My Top 3 Paint Brands to Update Furniture Like A Boss!

My Top 3 Paint Brands to Update Furniture Like A Boss!

How to paint furniture
Hey! Today I want to talk about paint – more specifically, painting furniture.

Over the past few years I’ve found an evening at home giving a new lease of life to an otherwise unloved piece of furniture is one of the most relaxing things I could do.
Perhaps it’s the creativity it gives without the need to sit in front of a screen. I can stick on some music and just paint. Perhaps it’s because I’m a fan of bolder colours so it’s a burst of joy at the end of a long day. Either way, I like it – and I’ve come to love a few brands of paint along the way as I’ve experimented. Below are my top 3 if you’re looking for somewhere to start.

Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish Furniture Paint

I fell in love with the colour first – Dusky Pink. I was looking for 3 sample sizes in order to do an ombre effect on an old chest of drawers for the kiddy room at my mum’s house. This particular colour went on amazing. It’s bold but muted, and true to the colour on the tin.

The other 2 shades I bought were Strawberry Vanilla and Chalk White. Sadly, the other two shades looked almost the same! They were meant to be an off-white and a pale pink. Instead, I managed to custom make a shade by diluting down the better Dusky Pink.

I may have just been unlucky with my choices but it does look like there is inconsistency in the pigmentation of colours. When you get one that works though, it goes on an absolute dream.

Pink Ombre Chest of Drawers

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Okay so I couldn’t very well talk about painting furniture and not mention Annie Sloan could I? If you’re wondering why there’s hype, it’s for good reason.

I first used Annie Sloan a few years ago on my orange dresser which you can read about here. I’ve even been playing around with the new colours – Honfleur (deep brown), Amsterdam Green (dark forest shade) and my personal favourite, Giverny (cornflower blue). I’ve used the blue on a recent mini makeover in Luna’s room; a dollhouse which we’re using for a bookshelf. It’s not quite a primary blue, but it just exudes playfulness and happy thoughts so I had to get it into the Memphis-inspired pattern of paint with exposed pine.

I love the green too, but I’m still hunting for the right piece of furniture for that to do a jungle-type transformation. Anyway, the key selling point about Annie Sloan is that you don’t need to prime your furniture. I still would because all furniture can benefit from a wipe clean and light sand to even out the surface, but the fact that this is optional shows the strength of the stuff.

Annie Sloan Eclectic Dresser

Annie Sloan new colours

Graham & Brown Durable Matt Emulsion

Many of you might know the brand already from their wallpaper – I actually did a tour of their office which you can read about here but I had NO idea they did paint.

I decided to give this grey shade a whirl – Stardust is its name – and holy moly I was NOT expecting it to be this good. It doesn’t advertise explicitly as paint for furniture but it worked amazingly well. As a pale colour, I was fully expecting 3 coats but one would have sufficed, the colour was that pigmented. Obviously I did at least 2 coats because that’s just best practise but what a strong and silky grey!

Whilst I can’t vouch for the rest of the range, if they’re as good a quality as this one, it’s a winner. It can be seen above on the exterior of the ombre drawers and on some of the shapes on the dollhouse shelving below.

Memphis paint dollhouse


  • For chalky paints, your finish is only as good as your wax. I learned this the hard way. When I painted my dresser orange a few years ago I LOVED the finish but I admittedly did a terrible job with the waxing. Over time, that has got really scuffed. It can obviously be re-done but in this instance we’ve given a faux-marble finish (DIY on that here for less than a fiver!)
  • I would say out of all of them, brush strokes can be seen most on Annie Sloan. This is completely up to you whether this is the desired look. If you’re going for the distressed look or after something shabby chic, Annie Sloan is the one for you.
  • For untreated furniture or even some older woods, some of the paint may become absorbed in the first coat. This is totally normal. This is why its a good idea to always give a second coat.
  • For larger pieces that you’re upcycling, I’d try and paint it as near as possible to where it’s going to end up. Chalky paints chip. Badly. Unless they’re already really well treated with wax, but even then it reacts differently to a regular emulsion. If you’ve seen an already painted piece and need it relocating, I’d really recommend getting someone else to move it such as Shiply. We transported our dresser in a car after winning it in an eBay auction and admittedly it arrived pretty battered. For the best finish, sometimes you’re better off with the professionals.

So that’s my two cents on it! I know there are more brands on the market but these are the ones I’ve had most success with. Let me know if there are any you think I should check out – and feel free to share your makeovers in the comments, I’d love to see!

  • Laura Heitzman

    Love the three shades of pink on the drawers!

  • Katya Willems

    Thanks all the excellent info. I’m so clueless about paint and am only aware of Farrow and Ball! Thanks for extending my range. And painting furniture is such a clever idea. I must give it a go.

  • Such a useful post. I love Annie Sloan chalk paint – it’s so versatile. Have a great weekend. x

  • Old Fashioned Susie

    I used the ones from b&q which I think is the first one- in white. Left loads of brush marks which wasn’t the look I was after. If I sand plenty and wax will they disappear?!

  • fabricofmylife

    Beautiful paint colours Karen! Been a looong time since I painted a piece of furniture so good to discover new paint brands – only one I knew was Annie Sloan x

  • Geraldine

    I agree that the chalk paint is only as good as the waxing. I didn’t realise how much force you have to put into the waxing and polishing. I’ll now definitely do it differently when I next paint a piece of furniture.

  • Oh I love this post Karen — and I agree re Annie Sloan. If you want a lovely matt finish with no brushmarks, there are definitely better choices. That said, for shabby chic furniture, it;s the best by far. Valspar is my current fave — I painted the she-shed in it and it went on a treat. Thanks for sharing pet — always nice to get someone else’s thoughts on things like this 🙂 #HomeEtc

  • mummyofboygirltwins

    Lovely post! We have chalk painted quite a few things now and I am so pleased with them. Thanks for linking up & sharing – Jess xx