My first chalk paint furniture makeover was much easier than I anticipated. Admittedly, I’m a little addicted now to finding new pieces to refinish. Here’s my very first makeover piece of chalk paint furniture, so let me know what you think!
First, I want you to see exactly what I saw in this desk.
I was browsing through Facebook Marketplace and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. But I saw this desk and for some reason, felt the need to buy it. Luckily, it was listed for only $15. I figured at that price, even if my attempt at refurbishing this desk failed, I could sand it down, paint it, and let my daughter use it for watercolor painting.
Again, I want you to see exactly what I saw. This is the photo that was listed in Facebook Marketplace. It’s not my photo.
My first thought was “Awesome, it’s super cheap!”
My second? “What the hell am I going to do with this thing?”
I drove my Prius the whopping 5 miles to where the desk was located and chatted with the owner for at least an hour. It fit nicely in the back of my car and smelled like it came from an old lady’s house. Mostly because it had.
I got it home and it sat in the garage for about two weeks.
I sanded the drawers. It sat in the garage for a few weeks longer.
Then, I had the brilliant idea to chalk paint it. Never mind that I had not used chalk paint a single time in my life. I just felt that this needed chalk paint. With no color in mind and not a single clue as to how to approach this project, I located our nearest Annie Sloan Chalk Paint stockist and introduced myself to the owner.
What I Learned About Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
I want to start this section by telling you that this is not a sponsored post. I was not compensated in any way by any brand.
The reason I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is because this was my first project using this type of paint, so I wanted to make sure I used a recognized brand that had good reviews.
I got a ton of guidance from a shop called Pottsies where I live in northwest Ohio. They were quite knowledgeable about the paint; that’s because only Annie Sloan Stockists are trained in the Annie Sloan Method. Like my local retailer, yours likely offers workshops and up-to-date practical advice on paint techniques and color.
Yes, advice on color. Although Annie Sloan Chalk Paint isn’t available in endless colors like the acrylic paints we’re used to, there are about 42 colors that make it difficult to choose.
I think, much like this piece spoke to me about wanting to be purchased, it spoke to me about the color it wanted. I know that sounds cheesy, but that’s how it felt. I was deciding between several colors and even had to text my husband to help with the final decision.
Though there are about 42 colors available, adding Annie Sloan’s clear, dark, black, or white wax can change the colors, too.
How I Used Chalk Paint For A Desk Makeover
First, I pulled out all the drawers and removed the hardware. My goal was to use ketchup or lemon juice and baking soda to clean the brass, but I wasn’t sure if they were true brass.
A good way to tell if a metal is brass? Put one of your kitchen magnets to it. If it attracts, you’re NOT dealing with true brass and acidic cleaners may damage the metal. These, I found, were not brass and I rather liked the antique patina so I just washed them in dish soap and dried them.
TIP: When I’m working with a good amount of hardware and screws, I keep them in a small plastic paint tray like this one. If you’re working on multiple projects, make sure to label it.
Once the hardware was removed, I sanded the fronts and sides with my Ryobi Orbital Sander using a 120 grit first, then a 220 grit. Here’s where it got tricky. Once I started to sand, I realized that this desk was not all-wood construction but instead had wood veneer.
If you’re not aware of what wood veneer is, it’s actually a thin layer of hardwood. Is bonded or glued onto a cheaper wood, like a particle board, underneath.
This isn’t necessarily a problem but knowing this, you’ll want to try to sand lightly, mostly with your hands instead of using a power sander. This is especially true along the edges and in the corners, as I quickly found out on a few of the drawers.
Here, you can see the layer of veneer but the wood underneath isn’t that bad. The drawers are dovetailed, which usually indicates a better construction of the piece. The veneer was in good shape, save for a few spots where I over sanded, so I left it in tact. You’ll soon see why this was the best decision I made on this piece.
Another detail on this desk that I had to contend with were these wood carved details, most of which were broken or missing. Luckily, they weren’t carved into the piece; they were nailed on with a small finishing nail so I took a few of the broken pieces off, left the cute bow detail, and sanded where the glue was. I also filled in the small nail hole, which was barely visible but would be more so once it was painted.
On the top of the desk, there was some heavily worn (and very antique smelling) desktop leather that had to be removed.
I peeled off all I could, then sprayed the rest with water to lift the adhesive. Be careful when you do this because if the board underneath is cheap or thin, as mine was, you might experience some swelling and warping of the board. This could make application of the new leather difficult.
Once the leather was removed, I taped off the surface. Any paint on where the adhesive would be applied might not allow the adhesive to cure, or become sticky.
I also moved the piece inside because it’s so cold here in Ohio and I have no heat in my workshop. Then, I just started applying the chalk paint!
How To Paint With Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
This seems like a silly question – how do you paint with any paint, really? The amazing thing about chalk paint is that whatever surface your painting requires no stripping, sanding, or priming! Yes, I did some sanding on the drawers and places where the wood needed to be leveled (I had to take some glue, etc off), but it wasn’t necessary.
A quart of the Annie Sloan chalk paint costs around $34.95, but consider the time you’re saving by not prepping and the money you’re saving by not having to prime the piece.
You’ll have to seal it, as well, with the Annie Sloan wax, which will cost another $12+ if you buy a small one (which goes a LONG way!).
Then, you’ll need a simple chip brush to paint and I sprung for an actual wax brush (boar’s hair) for my wax which was around $25. But, if I clean it in mineral spirits and dish soap, I can get many uses out of it.
Another benefit of Annie Sloan chalk paint is there is ZERO SMELL like there is with other paint. There’s a slight smell from the wax, but oddly I enjoy it.
Make to clean your piece really well with something like mineral spirits to remove any old greasy, waxy or oily residues. Then clean with soap and water. Rinse with a clean rag and warm water and let it dry completely.
Make sure the paint is mixed well with a wooden stir stick. Then, just apply! It’s thicker than normal paint, so work in small sections. Stay with the grain of wood. The first coat will dry in about an hour, then you can apply your second coat in the same way. You’ll see missed spots/strokes and streaks in your first coat, but those will disappear with your second coat.
This is what the desk looked like as I was finishing the first coat. I still had the inside panels to paint, but it was so exciting to see the huge difference it made!
Here’s where refinishing this piece took an exciting turn! While waiting for my second coat to dry, I was staring at these drawers thinking that, even though the wood fronts were veneer, they had such beautiful wood grain. I hated to paint them. I also thought, if I did paint them, that the front would have so… much… Duck Egg blue.
As you can see here, there was still some detailed sanding that needed to be done so again, while the second coat of paint dried, I hand sanded some of the places where there was still stain on the drawers. Then, I took the Annie Sloan clear wax and brushed some one. I let it sit for a few minutes, then buffed it with a soft, clean towel.
They looked AMAZING and the finished product is STUNNING!
The Annie Sloan clear was brought out a richness in the veneer drawers that was too amazing to paint. I did end up painting the two small drawers at the top to break the continuity of the stained wood.
I still have to replace the leather on the desktop, but I’m so excited about this final piece.
TIP: I haven’t yet distressed this piece, but I have a feeling I will. If you want another take on using Annie Sloan chalk paint for the first time, check out this post from blog Thinking Closet.