DIY Design: Painted Kitchen Stools

On our facebook fan page, I mentioned (with some frustration) that I have been diligently working on re-branding ideas for this website for the last couple weeks.  I know our site is called so if you’re a first-time reader, you probably expect to see nothing but recipes on here, but in actuality, cooking is only one part of me.  I mean it’s a huge, passionate, border-line obsessive part of me… like it’s the reason I paid a butt-load of money (which I’m STILL paying off) to go to culinary school, but…wait there’s more!  

What you may not know is that I’m really into DIY, drawing, and decorating.  But that shouldn’t shock you too much.  I mean, before I went down the cooking path, I was a fashion designer.  And we currently have a baby/kid’s line that’s based around illustrated food.  So I guess the artistic side and the need to create stuff all stems from the same brain.

It started with some inexpensive generic wooden stools I purchased at Target.

We moved from apartment to apartment with these guys, and they were fine.  I mean, there’s nothing wrong with them.  They did their job and they automatically matched with everything.  But deep down inside, I always considered them to be my “temporary” furniture, thinking that one day when we finally became grownups, I’d probably just throw them out or sell them on Craigslist.  I never thought to invest into them with a little TLC and actually grow to like them.

But then we moved to our current apartment and the way the kitchen counter was set up, they ended up being more noticeable than all our other apartments where they kind of hid in the background and blended underneath our stainless steel table.  So at our new place, generic furniture no longer worked for me.  That’s when I decided to paint them.

The hubs thought I was crazy because I suddenly kept going to Home Depot for fun.  Now it’s one of my happy places.

While you’re at the hardware store buying spray paint, pick up some sandpaper too.  I used a 220 very fine paper.  If it’s too coarse, it might scratch up your wood too much.

You need to gently and evenly rough up your wooden surface all over, including the legs, in order to allow the paint to go on evenly.  I guess it’s like exfoliating before you apply self-tanner.

Once you get them all scraped up, wipe them down with a damp paper towel.  You don’t want to spray on top of gritty sandy shavings.

I never got around to removing the annoyingly sticky tags on the bottom of the stools.  I had to use Goo Gone– a secret weapon I learned about when I was working in food styling.  It helped us remove the most stubborn stickers off of bowls and plates in a jiffy.

You gotta work outside, no exceptions.  You will need to work on a tarp, some cardboard, or trash bags.  And you have to make a much BIGGER work area for yourself than you think.  I learned the hard way.  Spray pain can travel FAR, even if you’re not aiming anywhere near that area.  I ended up in a hot panic, simultaneously praying whilst scrubbing my deck on my hands and knees to get rid of all that extra blue mist… no good when you’re renting.


Now it helps to add primer before your makeup right?  It helps it set better.  So that’s what you do.  Since I knew I was going to paint my stools this bright blue color, I wanted it to have an undertone of gray, to kind of dull it down.  So I bought Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover Primer in Gray.  It has 2x’s the coverage.

If you’re not used to spray painting, read the directions on the can.  But basically, you have to do everything in thin coats.  Don’t try to get it all done in one shot.  First of all, your hand will cramp, and secondly, you’ll end up with blotches, drips, and a thick uneven layer of paint.  Shoot a few inches away from the stool, and use a quick side to side motion.

Let it dry a bit between thin layers.  Eventually you get it done.  Now.  Walk away.  I know it’s hard when you’re an eager beaver like me and want to move on to the actual color part.  But resist the temptation.  Let it dry and settle a bit.

When the primer is nice and dry, then you can go ahead and color away.  I used Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover GLOSS Spray Paint in Spa Blue.  Again, it has 2x’s the coverage.  One can was enough for 2 stools.

So again, spray it a few inches away, in a quick side to side motion, and in layers, making sure it dries a little in between layers.

There will be times you’ll get a wayward dribble.  Just have a slightly damp paper towel handy to gently blot/wipe away any blotches and continue.

Now this is the hardest part.  When you’re done, you must let them chill outside untouched for at least a day or two to “cure.”  Yup, you can’t bring them in right away and enjoy your masterpiece.  I know!  Patience is the worst.  This ensures that no toxic paint fumes will be inside your house and the paint will have time to settle in and become one with your stools.

I kept them hidden on the deck, with the blinds drawn so that my husband couldn’t see them.  The next day, when they were done “curing,” I waited for Joe to come home from work to show him my project.  I finally brought the stools inside the apartment and placed them under the counters without saying a word.  He just walked into the kitchen area, looked a little surprised and went, “what the?” But then he smiled and said, “they look great!  Good job!”  He liked the pop of color too.

So again, here they are BEFORE:


So the moral of this story friends is that if you have some plain Jane furniture that needs a little face lift, you’ll be surprised at how much a little paint can do.  I mean, I just recently got my hair dyed and I feel like a new woman!

Anyhoos, the point is, before you go Craigslist crazy trying to get rid of all your generic Ikea furniture, think about the simple and inexpensive tweaks you can do to make them better fit your home and personality.  I still wake up every morning, make my cup of coffee in the kitchen, and smile when I see our NEW blue stools.




Bless you! This was the exact post I was trying to search for today. My stools look almost identical (I want to paint them red), my kitchen is set up like yours, and I’m even into make-up so I’m loving the analogies! Ha! Thanks! I’m excited to get started.


Hi Angela.
Great! Glad I could help… makeup analogies and all. 🙂 I REALLY suggest making a bigger work area for yourself than you think because spray paint DOES travel far! We recently moved to Chicago and have a new kitchen now, but my stools still look good in here! Good luck on your project!

Leave a comment


email* (not published)