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Thursday, February 23, 2012

DIY Chalk Paint Dresser

(I’m sharing this project as my first contributing post over at the SNAP! Blog.  Please hop on over and check out this great blog.  I’m going to be attending the SNAP! Conference for creative bloggers this April, and if it’s something you might be considering as well, I encourage you to register soon!  Tickets are selling quickly and are sure to sell out.  I’d love to see you there!)


I picked up this sturdy old dresser from the local Craigslist. It's mammoth weight and the dove-tail joints told me that despite it's ho-hum appearance, this piece was built to last and needed a fresh new look so it could be loved and enjoyed again.


DIY Chalk Paint Recipe

I've been hearing about different methods of making your own chalk paint at home. I'm always for ANYTHING that saves me moolah!! After some research and on the recommendation of some furniture refinishing friends, I settled on trying out this recipe:

(It actually ended up being way too much paint for the body of this dresser, and I would think a half recipe would cut it for most projects.)

I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed working with it! I've only had one experience with the pricey chalk paint (that shall remain nameless) so I don't have a lot to compare it to, but I applied the paint without priming or sanding and the adhesion was great!

A tip if you try this recipe out for yourself: Don't try and overwork the paint. Just lay it down and let it set. If you try to brush it on and keep brushing over, it will just lift up, and you'll get ticked off.

This beachy blue gray color (a mis-tint I picked up from the hardware store) took 2 coats to cover, each coat taking about 30 minutes to put down. Quick and easy!!

After the paint was set up, I did quite a bit of hand-distressing with some 120 grit sandpaper to give it a beachy kind of look. After that was done, I applied Minwax Paste Finishing Wax with a clean rag (I keep our old t-shirts around for just this purpose) and when that was set, buffed to a nice luster with another clean rag.

The original wood pulls got the same treatment as the dresser's body, but I wanted to bring in a natural wood treatment on the drawers for a two-tone look that is SUPER hot in design right now.


Weathering Wood with Tea and Rusty Vinegar

To achieve a time-worn, antique looking wood finish I tried another internet method that has intrigued me, and it was so fun and remarkably effective! Using just a strong brew of tea and a concoction of rusty vinegar, you can age any wood to weathered gray.

  • First, fill a glass container with white vinegar, some fine steel wool, and something rusty. (I added the "something rusty" part. The online recipes I saw just said to put the steel wool in the vinegar and it would start to turn a dark brown, but after leaving it soak overnight, no such thing happened to mine. I'm not sure why. The next day, I decided I would try and put a rusty ol' valve that I had in there too, and that seemed to do the trick for me.)
  • Brew a strong cup of tea (I used Lipton Black Tea, but I think just about anything you have that isn't an herbal tea would work.)
  • Remove any finish that's on the wood with sandpaper.
  • Paint on the tea and let it completely dry (about 20 minutes or so).
  • Apply the rusty vinegar with your steel wool, then watch the magic happen as this dries! You'll end us with a nice weathered, gray wood!

With the addition of some Howard Feed-N-Wax, you can take the gray, weathered wood to a deep, natural brown that is stunning! This is life changing, people. I may never use stinky canned stains again. Who knew you could get this look completely naturally? I sure didn't.

And here are the beauty shots. I could totally see this piece is a little boys room, or a beachy guest room. TONS of great storage!

On an unrelated note, take a quick look at the weeping willow tree in our backyard...

Yep! Those are buds! Spring is just around the corner!

(Our early springs and late falls in Arizona might make you in colder regions jealous, but you'll be laughing at me come mid-summer when it's as hot as the lowest setting on your kitchen oven!)

Linking to:

Finding Fabulous, 5 Days 5 Ways, Miss Mustard Seed


  1. This looks great! Thanks for two tutorials...say that 10x fast haha.


  2. The chest of drawers looks great! I love that style. And hooray for spring!

  3. Great looking piece and it's wonderful that you shareded how you did this.

  4. Nice...love tutorials. been trying to figure out which Chalkboard paint technique works best.

  5. Hi Ann Marie ~

    Just a note to let you know that I’ve nominated you for a Versatile Blog Award. Here’s a link to my blog post that talks about it:


    There’s also a link to the Versatile Award site that explains the premise behind the award. I picked your blog because I always leave with something I didn’t have before, whether it’s inspiration, validation, information, or a smile. Sometimes all of the above! I always read your posts regardless of how many posts I have in my reader or how tired I may be. Thanks for your contribution to the blog world, your words make a difference to me and many others, I’m sure. You’re welcome to choose your own favorite blogs to award but please don’t feel obligated to do so. People are busy and this isn’t meant to be one more thing to add to the to-do list. Just know that your blog brightens my day!

    Cheers ~
    Laure Janus
    Chaos and Art

  6. Wow! This looks amazing! Thanks for including all the steps.


  7. Looks fantastic! I love the tutorial. :) ~ Megan

  8. Really great job on this dresser. Thanks for visiting us 508 today too! I really like the hardware you make with the stones- very unique and could look great on a future 508 piece!

