My First DIY Project: Chalk Paint Table Makeover

I’ve lately determined to do some projects around my house in an effort to spruce things up a bit. Spurred on by the need to distract myself from the hellish ordeal that is sleep training an infant, I decided to try my hand at painting some furniture.

Given the fact that I’ve never done this type of thing before, I decided to start with the smallest, least valuable piece I could find.

This is Robin’s night stand. It’s smallish and really beat up.

Table before 1

It has these wonky wing thingies that extend the table-top, but they don’t raise up all the way to make a level surface.


Table before 2

And the top was stained and faded and super-gross.

Table before 3


It clearly wouldn’t be ruined if it turned out I suck at painting.

I’ve heard all about the wondrous substance that is Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I read about it, watched some tutorials, and finally got myself some. The furniture I’ll do first is in the master bedroom which I’m trying to do in grays, off-whites, and reds, so I bought Old White and Paris Grey. I also got both clear and dark wax.

I decided to paint the top white and the rest gray. First thing, you wipe the whole piece off with a damp cloth to get rid of any dust or cobwebs or whatever.

Because I started with the base, I flipped it over and taped off the top. The paint has no odor, so I could do that part with the kiddo in the room. It went on really smoothly in about a coat and a half (I went back over spots that looked thin) with no stripping, sanding, or priming, which is why this paint is so great. When it dried I flipped it back over, retaped it, and painted the top. It was really damaged on top, so I did two solid coats. The painting is the quickest part of the process.


Table during 1

Note the scanty amount of newspaper I used. I learned my lesson shortly after this photo was taken and I had dripped on the floor and had to scramble to get it cleaned up quickly. I now use large plastic dropcloths.


Next comes a coat of clear wax. I don’t really know why, but the instructions say to do this before distressing it with sandpaper. I have a feeling it has to do with how the dark wax looks when it goes on later. In any case, the wax has a smell to it, so this was an activity for nap times. You use a cotton cloth (old T-shirt cut into cloths) to rub the wax on, and rub, and rub, so it’s all even. Then let it set for a little bit. It doesn’t really dry so much as set into the piece.

To distress it, you rub sandpaper over the surface. Do it lightly with a fine sandpaper in the direction of the grain all over, and hit all the edges and corners. If you want to make it look more distressed, use a heavier sandpaper to knock some more paint off. In my first attempt, I went a little overboard on this, but it kind of works out, since the piece is so beat up anyways.

Now comes the dark wax. This freaked me out a little bit, because the wax is, like, REALLY dark. The trick is to wipe on a coat on whichever surface you’re working on (like one small, workable area at a time), rub it in, then take another cloth and try your best to wipe it off. It will still be way darker than you want it to be, but that’s okay, because it won’t stay that dark forever. When you’ve used the dark wax all over, let it set for a while, and then give it a final coat of clear wax. You’ll notice that some of the dark wax comes off when you’re rubbing in the final coat of clear wax. This is good. It makes the dark wax look more like a light patina than a really dark, cloudy coating. The final coat will probably take more cloths than the other coats.

Let the piece set for a day or so, and voila, it’s done.

Here’s what I ended up with.

Table after 1

Yeah, I overdid the distressing on the front. Whatever.


Table after 2

One wing got a bit darker than the rest. Weird.


Table after 3

And the gray does have quite a bit of blue in it, that’s not the photography.


I’m rather proud of myself. And I’ve decided it’s a really good project for long, snowy days.

Next up, this orangey behemoth. I love the dresser, but the color is just terrible. The question remains, gray or white?


Dresser 1


3 thoughts on “My First DIY Project: Chalk Paint Table Makeover

  1. Pingback: The Dead of Fucking Winter | What Do I Do with My Hands?

  2. Pingback: DIY Tufted Fabric Headboard | What Do I Do with My Hands?

  3. Pingback: What I’ve Been Reading: Winter 2015 | What Do I Do with My Hands?

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