In this post: Have you got a reproduction piece of chalk painted furniture that looks more forced than timeworn? See how to upgrade a painted chest of drawers.⇒
Sometimes paint is like magic.
Like almost nothing else, it can completely transform a room, a piece of furniture or pretty much anything else. It can be the quickest, as well as the most economical, way to make significant changes.
In the right hands, paint can take a piece from modern to vintage and back. It can fix a multitude of sins, and remarkably it can save something that was headed straight for the garbage bin.
Paint can take your worst piece and turn it into your favorite piece.
Just like magic.
Painted Chest of Drawers
Such was the case with the piece of furniture we’ve had in our back entry foyer.
When I bought the piece I was looking for a small white chest of drawers with a French country feel. It would provide storage for our hats and gloves and other small necessities one grabs when leaving the house.
But I was limited by the tiny space it needed to be shoe-horned into. I found a piece that fit my parameters in terms of size and spirit. Even the color was a distressed white.
However, the cute little reproduction piece was saddled with a terrible paint job.
You see, it turns out furniture doesn’t wear out in even rows. No, like most things, it becomes worn at the edges and in the most heavily utilized areas, like near the handles and other raised areas.
Yet our sweet little chest was periodically distressed in evenly spaced rows like a printed pattern. Instead of looking timeworn it was incredibly forced. (See below.)
This has been bugging me for years and now that I’ve learned how to paint furniture, I knew this piece had to be put on my list.
With several other projects out-of-the-way, this seemed like the perfect time.
Step one was to decide on the colors I’d use and after making my selections, they were provided by my sponsor and favorite paint company, Pure & Original. What I love so much about Pure & Original is its rich lush texture and gorgeous finish. They also have a delicious array of colors from which to choose!
In this case I wanted the chest to appear white when completed, even though I would use multiple colors to add complexity and depth.
I always start with the darkest color first and this time was no exception. For the base color I used Old Linen from the Classico Chalk Based Paint line and painted two flat coats.
The color is indeed quite light and already the piece gave the appearance of white. Still I knew I’d be adding several layers of highlights, building as I went along and getting lighter and lighter.
For the first highlight layer I used Bone Classico. The color looked Incredibly close to the base layer and I was concerned it wouldn’t be visible at all.
Yet when painted on, and particularly when dry, it added a lovely note of depth due to the subtle highs and lows.
In fact using colors that are close in weight and value makes it easier to paint as the results become much softer. I love this technique and prefer to build layer upon layer than to use fewer tones with harsh contrast.
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Next I added Milk White, also from Pure & Original’s Classico Chalk Based Paint line and for the very top layer I used Sea Salt, a color that’s as close to optic white as you’re going to get. This last was used sparingly, reserved for the topmost highlights.
As my paints get lighter and lighter I use less and less of them, and this way the layers build with intricacy to an optical crescendo.
I often refer to my paint technique as a bit of a dance, with brush in one hand applying paint lightly, and a damp sponge in the other that I use to blend any rough edges.
The key is to avoid large blobs of paint and to ensure the splotches are intentionally uneven. They should look random and most of all, never look like a lined up pattern.
While it takes time to find your ‘voice’ in painting, chalk paint is very forgiving. The use of the sponge is certainly helpful, as is the dry brush technique I used to apply the paint in the first place.
Yet when all else fails you can always paint over it.
My best tips are to build slowly and to work relaxed. If you’re uptight, it will show in your strokes.
After the final coat of paint I applied clear Classico Italian Wax from Pure & Original and let it dry overnight. In the morning I buffed it gently for a slight sheen and the result was a lovely protective coating.
Once I was done I added back the hardware I had removed during the prep and stepped back to take a look.
At this point I decided to gild the handles a bit with Rub ‘n Buff Gold Leaf paint and I’m thrilled with the result. As much as I love gold I try to use it sparingly so as not to cheapen the effect, but for this piece, the warm accent added the perfect finish.
I absolutely love how the piece looks in the space, just a tiny bit lighter than it was before, but significantly warmer and a lot less forced. My hope is that it looks genuinely timeworn, but even if not, hand-painted is always preferable to mass-produced.
And that little golden glimmer adds a touch of enchantment.
Just like magic.
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