I finally got around to painting my baby grand piano this past weekend and all I can say is, ‘what was I so worried about’?
Somehow I had built this up to be a HUGE project in my mind. Obviously I should have known better. I mean, come on, I’ve painted a few larger pieces of furniture in my day. The Welsh cupboard in my dining room for example.
By comparison, the piano was so. easy.
As a reminder, here is how the piano looked originally.
Not super awful, but definitely not great. And up close the finish on this thing was totally shot …
The arrows are pointing towards areas where the veneer has chipped away.
Before we move on, I have to explain something. I don’t actually play the piano. Well, I did take some lessons when I was a kid and I can now play ‘chopsticks’ fairly well. But many years ago a former co-worker of mine was moving and needed to find a new home for her baby grand piano. I had the brilliant idea that I would find the time to take lessons one day. Ha. Yeah, that never happened.
However, as it turns out, this is one incredibly handy piece of furniture. It’s got a nice large work surface at exactly the right height for me while standing. It’s perfect for folding laundry, wrapping presents, scrapbooking, painting small items and it also makes a great buffet/bar during parties.
I honestly can’t think of any other piece of furniture that I could put in this same spot that would be as functional for me while still looking appropriate in the room. But it was starting to look a bit rough, so as part of my magic wand decorating plan, it was scheduled for a makeover.
I started by sanding it down which took about 10 minutes. The finish was so dry on this thing that it didn’t take much work to rough it up. I mostly wanted to make sure to sand down the paint drips that were on it because those can come back to haunt you if you just paint over them. Next I vacuumed away the dust with my shop vac and then wiped it all down with a damp rag.
Next I pulled out some Dixie Belle paint in Midnight Sky. You guys know how much I love their other black, Caviar, well this one is just a tad lighter. That probably sounds odd to call a black color ‘lighter’, but it is just not quite as deep and rich as the Caviar. It’s also a bit warmer with less of a blue undertone.
I watered down the paint just a tad. I find that the Dixie Belle paint is pretty thick. You can use it straight out of the jar if you want a more textured look, but if you want a smoother finish you can water it down which has the added benefit of making it go further. I only used about 2/3 of the 16 oz jar to paint this piano. That’s also partially because for the most part I got away with just one coat of paint. There were only a couple of spots that needed a touch up with a second coat.
A couple of you suggested a strategy for moving forward on this project. Start with painting the outside of the piano first, then tackle the inside bits at another time. So I mostly did that, except that I opened the cover that goes over the keys and painted inside there. I figure that’s the most likely spot to get opened up on occasion.
So I taped off the keys and painted that area. I also took this opportunity to re-glue some of the ivories that had come unglued.
Just out of curiosity I did some google research on ivory piano keys. Prior to 1930 almost all pianos had ivory keys, and mine are indeed ivory (check out this article to learn more about that).
Anyway, I used my E6000 glue to re-attach all of the loose ivories. Then I added a stencil to the top of the piano.
I had so many ideas swirling around in my head about what to do with this piano. I thought about painting it white and adding a transfer, but then it would compete with the Specimens Cupboard which is in the same room.
I also thought about wrapping some sort of stencil all the way around the sides of the piano. But stenciling those curves would have been challenging, plus I felt like it wouldn’t be all that noticeable since you really can only see one side of the piano unless you happen to be squishing yourself between the piano and the wall or window. So not a lot of bang for my buck.
Ultimately I tend to prefer a ‘less is more’ kind of style so I went with this simple ‘European grain sack’ stencil from Maison de Stencils.
Once the stencil paint was dry, I sanded the entire piece lightly with 220 grit paper to smooth out the paint. I gave the edges a little extra pressure to add a distressed look.
After vacuuming away the dust, I then finished the piano with Fusion’s clear wax. You might be wondering why I chose to wax such a large piece, and especially one that is probably going to see a lot of abuse. There are definitely more durable top coats that I could have chosen. But in my experience wax and/or hemp oil are the easiest finishes to ‘fix’ down the road. If I get a ring from a sweaty glass, a scratch, or a drip of random paint here and there, all I have to do is sand it down lightly to smooth it out and then add a little wax to just that spot. So in the long run I think I’ll be better off with wax.
One last thing, I had originally planned on keeping the chair I have ‘as is’.
I don’t want to go all ‘matchy-matchy’ with it and paint it black, but I’m not totally loving it with the piano. I’ll probably keep an eye out for another option down the road.
By the way, I have to say I found it rather challenging to photograph a black piano in a room flooded with light reflecting off our latest snow fall.
Here’s the view out those windows.
Yep, lots of white to reflect the light.
OK, so if you are keeping track of the magic wand decorating project, here’s where I’m at …
- repaint the insides of the bookshelves in the living room – check!
- repaint the living room walls – check!
- replace the living room furniture – check!
- paint the baby grand piano – check!
- replace the ceiling fan over the piano – check!
- repaint the piano room walls
That last item on the list, repaint the piano room walls is the last item on my original to-do list. But I’m having so much success I’ve decided to go just a bit further with that last item plus add one more. I’m adding ‘repaint the piano room built shelves beneath the windows’ because they really need it. As for the walls, I have a plan and I have my handyman Ken’s commitment to help me with it, so you’ll just have to stay tuned to see what we do.
In the meantime, if you have been thinking about painting a piano or some other larger piece but haven’t had the nerve to make the leap, I say go for it! It’s definitely not as hard as it looks.