DIY Painted Bedside Tables + a Trick for Using Gloss Paint

The snowball effect of Regan’s room and the quest to find the perfect nightstands finally resulted in a happy ending! But it took a little extra effort with paint and sawdust (as usual) to get there.

It was all worth it for these sweet minty green gloss painted bedside tables!

little girl's bedroom with poster bed, chinoiserie wallpaper, and gloss painted bedside table

As always, I searched on Facebook Marketplace to find these nightstands for $100 each. They’re made of solid wood with dovetailed drawers, two things I always look for when shopping furniture secondhand.

I love the look of shiny gloss furniture and cabinets that I’ve seen a resurgence of lately, especially in the grandmillennial style trend. But these tables started out as the exact polar opposite finish with a distressed, crackled farmhouse painted layer.

Related: How to Find the Best Furniture Deals on Facebook Marketplace

distressed bedside tables before

Funny how decorating styles evolve, huh?

9 years ago, when this blog first started, I would have been all about this super distressed look. (And if that’s your jam, embrace it. There is nothing wrong with farmhouse style. I think it’s beautiful, just not well-suited for my traditional colonial house nowadays.)

So I had to take them from super crackled and rough to a shiny, smooth finish to create the gloss painted bedside tables I wanted. Here are the steps if you ever want to give your distressed furniture a polished look.

How to Create a Smooth Surface for Gloss Painted Furniture


Step 1 – Sand With Coarse Grit

Using the orbital sander, smooth out the rough surface with several coarse grit sanding pads. You may not need a sanding pad as abrasive as a coarse grit for painting over other types of painted furniture, but to get a smooth look on a distressed surface, there’s no shortcut.

The downside of light reflective gloss paint is it will show every single flaw on a piece of furniture, so you want to get the surface as smooth as possible. On the plus side, gloss paint sheen is the easiest to clean.

You could also use a furniture stripper, but that’s a much more time-consuming, messy process.

Apply wood filler in the old hardware holes at this time too so that you can sand them smooth to drill new holes in Step 2.

sanding a bedside table to remove distressed paint

Step 2 – Sand Again With Medium Grit and Fine Grit

Once the paint layer is gone, start smoothing out the wood by graduating up to a medium grit sanding pad on the orbital sander, and repeat the process sanding all over.

Then sand one more time with a fine grit sanding pad to get the wood as smooth as possible, so you’re working with a total blank canvas.

sanded bedside table before painting

Step 3 – Apply Primer

You definitely need a good bonding primer, especially on raw wood and on a high traffic furniture piece like a nightstand.

I like to use INSL-X STIX Waterborne Bonding Primer because it gives the paint superior adhesion that won’t scuff or scratch off later. Just one coat will do the job.

best bonding primer for paint adhesion on furniture and cabinets

Step 4 – Sand Primer

More sanding! (Do you see a theme here?) Just use a piece of ultra fine grit sandpaper to quickly hand sand over the primed surface after it’s dry to eliminate any drips or brushstroke marks.

sanding primer before painting for a smooth finish

Step 5 – Heat Gloss Paint in a Slow Cooker with Water

I learned this trick from The Southern Gail on Instagram (her mudroom cabinets with high gloss paint are to DIE for).

Place your can of gloss paint in the slow cooker filled with water set on low and let the paint heat up. When paint is warm, it brushes on smoother and shows fewer brushstrokes than when it’s cold.

You could also just spray the gloss paint on your furniture with a paint sprayer, but I honestly hate the prep and cleanup that comes with using a sprayer, so I avoid it at all costs.

warming a can of gloss paint in a slow cooker for smooth paint finish

Check out that smoooooooooth paint.

warming a can of gloss paint in a slow cooker for smooth paint finish

Step 6 – Use a Round Brush to Paint

To show the fewest brush strokes possible, a round paintbrush is the best for furniture! It holds so much more paint than a regular straight or angled paintbrush, which also tend to leave hard lines in the paint finish.

Because you’re working with warm paint, try to apply it quickly in an even coat (not too thick, not too thin) so it doesn’t cool down.

Avoid the temptation to overbrush the paint. If you’re using a waterborne alkyd like I am such as Sherwin Williams Enamel or Benjamin Moore Advance, brush strokes will begin to self-level as the water based paint dries.

painting a nightstand Sherwin Williams Evergreen Fog

Step 7 – Sand Between Coats

Sand one more time. Are you tired of sanding yet? Once the first coat of paint is dry, just scuff over the surface one last time with ultra fine grid sandpaper to eliminate any imperfections in the first layer of paint.

sanding a nightstand for a smooth painted finish

Step 8 – Finish With a Smooth Second Coat

Brush on one last coat of warm paint and admire your smooth gloss painted bedside tables (or whatever other piece of furniture you decided to try this on).

Don’t forget some pretty hardware, of course!

Related: Best Places to Buy Furniture Hardware and Kitchen Cabinet Pulls

peacock table lamp on a gloss painted bedside table in a little girl's bedroom

Finished Gloss Painted Nightstands

Ta da! You’d never guess these were upcycled bedside tables. No more distressed farmhouse finish! My camera really doesn’t do the glossy, smooth surface justice.

We used this same color, Sherwin Williams Evergreen Fog, in this modern boho cottage bedroom last year where it looked very green, yet it looks completely different on this nightstand. I love it though!

Related: 12 Best Sage Green Paint Colors for a Relaxing Room

peacock lamp on a gloss painted nightstand
beige poster bed with chinoiserie wallpaper and pink bedding

Bedroom Sources

You can find all of the sources for everything we’ve used in Regan’s bedroom below.

Related: 18 Favorite Modern Vintage Beds for a Low Budget

bedroom with chinoiserie wallpaper, poster bed, and gloss painted bedside table

I’m so in love with this adorable bedroom! Once Robert and I hauled these in and added her peacock lamps, Regan asked, “Can I put my Barbies in the drawers?”

So I guess now these nightstands are Barbie’s new hangout. I’m not even the least bit surprised.

More Furniture Makeover Ideas

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  1. Bravo and well done! They turned out fabulous and look just as pretty as those overpriced (and not such great quality) ones I get catalogues from all the time! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I love these nightstands and the color. the whole room is beautiful.
    What do you wipe the stands with after sanding? Do you use tack cloth? Thanks

  3. As always Lauren, these are the perfect little bedside tables! The paint is perfect, thanks for the tips and hints!! Beautiful bedroom too!!

  4. As always Lauren, these are perfect little bedside tables!! Great tutorial too! Thanks so much for the tips and tricks!

    1. These are beautiful! I’ve never used a round brush. Do you still sweep back and forth with it like a regular flat paint brush?