Friday, September 7, 2012

Chalk Paint trail and Hope Chest makeover

That's right... hitch me up... I'm joining the chalk paint bandwagon.

After hearing for MONTHS about the glory of chalk paint, I have been perusing garage/yard/estate sales and Craigslist for a piece I could experiment on.

This last weekend, for $20, I finally found my guinea pig.
From the outside, it really wasnt much to look at, but when I hoped it up, I found that it was actually a cedar hope chest made by Lane.
I wasn't really aware if the "Lane" was good or not, but Chris suggested that I google them since he had heard of the brand before...

Come to find out, it is a VERY nice brand and cedar chest like the one I found are going for $300+ on Amazon!!!


But what really drew me to this piece, was the uber cool handles on the front. 
Yes, the are just for display since this is a chest and not a dresser (I really love the 1970's mentality of "maybe we'll make them THINK its a dresser if we add drawer pulls and cut outs, but then TOTALLY psych them out and make it a chest".... ah the 70's)

Even though they were already a dark bronze, I figured it would be best to spray paint them to give them a total uniformed look
With my BBF "Oil rubbed Bronze"...


Now that the handles were off, I was finally able to take a step back and really look at the bones of this sucker.
First thing I noticed, the top was NOT going to work.
Sad, chipped and mistreated, I sanded it down with 60 grit sandpaper and then smoothed it out with 220 grit.
MUCH better...
I know it looks like i missed some there on the right, but that was actually just the color of the cut.

To make the piece stand out a little more than having JUST paint on it, I decided to give the top new life with a nice dark stain.

Word to the wise, ALWAYS use Pre-stain...
If you are going to take the time and effort to sand down and re-stain a piece, this little $3 investment is worth it to make sure the wood is properly prepped and ready.
Just use an old rag... easy-peezy...

After giving that about an hour to dry and set, I decided to go with a deep "Ebony" stain to give the piece some drama (and what type of chest would it be without Drama?!)
Knowing that I still wanted to keep the piece shabby chic, so I tried something a little different with the stain.  I left it heavy in some parts and lighter in others... kinda giving it a "lived in" feel.
As the stain was drying, my attention was turned to the body of the beast.

I had read some links on pinterest that said if you plan to shabby chic your piece (which I was) to paint over the areas you want an accent color showing through... I kept it simple and went with a black.
Additional fun little tip, after the accent paint dries, coat it with a little Vaseline to make the sanding process easier. (I used about a Tbs and rubbed on my finger tips then onto the chest edges)
Remember to go LIGHT on the Vaseline... do not glob it on.

Now comes the fun part! CHALK PAINT!!

I did a little research on my end and found there are many, many, MANY different recipes for chalk paint, but with a little tinkering, this is what worked for me:

In case you are unfamiliar with Plaster of Paris, it can be found near the Elmer's glue and Mod Podge at your local craft store.
I bought this one with a 50% off coupon at Joanns for only $3.49
First, measure out a half cup of Plaster of Paris and a half cup of hot water (I threw mine in the microwave for 30 seconds.
2. Don't tell your husband you are using food storage containers or forks that you may eat with. Mix the Plaster of Paris and water together so there are no clumps
For all those worried, I thoroughly cleaned these after using them and are now "craft only" containers
Next, mix in your 1.5 cups of paint... I chose Swiss Coffee by Dunn Edwards (its my go-to white)

Make sure everything is good and mixed in.  Take you time.  You will start seeing the paint get thicker and thicker.

The thing I was looking forward to the most while experimenting with chalk paint was the whole "no primer necessary" claim.
After 2.5 coats, I was very pleased with the results.
Going back to the top of the chest, since the stain was good and dry (about 4+ hours after originally staining it and letting it dry in the 106-degree Texas heat) I decided to give it a good coat of Polyurethane to secure the stain and protect it from future abuse.
Side note: If I've said it once, I've said it a million times.  MAKE SURE that if you are using a polyurethane on a stain, you are using an OIL based poly.  If  you are using it on a painted surface, use a WATER based poly.

