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DIY Pottery Barn Paint Technique – Looks & Feels Like the Real Thing!

Pottery Barn furniture has a special feel under your fingers. It’s smooth and luxurious. That’s because it’s been painted with a multi-step process in a spray booth using top-of-the-line paints. The price tag usually reflects that! In just 4 easy steps, you can get the same high-end finish.

For a couple of years now I’ve been thinking that it’s time for a re-do. Since it’s located in a poorly-lit area of our house, my first stop was to lighten up the bed. I purchased this bed at Big Lots of all places. Since it’s solid wood, I figured a cream paint job was the way to go. Fresh, bright, warm!

I’ve always admired the way Pottery Barn furniture has just the right blend of distressed and perfect.  It shines but is not shiny.  It’s beat up, but looks brand new.  It’s perfectly smooth, but worn.

Let’s Paint!

Step 1: Thoroughly clean the piece of furniture.  Remove any hardware or furnishings that you do not want to damage.  Use a paint specifically made to bond to the existing finish.  I used Zinzer 1-2-3 Primer because it allows you to prime without sanding.  Since the piece I was painting had a dark finish, I had to paint three very thin coats.  Painting technique is important.  First- using a very high quality brush, paint the nooks and cranny’s, then quickly roll out the brush marks using a small foam roller.  Work in very small sections so that brush marks do not dry before you can smooth them out.  Roll out the larger, flat areas.  This primer dries quickly so you can get started on the next coat pretty quickly.

Step 2: Time to paint! I used a latex, premium interior paint in a Pearl finish. Benjamin Moore’s AF-30 Deep in Thought is the color. It is the perfect “cream” in my opinion. All of my woodwork and trim is done in this color. It’s actually a shade that Pottery Barn uses! See?  You will need two to three coats, plan on three to get that high quality look. Use the same technique as the primer, rolling out any brush marks so the finish is smooth.

Step 3: Now for everyone’s favorite part, sanding!…. {groans}  Stay with me here.  I never bothered with sanding before this, but I was a fool!  It makes all the difference!  Your project will go from homemade to professional with just a little bit of elbow grease.  Using a 220-grit sanding sponge, start sanding in light circular motions.  Feel for uniform smoothness as you go making sure to not miss spots.

Step 4: {huge groan} more sanding… Now using a 320-grit sanding sponge, continue in light circular motions.  Personally, I use both at the same time.  I do a section with 220 and then switch to 320 and go over the same area.  When you near the edges of your project, very gently remove some of the paint to expose the base coat underneath.  Go easy with this technique though. Not every edge should be distressed, only here and there.  Too much distressing starts to look cheap and homemade but a little roughing up along the edges looks lovely.  A microfiber dusting cloth, or tack cloth, is perfect for removing the dust after a good vacuuming.

Keep in mind:

This will work with any color combination you like.  If you plan to distress, remember to consider not only the base coat underneath but the primer color as it will also show through.  A tinted primer might be a great solution, or maybe skipping the primer all together is the way to go.  Find a great paint shop and ask for an opinion on your color choices to find out what products will work best for you.

You may want to do a clear coat on top; it’s always an option.  I asked my local paint fella his opinion on that and he explained to me that latex paints these days are very durable and will typically have the same level of durability as a clear coat.  If you do a clear coat, it will take several layers with sanding in between.

Remember that your piece will never get a Pottery Barn look if the structure itself doesn’t already have similar lines.  This table will never be this table, no matter how bad ass the paint job.


Hi, I'm Micheline

Thanks for stopping by!

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