From Old School to Old World...& Homemade Chalk Paint

Monday, February 4, 2013 -

I've been wanting to try some homemade chalk paint recipes for quite a while now.

 Most of the ones that I saw that made logical sense were the ones using Plaster of Paris. Since I couldn't guarantee my results, I wasn't going to try it on a client's piece, so I dug around my storage room and found this puppy.

I have to be honest, I got a little choked up when I pulled this nightstand out. When I was a teenager my mom surprised me by decorating my room while I was at church camp. At the time I was obsessed with contemporary design and although it was completely opposite of what she liked, she bought this night stand and painted it gloss black for me. Mom passed away from brain cancer last year and has left a big hole. I know how much love goes into refinishing furniture, so when I look at this nightstand, I see my mom's love and work (sniff sniff). I have plenty other mementos from my very talented mother, so I decided this one can move on.

Sorry I didn't get some better before photos. It was late. I was trying to get the kids to bed. Yadda yadda... It was your typical Mid-Century Modern piece. Straight lines and tapered legs. I remember it looking something like this once upon a time.

Not that anything is wrong with Mid-Century,.it's actually really hot right now. Just not my style. I knew those skinny legs had to go. On a side note, when I went to remove the legs I discovered flat-head screws and these super cool, square nuts. I guess she's a pretty old broad.

At first I went to the hardware store looking for turned bun feet, but was disappointed with the selection and price $9 bucks a pop?! That would be over $40 with tax! Wasn't going to spend that on an experiment. I started to brainstorm again and I thought of another experiment I was wanting to try for a while. Can you guess what these are?

Yep. Fence post finials. The where the perfect size/height and only $6 each! I removed the old tapered legs and played around with my placement. I quickly decided the little apron along the bottom would have to go. I pocket-holed the two inside sides of my legs, removed the lag screws and screwed them to the underside of the nightstand. It looked better, but I kept having the image of this in my head.

I guess that's what happens when you have kids. Not wanting my nightstand to look like a walking television, I created some small corbels to brace the legs with. They are primarily decorative, but they actually stiffened up the legs some and made the whole thing more sturdy. Win/Win.

I wasn't digging the clean lines so much, so I also attached some small trim, using glue and finish nails along the top and bottom edges. Since the original part of the piece was painted black and I planned on distressing, I did a quick coat of black spray paint on all the raw wood, just to even everything out.

I was imagining a really primitive, rustic finish for the final result. To give the piece some "character" I used a small sledge hammer and some nails. I even created some faux worm holes to age the look of the wood.

Time to mix the chalk paint. I used one 7oz  latex paint tester

4 tablespoons Plaster of Paris and 2 tablespoons baking soda.

I mixed the baking soda, water and plaster all together first, till smooth. The baking soda created some pretty serious bubbling at first, but eventually went away. I liked that the plaster and baking soda didn't really change the color or intensity of the paint.

I covered the nightstand with come crackle medium I had in my craft stash and let dry before brushing on the paint. I loved the way the paint dried. Matte, thick, and chalky. It had pretty good coverage, but since I had black underneath and used a crackle medium, it did have some bleed through. The areas I did brush over a second time changed color a bit. Lighter and chalky-ier.

 I spare you the gorey details, but my first color choice was a disaster  I kept sanding a glazing to try to make it look better, but I just chose a terrible color of green for this piece. It started to look dirty and cheap.Too bright. Too contemporary. Too ugly.

I was NOT looking forward to painting all the little nooks and crannies again, but the green had to go. When I bought my tester from the hardware store I also picked up a gorgeous Peacock blue sample too. I brushed on two coats over the existing mess. Already so much better!

 Using 100 grit sandpaper, I generously distressed all over the nightstand. I love the way both green and black came through. I glazed everything with Martha Stewart Faux Effects glaze that I had tinted black, applying twice on the edges to create some shadowing.

It looked good, but needed something more. I pulled out some medium brown craft paint and did the ole' 'thumb on a toothbrush' technique to get some small splatter. Any of you not familiar with this trick must not have been involved with the Toll Painting craze of the 90's.

Using the toothbrush, I lightly brushed a few spots with the brown which I quickly wiped off. It just made the distressing look a little more authentic.

Two coats of PAS (Polyacrylic in Satin) to seal everything, a brass cup pull, and she's done!

From mundane Mid-Century to Uniquely European.

I love the new legs! Their scale is much better to the whole piece now.

On my monitor, the color looks very blue. In real life it's much deeper and more green.Very pretty with the brass pull. It's almost a true teal color, like this

Mom would be proud. Despite my poor choice in the first color, I really liked the homemade chalk paint. Will be using it again. It didn't adhere or sand much better than normal latex paint, but it covered very well and gave the piece some texture. Next time I may use more Plaster of Paris to see if it helps with adhesion.

She's available for purchase. Check out under the shop tab.

Linking at:

Whisper Berry

The Shabby Creek
Furniture Feature Fridays
Liz Marie Blog
Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

Happy Hour Projects


  1. That turned out beautiful. I never would have thought to change out the legs and I love how it turned out. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. I love the transformation. I've had great luck using Homemade chalk paint. I use the Plaster of Paris with water also. I don't do the baking soda but I do use a flat paint that is both a primer & paint. This might help with the adhesion. Behr makes a nice primer paint. I really like the Clark & Kensington primer paint from Ace hardware. You do beautiful work, Dee from My Painted Stuff.

  3. Love the color it turned out beautiful!

  4. What a beautiful transformation - gorgeous one of a kind color !!!
    Most definitely your newest follower

  5. Talk about a happy mistake! The green peeking through the blue is perfect. I am quite partial to mid-century, but I do love the new chunkier legs. Looks great.

  6. What a fun experiment and a total transformation!

  7. Looks great! What crackle medium did you use?

  8. Beautiful! Did you mix the blue paint with the plaster of paris and baking soda also, or just paint the latex paint over the homemade chalk paint? Also, i love the brass pull. Where did you get it?

  9. I love the fence post legs! What a great way to update the piece.

  10. What is the best brush to use to apply chalk paint?

    1. Hi Tina! When I use chalk paint I'm usually trying ti get a lot of texture. I've found the best brush for this is a good ole' chip brush. One of those very cheap, natural bristle brushes you can find almost anywhere.

  11. Fabulous results! What a beautiful transformation. You did great job. Thank for sharing

  12. I LOVE that paint color! We are doing a similar project in our bathroom as well. What color are the walls? décor


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