After I applied everything and let it dried, I was TOTALLY loving what was starring back at me.
The wood grain texture on the top turned out EXACTLY how I wanted it and the poly gave it a really nice finish!
Since it was getting dark, I let the piece fully dry outside for the night, then brought it in the next day to begin sanding (**husband note: Hunny, it was a million degrees outside and and I made sure to clean up my mess... ... ... I betcha didn't even know I did this inside, did ya?... Yep, I'm THAT good of a cleaner upper... ... P.S- The dogs destroyed the living room... that wasn't me.**
I used a high 200 grit sandpaper
I did notice that the shabby chic/sanding process was a LOT easier than on some of my other pieces.  Im not 100% sure if that is from the chalk paint OR using the Vaseline but it came off much easier and more controlled... didn't flake at all.

After I finished, I reattached the handles and took a step back to admire the finished piece.
Work it...
All in all, I LOVE IT! And I'm so happy to lose my Chalk paint "innocents".  It was a fast and easy project (total, probably took me 6 hours not including dry time) and think it's a great piece with a new life ahead of it.
What do you guys think?  Would you have done a different color? Have you tried other recipes for chalk paint? Did they work for you?  I would love to hear your experiences with it!



  1. Just curious why you would use chalk paint on the body of the trunk? I assumed when you said you were trying out chalk paint that you meant on a piece that was to be written on - like the top of the chest for kids' playroom, etc. Is the chalk paint you used different than the chalk paint that they sell in stores for message boards, etc. or can your recipe be used for that purpose? Turned out beautifully!!

    1. Tracy, Thanks for your question! I know the name "chalk paint" can get a little confusing but "chalk paint" is actually MUCH different than "chalkboard paint" (which is what I think you are thinking of). You do not write on chalk paint (as you would with something covered in chalkboard paint). Chalk paint is a new form of paint (kind of like Milk Paint) that has many uses besides just being paint and help achieve different looks (white wash, shabby chic, adding texture, etc). Its a thicker type of paint which does not require the usual prep-work that comes with painting most pieces.

      The most famous chalk paint out there is called Annie Sloan Chalk Paint... here is her website that details the advantages of chalk paint a little better:

      Take a look! Its a new trend out there and I am fully on board! Hope this helped! Thank you for stopping by!

  2. It looks so good!
    Chalk paint has a flat finish right? Do you think it would get scuffed easily?

  3. It was so nice to meet you Saturday! I love your blog and look forward to another DFW blogger gals night out ;-)

  4. Nice work! I’m in love with that piece. I’ve never used a chalk paint, but now I want to!

    It was really great to meet you on Saturday!

  5. I love your piece! You didn't say what finish the paint was. Was it flat, egg shell, gloss? Also, I've seen on some blogs that people then put a coat of either the Annie Sloan soft wax or the cheaper version MinWax finishing wax over the chalk paint when all finished sanding. You didn't mention it so guess you don't have too??? I have a 30 year old hope chest that looks a lot like the one you finished. You have inspired me and looks like that will be my next project. Thanks!

  6. I love, love, love it! So much that i "stole" your idea, including the chalk paint recipe, and did a little project of my own, with small changes :) Thank you for a great and inspiring idea (not the only one i liked from you!)

  7. Annie Sloan feature's a DIY kit of three quarts paint, both waxes, the wax brush and a pamphlet for around 198 dollars. I am thinking about purchasing it, what do you think? Shelley T

  8. This is a beautiful DIY. Totally inspiring!

  9. Curious...did you sand down the body too? I'm starting almost the exact same project this weekend

  10. Hi there! Just wanted to thank you so much for your step-by-step tutorial. I used it all the way through finishing my own hope chest all the way down to your chalk paint recipe and the ebony stain. Love how mine turned out!

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