Lessons in Chalk Paint

Lessons in Chalk Paint

The “Learning Curves” of Chalk Paint

My first project using Chalk Paint was a French Provencal bedroom set that I found on Craigslist. There were three pieces: a side table, a chest of drawers, and a headboard. (For this post, I am featuring the side table and chest of drawers). This is a Broyhill Premium set, very well made, probably from the 1970’s. I got them to use in my guest bedroom and they were a perfect fit. Of course, the original stain color wouldn’t work (I definitely wanted something lighter), so I knew I would have to refinish.

French Provencal Side Table

French Provencal Side Table

French Provencal Chest of Drawers

French Provencal Chest of Drawers

Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan

Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan

I wanted a lighter color for the body of the pieces, but decided to keep the tops in a stained wood finish. So I stripped the tops of the side table and chest of drawers first to prepare them for a new stain.

French Provencal Side Table Stripped

French Provencal Side Table with Stripped and Sanded Top

Then I went to work on the bottom of each piece. My first choice of color was Chalk Paint in Paris Grey. I love the color, but when I painted a couple of coats, it had more of a lavender appearance with the lighting in this room, so I decided to just go with Pure White.

French Provencal Side Table in Paris Grey

French Provencal Side Table Painted with Chalk Paint in Paris Grey

After a couple of coats of Pure White, I whipped out my new can of Annie Sloan DARK wax. What’s wrong with that, right? Well, low and behold, the first cardinal rule in applying Annie Sloan Dark Wax to a piece of painted furniture is that you FIRST apply a coat of CLEAR wax! If you know anything about Chalk Paint, it is that the paint “grabs” the wax and actually absorbs it…then you simply wipe away the excess wax on top. Well, my pieces grabbed the dark wax, sucked it up and had no intention of letting go! I spent many hours, went through lots of sanding blocks, and used a LOT of muscle to get the pieces sanded down to the finish that I wanted.

French Provencal Chest of Drawers with Dark Wax

French Provencal Chest of Drawers with Dark Wax

French Provencal Chest Drawers

French Provencal Drawers Waiting in Line to be Sanded

Yeah, I know I probably should have just painted right back over that dark wax finish and moved on, but at nearly $40 a quart for this paint, I’m not going down without a fight! I sanded and buffed until I was blue in the face, and actually ended up with a very UNIQUE and almost factory-like finish.

French Provencal Chest of Drawers with Chalk Paint

French Provencal Chest of Drawers with Chalk Paint

I tracked down some nice replacement knobs online. I chose not to re-use the original French knobs, since my home is a little more casual cottage in style. I went with these Hafele knobs from MyKnobs.com.

Halfele Key Knob and Drop Pull

Hafele Key Knob and Drop Pull from MyKnobs.com

I finished off the tops of the pieces with a MINWAX dark walnut stain. I wanted to keep the finish to a minimum of shine, so after the MINWAX finish was dry, I sealed it with a coat of the Annie Sloan Dark Wax, and then buffed it to a satin sheen.

Table with Dark Walnut Top

French Provencal Side Table with Dark Walnut Top

Wood Finish in Dark Walnut

MINWAX Wood Finish in Dark Walnut

For someone who really messed it up, I ended up with a couple of pieces of furniture that I LOVE!

French Provencal Chest of Drawers

French Provencal Chest of Drawers Finished with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

French Provencal Side Table

French Provencal Side Table Finished with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

This was exactly the look that I was shooting for. (I just happened to take the long away around to go about getting it)! All’s well that ends well, eh?

Before and After with Chalk Paint

French Provencal Furniture Before and After using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Have a blessed day!

Melissa @ Songbird Cottage

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Comments

  1. Beautiful job Melissa!

  2. Mistakes usually end up being for the best… I love the way the furniture turned out.

    • Thanks Sharon! I am so happy with how it turned out, too…even if I did take the long way to get there!

      • I don’t have a web site. I’m fairly new to re-finishing furniture. But I want to re-do an old bedroom set my mother gave me. It has lots of scrolls in the dresser, night stand and headboard, so I know it can be pretty. I want the look you have in this project, but I don’t want to go about it the “hard way”. Can you tell me how you would have gotten the same look the easier way, please?

  3. Didn’t anyone bother to tell you about the clear/dark wax thing? Sheesh……. LOL They turned out fabulous!!!

  4. I think you’re pieces are beautiful! I just finished my first chalk piece and am hooked! I had no idea about the dark wax either…thanks for sharing that tid bit!!

    • Thanks Tamara! Hope I can save someone else out there some time by sharing that one small tidbit. I should have taken one of the Chalk Paint workshops, but live and learn. Just glad my project turned out how I wanted it. Glad to hear you like the Chalk Paint too. It is a great product!

