Need a furniture refresh? You don't have to buy everything new, you just need to update what you have, and literally all that takes is a coat of paint. A few top designers gave us their favorite colors for painting furniture, so if you're in need of some inspiration, this is it.
"Dorothy Draper had no qualms about painting a 17th-century chair white—always a white white, never a creamy white. Her attitude was: I'll make antiques work for me. I'd paint a big armoire , with , and display blue-and-white porcelain against the yellow side," says president/owner of Dorothy Drapre & Co., .
"This is a soft, muted lavender with a bit of blue in it. I'd put it on a reproduction Louis XVI chair, in high gloss, because that's what makes it modern, and I'd find a fabric for it in exactly the same shade—shiny, like a cotton chintz or vinyl," says NYC-based interior designer, .
"I have a big, hugely functional Georgian Revival lawyer's desk in tired dry mahogany. I painted it this pale gray-green in an oil-base stain finish, cleanable, very calm, but not so pale that it dies. The gimmick is the old-fashioned desk in an unexpected color. It catches light and makes for a more interesting surface," says , founder of interior design group, M.
"I found this chair in Florida on the Dixie Highway and fell in love with the high fretwork back. In brown it looked dreary, so I painted it pomegranate red. It turned out so well I'm going to reproduce it," says Los Angeles-based designer .
"Find a piece that has good lines and trick it up. I've taken a plain pine chest of drawers from a junk shop and done a simple, cottagey finish with milk paint. Start with a base in Swedish blue-gray and lightly brush over it with white, pulling back with steel wool in spots to reveal more color," says , NYC-based designer and founder of Brian J. McCarthy, Inc.
"Unless you have beautiful antique wicker with the original stain, you have to paint it, and just looks right. It's rich and dark, as dark as you can go and still come off as green, and it works with any fabric. It's instant class, elegant, uncontrived," said William Diamond, the New York designer famous for his wild, bold colors.
"In a guest room that seems a little staid, paint the bed. This is a Ming yellow like you see in Chinese silk robes, with a little lemon and mustard in it, which gives it more dimension," says , Santa Monica-based interior designer.
"Take one of those dated five-or-six-arm metal chandeliers that you can find at flea markets or on eBay, and paint it lipstick red in a high-gloss finish. Top it off with cream-colored shades, and it will glam up any room," says interior and special events designer, .
"I'm always having old dining room chairs stripped and painted—so light and airy, rather than the heavy thud of old brown wood. Or just buy new ones at the Door Store and paint them this lovely pale yellow, like the inside of a banana," said the Prince of Chintz, Mario Buatta.
"One of those inexpensive, gaudy mirrors with a lot of carving can actually become quite beautiful with paint. I like this deep, muted teal because it's mysterious. You can't quite figure out if it's blue or green. Colors like this with a little gray in them take you to the next level of sophistication," says , founder of M. Design Interiors.
"I'd paint the base of a sofa, if it's a framed sofa with maybe just a strip of wood along the bottom and tapered feet. Paint all the wood this pretty, fresh Chinese red. It's an easy thing to do, and that little detail will really make it snap," says , the designer behind Katie Ridder Home.
"On a vintage dresser, which makes a great nightstand, we accented the handles and the box with Swiss Coffee and painted the drawers Winter White. We used flat paint with three coats of semigloss clear coat on top — that way you can really control the sheen," says , co-founder of Downtown, a destination for designers in search of fresh ideas.