How to Paint a Veneer Cabinet Endtable

Revamp your old veneer end table with these step-by-step instructions, supplies list, and tips for handling unexpected issues.

When I was working on our beach cottage bedroom makeover, I realized I wanted to add some coastal paint colors into it.

Since blue is my favorite color, I wanted to add in some sort of watery aqua blue.

In the rush and hustle of trying to do this whole makeover in one day (I couldn’t), I didn’t get a really good before picture of the nightstand, but you can see it slightly on the right in this picture:

drawer nightstand before

It was part of a set of furniture that I got for High School graduation.  It has served me well, and is still sturdy…but I am so over the dark veneer look.

I was, however, scared.  I’ve never painted anything so glossy and slippery before…

Supplies You’ll Need to Paint a Veneer Cabinet (End Table)

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  • Oil Based Primer
  • Foam brushes or inexpensive paint brushes that you can throw them away when you’re finished with the oil based primer.
  • Latex paint in the color of your choice.
  • Good paint brush to paint on the latex paint (This one is by far my favorite one ever!)
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Antiquing gel (optional)
nightstand ready to prime

Step by Step Instructions for Painting a Veneer Cabinet, Table, or Endtable

  1. Clean the furniture piece thoroughly and wiping it completely dry. Paint doesn’t like to stick to anything dirty or wet.
  2. Using the inexpensive paint brush, paint on the oil based primer. (**Note: Since I did this project, there have been advancements in many different types of water based primers that may , in fact, be good enough primers to work with veneer furniture. Ask your local trusted paint dealer for recommendations for types of primer.)
  3. Once the primer has dried, paint on the latex paint color of your choice. Be sure to load up your brush with enough paint so that you can paint with long, broad strokes, trying to eliminate lines. Watch that you don’t oversaturate the piece however and keep an eye out for drips.
  4. Let the first coat of paint fully dry before painting additional coats. Refer to your paint can for recommended times for drying between coats. Sand lightly with fine sandpaper between coats.

Tips for Painting Veneer Furniture

Here are a few notes I took about the process right after I completed it:

  1. I think the spray on Kilz primer would work better (?).  I found it very hard to paint  even coats without drips with a brush.
  2. Foam brushes fall apart quickly with an oil based paint.  Be prepared to go through a few. (Or consider buying inexpensive paint brushes that aren’t foam.)
  3. I had to find the balance between working carefully and quickly.  It dried really fast!
  4. I kept remembering some good advice when I was frustrated to discover some dried on drips. Somone once told me, “You will have drips.  Embrace them.” It dripped, it dried, I embraced.;)

I knew it would be a learning experience, and it was.

Colors I used for this Painted Veneer Endtable

Once I finished painting a few coats of primer, I painted the base and drawers 2 coats of Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White and the top Behr’s Tide Pools {sanding lightly between each coat}.

I stood back and thought it would look oh, so wonderful…


“Ish-Ta”!!  That’s my mom’s word, and it applied in this situation.  It looked like it belonged in a nursery. {Not exactly the look I was going for.}

In desperation, I dug out some dark chocolate antiquing gel and went to town.  Thankfully, it did the trick.  With each pass of the brush and rubbing it off, it looked better.

aqua top nightstand

It took it from nursery to master bedroom in just a few minutes.


So, here is the final look…The Beach Cottage Bedside Table…

aqua and white bedside table

…beside the beach!!Smile

Now, I could just leave it at that, but I just have to point out one thing…  I cannot stand how the hardware makes it look like a giant smiley face!!  Am I the only one who notices that??

I’m going to chalk that up to “learning experience”, too.  Next time, I’d fill the middle holes and drill two to the sides so that they are symmetrical.

I figured a little camouflaging with a basket of afghan will do for now…

aqua nightstand vignette

To see the whole bedroom reveal, click here:

beach cottage bedroom labeled

Other Furniture Makeover Posts:

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  1. I immediately noticed the smiley face! Nice save with the basket. Your bedroom is as beautiful as that inspiration picture!

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