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Chalk it Up with Chalk Paint

Use Chalk Paint to upgrade your new workspace.

It’s time to take back my kitchen table. As the new school semester (year, decade, eon?) of e-learning and virtual lessons approaches, I need a place for both me and my children to be productive, stay on task, and tackle e-learning in positive ways that facilitate quality learning time and fewer breakdowns.

So, I’ve decided to create a workspace for each of us, starting with a desk. The idea came to me because as I sit here at my kitchen table, my grandmother’s antique desk is directly behind me and used as everything but a functioning desk. The desk is sturdy but the wood is old and fading and could definitely use a facelift. My knowledge of restoring old furniture comes only from watching too much HGTV, so I decided to pay a visit to a local store here in Edgewater that specializes in painted furniture. I was ready to talk to an expert on how to go about getting my grandmother’s desk the restoration it so desperately needs.

Soon I found myself at the lovely shop of Kristin Foran, owner of The Red Dresser and a registered seller of Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan. The Red Dresser is filled to the brim with furniture and home décor in varying shades of gorgeous colors. As I sat admiring the olive green wardrobe that was halfway painted (I could still see the original sandy wood color on the doors), I was incredulous to learn that furniture could be restored without any sanding or staining but by painting it instead. Not only did painting furniture with Chalk Paint look so easy and beautiful, I was also told the project would be finished that very same day.

Chalk Paint
Array of Chalk Paint at the Red Dresser

Annie Sloan created this specialty paint for that exact reason; as a small shop owner and artist, she wanted a paint that she could use on a project and complete it in one day. Not only that, she also wanted to create a paint that would adhere to all surfaces—wood, concrete, linoleum, plastic, metal, and glass. Her paint is water-based, has no VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), and requires only a few supplies to completely transform and enhance furniture, walls, floors, and any home décor item you can think of. With minimal set up and supplies, plus over 940 paint colors to choose from, Foran says, “anyone can be a designer, just clean and paint!”

Getting Started with Chalk Paint

Find the piece of furniture or item you want to work on. Look at what you already own that you can repurpose or check out an estate or garage sale for inexpensive finds.
Dust it off, clean it up, and get ready to start your project.

Pick your Chalk Paint color and start designing!

Gather your brushes and rollers. There are suggested specialty brushes and rollers that are designed to distribute Chalk Paint more efficiently, but other paint brushes found at any hardware store will also get the job done.

Choose your sealant and finish with Chalk Paint Wax or Chalk Paint Lacquer. These sealants will protect the color and can be used to keep a muted tone or provide a shinier sheen.

How much Chalk Paint do I need?

Most items will only need one coat; a small (120ml) can of Chalk Paint will cover a small bedside table. A larger (1 liter) can of paint can paint a bedroom set with a dresser, headboard, footboard, and a small bedside table.

Best Advice for Beginners?

“Don’t overthink it,” says Foran. “It’s therapeutic, fun, easy, and rewarding.” You get instant gratification with the color change. Since it is water-based paint, if you decide you do not like the color, you can literally wash off the paint with water and begin anew (if you have not sealed it with the wax or lacquer).

How do I learn more or see the process in action?

Annie Sloan herself can be found on YouTube with video demonstrations using all of her products. She provides tips and techniques as well as the basics. The Red Dresser also provides workshops and DIY project kits. COVID has changed Foran’s previous workshop capabilities but you can contact her to see about scheduling one, especially if it’s your own family you want to do a class with, or you have a group of 4 or less. Foran and her team at The Red Dresser will also happily share their “how-to’s” and their “recipes” to achieve that perfect hue, color, or look that you want.

Now, if you will excuse me please, I have some furniture to start painting!

—Claire Dougherty Kovacs

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