  9. Just wanted to say great job on that dresser. Thanks for the tips and ideas too.

  10. Thank you so much! Your instructions are very clear. I can't wait to start my own project. Great job,

  11. Looks amazing. Love the two tone with distressing.

  12. WOWSERS. Love this and have to try this recipe. I love chalk paint, too, but not the price. I love the two-toned look. I am pinning this for sure! I have a similar piece in mind to do! Please stop over to my blog home and link this up to my Inspired Creations party happening NOW! I would love to have you there!
    Stacey of Embracing Change

  13. Love how this turned out. I have used the vinegar stain for a while now..I love how it changes wood...I will have to try with chalk paint.and I will have to try your recipe for chalk paint as well...

  14. Very cool! thanks for sharing. I tried buying the chalk paint, and I love the effect, but the price is very dear!

  15. Dear Ann Marie - I absolutely love the dresser!! Thank you for the recipe for chalk paint - It will be great fun(and easy on the pocketbook) to give it a try! I am going to use the weathered wood recipe too. Wow! So glad I checked in with you today! Your herringbone dresser is also (as my teenagers would say)"The Bomb!!" Totally amazing. Thanks for sharing your time and talents with us.

  16. Ann Marie, I tried your chalk paint recipe because I loved the idea of not having to sand and prime a piece first. The adhesion is not good, the paint can easily be scraped off. Is there some caveats pertaining to the type of wood or finish that you are trying this on?

    1. Well, I've only used it twice so far, but have had success with it. Like everything else with furniture painting, there are so many unknown factors, all of which can effect your final outcome. I'm sure the type of latex paint you use with recipe would effect the outcome, as would the sheen. Neither of the pieces I used it on had a shiny type finish. Sorry it didn't work for you. Did you put a wax like Minwax over the top of it when you were done? If you let it sit a day after you apply it, then buff to a sheen, it should be a pretty durable finish.

    2. Love the recipe! It was much-needed when painting my chairs, after I realized I could not sand all the old paint away. A real lifesaver!
      Shaleeta, at


    3. To Anonymous:

      I was just reading the other day on a site where the husband and wife have tried a number of methods and share them. What they said they found was it was all in the paint. They used the same method, with basically this recipe, except they made only a cup of paint, and they had bad results with one paint and good with another. They seem to have sponsors, so they didn't state any paint names. However, another of their followers said that they use the sample sizes in Behr, that Behr worked great, so it is likely your paint or you may have high humidity in your house. That, they said, will also affect the outcome. Ann Marie is right, there are many unknown factors, but try the sample Behr. It's only 2.97.

      Ann Marie, I love the weathered look, the grayish color before it turned back to brown. That is beautiful and looks just like the weathered wood by the beach. Love it !!

  17. Thanks for posting. I just started playing with my furniture and this is a huge help... now how do you all that other beautiful stuff?

    Also, I tried your recipe and it worked great. I just kept adding one of the ingredients if it seemed out of whack. Mine thickened quickly, but a little water helped and it still covered evenly.

    Working on a bench now and going to try out the rusty tea recipe...!
    Ali (in DC)

  18. I forgot to ask do you use a certain type of brush or roller to apply?

    1. Angela, I pretty much strictly use Purdy brand brushes, but I don't think it matters very much with this chalk paint. The beauty of it is you do a light sand with a fine sand paper after a couple coats, then add the wax and it'll be baby's bottom smooth. :)

  19. Hi Love the chalk paint, just wondering after youve made the mixture do you mix it in with any coloured paint ?? thank :)

  20. What's the shelf life of your leftover paint?

    1. Not very long. It's thicker the next day and will take some additional thinning. I wouldn't expect it to last more than a few days tops. Make sure to just mix what you're going to use. Thanks for the question!

  21. Just found your post looking for homemade chalk paint recipes. I love your furniture ideas and also the rusty vinegar idea. I wondered with a chalk paint recipe could you substitute the Howard's Feed n Wax for the Minwax paste? I have never used either so perhaps they are not even the same. I would prefer something more natural and I read somewhere that the Minwax can be pretty strong and toxic. What do you think? Thank you.

  22. Oh My! The pics are all gone.. I'd love to see the finished product and the steps but I absolutely must at the very least have the chalk paint recipe -- please post that in the comments section.


  23. Hi, I stumbled upon this post on Pinterest. I absolutely love the end result. I have a antique sideboard that needs some love and was planning to sand and tea/rusty vinegar stain it. I read the reviews on the Feed-n-Wax, which sounds great, but I was wondering if you added a poly on the piece and if it needs it. If the Feed-N-Wax will do I will be so happy. I just love the look of the drawers on this piece!

  24. I have the exact same dresser! What a trip. Ha. It's had many looks in the years I've had it. So many possibilities with this great sturdy piece. Really like your look. Not too over the top for such a big piece. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Thank you for helping me figure out what to do with my late mom's dining room set! It is a beautiful set just looks dated for my decor. You do wonderful work - hope this comes out half as good as your furniture. Thanks for sharing....

  26. I have that exact dresser..and the vanity and bed to match ...1970s. ..might have to give this a try..

  27. I have that exact dresser..and the vanity and bed to match ...1970s. ..might have to give this a try..


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