Home » Furniture » How To Paint Ugly Office Furniture

How To Paint Ugly Office Furniture

When you paint ugly office furniture white and spray paint the industrial-type hardware with metallic paint, the look is anything but “office”. The updated furniture looks like campaign-style furniture. I see this style of furniture online and think if I ever find a similar piece, I want to recreate the look.


campaign style furniture (2)
Image Credit: Wayfair

The chest above (photo found at Modern Furniture) is campaign-style furniture and similar to the look I was going for.

How To Paint Office Furniture 

The furniture I had for the project wasn’t all square. The pieces on the front of the body were not flush with each other where they were put together. I wanted to add the metal details on the corners, but that wasn’t possible.

ugly office furniture can be painted


This is what I started with. I think it’s office furniture…..at least that’s what I’m calling it. I sure wouldn’t want to use it in my home looking like this.

I bought it and another larger matching piece at auction for $5. No one else would bid on the two pieces, and I felt sorry for Greg (the auctioneer), so I bought them. I didn’t really feel sorry for him, but I do want to help support local small businesses. Of course, $5 was a great price, and I knew the pieces would have to look better after I finished updating them.

Prep Furniture Before Painting

The two pieces have a few issues. One being they got damp on the backsides at one time or another. The wood wasn’t rotten, just ugly looking. There is usually a lot of prep work before I can start painting and the chest/table/nightstand needed a lot.

water damaged furniture (2)

This photo shows the bottom of the chest, where there is a bit of water damage. The wood wasn’t flaky or smelly, so that was good.

Clean The Furniture

clean furniture before painting (2)

I first did a general cleaning of the area with Simple Green then went at it with bleach. The black color didn’t come out but at least the bleach will kill any mold that might be lingering in the wood.

Make Repairs

repair furniture (2)

I tightened all the screws in the base. Some were loose, and some weren’t.


supplies for furniture makeover (2)

Use Painter’s Tape

After cleaning and sanding the area, I used painter’s tape to tape off the ugly damaged area.

painting water damaged furniture (2)

Painting over the bottom of the chest inside made it look a lot better and made me feel better. Even though it wasn’t noticeable with the drawers in place, I knew it was there, and I painted over it.

how to paint furniture

Prime The Furniture

With all the prep work done, it was time to paint the outside. I used FolkArt Home Décor Chalk Finish in Adirondack for the base coat of paint. I think of chalk paint like I do primer. It covers and sticks to anything. Since the primer I had on hand was gray, I went with the white chalk paint. I have a big crush on my chalk brush.

You guys notice I’m painting outside. We have a big workshop, but it isn’t air-conditioned. The day I was painting, it was cloudy, and there was a bit of a breeze. I moved everything outside.

You can paint anywhere. When I first started my painting/blogging journey, we lived in an apartment in Pensacola (2006-2009), and it had a small balcony. I painted on that balcony.

I’ve painted outside on drop cloths, inside where I had to cover up the floor and everything around it, under the carport, and other places. You can find a place that works for you if you really want to paint furniture.


Behr Gloss White Paint

Apply Paint

I choose Behr Interior/Exterior Hi-Gloss Enamel Latex paint for the topcoat. It was on my paint shelf, and I’m still trying to use the paint I have on hand. I don’t know how I accumulated so much paint. 

how to paint office furniture

Hi-Gloss paint is not the easiest to work with. It tends to show brush strokes even after it dries. The Behr paint wasn’t too bad. The top coat turned out pretty smooth.

Rustoleum Metallic Spray Paint Copper Color for harware

Paint The Hardware

And here is my favorite metallic copper paint. I love it so much that I painted my mailbox with copper spray paint (see the mailbox by clicking here). I was going to paint the hardware shiny metallic gold but didn’t have the right color on hand. I went with what I had.

paint ugly office furniture


The whole time I was painting the chest, I was complaining to myself. I thought the tacky office furniture would still look like office furniture, and no one would buy it.

Rustoleum spray paint to paint furniture pulls and knobs

I was kicking myself and wishing I had hauled it to Goodwill instead of painting it. Now I want to keep the piece for myself but have no room in our house where white, white painted furniture would work. I guess I’ll be taking it to my booth to sell.

paint old office furniture and spray paint the hardware

Did you know you could paint office furniture white, add a little pizazz with metallic spray paint, and have it look like a million bucks (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration).


how to paint furniture


This project just goes to show you can paint anything and make it look good. What have you got that needs painting to make it better? I hope you liked the project. Please leave a comment and visit my furniture fixer-upper pals. The links to the projects are below the “before” makeover photo collage.

Furniture Fixer Upper Before Makeovers August 2018

Console Table Makeover – Girl In The Garage
Yard Sale Bookcase Makeover – Confessions Of A Serial Diyer
Vintage Blanket Chest – Prodigal Pieces
Paint Wood Furniture – Just The Woods
Raised Stencil Design – The Interior Frugalista

As always, thanks for being here, and have a great day, Kathy

Author: Kathy Owen
Kathy Owen is the founder of the home decor blog Petticoat Junktion where she shares tutorials on painting furniture and upcycling thrifty finds into unique home décor. Her DIY projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Kathy’s newest website is HappyHomeDIY.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Wow this turned out amazing, Kathy! I bet you’re glad you bought it after all now. The metallic paint on the pulls just make it! XOXO

  2. Kathy this does look very high end and modern. Beautiful job fixing up this bargain! xo

  3. Looks great, Kathy! I especially like the color of the handles–copper, is it? A bit more interesting than gold or silver because it’s kind of unexpected. Good choice.

  4. Absolutely love the combination of gloss white with copper. So simple, but so striking. This is a beautiful piece. I’d buy it too. Would also make a great nightstand, I think.

  5. You’re killing me, Kathy ! I’ve been on the hunt for over a year for two of these for my office. If you lived near me I’d buy them in a heartbeat. Swooning over the copper handles – so pretty, especially paired with high gloss white.

  6. Great article Kathy 🙂 thanks for sharing this!

    I think white goes perfectly well with the copper hardware you have selected.

    It makes such a difference when you are working in office environments that have dynamic furniture in place. I know this has hugely benefited me when I’m at work.

  7. That piece came out great! I always looks forward to your before and after pieces as well as your friends too.

  8. Very fresh, modern and classy. As you say, it needs the right setting, but, once there, becomes quite a statement piece.

  9. Wow! From boring and blah, to hello there!! I love the new look, Kathy. Updated and ready to go.