Super Style Your Space: Chalk it Up! | Chalk Paint Tutorial

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chalk-paint-tutorial-graphic2We interrupt our regularly scheduled outfit photos for a fun home decor project! As many of you know, I’ve moved. I have a bedroom and a bathroom that are all mine now, and I’m in the middle of some hardcore decorating – if you consider painting and hanging things on the walls to be hardcore. Like anyone who’s moving, I had to figure out where to spend and where to save, and buying a brand new furniture set wasn’t in the budget.

Before: The original furniture set in all of its princess-y  glory...

Before: The original furniture set in all of its princess-y glory (except for the layer of scum)

The good news: I still had a full bedroom set from when I was a teenager. The bad news: it had been sitting in my parents’ garage for ten years getting dirty and gross; however, after taking a closer look at it, I saw it was salvageable. Being a Pinterest addict, I consulted the oracle for chalk paint ideas, techniques, and inspiration. I decided I wanted my furniture to be a bright color with an aged/weathered look. In an older post, I painted a small nightstand and only kinda liked it. It was a good place to start because I could try out my new painting skills without ruining a big piece of furniture like a dresser. Still, painting a whole furniture set was intimidating, but it turned out not to be difficult at all. I even painted more things which I’ll share with you after the tutorial. If I can give you one overall piece of advice, it would be not to worry about being perfect. Actually, with many chalk paint techniques, you don’t want things to be perfect. You’re trying to replicate something old, right?

While there are many chalk painting finishes, I’ll be explaining how to give your furniture a grainy, aged look with dry brushing. I’ll also throw in a stencil or two just for funsies. Let’s get started, shall we?


Base Color (Turquoise) – Deco Art Americana Chalky Finish Paint, 8-Ounce, Treasure(I painted a dresser, chest of drawers with mirror, night stand, and headboard, and I used six 8-Ounce jars)

Dry Brush/Stencil Color (Dark Gray) – Deco Art Americana Chalky Finish Paint, 8-Ounce, Relic (It doesn’t take much. I used only two jars of this color.)

To Seal – Deco Art Americana Decor Creme Wax, 8-Ounce, Clear (Buy the same amount as your base color)

Paint Brushes like these

Stencil – FOLKART Plaid 30968 Mum Laser Stencil, 12 by 12-Inch

Spouncer (or foam brush)

Painter’s tape

Sanding block or sandpaper

Plastic to protect the floor

Paper towel or old rags

A small scrap  piece of cardboard

Knobs or Drawer Pulls: These are similar to the ones I have pictured.


Do you notice something missing from the supply list? Primer – you don’t need it! In fact, you can use chalk paint on a variety of surfaces such as laminate, metal, glass, and fabric, and it’s good to go. The only preparation I did was to wipe off the grime using a popular cleaner with a bald guy on the label. As you can see, the furniture previously had flower decals. I sanded them a bit with my sanding block so there would be no raised edges after I painted. Cover the floor with something protective, and you’re ready to start!


After the first coat of paint...

After the first coat of paint…

– Paint everything in your base color following the grain of the wood. You will see brush strokes. Let it dry – which chalk paint does pretty quickly.

– When it’s not tacky to the touch anymore, use your sanding block / sandpaper to rough up the areas you want to see distressing. My drawer fronts are pretty flat, so I picked random places to sand as well as the edges of the tabletops. If you’re furniture has medallions, scrolling, or beveling, give those areas some extra focus because if they were actually antique, those would be the areas that show the most wear. Dust off the excess paint flakes.

The corner of the headboard after sanding - See how the original finish shows through on the edges.

The corner of the headboard after sanding: see how the original finish shows through on the edges?

Dry brushing: The trick to dry brushing is not how much paint you have on your brush – it’s how much you don’t. Start off by dipping your paintbrush in a small amount of your dark gray paint. Next, take a paper towel or rag and wipe some of the paint off your brush. Before you start painting the furniture, using light strokes, test out your paint on the cardboard to see if there is too much. If you like what you see, start painting the furniture following the grain of the wood or your previous brush strokes.

A little bit goes a long way. I only had to reload my brush about two or three times for the bigger pieces of furniture. Remember, an uneven look is what you’re going for, so don’t worry if it’s not perfect. Keep in mind it’s easier to add more brush strokes than to take them away. Like sanding, giving a little extra attention to edges and raised details emphasizes the aged look.

Need more info on dry brushing? I found this blog’s post extremely helpful.

After dry brushing and stenciling

After dry brushing and stenciling

Stencil: Like dry brushing, stenciling works better with very little paint. It’s better to add a few light layers with your foam spouncer than to have the paint bleed under your stencil and leave messy edges. They do make a repositionable stencil adhesive to keep the back of your stencil in place, but it didn’t really work for me. After I found a sweet spot on the furniture for my stencil, I used painter’s tape on the sides to make it stay put. Play with placement and position. On my headboard, I put it front and center, but I used only part of the flower for the top of the mirror. In the future, I’d like to add more stencils to the front of the drawers.

Seal: Sealing your chalk paint masterpiece is pretty important. I’ve noticed the paint chips pretty easily when it’s not sealed. Simply brush a coat of the wax over everything you painted. Don’t worry about it being too glossy – it dries flat and won’t ruin the chalky finish of your paint. While it doesn’t take very long to dry, don’t put anything on your furniture for a day or two so it can completely set.

Crates used as shelves

Crates used as shelves

For the furniture, I used a clear wax, but if you want a look that’s even more distressed, try using a darker wax, like I did on these crates. PS – Dark wax hides a multitude of sins, such as chips or stencil edges that aren’t crisp. I’ll have a mini-tutorial about how to make these crate shelves soon.

All dressed up!

All dressed up!

Here’s the finished dresser (and a glimpse of the headboard) decorated and ready to go! Doesn’t it look quite at home? I added new knobs, but I’ve seen some funky pieces that have the original hardware painted over, like the ones here. It sure beats taking everything off and putting all back on again.

I have a few more chalk paint projects up my sleeve to finish up the room. I’ve even started painting small items like mason jars and picture frames. Addicted much?

Thanks for joining me for my painting party! I’d love to see your painting projects – Leave me a comment or tag me on social media!

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