A Furniture Makeover Using Chalk Paint

A Furniture Makeover Using Chalk Paint

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My Mom has never liked her mother’s antique secretary, but when my grandmother died, my Mom reluctantly took it into her home since no one else wanted it. She’s been asking me for years if I will take it and I finally got around to bringing it home to Virginia! I knew that it would eventually be transformed into something beautiful, but I just didn’t have the space for it until recently. I love free stuff, but I especially love stuff with history and LOVE. Score!

Here’s what the secretary looked like orignially.

It was not in the best of shape, especially being over 75 years old.

By the way, since we live in the woods, our house is really dark… so there was no way I was leaving it in its dark wood state. I decided on white since I’m going through a black and white phase for the past ten years right now.  I must add that I learned a couple of useful lessons when working on this old piece. First of all, furniture that was built back in the 1930’s and ’40’s tends to show tannin bleedthrough, especially when you’re painting with a lighter color. You will get brownish or pinkish undertones/discoloration showing through. This usually happens because either grease/oil or water will start surfacing from the existing finish. I will admit to you, (and you only) that I thought I could cover all of this up by applying not one, not two, but THREE coats of my paint. What a waste! By the way, on this particular project I used FolkArt Home Decor Chalk Furniture & Craft Paint in Assorted Colors (16 Ounce), 34846 White Adirondack. It works really well compared to some of the more expensive brands I’ve tried. You can thin it out with water if you need to, or glop it on right out of the jar. You can see that on the inside of the secretary I used the same Folk Art Chalk Paint in “Mineral.” Here’s what that bleedthrough looks like in case you’re wondering. See all the hideous spots? That’s after three coats of paint!

Never fear, dear friend! There is an answer to our breakthrough bleeding, and that answer is: [easyazon_link identifier=”B000BZTIZW” locale=”US” tag=” soverymerry-20″]Rust-Oleum Zinsser 304H 1-Quart Bulls Eye Clear Shellac[/easyazon_link] I put on a coat of the clear shellac right over the 3 coats of paint, then waited for it to dry and then added another coat of shellac. After the second coat is dry you can resume painting right over the shellac and it will do away with those pink and brown spots! You’ll probably only need one coat after that since you have a good base. (Sidenote: I once took an Annie Sloan chalk painting class and they also recommended Zinsser, so I trust the brand to work. If its good enough for Annie, its good enough for Meredith!) Here is a good example of what it looked like when I painted over the shellac. The top is obviously a new coat, and the bottom is this hideous yellowish color. I was so happy that it was starting to come together!

Ok, if I wasn’t having fun yet, then comes the part of taping off the glass doors: too much fun! (Yes, I’m kidding. I like slapping paint around, not the tedious act of sticking tiny little puzzle pieces of tape to glass.) This was probably the only part that slowed me down a little bit, because I just wanted to paint that wood so badly. Also remember, I had to seal the glass woodwork with shellac as well, because it too was turning pink. (At least I found out it was real wood.)

Final touches…..putting a beautiful graphic on there! It was a little too plain without a little something…so I went to Graphics Fairy (where else?) to find this great graphic, French Grand Bazar.

Here’s how to get the image from your printer to your piece of furniture. Note: There are so many ways to do this, but I already had it printed out to see what it would look like on the secretary, so I just traced it. Pretty easy.)

I finished everything with a couple of coats of FolkArt Home Decor Wax (8-Ounce), 34170 Clear  Here’s the final product! What do you think? Would my Grandmother be proud?

I finished everything with a couple of coats of FolkArt Home Decor Wax (8-Ounce), 34170 Clear Here’s the final product! What do you think? Would my Grandmother be proud?

2016-10-27T23:27:12+00:00 Categories: Creative, DIY, Home Decor|4 Comments


  1. DonnaHeflin October 26, 2016 at 6:24 am - Reply

    That looks awesome

  2. Ann Wray January 25, 2017 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    Our grandmother would be VERY proud of you! Great job!!

    • So Very Merry January 25, 2017 at 7:42 pm - Reply

      Thanks Ann Wray! Hopefully she wouldn’t mind the drastic change. 🙂

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