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.
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
- Orbital sander
- Sanding pads in multiple different grits – coarse, medium, fine
- Extra fine sandpaper
- Wood filler (if you’re changing the placement of your knobs/pulls)
- INSL-X STIX Bonding Primer
- Round furniture paint brush
- Gloss enamel paint (I used Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel in Gloss in the color Evergreen Fog.)
- Hardware of your choice (See my favorite sources for knobs and pulls here.)
- Slow cooker filled with water (If you don’t have one, thrift stores sell them for cheap all the time.)
- Extension cord
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.
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.
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.
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.
Step 5 – Heat Gloss Paint in a Slow Cooker with Water
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.
Check out that smoooooooooth paint.
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.
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.
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!
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!
You can find all of the sources for everything we’ve used in Regan’s bedroom below.
- Ceiling Color: Romabio Barefoot Dance
- Wall Color: Magnolia Home True White
- Poster Bed
- Blush Comforter Set
- Tulip Print Sheet Set
- Stitched Cream Quilt
- Bolster Pillow
- Euro Pillows
- Peacock Lamps
- Bud Vase
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
- Desk Chair and Painted Vanity Makeover
- How to Add Reeding to Furniture | Shoe Storage Bench Makeover
- How to Reupholster Dining Chair Seats + Faux Bamboo Chair Makeover
- The Trick to Paint Laminate IKEA Furniture