  5. chris aka monkey :

    learning experience hah they are truly gorgeous i love them xx

  6. I think they turned out just lovely!! Even with the “oops” …sometimes those are the best! Yes, I learned that the hard way a few years ago on one of my first pieces! 😉 Thank goodness it was a small one so I just painted right over it.

    Nancy

  7. I LOVE LOVE them!!!! Great job. I just finished some end table similar finish but stained then glossed the tops but i love the look of your top. after the stain dried and you did dark wax on top what did you buff it with? Thanks for info

  8. I recently finished two end tables in Paris gray and I’m wanting to keep the chalky matte look and I plan to top coat with wax but If I buff them will it make them look more satin than matte?

    • The buffing does give a slight satin look, but it also depends on how much buffing you actually do. If you want to keep a more matte finish, you could apply the wax and then just wipe away the excess without over polishing it. My pieces ended up with a satin finish, but that is how I wanted them to look. Thanks!

  9. Wow, beautiful mistake ! I did the same thing too. I did see somewhere that you could remove the dark wax by going over it with the clear wax ? Have not tried it, it was too late for me., but maybe it will help someone save a ton of time and elbow grease. ….i just dry brushed some of my original color back over the piece. I was using milk paint.

  10. How did you get the scroll design to be that darker color after everything was painted white?

  11. Beautiful! This is exactly what I want. I have similar looking vintage bedroom pieces in my guestroom that need a new look and this is it. But like you I’ve never done this before but you have inspired me to go for it.

  12. Lovely. Clear wax first before dark wax. Thanks for this helpful hint!

  13. OMG!!! What a beautiful result!!! Thank you so much for sharing your process. I have a piece of furniture I want to update and all this has been of great help. Keep on sharing!!!
    Maggie
    Mexico City

  14. What product and steps did you use to strip the finish off the top of the pieces?

  15. Beautiful!!!!

  16. This is EXACTLY what I wanted to do with my set. I want to have a girly room. I have a had a darker room for a while. So, I started with replacing the curtains to off-white. That lightened up the room tremendously. Then, I got some really cute wall pieces and then the big step this weekend, my accent wall in Behr’s Ballerina Tutu pink…I love it. Once my furniture is white, it will be my dream room. Thank you for the explanation and tips.

  17. I have white French provincial furniture in my bedroom. Dresser, Chest of drawers, two nightstands with makeup stand w/ bench. I want to paint them w/ Chalk paint, but question….do you have to sand the furniture? Also, the tops are not wood, but shiny….this is Henry Lee furniture…..

  18. Crystal Grant :

    This is the perfect color I want to paint an armoire I just got. It’s a dark wood. Do I need to strip it 1st? How long does the whole process take? I’ve never done anything like this. I’m scared lol

    • Crystal, don’t be scared! Refinishing furniture with chalk paint is super easy to do. You don’t need to sand or strip the piece. Just make sure it is clean and dry first. Chalk paint is thick, so you will want to brush it on in thin coats. Some people add a tablespoon of water to a couple of cups of paint to thin it out a bit. Chalk paint dries VERY quickly — almost immediately. Don’t overbrush or you will get brush strokes. Like its name implies, when chalk paint dries you will have a very chalky piece of furniture, so you will want to finish it with either a wax or polycrylic. If you use wax on chalk paint, you will need to buff it to get any kind of a sheen. With polycrilic, you can get a satin or glossy finish with no buffing. The time it takes will depend on the size and intricacies of the piece you are painting. There are countless videos and blog posts showing how to do it. Good luck!!!

  19. I made the same mistake on my first chalk-painted piece with dark wax on old white. Luckily, I turned to YouTube for help and learned that you can remove the dark wax by rubbing it with clear wax, so I didn’t have to sand down the piece to remove the dark wax. Your pieces turned out beautiful. You did a fabulous job for your first endeavor! They are clearly a labor of love.

  20. So was this just Paris Gray with the error of dark wax sanded down? Did you ever use the white? I love the effect with the dark top. Each color enhances the other. Please let me know if you used the white.

  21. ArethaNotFranklin :

    I’ve been looking everywhere for this very finish for some dark wood furniture I have in my bedroom. I don’t have the patience or time to do this myself but I will take this post and photos to my craftsman and hope that he can replicate this look. You did an amazing job! Thank you for this post and the inspiration to my new bedroom.

  22. Hi, Melissa. Just help me to understand–the Paris Grey color was covered completely with pure white or you did something with it?

    So, you can start with pure white , clear and dark wax and then just sand off the excess of dark wax?

    Thx

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