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Tips for painting Tricky Laminate Furniture: Gray Nightstands

Hey friends! Brief rant...I write all my blog posts directly onto my Squarespace platform because I find the fonts get all weird if I write in a separate document and paste them in here.  But every so often, I write an well thought out, unnecessarily long post, and with no rhyme or reason, all of it disappears!  Yelling at the screen ensues, angry fist waving, and yet nothing changes. I'm left with a blank post with no photos, no text, and nothing to show for my last two hours of work. [GRUMBLE] So from now on, I will only write posts in a Word document and copy and paste them in, font issues be damned! Ok, rant over [I swear I've posted a similar rant in the past too, but I never learn!]

Let me start this by saying I absolutely love the way this pair of nightstands turned out! They were delivered to me by a friend/client who was wanting to find a large pair to coordinate with her existing long dresser. Her space is small, so they wanted pieces that would not only be beautiful, but functional with ample storage.

This pair fit the bill; they’re taller than your average vintage nightstand and they’re wider, providing three drawers with plenty of storage space. The only caveat was the materials they’re made of. I’ve painted laminate before and never had any issues, but this pair proved VERY difficult, and I’m still not sure why.  Here's a shot of what they looked like before:

They have bamboo detailing on them, and for some reason the paint refused to adhere to any of these bits, leaving them looking streaky and uneven. The paint I used, which I’ve used on nearly every piece I’ve painted in the last two years, also wasn’t behaving well with the laminate top, peeling off with barely the touch of a fingertip.  I spent half a day painting this pair before I gave up entirely and had to go back to the drawing board. [this is a very grumbly post I apologize!]

After doing enough research to last me a lifetime, I went over the entire set with coarse grit paper [150 grit], two coats of Zinsser oil based primer [paint outdoors if you can!], more sanding, and then three thin coats of Annie Sloan’s chalk paint in a combination of French Linen and Graphite [4 to 1 ratio would be my estimate]. The paint was no longer peeling off in chunks [thank God!] but it was still proving difficult on the bamboo sections and along random parts of the nightstands. Rather than continue to fight them, I decided to go with a slightly distressed look, accenting the bits where the white primer would show through.  Ultimately, I prefer the look of them with some accents of white [which paired nicely with the matte white drawer pulls I also painted].

This set was an absolute labor of love, but the results [as you can see above along with this quick phone shot taken in the client’s bedroom below] were worth all the effort! The gray matches beautifully with her existing dresser, and really just is a standout beside her beach cottage inspired bedding. Coral and gray are such a fitting color combination, and this room is really coming together with the addition of these nightstands!