Lessons In Chalk Paint
This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase from one of these links. This keeps Remodelicious alive!
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.