If you know me, you know I get sentimental about furniture. REAL furniture. The pieces that you can tell a person, or people, put creativity and effort into designing, building, assembling and finishing. Not many pieces become more sentimental to a family than a piano. There is something beautiful about an aged piano. In some cases I would never refinish them but some of them… well, they need a little love to make them the statement piece they deserve to be! See the difference?!
If you are in the market for a piano on a tight budget, I’d consider buying a used one in great shape that just needs a tuning and a little sprucing up. You can do it! Or hire me to help! 🙂 If you have a piano with the ever so common orange shiny oak finish from the eighties and nineties or a piano that your kids have taken upon themselves to decorate (no kidding I’ve painted two pianos now with tic tac toe carved into the wood!). Then read on my friends!
Here’s a few tips on how to turn your piano a statement piece:
1. Select a paint color. I hear it all the time, “I would never paint a piece of furniture made of real wood” or “why would you paint that instead of refinish it with stain?”. I love a rich wood finish too. But sometimes paint adds just that little extra somethin’ and can serve as an accent piece while many times wood finishes can get lost in a room. Often paint can show off detail or clean lines on piece better than a wood finish can. And to be honest, in this particular situation, you would have to completely disassemble the piano to strip and sand it properly. Those keys can get very tricky! Pick a color that is complementary to the room. I once read a quote by Annie Sloan where she suggests, if you paint a piece and look at it in its space with squinty eyes and it really stands out more than anything else in the room, than it is too bright for your color palette. I love bold color and you can see an example of a pretty mustard yellow piano below that fit in perfectly with the personality and earthy palette of its space. Be brave but with this particular piece don’t pick something you will be tired of in two years.
2. Tape off around the keys covering them with paper. Self explanatory but this will save you a lot of clean up and you can rest easy while painting around those tricky little things. And if you do have to do any light sanding it will keep unnecessary dust out.
3. Take off any hardware. If your piano has knobs or any hardware or a music stand, I’d take them off. It can be tricky opening and closing the cover without hardware so you may want to paint that last. Patinated brass hardware can be very pretty and I typically leave it as is. If you have that bright 90’s brass, I’d consider spray painting it bronze, nickle, or an antiqued metallic color of your choice. Or you can paint it the same color as the piano with the Chalk Paint.
4. Remove any flaky old paint with a scraper or rough sand paper. Fill in any holes you want filled with wood filler or Plastic Wood and lightly sand down any scratches. Unless you want a brand new piano look, I like the natural distressed look that wear and tear gives overtime. It gives character to the painted finish. Just don’t leave any old childhood tic tac toe carvings!! 🙂
5. Degloss. Use TSP or a deglosser to remove oils built up over time from hands and dusting products so you have a clean surface ready for paint.
6. Start painting! Because we aren’t removing the old finish I HIGHLY recommend using a chalk based paint. This is NOT to be confused with chalkboard paint. A high end brand of Chalk Paint such as Annie Sloan is what I recommend. This paint adheres to anything and you can thin with water as needed (because it will thicken if you leave the lid off). It leaves very little brush strokes and any strokes can be sanded lightly to a velvety smooth finish. You may have sticker shock on the price, typically $37 a quart, but a little goes a long way and it is worth it when you figure in the time you are saving with less prep work. There are other brands of Chalk paint. In fact, Lowe’s just came out with their own version but Annie Sloan takes the cake as far as ease to use, finish, and durability. Its the original Chalk Paint and is super low VOC. I don’t get paid for this opinion though I wish I did because I LOVE this product and I tell everyone about it.
7. Distress around the edges and corners if you want! This is super easy to do with chalk paint. Use a fine sandpaper or a sanding sponge, nothing less than 120 grit, and lightly brush it along the edges or any places that would naturally become worn. This is a great disguise for pieces that may get nicked over time with kids in the house… it’s just part of the look! Many people choose to do this step after a wax finish. I do that sometimes if I want more control over the amount of paint I’m taking off. Just make sure you go back over it with a little wax.
8. Choose your finish. A “finish” is not completely necessary but for longer durability and easy cleaning I recommend a paste wax finish buffed to a matte shine. This finish is my favorite as it somehow gives depth of color to the paint. For a higher sheen you can buff with more elbow grease or use a brushed on Polycrylic with sheen of your choice.
9. Enjoy the view and maintain your hard work! To maintain the finish and all your hard work, clean with only a damp lint free cloth or dust cloth. No products here people! I recommend buffing on a new coat of wax once a year. Use coasters! If you do happen to get a water ring or defect in the finish you can buff it with wax (if it had a wax only finish) and the ring will dissappear or touch up the spot with paint and wax over it again.
Can you see the pretty, light distressed edges? Ahhh 😉