Style Secret: The Power of Paint Cottage decorating mavens have never met a wrought-iron bed or battered side table that they couldn't liven up with a paintbrush. Whether you want to rescue a ratty finish, brighten dark wood, or unify pieces that carry the mismatched look a little too far, paint is your friend. It's cheap, it's quick and it's fuss free. Hot tip: Worried that a just-painted piece will look glaringly new? It's easy to get a worn look with a little strategic sanding or filing. Period (or period-look) drawer and cabinet pulls and other hardware also help.