How Painting Furniture Can Build Happier {Paint-Speckled} Kids

Have you ever painting furniture with a child?

If you’re striving for perfection, this project is not be for the faint-of-heart, but if you have some wiggle room and aren’t concerned with extra drips, this is a fantastic way to build a child’s confidence by giving the child a real-world project to work on.

painting furniture with kids via Tinkerlab

We started with this the BEKVAM IKEA step-stool (if you don’t have one, I bet you know someone who does). It’s an amazing stool and we use it multiple times a day.

It’s also been through a couple transformations in its short life. When N was about two, we painted it white and Mod Podged pretty paper from Paper Source to the tops of the steps. Here’s a flashback to that look. I loved it.

Despite lots of sealant, over time the paper started to wear away and we thought it would be fun to paint a fresh of something on top.

But what?

My five-year old suggested black paint, and given the constant beatings this poor stool takes from my active kids, I agreed that this was the perfect choice.

How painting furniture builds happier kids | Tinkerlab

If you decide to give this a go, here a few tips and suggestions…



  • Fill the cup about 1/4 of the way with acrylic paint
  • Mix in some water acrylic medium if it’s too thick
  • Hand your child the paint and a brush, along with any instructions.

These were my instructions:

  • When you paint, try to move the brush side to side
  • If you have too much paint on the brush, you can gently tap the extra paint off your brush before you remove it from the cup
  • Keep your brushes nearby so they don’t get on anyone else’s body

How painting furniture builds happier kids | Tinkerlab

We stated out with a plan to just paint the tops of the steps where we peeled off the paper.

Um, why did I think my kids had that kind of painting control? After little R got carried away with putting black paint wherever she pleased, we all agreed that an entirely black stool was a much better idea anyway.

Here’s a little snapshot of a conversation on this topic between my kids…

N: Let’s just paint it all black!

R:  Oh, I have an idea. When it dries we can paint flowers and butterflies on it.

Yep, this is how my toddler thinks. Clearly we’re on the same page!

The stool is still all black, but my little one keeps asking about the flowers and butterflies. I think the stool is done, but maybe we need another furni-painting project.

As we were painting, N gave me a job based on my expertise in the area of smoothing out lumps of paint:

N: Mom, you be the smoother and I’ll hold the cup of paint.

Me: I like being the smoother. I’ve had a lot of practice with this job and I think I’m pretty good at it.

N: How long have you been a smoother?

Me: Oh, since I was your age, at least.

A few minutes pass as N focuses on her painting.

N: Look what I’m doing! I’m a smoother too.

A note on Acrylic Paint

The kids loved this activity (and got very well painted in the process). Acrylic paint will not wash out of clothing, and somehow we managed to avoid getting any on our clothes. However, arms and toes were might speckled. To remove acrylic from the skin, use a damp cloth and gently rub it away. Acrylic paint is plastic-based and will actually peel off the skin.

If you’re not sure where to start, Liquitex Basics offers a good value for quality acrylic paints. You can order these via Amazon. 

Since the stool was already covered with a base-coat and our black paint was quite thick, we only needed one layer of paint to cover the stool. You may need two layers, depending on the paint you’re using.

A question for you

Have you painted furniture with a child? Do you have any tips for making this a fun and successful activity?

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  1. Totally off topic – but can you please tell me what the typeface is that you used in the first image, I really like it.

    The kids and I have painted a piece of very old garden furniture together…. the kids loved it but we still have stained pavers from the experience!!! It will wear off eventually. 🙂

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