The Old White Piano

September 21, 2012

Confession time.  I’ve always wanted to paint an upright piano!   It’s hard to find a good candidate because most upright pianos* I’ve seen are really nice and ones that I would hesitate to paint because of it. 

But fortune smiled upon me a few months ago when my friend and I were discussing sprucing up her new home.  She wanted to keep her old upright so her children could take lessons and learn to play, but she was not fond at all of the cherry finish, it just didn’t match her style at all. 

So when she mentioned she was torn about keeping or selling her piano because she didn’t like its dark and scratched surface, I casually mentioned to her that I could paint it for her – that seemed the perfect solution. 

After I got the thumbs up, I made a few visits to her house over the course of a week to paint it while she was at work, and she now has a freshly painted white piano at the base of her entry staircase.  And she loves it.

white painted piano centsational girl

*technically a “spinet” and not an “upright” thanks to a few readers letting me know!

I know there are a lot of people who consider painting a piano somewhat controversial but rest assured, this one wasn’t an heirloom.  I subscribe to the belief that you should make the things you own work for you, for your tastes, and for your lifestyle.  Life’s too short not too!   Since she wasn’t crazy about the cherry finish in her house, especially up against the oak wood stairs, I suggested a fresh coat of white paint.  Here is the piano before it was painted.

piano before paint


A fresh coat of white paint and a striped upholstered seat were the keys to achieving the coastal style she loves and the freshened piano now suits her tastes.   

painted piano centsational girl


I’ve mentioned before my favorite paints for furniture, and in this case the AS Chalk Paint was the perfect choice.  I could paint the piano indoors and skip the priming – the ‘Old White’ is a beautiful soft white and I’ve used on both a console table and night stand.  I have a local stockist, but you can also buy it online from Shaunna’s shop!

as chalk paint old white


No priming is a really nice bonus when painting a piano – you never want to damage the keys or the interior so I worked slowly with a good Purdy brush (and a small artists brush near the keys).

purdy brush paint inside piano


A note on preparation, I’ve learned the hard way over the years that skipping steps can backfire so when doing any painting project or furniture makeover, so be sure to follow the steps necessary.  Whether it’s wearing a respirator mask while spray painting or testing for lead before you strip paint off an older piece, taking those extra minutes to properly prepare for the next step in any paint makeover is so important.  Safety and preparation are always key to any beautiful result!

In this makeover, the pedals and the feet of the piano had a beautiful brass finish, so I used the 3M Edge Lock tape to protect them.  I’ve used this tape for the past six months (like on this striped dresser) and it’s a new favorite for getting crisp lines when painting stripes or protecting the details or edges of furniture you don’t want to paint. 

edge lock tape


painted white piano by stairs


On the top and the frequently touched surfaces, a coat of clear wax protects the paint. I apply it with a soft rag then buff it out for a smooth finish.

coat of clear wax


The final details included replacing the previous bright gold knobs with more delicate glass versions, and recovering the bench in an appealing stripe with a layer of 1 inch foam underneath for comfort. 

change knobs


striped bench


I snapped a few shots of it yesterday as my boy ran up to his friend’s room. 

painted white piano centsational girl

old white painted piano centsational girl


Thankfully the makeover (and especially the new cozy seat!) meets with the approval of the most opinionated family member, Sissy.  

sissy on bench


And that’s the story of how an old family upright piano became an elegant focal point for this sweet family! 


This post sponsored by 3M brand.  All opinions are my own. Build your safety toolkit by entering to win more safety products at the 3M sweepstakes.  



Have a great weekend everyone!


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116 Responses to “The Old White Piano”

  1. Jules says:

    Did you take the piano apart? I have a baby grand that is green -and I love that it’s green- but it is in horrible shape. My technician said to paint it I’d have to pull it all apart to make sure the moving parts don’t get painted shut. Very terrifying idea with a toddler in the house.

  2. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Jules, no I did not take it apart, it wasn’t necessary especially with this paint. I also used a small artists brush to paint around the keys that were protected with the painter’s tape.

  3. I saw yours, and I did it! And I’m so happy! Thanks for showing how it’s done…I LOVE your blog. Here’s my copycat piano

  4. Annlucy says:

    Wow what a beautiful transformation.

  5. Barbara Rychtarik says:

    Too bad I did not see this before now. I had a good spinet and sold it because I thought I would have had to take it completely apart. You were brave enough to do it!! I think the piano’s new look is awesome. kudos

  6. Danielle says:

    Why did you choose chalkboard paint?

  7. Patricia says:

    This is so beautiful! I want to do this so badly! May I ask how many coats of Old White you had to use? How many quarts would I need? Hope it’s not an imposition….

  8. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Patricia, one quart, two coats, and sometimes three in places. The ASCP goes far!

  9. Angie says:

    Did you have to sand the piano before you painted it?? I want to get a piano and paint it, but I don’t want to take the time to sand it….

  10. CentsationalGirl says:

    With Chalk Paint Angie, there’s no need to sand!

  11. Sheila says:

    I, too, have a piano I would NEVER get rid of but I really am unhappy with how it sticks out like a sore thumb in my house. My mother purchased my Yamaha upright piano in 1972 and it still has beautiful instrument today but it is an ugly piece of furniture! I think I may one day paint it but I dread the day my mother would walk into my house to see the maple finish painted over! She is definitely from the wood is better no matter what era!

  12. I’m a decorator and a pianist. My husband is a Registered Piano Technician and we have a grand piano in the shop right now that he’s going to overhaul. We have painted several old pianos to give them new life after he’s overhauled them.

    To answer Jules above and to you too …. YES DO have a piano technician remove the ‘action’ of the piano before you paint it! There are parts that will be badly affected if you get paint into/on them. Even getting paint onto felt in areas where you don’t even see it, can be a very bad thing. With around 10,000 parts in a piano, it’s well worth hiring a qualified piano technician to take your piano apart and put it back together after painting ….especially if you have a more expensive piano. It’s not hard to do, doesn’t take long but it does have to done correctly. And it makes the painting much much easier!

    While I LOVE your piano painted, and I found your post while googling ASCP painted pianos, I cringed when I saw that nothing was removed before painting. Hopefully everything is working well ;-)

    I’m always in a quandary when it comes to pianos. From a decorator’s point of view, I like them to work with the other elements in the room. From a pianist’s point of view, they are first and foremost an instrument :-) My own grand needs something done to the cabinet and maybe someday I’ll paint it too :-) Thankfully hubby will remove all the necessary parts to not only make the job easier but keep the working parts safe from any errant paint ;-)

    I’m very happy I found your post. I’ve bookmarked it for future use.

  13. CentsationalGirl says:

    Yes, you must respect the instrument Connie! Good news, my friend’s piano is working beautifully and I took great care to make sure the paint did not come in contact with any of the working pieces, thanks so much for your comment!

  14. Jami Freeman says:

    Did you use any thing to keep the dark cherry color from coming thru? Or simply the chalk paint.

  15. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Jami, the chalk paint covered sufficiently in most spots, I did have to add a third coat in a few others though. No priming this time, the coverage was great!

  16. Melodie says:

    It looks so beautiful !! Great job!

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