Once Upon a Time

Oct 2, 2017 | DIY

[title subtitle=”words and images: Catherine Frederick”][/title]

Refinish a piece of furniture in a day with almost no prep needed. Sounds like a fairy tale, doesn’t it? Enter chalk paint. One could say that chalk paint is magical. It clings to practically any surface and requires no stripping, sanding or priming prior to applying – even if the piece is varnished. It comes in gorgeous colors, dries quickly, cleans up with water and is eco-friendly. Dreams really do come true! Take a look at how I chalk painted and distressed this old side table to give it new life.



  • Chalk paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Finishing wax
  • Lint-free rags
  • Sandpaper
  • Drop cloth, painter’s tape (optional)



  1. Clean your piece with a soapy rag to remove any dirt. Do not use furniture polish! Make sure to remove all traces of soap before you begin. Remove all hardware from drawers, etc. If there are rough, raised areas, consider sanding them. Fill holes with putty. Tape off areas that won’t be painted, like the inside of drawers.
  2. If heavily distressing, now’s the time to have some fun! You can use an old chain, a hammer, and even heavy-grit sandpaper to give the piece an aged look. After distressing, wipe piece down again to remove any dust. Some aging techniques are: sand with a drill, bang with a hammer, hammer large screw or other hardware to imprint design, hammer tip of nail in small groupings to create the effect of wormholes.
  3. Apply first coat of paint, let dry. Wrap brush in plastic wrap while first coat dries.
  4. Apply second coat. While second dries, wash out brush.
  5. If sanding to reveal a portion of the original finish, we recommend this be done outside as it will create dust.  Distress anywhere it would receive wear and tear over time such as edges or corners, tops, raised detail or knobs. Wipe piece with a cloth to remove any dust before applying wax.
  6. Sparingly apply wax or protective top coat with rag or brush. Start in small sections and work the wax into the piece like you would apply lotion.
  7. Add a second coat of wax if desired (only recommended if it’s a high-traffic piece).
  8. Buff the piece only until you have reached the desired finish (from low matte to a high shine).
  9. Clean your wax brush.


Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 1.26.13 PM*IMPORTANT TIPS:

-Consider painting your piece with another color prior to applying chalk paint. If you distress your piece, that is the color that will shine through.

-The paint can be thick. Try only dipping the tip of the brush into the paint, a little goes a long way.

-You can apply the paint in any direction, with or against the grain, for a more textured finish.

-Work at room temperature.

Do South Magazine

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