Introduction: Mondrian Inspired Stool

About: Have been called a "Mad Genius" of Interior Design. Love a challenge, especially upcycling trash. Have more ideas/day than Trump has lawsuits. Diagnosed with Parkinson's 6 years ago. The body goes to hell, …

As an avid upcycler of furniture, I let the piece dictate how to refinish it. That leaves 100's of potential options. I wanted to do an 'ible' on a classic design that was easily reproduced and would work on a variety of furniture pieces, as well as vertical surfaces. Also being a fan of bold, bright and shiny, an "Ode to Mondrian" seemed appropriate.

Mondrian was a Dutch artist in the early turn of the 20th century and a contributor to the De Stijl art movement. His work seems fresh today, even though it's been around for almost 100 years.

For this project, I had extra stools on hand, but this technique would work on any flat, vertical or horizontal surface. It would be stunning on a flat, hollow-core door.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials


Furniture-end/coffee table/ or stool would be good choices

Sand paper or steel wool

Rubbing alcohol

Latex paint in 3 colors plus black and white


flat paint brush (artist's brush)


Paint roller

Painters tape

1/4" pin-stiping detail tape (auto supply store)

Mod Podge (high gloss)

Electrical tape (optional)

Step 2: Prepare Your Furniture

(Stool in this case)

Remove legs. Rough up the surface you're painting with sandpaper or steel wool and wipe off excess dust/ dirt with a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol. This will help your primer adhere well When that dries, give your piece 1 or 2 coats of primer. The background of Mondrian was always white, so the darker your piece the more coats of primer. Multiple thin coats (primer and paint) are better that fewer heavy coats.

Step 3: Create Your Design

It's a good idea to draw out a rough idea of your design along with colors, before you put it on your furniture. On a white background, lay out a grid of vertical and horizontal lines. You're basically making rectangles and squares. While Mondrian

kept his works in this style to black, white and the primaries (red, yellow and blue), I decided to try something different ('cause I'm just a rebel!). Layout your colors to find a nice balance. Of course, if you're what works for you.

Once you create a design you like, transfer it to your furniture piece in pencil.

Step 4: Paint

Mark in pencil, very lightly, where each color is going. Before you paint, ERASE THE PENCIL MARK. It's amazing how many coats of paint it'll take to cover a pencil mark. At this point, I like to go over my lines with a thick Sharpie (other brands can bleed -use a Sharpie) or paint pen, using a straightedge. It's easier to paint inside the lines. Some of you might use painters tape to mark out the areas you're going to paint. Whatever is easier.

While you can use any latex paint, I prefer the artist's latex. It's thick (you'll need to add a few drops of water) but the pigments are richer. You'll also have more control if you use a flat artist's brush, found in any craft store. Pick your first color and put a pea-sized dollop on a plate. Old ice trays and Styrofoam egg cartons are great for this project as you're using multiple colors. Add a few drops of water and mix. If the paint is too thick it will leave ridges on the surface. (Test on some scrap cardboard or wood) If this happens, you can always let it dry completely and sand it down. You'll want to do several thin coats of each color. Latex paint dries fast, so if you have excess on your plate (or pallet), cover it with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.

If you paint outside the lines, don't worry, help is coming. Keep adding layers of paint until you get the coverage you like.

Step 5: Add Your Dividing Lines

Pin-striping detail tape is perfect for creating your dividing lines. It's wide enough to cover most 'oops', sticks well, and doesn't shrink when sealer is applied. Cover your pencil/marker lines with the detail tape. Try not to overlap at the intersections if possible. This will provide a smoother finish. Any excess over the edge can be trimmed off.

As I'm working on a stool that will probably get banged around a lot, I chose to add electrical tape around the edge. It gives the edge better protection (and is cheaper) than the detail tape. Depending on what you're working on, you can also just paint the edges. Black provides the most finished look.

Step 6: Seal Your Piece

For pieces that get a lot of wear I use Mod Podge as a sealer. This project seemed to call for high gloss, but Mod Podge is available is multiple finishes.

Once your paint is completely dry, put some sealer in a small bowl and add a little water. 3:1 sealer to water is good. As with the paint, you want multiple, thin coats for a smoother finish. It goes on white, but will dry clear. Let each layer dry completely before adding the next coat or you risk ridges and lumps. If this happens, let dry several hrs, then go over the lump with super fine steel wool or sand paper (be gentle). Be sure to go around your edges with MP, even if you added electrical tape. It helps it to stay on and give it a glossy finish.

On this project I put on 6 or 7 layers of sealer. It dries fast, but don't rush it (a fan on high pointed directly on the piece didn't hurt).

Add your legs or whatever else you took off and you're good to go. This is a classic-modern pattern that will never go out of style (unless you're one of those unbalanced types mentioned earlier-then all bets are off).