Trends are SO embarrassing. Like when everyone went crazy for Chinese symbol tattoos in the late 90s or thought it was cool to pay £150,000 for a single Ed Hardy t-shirt in 2007.
At the time they seem like a great idea, but with the benefit of hindsight you look like an idiot (sometimes permanently). ‘The trend’ is a cruel mistress.
So, with a great deal of reluctance, I recently jumped on a bandwagon I discovered on the holy grail of trends – upcycling furniture with chalk paint.
I know. Everyone’s chalk painting the shit out of everything at the moment. Hear me out on this one though.
Finding furniture you love, at a price you can afford, is practically impossible. When you’re on a budget there’s so much dull out there (I’m looking at you Argos and Homebase), and if it’s not dull, it certainly won’t withstand a house move or two before it buckles (yep you, Ikea).
So sturdy, cheap and beautiful vintage furniture in bright colours = irresistible. So I delved in.
After a particularly frenzied pinning session I felt inspired to brighten my hallway with something so yellow I couldn’t help but smile every time I passed it. Like all of these:
First thing’s first – I needed to find an item to paint so I hit up Surrey Reuse Network, my local furniture recycling scheme which sells second-hand bits and pieces for proper cheaps. I found a solid wood table for £5. A FIVER! Almost every council runs one and they are truly amazing, but sssshhhhh – not many people know about them.
Annie Sloan = my new BFF
Now for the yellow. After a fair bit of research it became apparent Annie Sloan was the lady to know and her chalk paint beats all others for it’s ease of use and finish – so I hot-footed it to my local supplier and bought an English Yellow £6 tester pot and a tub of wax for £9.
English Yellow is just the kind of sunflower, sunny shade I was looking for – although to be fair I’d have happily painted the table in any of the Annie Sloan colours (besides those in the top right – bor-ing). As far as I’m concerned, the brighter and louder the better.
And here’s how to chalk paint, darrrling.
Tools for the job
Preferably oval brushes (good for getting into the nooks and crannies) with natural bristles which are fairly long and flexible. I borrowed some brushes off a mate but Amazon sell them cheaper than most places. They sell everything cheaper than most places.
- Any plate or bowl
- Old clothes
- A dust sheet or old duvet cover
- A sock
- Sunny weather (optional)
Give your furniture a quick wash down to get any hidden grease or dirt off, leave to dry and you’re ready to roll.
You can literally just slap Annie Sloan paint on, repeat once or twice, wax – and you’re done. No sanding, priming or anything else that sounds ultra time-consuming and tedious (you have to do this with other brands).
You can, of course, give your furniture a quick sand if you fancy it or if the original piece is in a bit of a state – which is what I did because my table was a bit lumpy-bumpy and had a dodgy paint-job. But I usually wouldn’t have been arsed.
You can use the paint as it is, leave the pot open and standing for a while so it gets thicker, or you can thin it with water – it depends on what you prefer. I added a little water and mixed it in a bowl, which was easily cleaned (as were the duvet cover I put on the ground and my clothes – which were both splattered with paint by the end of it).
You’re probably getting the general impression now – Annie Sloan is totally chill.
Paint in the same direction as the wood grain and leave to dry between coats. You’ll probably need two coats, three at most, to completely cover your furniture and give it a bright block cover with no streaks or original wood showing through.
Don’t worry if it doesn’t look right when it’s wet – it goes smooth and chalky when it’s finished and each coat only took about 10 minutes to completely dry (well, it was in the sun).
My 100ml £6 tester pot just about covered my table with two coats – they’re perfect for small projects like chair, a side table, picture frames, lamp bases, a small cabinet etc.
Once your table is dry, grab yourself an old sock, stick your hand in it and dip it in the wax. I was told to use a lint-free cloth and because I am a genius (read: had no lint-free cloth in the house) I decided a sock was a brilliant way to apply wax with extra hand-control.
Less is definitely more with the wax so you only need to apply sparingly, lightly covering the whole surface of your painted furniture. The lady at the shop told me the tub goes a longggggg way so for £9 it’s an absolute steal. Rub it over like you would hand cream and leave to set for 12 hours so the paint is sealed and water repellent.
A unique piece of good-quality furniture in my favourite colour for a total of about £12 (£6 paint + £5 table + £1 of wax used).
Chalking painting it all
Not only does this stuff make an easy job of painting wooden furniture, it also covers metal, concrete, matt plastic, terracotta, Converse (no, really) – the lot. So I went back to the shop and bought a tester pot of Provence to cover a boring letter rack I got from (you guessed it) Amazon which cost me £5.99. Two coats and a wax later – boom.
Next stop is my jewellery stand, then some outdoor plant pots. Then my cat and maybe my car.
No doubt in approx. 10 years I will look back at my chalk painting days and despair, wondering what kind of interior design monstrosity I created and thought looked ace at the time. But it’s no Chinese symbol tattoo on my forearm so I’m gonna go with it.
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