop cloth, up went the small folding table, and on went the two coats of paint. Yes, in the foyer(!).

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demi johns and clock on bakers rack
Back to the project…after letting the paint dry overnight, I used 150 grit sandpaper wrapped around a sanding block to remove some of the paint on corners and edges–places where it would naturally be rubbed, touched, or knocked about in real life, over time.

Removing paint around all the edges and on the tips of finials and on curvy parts, lets your eye see the beautiful shape of your piece, unlike when it is all one color, especially dark brown, LOL.

demijohns and clock on bakers rackNext, I applied one of my favorite stencils, since it just seemed to be crying out for some decorative attention. I’ve talked about the products that I like to use when stenciling and how to stencil in several posts including this one here.

For this project, I used chalk paint in “Carbon” by DecoArt, who kindly provided the paint, and  I applied it with a makeup sponge, which works well with stencils like this that happens to have very small openings.

vintage bakers rackFor the final step I applied a coat of clear paste wax and buffed it to a soft sheen. This protects the surface and, like I mentioned above, gives it a smooth buttery surface.

It looks like grandma has been wiping it down with a soft cloth for years, which is the the look we’re going for.

Final, final step–I dragged it outside and filled it with some vintage goodies and snapped away.

vintage ny sugar barrel lidDid you notice this amazing sugar barrel lid? I bought it not to long ago for 50ยข, in five pieces, remember? Each piece was slightly warped, but my sweet father managed to glue it all back together for me. I’m absolutely over the moon about it.

chateau Diana wine bottleI didn’t have any bottles of wine for the “photo shoot,” so I had to make do with two empties that I had on hand; I’m sure you can guess why I’m holding onto them ๐Ÿ™‚

chateau Diana wine bottleDear friends saved the bottles for me after discovering it at Rite Aid, of all places. [I guess my “personal” brand is not for wine snobs…]

I keep a supply of vintage clock on hand for various styling purposes. When not in use, they line a book case in my office where I can enjoy them every day, all day(!).

I hope you enjoyed learning some of my “tricks” for giving dated furniture a farmhouse facelift. Enjoy your weekend!

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how to give ugly furniture (a bakers rack, e.g.,) a farmhouse makeover

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  1. That looks amazing, Diana. I’d buy that in a heartbeat. The sugar lid too, if it wouldn’t be so darned expensive to ship.

  2. Hi Diana,
    The furniture piece looks sooo much better with the white chalk paint and the stencil. I just refinished a heavy TV tray table with white chalk paint and the exact same stencil, so this post really clicked with me! I am taking it to a craft sale this Saturday–praying for no rain and good sales! Great job on your farmhouse makeover and your workroom sounds just like mine. Take care!

  3. Diana, I love the Cafe Paris stencil. I use it on (thrifted) lazy susans, trays and small shelves, even on a large cheese box. I have a flea market booth and this stencil on anything sells without fail. Love the large piece you have pictured here!

  4. That turned out beautifully, Diana…love the sugar lid, too! p.s. I paint in my foyer all the time!

  5. It looks fabulous! There is nothing quite like a white, chippy makeover! I have two large pieces waiting in my garage to be madeover and I will be using the same techniques you did. Wish me luck!

  6. Wow, it looks really great! It’s amazing what a coat of paint can do and it’s sad that some people pass really great pieces by because they can’t imagine it looking any different that it does at that moment. Love the stencil and all the distressing!


  7. I love how it turned out, Diana. The white paint is exactly what it needed. And the stencil! I long to do something like this for a potting bench. . .just have to find the piece of furniture!

  8. WOW, that baker’s rack turned out great. You were so wise to pick up the parts to the sugar barrel lid and your father worked a miracle in gluing it back together so beautifully.

  9. That baker’s rack turned out beautifully! Love all the little ways you styled it too. The cheese lid…LOVE!

  10. That looks really great, Diana! I like hearing that you painted it in your foyer. I want to do some furniture makeovers but I feel like I have no place to do them since I live in a small ranch. I couldn’t do something like the baker’s rack in my front hall because it is long and narrow but maybe in the bathroom! That’s kind of small, too. Hmmn. Well, with the drop cloth I could do it in the living room! On the weekend it would have to be as my six-year-old grandsons are here during the week. So it would have to be a “quickie”! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to think this all out! I’m rarin’ to go now!

    You always inspire me, Diana!

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