Decorating & Design

November 28, 2008

Refinish A Dining Table

Q. I have an old French Provençal dining room set with a table, chairs and buffet. I am thinking of painting it but don’t know how it is done. Can you suggest a colour to paint? The scheme is blue now and I do not want to paint them white or black. I also need 8 handles for the buffet.

— Jane Kaufeld

A. Your dining room set sounds lovely. If you want to keep the feeling of a French Provençal dining room, painting your furniture white would be fresh and stunning with a blue background, but if you really don’t want to go white, consider painting your set a buttery yellow like Pratt & Lambert’s Spring Yellow. Depending on the colour and tone of blue you currently have as your background, this neutral yellow should work well with most blues.

Start by paying a visit to your local hardware store. Before painting any wood furniture, it is very important to prepare the surfaces properly, or the new paint will not adhere well. Your pieces might only need a light sanding before paint, but wiping down the furniture with TSP (trisodium phosphate) will help prepare the surface for paint. Once you’ve wiped down the wood, lightly but thoroughly sand and remove the dust. Clean with TSP.

Apply one coat of primer before you apply the paint. This will also help the coverage of the paint. You may need two coats of paint after the primer, depending on the current colour of the wood, and make sure to let the first coat dry before applying the next. Light sanding between coats will remove any dust specks that might have stuck to the paint. Let the final coat dry thoroughly before setting anything on the surface.

For slight contrast, create gauzy off-white slipcovers for the chairs that can be used in the summer, and soft, coordinating seat cushions that can be used in the winter. Choose a pretty Provençal fabric that will set off the blue of the room and the yellow of your dining set. Ticking could work well here too. Use either the same fabric or a coordinating one to create a table runner.

We think simple iron drawer pulls for the buffet will contrast wonderfully with the yellow. Depending on your budget, several hardware stores will carry affordable wrought iron hardware that is sure to work in your space and add interest to the new colour of the buffet.