If you’ve followed the blog long enough, you may remember that our home’s hall closes was incorporated into the kitchen by the previous owner. It was a good call. I’d rather have extra kitchen than a closet by the rarely-used front door. It did, however, leave us without a spot to store our coats (this is Texas, read “jackets”) since our closets are small. So, while picking up the beautiful dresser found on Craigslist for Chloe’s room, I somehow ended up with this simple-but-interesting armoire as a solution. I had to carefully word it when I got home & asked Jason to help unload it: “they gave it to me for half price”.
I liked the old iron hardware, the hand-carved details, and the patinaed mirrors. I didn’t like the dark color in the small space where we decided to keep it.
I decided to paint it, but wanted a softer, more vintage look than I often go for. A friend used chalk paint to refinish some furniture and it turned out great, so I got some advice on how to get the look on my armoire.
I purchased Maison Blanch paint on her advice. They say that you don’t need to do any prep work, just paint it right on. My friend told me that to get a great finish, I would want to use primer – no matter what “they” say. Made sense, especially since I was doing a drastic color change, so I also bought a can of Kilz2.
Then, it was late at night and a few glasses of wine deep, and I was overly excited to try this whole “chalk paint” thing that everyone is always on about. I skipped the advice about “use primer” and set to work. I was told that it works great diluted with water so you can make it last longer, so I tried it. And this was the result:
Yuck. Brush strokes everywhere and white-washed. Not the look I was going for. I’m sure this wouldn’t have happened if I had used the primer, but I’m hard-headed and pressed on. To be fair, the same friend once ignored my painting advice when painting her media cabinet. Now we’re even and both have imperfect white furniture.
Anyway, I kept at it every few nights. I ended up using the paint without diluting it at all. A little yellowing came through especially at the hand-carving. This didn’t bother me because I wanted a vintagy feel with some character and distressed furniture isn’t for me. This was a nice way to let these details stand out. I did, however, end up with a ton of brush strokes. Maybe because the finish underneath was so dark and smooth, but definitely because I didn’t prep with a coat of primer.
I pushed through and after
a million 3-4 coats, it looked like this:
And there it say for a week or two until I was sure that I actually liked the new-found character.
Then I applied the wax. I used clear wax. This step was truly easy. I rubbed it on with a rag cut from a soft, old t-shirt. For a moment, it looked wet again and some dark was showing through. I ignored it and walked away to do something with the kids for the 15 minutes to an hour drying time.
When I returned, it had settled back down and looked pretty nice. Mind you, I was going for a perfectly imperfect finish.
After cleaning off the mirrors and accessorizing with an antique rug, we have a nice little armoire-turned-coat closet.
A quick note for anyone attempting a similar project, not all vintage armoires are deep enough for regular hangers. Ours wasn’t, but it fits so nicely without taking up so much space that I found another solution. I bought these wooden kid’s hangers on amazon.com and they fit perfectly and hold our coats & jackets nicely.
My take-aways from my first chalk painting experience:
- Use primer for a color change. I like Kilz2 because it’s water-based (so easy clean up), sands well if you need to smooth anything out, and works. Also, listen to your friends! 😉
- You may get brush strokes. Others have told me that they didn’t get any at all so I’m not sure why I did. Primer probably would have cut down on this.
- Try diluting if you want to make your paint go further.
- Expect a soft, vintage look. For a smooth, modern finish, you’ll probably want to go another route.
- I used a lower-quality, inexpensive piece to try this out on – I highly recommend this to help avoid tears.
- Anyone can use this paint. It’s quick and easy.
- This paint dries easily so if you use primer and if you get great coverage out of 1-2 coats, you could do this project all in one day.