I am all about DIY hacks that make projects easier, faster, or more affordable. So when I discovered chalk paint, it was like a whole new level of laziness opened up! With chalk paint (not to be confused with chalkboard paint), there's no need for sanding or surface prep, no need for primer, and it dries super fast. Plus, it looks AMAZING. What's not to love? See how I used chalk paint and furniture wax to make a $25 dupe of a $495 Shabby Chic nightstand.
Nothing gives a space character faster than an awesome piece of vintage furniture. But finding the perfect piece, in the perfect color, at the perfect price is pretty tough to pull off. Enter: CHALK PAINT.
Chalk paint is the most versatile paint I have found for DIY decor projects. It can be used indoors or outside, and on pretty much any surface you can dream of. It was originally created by a badass creative genius named Annie Sloan, but other companies have started making their own versions as well. You can also make your own chalk paint if you’re feeling really ambitious, but that’s a tutorial we’ll save for another day.
Speaking of badass creative women, Rachel Ashwell (aka, the mastermind behind the Shabby Chic brand and decor movement) always has the most incredible furniture pieces available on her site that give me major design FOMO. I mean, how gorgeous is this nightstand?!
Believe me, if I could plunk down $500 for her awesome weathered side tables, I would do it in a heartbeat. But like many of you out there, that’s not currently an option for me. So, DIY fanatic that I am, I decided to make my own Shabby Chic table! I found an old Ikea nightstand I liked for $10 at Goodwill, and loved the structure of it (it’s so close to the Shabby Chic version). We love a good side table DIY here at Makeful like this tray and wire basket upcycle. However, the orange color and plain metal hardware left a lot to be desired in the ‘chic’ category. Luckily, I already had some blue chalk paint and furniture wax on hand, so I got right to work!
Step 1: Remove any hardware from your nightstand. You can set it aside to put back on after the paint has dried, or you can switch it out for a new drawer pull or hinge to give your table a totally new look.
Optional step if you’re using chalk paint: Once your furniture piece is free of hardware, give it a light sanding to smooth out any imperfections. The beauty of chalk paint is that you don’t have to sand, but I chose to sand simply because there were some scratches on the wood I wanted to smooth out a bit. Wipe down with a damp cloth when you’re finished to get rid of any surface sawdust.
Step 2: Paint the whole piece with an even coat of chalk paint. I know a can of chalk paint can be a bit pricey at about $25, but that can will last you through SO many projects. Also, chalk paint is super thick, so you don’t have to worry about doing multiple coats. You also don’t have to worry about primer which is crazy helpful when you’re doing a project like this one turning an orange nightstand to a cool blue. Blue and orange are literally opposites on the color wheel which means it’s the hardest possible color switch over, but despite that, you can see how easily the chalk paint covers up the old orange without any bleed through. Not having to use primer literally saves HOURS of prep, paint, and dry time. HOORAY for chalk paint!
Step 3: After the chalk paint has thoroughly dried (about an hour or two to be safe), it’s time to add a coat of wax. Wax is what makes painted furniture life-proof from spills and water rings, and also gives the piece its final look; kinda like putting a nice frame on an already pretty painting. Wax comes in a bunch of different colors. If you really love the paint color as-is, you can use clear wax only, but to achieve the shabby-chic, vintage, “weathered” look, use dark wax. The more dark wax you use, the older the piece will look. We went for a happy medium and used clear wax on the larger surfaces, then used dark wax on the corners and edges for detail.
Use a wax brush (or an old shirt or rag) to apply the clear wax in a circular motion on larger, flat surfaces. Then use a smaller brush to paint dark wax on the edges of the piece only. Use an old t-shirt or rag to rub and blend the wax into the paint and give the whole piece an even coating. Pro Tip: If you make a mistake and add too much dark wax, you can put clear wax on top and it will blend out.
You should let the wax cure or harden at least overnight before you put anything on the surface. It’s totally fine to use after 24 hours, but do be aware that the wax won’t fully cure to 100% life-proof status for about 4 weeks.
Step 4: Replace your old hardware! I found these amazing vintage-looking drawer pulls at a discount store for $1. Major score! *Cue happy dance*.
When you’re done, you’ll have a gorgeous, totally customized vintage-looking piece that will bring some upscale character to any room. Now that I have these cans of chalk paint, no piece of furniture is safe! I’m thinking coffee table next?
If you liked this furniture DIY, be sure to check out some of our other favorite decor projects like this gold and marble upscale nesting table, this wire basket and tray upcycle, and this gold painted Ikea outdoor table hack!