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Martha Leone Design: The blog is where I share thoughts on the creative process and share lots of pictures of each finished piece of painted furniture. Critiques are always welcome!

How I Paint Mid Century Furniture

Martha Leone

MCM with Coffin3

Both of these pieces were done for customers' nurseries. I wish I had this sense of modern style when I was pregnant years ago with my kids! For those of you who want to know how I achieve a slick finished look on mid century pieces, a step by step list is below. Other resources that could be helpful: • Resources for Mid Century Furniture Transformations

My Mid Century Portfolio

MCM with Coffin2
#114 MCM Dresser2 by Martha Leone Design
#114 MCM Dresser by Martha Leone Design
#114 MCM Dresser3 by Martha Leone Design





  1. SAND • Preparation for areas that will be painted:  Use an orbital sander at a low speed to scuff up the finish. Sand just enough to remove the sheen from the old finish.• Preparation for areas that will be to be stained: Carefully sand the surface with an orbital sander at a medium to low speed till all stain and finish are removed. Clean then prep with Pre-Stain Conditioner. Follow directions on the container for dry time.
  2. PRIME After all sanding is completed, wipe away all dust and vacuum the interior of drawers and frame. Then, prime with oil by using a 6" foam roller and a brush made for oil paints. I use Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer and usually apply two coats.
  3. Lightly sand after the primer dries. Wipe down. Now, you're ready for paint.


P A I N T   &   F I N I S H

  1. APPLY PAINT I have found that two coats usually get the desired results. Sometimes three coats are necessary with certain whites. 6" foam rollers work wonderfully on these pieces because most of the surfaces are flat without much detail work in the wood. I use a high quality brush to cover areas that the roller can't reach.
  2. SEAL I use a paint that does not require a topcoat but to provide extra protection, I apply two coats of General Finishes High Performance Topcoat in satin to the top of the dresser. I use a 6" foam roller for application. The end result is super smooth!