Lessons In Chalk Paint

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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.


1 Comment

  1. DIY Bulletin Board Make-Over – remodelicious

    July 18, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    […] got out my trusty white chalk paint that was left over from painting our armoir-turned-coat-closet.  I used Maison Blanch brand as recommended by a […]

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