Behold the power of paint

By Carol McGarvey

Better Homes and Gardens Books

Besides providing an expressive outlet, paint projects are just downright fun. You can create gifts, try new techniques or add bright spots of pizzazz to your home on furniture, glass, wood, found objects and fabrics.

Flea market finds -- from garage or tag sales, attics or basements, or secondhand stores -- deserve a new life. Sometimes it takes just the right combination of colorful paint to do that.

Look for items that are in good structural shape and have a use, such as a table or chair. While it might be a fun project to paint, it's an even better find if it's functional, too.


One tip from the pros: Always plan a purpose in mind for what you buy. Otherwise, it will end up in your next garage sale.

Keep an eye out for unusual pieces that would come alive with paint. But look at them closely. You don't want to spend hours of preparation time getting them ready to paint.

It's easy to bring a display cabinet to a colorful new incarnation with some bright paint and whimsical details. Remove any hardware from the cabinet with a screwdriver. Sand all surfaces of the cabinet, and wipe off dust with a tack cloth.

Mask first

Before painting, mask off glass areas and any area you do not wish to paint. Use wide masking tape and tape tightly along edges. Tape newspapers over large areas. In a well-ventilated work area, spread newspapers on the floor. Spray a coat of primer on the cabinet and let dry. It might take several coats until the surface is almost covered. Let dry between coats. Do not remove tape. Paint largest areas first. Paint the main areas using at least a 2-inch-wide flat brush. You can overlap into areas that will be painted other colors later.

Use a small flat brush for painting in colored areas. Use grooves, sections and detail shapes as guidelines for breaking up blocks of color. Paint in largest sections first, overlapping into other areas as needed.

For making thin stripes, use a fine liner paintbrush. Make checks with a narrow flat brush. For dots, dip the handle of a paintbrush in paint and apply dots.

Let paint dry.


Paint wooden stars separately. Paint the edges a contrasting color. Layer and glue stars in sets of two. When dry, glue stars onto finished painted cabinet.

Let dry.

Paint wood knobs black and let dry. Add white swirls and polka dots. Let paint dry. Remove masking tape and clean the glass. Put doors and hardware back in place.

Supply list

China cabinet, screwdriver, medium-grade sandpaper, tack cloth, wide masking tape, newspapers, white spray primer, enamel paints, 2-inch-wide flat, fine liner and assorted small and medium round brushes, wood glue, wood stars and desired wood knobs.

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