Antique White Painted Bedroom Furniture Piece

This post is going to more informational than pretty.  Sometimes that stuff is just important.  And I get emails and private messages asking just these kind of questions.  So when I just did this recent armoire- I thought PERFECT timing!! And happy first day of school to you mama’s out there who sent your kiddos off today!!!

First painting anything “old”  “vintage” “antique” WHITE- do yourself a favor and save some time.  Assume it will bleed.  I did with this antique white painted bedroom furniture piece, but man oh man did it persist.

I know everyone that loves chalk paint, or wants to try it, loves the draw of “no prep work.”  That’s a great idea in theory.  But it is not always going to be true.  I do believe that adhesion is always better, but taking the time to properly clean and prime a piece can add years to the longevity of the finish.  If you are painting for yourself and can do the maintaining or touch ups- then you can skip it if you want.  But if you are selling your pieces, commissioned to paint for someone you had better be taking the time to make it worth their money!! Nothing means more to me than when repeat clients keep coming back to me or keep sending people to me!!

If you are going to need to distress- I generally will use a clear shellac based primer first.  It’s great because you can use a baby wipe to show off the edges and they are sealed.  Why is that important?? If you distress down to wood after you have primed in white- you are likely taking off the very primer, that is sealing off all that wood, that will inevitably bleed on you again.  Usually immediately you will see a pink hue around that area from the old finish, or yellow if it is nicotine.  So if you plan to distress, get it while the paint is still wet and use a baby wipe or wet sponge to distress.

Here’s the before…


So on this beautiful old and inside dried out armoire, {I think it had some nicotine as well} I completely cleaned her with TSP mixture and let dry out in the sun. I primed with 2 coats of clear shellac.  Rolled one coat of white Zinnser shellac primer as well. Let each coat dry thoroughly.  Heat and humidity will vary your drying times.  Be sure to really take your time- walk away and do something else.  Just don’t rush this.  Also, if you are looking for a smooth as possible finish- use a high grit like 320 or higher to lightly sand between each coats of primer and paint.  Making sure to wipe away the dust before starting your new coat.  This is another reason it’s so important to let every coat completely dry.

With this priming done, I thought we were good to go!!


Painted on one coat of Maison Blanche Magnolia White- it’s  a pure white color and the client didn’t want any yellow to it.  Well that primed armoire turned my paint Yellow. Yep- SAD SAD lady I was.

So I turned to my trusty spray shellac primer in white… I used 2 full coats.  So now it has 2 coats clear shellac, 1 coat of white primer rolled on and one coat of MB white


The MB Magnolia didn’t have great coverage- whites are so hard always.  So I tried Heirloom Traditions White Lace Cottage.  I loved the way it went on and it was a beautiful color.  I used 3 coats and it seemed to be doing great.  Next morning I came out and that darn armoire was YELLOW.  I was so crazy by this time. In the picture below you can see the inside of the armoire back was yellowing and some other areas as well.


RECAP- 2 clear coats of shellac, 3 coats of white shellac and 4 coats of chalk paint… and it was still turning yellow.  ACCKKKK


I was spray painting stars on our yard for the 4th of July {cutest thing ever} and I had a full can of Rustoleum Dual white and primer…. I took the can and used all I had on the inside of one side…. let it dry and came back and there was no yellow.  I had used all of the Heirloom Traditions paint I had.  So I broke out the Pure White from Annie Sloan… I had one sample jar.  Now keep in mind I had used a whole quart of the other previously… I was holding a lot of hope in one sample jar.  It worked!! So I sprayed up the entire outside getting more of that spray paint and another sample jar of ASCP Pure White.  It took one coat of each and it was perfect!! I used ASCP clear wax to seal it off… nothing yellows with her clear wax.


You’ll see you can still see all the old imperfections and oak grain in some of these pictures- we didn’t want to take away the history.  We just wanted to brighten up the nursery.  From dad’s grandma to her great granddaughter…. there is just nothing better!!


The piece on top is the crib railing for color match and inspiration- we nailed it…


So for a true white painted finish.  I say the Annie Sloan was the best coverage. Yes she had a huge advantage of lots of undercoats of white already, but her opaqueness is just better.  I loved the ease of the Heirloom Traditions, but it was a little less opaque and by the time I got to the ending point I needed that coverage!! Both are great though.  Just know with white you aren’t going to get a one and done coverage… ever!!

There are just some pieces that will give you fits.  Never give up… I love the challenge.  Needless to say that piece was a challenge.  But I won!!

And this is what you like when you have won and you are about to send the piece home!!



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  1. valarie says:

    This was the best post ever! Thank you so much for all the info and hard work, you rock!


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