Chalk Painting

August 23, 2014

As many of you know my husband and I recently moved.  Somehow it’s always a challenge moving furniture from one house to another.  My experience has been that not everything fits perfectly, and some things just don’t fit at all.

In our previous home I had built-ins in my office.  They were very space efficient, and I loved them.  The bad thing about built-ins is that you can’t take them with you when you move!

Before we moved, I went on the hunt for some reasonably priced, sturdy office furniture.  Failing in my attempt, I turned to garage and estate sales.  I eventually found a great set – all wood, very sturdy and well-built by an excellent manufacturer, at a great price.  The one problem was that the set had been in a child’s room for 25 years, so it had a lot of dings in it, and frankly looked 25 years old.  However, I could just visualize how I wanted this to look!  It would take some work, but it would be worth it.


My first step was to hire someone to chalk paint it with a light color.  From experience, I knew this  would take 2, maybe 3 coats of paint, and I just didn’t have the time (or desire) to do that.  Here is what it looked like after that was done:

DSC_3584 copy 2-web

The cabinets look really good… in the sunlight.  You know how paint picks up the color in a room, and also how paint looks different on pieces based upon the sunlight and shadows in a room?  In my office, these cabinets have a definite gray cast to them (not easily visible in the photograph).  I thought I could live with it.  I really tried…. but I just couldn’t.

So today I would like to share with you what I did, and how you can do the same. And if in-real-life painting is not for you, I have some digital “paint” tools you might find fun to use instead on your digital projects.

Have you ever chalk-painted?  You can purchase chalk paint, but it’s quite expensive, especially if you plan on painting a large piece.  You can make your own, and it’s simple! Here’s the recipe:

  • 1/2 Cup Plaster of Paris:  Mix with water until no lumps
  • Add 2 C Paint (flat or eggshell)
  •  Mix well. 
  •  Paint item of preference.  Paint will dry quickly.  Sand with fine-grit (220). After 24 hours wax and buff with soft cloth

I knew I wanted the furniture to have some blue and green in it, but to be predominantly white. I also wanted it to be shabby in appearance.

First I removed the hardware,  took the pieces outside, and gave the entire cabinet a light sanding with a medium grit sandpaper.  Next, I wiped the cabinet down to remove the fine dust.  I like to use a Tack Cloth (very inexpensive and can be purchased at hardware or craft stores).  If you don’t have a Tack Cloth, a rag will be fine.    I then painted areas of green and blue on the cabinets, trying to visualize where I would want the color showing through the white paint.  I like to focus on the edges of the piece, especially around the edges of any panels, as these doors have.

DSC_3593 web

When I was happy with what I had done, I gave a light sanding with fine-grit sandpaper to the blue and green paint, then used my Tack Cloth again to remove the fine dust.

Next came the bigger job of painting the cabinet all white.  I took a picture halfway through that process.  Here on the front of the cabinet, you can see where I left some of the green and blue showing thru.

DSC_3596 web

After taking this picture, I finished painting white on the areas where the original (grayish)  paint was showing through.  Once I was finished, I gave the cabinets another light sanding with a fine-grit sandpaper (220), then wiped them down with my Tack Cloth.  Now came the FUN part.

Still using my fine-grit sandpaper, I started sanding the edges of the cabinets, and any place that I wanted to add some character. This removed the white paint and allowed both the blue paint, green paint, and the original dark color of the cabinets to add interest to the pieces.

DSC_3600 web


(The top of the cabinets are picking up the yellow in my wall paint, and you can see reflections of light from the window at the base of the cabinets.)

To finish off, I gave a nice coat of wax to the cabinets.  Any kind of paste wax will do. I just use the Home Depot brand, and it works fine.  I usually give 2-3 coats of wax, just to provide the best protection.

I don’t have a picture of the cabinets all put back together (like in my first pictures in this post).    My husband is out of town, and the tops are way too heavy for me to lift on my own.  Hopefully you can see the end results well enough with these pictures.

So why am I sharing all of this with you?  There are a few reasons!

First, I have no new products to show you this week…. because this is what I have been doing. 🙂  Also, because some of you who have communicated with me throughout the week asked me to explain the chalk-painting process; so I thought it might be helpful to share it with you all.  It’s super fun and can be a great way to restore some old furniture that doesn’t appeal to you anymore.  (The first time I did this, I purchased a very inexpensive little table at a garage sale. It was great to practice on and get a feel for what I was doing.)

Secondly, painting in-real-life just reminded me how much I love to paint digitally.  There are no paintbrushes to clean up, no splotches of paint on my skin (yeah, I can get kind of messy), no pick-up-and-put-away of tools.  And the list goes on.  When I paint digitally, I can get up and walk away and not have to put the lid back on the paint can or worry that my brush is going to dry out if I take a short break.

So if you would like to in-real-life paint today, I hope the chalk recipe and these pictures have gotten your creative mind conjuring up all sorts of amazing projects!

If you prefer to digitally paint, I have put my Painterly Edge Brush Sets on sale for you.  Enjoy 30% off Painterly Edges, Sets 1, 2, 3, and 4; or save 50% on the Entire Collection.

Available at SnickerdoodleDesigns     |     theStudio     |     CUDigitals


Whichever way you choose to paint today, I hope you have a creative experience and enjoyable time!

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  1. Traci Brennan

    Just goes to show, ya can’t stop an artist! Love the cabinets and you are giving me courage to redo a couple of pieces that I’ve been thinking about for sometime.

  2. Theresa

    LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! We are remodeling and I am having a HARD time figuring out what I want in my bathroom for cabinets I am TOTALLY doing this! Thanks! The Chalk Edges ROCK too! I’ll be using them on the page I do of me doing the refinishing work!

  3. Su Hall

    That looks great! Reminds me of ‘milk-painting’ a little.
    I like to re-do old, odd pieces of furniture or little shelves, too. I had a little side table that was a half-circle top and three legs. I painted the top to look like a slice of watermelon and on the spindle legs, I painted each ‘spindle’ to reflect what the shapes reminded me of – pineapple, apple core, etc. If I can find that pic, I’ll share it.
    On another plain little table I painted a mermaid scene on top. Never throw away any funky pieces! They can be your ‘canvas’!
    Thank you for sharing this!


  4. stacey

    this looks terrific! thanks for sharing! love all the tutorials too! thank you!


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