In this post: Have you got a piece of furniture that could use some freshening up? Here’s how I used shades of white chalk paint to update a vintage sideboard.⇒
How do you know when you’ve begun to gain mastery over a skill?
I think the first hint comes when you stop following the recipe so closely and intuition begins to take over. You gain confidence in your ability to go off-script and you start to get a sense of where to go next without strict directions.
This doesn’t mean leaving behind the rules altogether. But it does allow for improvisation and this is where the magic often lies.
I feel like I’ve entered this desired zone when it comes to painting furniture, no longer completely bumbling around and achieving a certain assuredness that opens the door to experimentation.
Finally, after completing my fourth piece of painted furniture, I feel like I found my voice.
As is often the case, I started with a cabinet that I was considering getting rid of. After all who takes a paintbrush to a piece of furniture they already think is perfect?
In this case it was a sideboard that I was never really in love with. I bought it years ago, in large part because it fit into a tight corner of my former dining room and was very much on sale. I probably could’ve used a wider piece in my current space, but I figured why not take a stab at painting the existing one first?
So it was with this free-wheeling attitude that I approached the project. I didn’t even empty the cabinet!
The goal was to end up with an antique white cabinet, so I knew I’d be layering a complex brew, comprised of several shades of white.
The paint I use is an awesome quality from Pure & Original’s Classico chalk paint line. It provides a lush velvety texture with a broad selection of colors and there’s no prep needed which makes everything much easier. I like to wipe down the piece to ensure it’s free of dirt and debris, but there’s no need for primer or sanding at all.
Step 1 is always to paint a flat bottom layer, generally starting with the darkest color. My base layer was a color called Old Linen, and although it looks very light above, I knew I’d be layering on even lighter tones. You can see the first coat did not afford a whole lot of coverage and even after the second coat, below, I was concerned that I was still getting show-through.
This turned out to be a blessing because it was, I think, as this point that I began to go off script. Leaving behind my pervious formula of 2 base coats, a lighter one next and a few highlights in a third color on top, I decided to go for a little more complexity.
My next layer, in fact, was indeed a lighter color, but I also began to play with some varied undertones. So next came Antique White, a color with yellow undertones, to play off the grey-green of the Old Linen base.
I also decided to break another conventional ‘chalk paint rule’, and that was to add some dark shadows on top. Perhaps this is the effect you get when working with dark wax, but I chose to use a shade of chalk paint in Soft Taupe instead.
You may note, this is the same color I recently used for the china cabinet in this very same dining room. The reason I didn’t start with it on the sideboard was to be sure the 2 pieces, which sit near each other, did not look too similar. I’m glad I used it in this way, instead of as a base coat.
This building on of layers is where I found my voice.
I used a mix of techniques, both dry brush and wet wash, wiping away excess with a wet sponge. I’ve described this before as a bit of a dance, and I work with two hands applying paint with the right and wiping and blending with the left.
I added 2 more layers on top.
Next came Warm White, a white with pink undertones, which I used in part to soften the effect of the Soft Taupe shadows.
And finally I finished up with Sea Salt, the lightest of them all, to provide the top layer of highlight accents.
Once the layers were all dry, I added a coat of clear Classico Italian Wax, let it dry overnight and then buffed with a soft cloth.
While the wax was drying, I decided to address the hardware, which I might eventually replace but for now I decided to paint. I used Rub’n Buff Wax Metallic Finish in Gold Leaf, and painted it on loosely to give an antiqued look.
I believe the dining room is finally finished, although I’m already looking at the mirror above the sideboard and thinking it’s a bit too yellow.
Now that I feel I’ve hit my stride when it comes to chalk painting, can any piece of furniture in my home be safe?
White Chalk Paint Sideboard Source List
To get the look, click on the items below for direct links to the products. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. If an item is out of stock but may be restocked, I left it on the list.
(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)
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