Ready-to-finish furniture is quite affordable and it's easy to decorate with paint, stain, faux finishing techniques, and other quick and easy crafting tricks.
Multi-Colored High Chair
Give a high chair a spirited look by painting each of the rungs and spokes a different color. Use shades of pastels for a soft look, or combine primary colors for a bright chair. First apply a primer coat of white. Then paint each rung, spoke or leg in a different color. Next, paint the high chair tray one color and the trim another color. Add a stencil design of random circles, squares and triangles. Cut the shapes from a hard sponge. Press each shape onto one of the paint colors and press over the high chair tray as if you were rubber stamping it.
Country Jelly Cabinet
An old-fashioned jelly cabinet is a versatile storage unit. It's handy for files, books, linens, or extra dishes and glassware. It's also great for storing sewing supplies. Decorate the front panels with a simple illustration. First paint the top and sides. Next, trace a design or illustration from a book or other source that will fit on the front. Tape the tracing face down on the cabinet and retrace on the back of the lines to transfer the design. Remove the tracing and fill in the outlines with acrylic paint colors of your choice.
Spatter Paint Kitchen Chairs
Give plain wooden kitchen chairs character with a spatter paint finish. First use semi-gloss latex to paint the chair in the color of your choice. Then dip a toothbrush into a contrasting color and run your finger over the bristles to spritz the paint over the entire surface of the chair. You can do this over and over with many different colors for a multi-colored effect.
Cut out designs from pretty wrapping paper and glue them at random on the painted chair. Three coats of polyurethane protects it all. It's an easy way to make an ordinary chair fanciful.
Combine a background of a faux finish with pretty floral greeting cards on the panels of a divider screen. First paint the screen with a background color, then add an overall faux technique of sponging, combing or strie. Glue the cards to the center of each panel and frame each one with a narrow strip of velvet ribbon in a color to match each flower.
Paint an unfinished armoire a country color. Then give it an old and distressed look with antiquing. Finally remove some of the paint by rubbing the surface down with fine sandpaper, and then steel wool so the wood shows through. This is a good way to create a worn, country look from a new piece of furniture. Satin polyurethane protects the furniture with a matte sheen.
Covered With Roses
Paint a small, occasional table a pale shade of pink. With a light pencil, create a 1-inch diamond grid on the diagonal over the table top. Dip an artist's brush in green paint and go over the grid lines freehand to make graceful weaving vines. Apply rose decals evenly spaced on either sides of the vines for a rose-covered trellis.
Apply a light wood stain to the sides of a blanket chest. For contrast, stain the lid a darker color stain. Apply semi-gloss polyurethane and let dry. Dip fine black sandpaper in sudsy water and rub lightly over the entire surface. Wipe clean and the finish will be satin smooth. A coating of bowling alley paste wax, such as Johnson's or Butcher's will give the piece a beautiful sheen and the chest will look like expensive furniture.
Decorative Touches With Stencils
Paint or stain a plain table, then add a stencil border around the edge. A geometric design in a contrasting color or darker stain is perfect for a square or rectangular surface. A delicate border of vines and heart-shaped leaves will give a Scandinavian flair to the door frame of a china cabinet. Use a floral border on the front of dresser drawers or on the top of a night table.