Choosing the Right Paint Colours & Finishes for Furniture

Choosing the Right Paint Colours & Finishes for Furniture

When it comes to revamping your living space, the power of a fresh coat of paint on your furniture can’t be overstated. Unlike wall paint, which often takes a more conservative approach due to its expansive impact, painting furniture opens a door to a world of creative expression and design flexibility.

The choice of paint for a piece of furniture can transform not just the item itself, but also the ambiance and style of the entire room.

Whether it’s a grand wall of built-in kitchen cupboards or a quaint side table, each piece offers a unique opportunity to experiment and to enhance your living space. Read on as we explore how to harmonise these choices with existing decor, while also daring to be bold and playful with colours.

An introduction to colour theory for furniture

Colour theory plays a crucial role in furniture painting, offering a unique opportunity for experimentation and personal expression. Unlike wall painting, where colours often serve a more functional purpose, painting furniture allows for more creative freedom.

At the heart of colour theory is the colour wheel – a tool that helps in understanding the relationships between different colours.

Frenchic Colour Wheel

Understanding this is key to effectively mixing and matching colours. For instance, complementary colours, which are opposite each other on the colour wheel, can create a vibrant and dynamic look. This approach is ideal for statement pieces where you want the furniture to stand out.

Frenchic Colour Wheel Complementary

On the other hand, analogous colours are those next to each other on the colour wheel. They offer a more harmonious and cohesive look. This is particularly suitable for creating a subtle yet sophisticated effect, where the colours blend smoothly with each other and the surrounding decor.

Frenchic Colour Wheel Analogous

When applying colour theory to furniture, it's important to consider how different colours can accentuate various features of a piece. For example, using contrasting colours can highlight the unique aspects of furniture, such as the drawers of a dresser or the legs of a table. This technique can draw attention to the craftsmanship and design of the piece.

Colour also plays a significant role in setting the mood of a space. Warm paint colours, like redsoranges and yellows, can energise a room, such as Hot As Mustard...

In contrast, cool colours, such as blues and greens tend to bring a sense of calmness. For example, Apple of my Eye can create a tranquil space. Take a look at how Steaming Green is used to add character to flat pack furniture...

Choosing the right paint for your furniture is more than just a matter of colour preference. It's about understanding the role each piece plays in the overall aesthetics of your space.

Furniture type:

Unlike walls, furniture often serves as either a focal point or a complementary element within a room. From prominent built-ins to subtle accent pieces, different types of furniture can influence your choice of paint.

Large pieces like built-in wardrobes or bookcases can dominate a room, much like a painted wall. When painting these items, consider how the colour will affect the room's mood and style. For example, choosing a neutral or matching wall colour can create a seamless look, while a contrasting colour can turn the furniture into a striking feature.

Smaller pieces like chairs, tables or dressers offer more flexibility. These items can either blend with the room's colour scheme or serve as vibrant accents that add character and interest. If you’re ready to spice things up, try Flamenco!

Room type:

Selecting the right paint colour for your furniture involves considering both the type of furniture and the room it lives in.

For furniture in social spaces like living rooms, choose colours that stimulate conversation and comfort, like red-based shades. Earthy tones (Dawlish or Riad Red) or vibrant hues (Rubina and Fifi’s Fancy) can add warmth and energy. If these feel too strong then opt for more pared back versions like Clay Pot or extend to warm browns and beiges.

In bedrooms, where relaxation is key, opt for soothing and calming colours. Soft blues, greens or even muted greys work well.

Offering a balance of subtlety and depth, paint colours with grey undertones are going to be a big hit in 2024. Try shades like Scotch MistVerdigrisHebrides or Jitterbug.

These hues are perfect for creating a restful environment with a contemporary touch. They excel in areas requiring calmness, like bedrooms and studies and add sophistication to living spaces. Their versatility allows them to blend seamlessly with various decor styles and textures, catering to personalised interior design.

Muted colours with grey undertones in 2024 represent a lifestyle choice for spaces that are both serene and stylish, embodying a tranquil yet modern aesthetic.

For less intense versions of these grey based blues and greens, check out French ShutterMaverickMother Duck and Olivia.

When it comes to children’s rooms, bright, playful colours can stimulate creativity and joy. Consider using bold and cheerful colours for nursery furniture, against a backdrop of calming colours.


Consider the colour palette of other pieces in the room. Aim for a balanced look where colours either harmonise or thoughtfully contrast. If your walls are neutrally toned, you have more freedom with furniture colours. For brightly coloured walls, choose furniture colours that complement or subtly contrast.

Function and aesthetics:

Don’t forget the balance between function and aesthetics. When choosing paint for furniture, consider its usage. High-traffic pieces like dining tables or chairs require durable, easy-to-clean paints, whereas decorative pieces can indulge in more luxurious, textured finishes.

Your personal style should guide your colour choices. Whether you prefer a minimalist vibe, modern look or a vibrant, eclectic style, the paint colour should complement the room's overall theme.

Be bold with your furniture colour choice!

Furniture painting is not just about refurbishment. It's an opportunity to express your personal style and add a unique touch to your home.

Bold colours are perfect for statement pieces, allowing you to create a focal point in the room. A brightly coloured chair or a vividly painted chest of drawers can transform the space. Try Plum Pudding if you dare!

Alternatively, why not experiment with colour blocking by using two or more contrasting colours on a single piece? This technique can highlight the furniture's design and add a contemporary edge.

What’s the right finish for my furniture paint?

The finish of your paint plays a crucial role in both the appearance and durability of your furniture. When choosing between finishes for your furniture painting project, considering factors like usage, maintenance and the look you want to achieve.

  • Matte paint – Offers a non-reflective, smooth appearance. Ideal for a modern, understated look but can be prone to showing marks and stains. Ideal for less frequently used items, such as side tables or bookcases
  • Metallic paint – Use to highlight detail, add embellishment or add stunning metallic effects to a whole piece of furniture or even your woodwork! 
  • Satin paint – Offers both durability and a moderate sheen. For pieces like dining tables or chairs, a more durable satin paint finish is recommended as they are easier to clean and resist to wear and tear.

Different finishes can affect how a colour looks. Satin finishes tend to make colours look deeper and more vibrant, while matte finishes offer a more muted appearance.

Consider the overall style of the room. A satin finish might suit a modern, sleek decor, whereas a matte finish could complement a rustic or vintage style better.

Ready to get started on your first piece?

Painting furniture can be daunting, especially if it’s new to you. Start with a small piece to gain confidence. And remember, every mistake is a learning opportunity. Don't be afraid to try, retry and learn from the process.

Remember to share your fantastic furniture painting projects on social media (and tag Frenchic!) or join the Frenchic Fan Forum Facebook group. You’ll find a friendly community of like-minded Frenchic-fanatics, always ready to help with tips and ideas, and they'll love to see what you've created. Seeing your creations can inspire others too!

What are you waiting for? pick up your brush, choose your colours and let the magic of transformation begin. Happy painting!

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