DIY Painted Side Table


Have you wondered how to create a DIY painted side table?  I will walk you through how to update a thrifted side table using MMS milk paint. 

A quick note that this post includes affiliate links and I will receive a commission but at no additional cost to you. I am presenting you with my own opinion and honest review of the information provided. If you want to read the entire disclosure statement, please click HERE.


A few weeks ago, I was out and about at a thrift store when I came across this cute small side table. It was a good price and I thought it would be a good candidate for a transformation. Initially, this table’s original finish was brown paint with a red tint. However, it was in good condition and I thought it had potential.  

Further, I always find little side tables to be particularly useful. They are great for setting down a cup of coffee in your living room or for holding towels in a bathroom. They can be used to hold plants and can be stashed by the side of a bed to hold a stack of books. Small side tables are a piece of furniture that can always be repurposed and used.

Old end tables and bedside table(s) are also good furniture pieces to find for a quick update. You can find this pieces at thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales.

So, let me walk you through the steps I took to give this little side table a makeover.

DIY Painted Side Table


The first thing we need to do is gather our supplies. I wanted an authentic chippy look for this side table so I decided to use MMS Milk Paint in the color Farmhouse White which is a warm white paint color. If you visit the MMS Milk Paint website, you will see there is a whole array of color choices.

MMS milk paint

Step 1 – Clean the Table

Use your cleaner, a scrub brush and rag to ensure all the dirt and grime has been removed. I used Mr. Clean for this project however you can also use 409, TSP, or Simple Green. Anything that will cut through grease and dirt will work. 

Table being cleaned

I wanted this table to have a naturally chippy appearance so I did NOT sand the wood. I simply cleaned it well and then let it dry completely.

If your table has any original hardware, like knobs on a drawer, now is the time to remove it. If you have new hardware you want to install, set it to the side.

Step 2 – Apply Milk Paint

Mix up your milk paint using 1 part powdered paint and equal parts water. I added about 4 drops of Milk Mix EZ to help the powder and water get incorporated a little easier. Once fully mixed, I let the paint sit for about 20 minutes.  

People ask me about the difference between milk paint and chalk paint. Milk paint is all natural, has zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and is made from 4 plant based ingredients. It has also been around since the 1700s. Chalk paint is a fairly new invention, it contains VOCs and is very similar to regular latex paints.

applying milk paint

While the mixed paint was setting, I rolled out some kraft paper to protect my dining room table and secured it to the table surface using some tape. 

You may have noticed that this little table has some ornate legs and spindles. These can be difficult to paint. So, to ensure there was good coverage and to minimize any paint drips from occurring, I turned the table upside down and painted the bottom first. 

Rotating the table as I was painting helped to ensure that I didn’t miss any spots.  

First Coat of Paint

As you can see in the photo above, the first coat of paint was splotchy. Whenever you are painting a lighter color over dark wood, it always requires multiple coats of paint.  So don’t be deterred if the first coat of paint doesn’t look great.

This particular table required 3 coats of paint. 

Most of you may know that I collaborate with the MMS milk paint company and as a result I can save you 10% on your order. If you order any products from the link provided, enter the code 10OFFSH to save 10%.

MMS milk paint coupon

Step 3 – Create Natural Chipping

Remember when I told you that I did not sand this table? Normally, sanding is a required step for preparing the piece of furniture to be painted. However, I thought this little table would look better and have more character if some natural chipping took place.  

Here is a quick summary as to how I achieved this look.

Using Sandpaper

First, I took some 220 grit sandpaper and lightly sanded the entire table.  You can also use this opportunity to remove any drips of paint that you come across since the 220 grit sandpaper will remove them easily.

Then, I took a butter knife and gently scraped the legs and spindles on the bottom of the table.  As hoped, small pieces of milk paint “chipped” off.  This is the part of the process where the magic happens.  What was once an old outdated table suddenly looks charming and has character.

When you are done with all the sanding and chipping, wipe down the table with a tack cloth or lint-free cloth.

Step 4 – Seal the Paint

I fully expect coffee cups, plants, and other items with moisture to be put on this table. After all, the whole purpose of having a side table is to use it! To protect the surface from moisture, I applied 3 coats of MMS’s Milk Coat in the no sheen/matte finish.

This is a great product to work with that has the consistency of hand lotion. It can be cleaned up with water and like the other MMS products, it doesn’t have any VOCs.  Applying the sealant is the final step in the process.

I used this same product to seal the antique sofa frame that I painted.  It has worked great and I have no complaints about using it. 

If you have new hardware you want to install, now is the time to do so.

Step 5- Enjoy your DIY Painted Side Table

Congratulations! You now have a side table that you gave a new life! As I mentioned previously, there are so many uses for this piece of furniture.  Here are some photos I took showing how it can be used in the home. 

Table in Bathroom

First, here is a photo showing how it can be used in a bathroom to hold towels, soaps and a candle.

Table next to chair

Second, here is a photo showing how it can be used next to a comfy side chair. 


Thank you for stopping by the blog today!  Below are some images I created for you so you can pin them to your Pinterest boards for future reference.  If in the future you want to return to this post, simply click on one of the images you have pinned. 

DIY Painted Side Table 3

This was such a fun and rewarding project to complete.  I think furniture transformations are one of my favorite activities.  

DIY Painted Side Table 2

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  1. What an adorable piece Anna! This is just the kind of piece I love to paint! I especially love how you show how to use it in the bathroom – so farmhousy! Pinned 🥰

  2. This sweet table has my heart! I’m excited to tell you this post will be featured in this week’s Tuesday Turn About Link Party! Thanks for joining us and I hope to see you this week! Pinned 🙂

    1. Hi Cindy!! THANK YOU SO MUCH! That means the world to me. Thank you for the kind words and the feature.

  3. I love how this sweet little table turned out! It has just the right amount of chippy goodness! Can you believe I have never used milk paint before? It looks so fun! I’m going to have to try it! Pinning for future reference!

  4. Such a fabulous little table that can be used in so many different ways, Anna! I could definitely see this in a bathroom with candles and bath salts. I love the color you chose and how you added a chippy feel too. It’s perfection! Hugs, CoCo

  5. Beautiful table, Anna! It’s so sweet and you turned it into a charming showstopper with your milk paint makeover. I’ve never used milk paint before, so this tutorial, and the comparison to chalk paint, was super helpful. Off to pin it so I can peek back when I’m ready to give it a try! 🙂

  6. I love this Anna! The little table has such great bones and beautiful features. Your milk paint application just made it all shine. I love transformations like this. Thanks for all the great info. and now I want to find a table just like it. lol. XO- MaryJo

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