Friday, November 16, 2012

Chalk-painted dresser

Two projects! I’ve now completed two whole projects!

When we first moved in, I mentioned that I had a million projects I wanted to do. I listened carefully to everyone’s well-intentioned advice about doing one thing at a time and not getting overwhelmed, promised to abide by it, and then in true Heather fashion ignored it all and dove into pretty much everything at once. Whoops.

But I’m super excited about this one. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a true ‘before’ picture, but I took an ‘early in the process’ picture, so that’ll have to do.

When Charming and I moved back up to DC, my mom immediately began attempting to foist spare furniture off on us. She remarried, and she and my stepdad combined two full houses worth of furniture, so there are lots of spare pieces. Like two complete dining room sets, more dressers than I have clothes (amazing!) and god only knows how many sets of china.

One of the first pieces we took was an old dresser that I think my mom picked up at a yard sale many (10+?) years ago. It was in rough condition, with one of the legs basically taped on, and packing tape being used on the top to protect against accidental stabbings. But it was perfect for our apartment in DC, because we could beat the crap out of it getting it down the stairs into the basement, and it fit.

But once we moved to our new, grown-up person house, something had to be done about it.

Enter: Annie Sloan Chalk paint. If you’ve ever read any sort of home improvement/DIY blog before, you’ve seen people raving about this stuff, so I was desperate to try it. Its main selling point is that you don’t have to pre-sand – it just sticks to whatever finish you’re painting. With my odd mix of impatience and utter laziness, it seemed like the perfect type of paint for me.

I could only find one local shop that sold it, and they weren’t open during any hours when I could possibly get there (seriously? 9-3 M-F?), so I ordered some in Provence blue, along with the clear wax, from the lovely Shaunna at Perfectly Imperfect.  

First I had to fix the damaged sections of the wood. Since I was painting, and it didn’t have to look perfect, I got a big tube of wood filler and used a putty knife to fill in the gouges. The edges were harder to do, since there was nothing to brace the filler against – in retrospect, listening to my stepfather and using spare wood to create a makeshift edge would have been smart, but I didn’t have any spare wood, so I just very carefully used the putty knife to shape it into a straight edge. Re-creating the curved arch in wood filler along the bottom left edge was also difficult, but that really appealed to my long-dormant artistic side, and I ended up being really pleased with how it turned out.

There was one section on the top left corner where a large strip of veneer was coming off, so I gorilla-glued it down and then sanded the extra glue away. Unfortunately that’s the only area that didn’t come out perfect – I should have just broken off the damaged piece of veneer and filled in the gap with wood filler – it would have come out more even. Hindsight.

I don’t read directions, because directions are for people without common sense, duh, so once the wood filler was dry, I grabbed a regular paint brush (they recommend special brushes sold by the company) and dug in. Splashed in. Whatever.

The first layer went on a little thin and streaky, and I had some trouble with bristles coming off and getting stuck on the dresser because the paint is so … I don’t know, coarse, I guess? It’s got a thicker consistency that sticks to furniture and also paintbrushes, so I just had to be careful to pluck out any stray bristle-strands that got stuck in odd places.

That's Charming's hand - he got in on a little of the painting action. And ugh, those floor tiles. Those are on my project list one of these days... 
 The paint dries really fast, and the color changes a little as it dries so you can easily tell when it’s ready for the second coat.

I didn't paint the inside because a) I figured it wouldn't show with the drawers in place and b) have I mentioned I'm lazy? 

Once I had two coats on, I decided that painting the drawers the same color might be too much of a good thing in that bright blue. So I went back to Shaunna and ordered a 4 oz sample pot of the pure white, which was more than enough to do 2 layers on 5 drawers.

Everyone talks about creating the ‘French look’ with chalk paint by distressing the paint after it’s finished, so I decided to give it a shot on the detail on the top two drawers. Unfortunately, I only had really rough sandpaper, so it went all the way through the paint. Next time, I’d get off my lazy ass and go buy some finer sandpaper, but I still think it actually turned out okay.

After it’s painted and distressed, you add a coat of wax (there’s clear or some sort of antique finish that I was afraid to try) to protect the paint. This stuff stinks. Open windows. Then yell at your fiancĂ© for opening too many windows because it’s freakin’ cold outside. No wait, that’s not actually part of the process - sorry, Charming.

I just rubbed the wax on with an old t-shirt-turned-rag and let it dry for an hour or two, and it was ready to go.

Shaunna also sent me a free sample size of the French Linen, which is an awesome beige-y grey color, so I used that to redo an old Target picture frame that had chipped and been filled in with Sharpie many a time.

And here’s the final result, including the newly-painted picture frame (with a picture of my darling horse):

The color looks a little different in this light - but this image is probably more accurate than the other two. 

I absolutely love this chalk paint stuff, and my mom has already offered me an old bookcase (she has at least 2!) that I can paint to coordinate with the dresser. But I’ve promised myself that the stupid kitchen is getting finished first, so the bookshelf will just have to wait… probably. 


  1. It looks fantastic. Great job. And I totally wouldn't have painted the inside, either. Then again, I too suffer from that pesky lazy gene.

    1. Thanks! As long as we don't leave the drawers too far out or push them too far in, you can't even tell... :)