How to Chalk Paint Furniture

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Chalk Paint Like a Pro - Marty's Musings 

We now have a major love of chalk painting as seen in our mason jar chandelier, small kitchen buffet and this amazing china hutch makeover. Stay tuned for all the details from my DIY hubby on how to chalk paint furniture.

When my parents moved into a nursing home I became the recipient of my mom’s china hutch, circa 1970’s. I remember the day it arrived at my childhood home so many years ago. My parents were not wealthy and barely scraped by most of the time. Yet my dad often found a way to buy the things my mom most desired. In the 1970’s that was a place to showcase her china and crystal, beautiful gifts from my parents’ wedding in 1945.

I can’t say I always wanted the hutch, but I knew one day I would inherit her china and crystal. This bulky piece has been an eyesore in our kitchen. It was out of place and just didn’t fit. As I became addicted to Pinterest I started seeing chalk paint pieces that I loved and the search was on to find the right product and convince my husband to try it.

 Frugal Tips for Transforming the Kitchen

I started by telling him my ideas and sending him pictures of projects I liked. I knew the day he sent ME a picture that I had ensnared him in my sneaky plan! He is a painter after all, but I was willing to try to do the painting myself. As we got closer and closer to actually purchasing the paint Tim began to take ownership of the project. Yes, I succeeded in my dastardly plot to get him to do the work after all!

Here’s the china hutch in its original position in our kitchen, with glass and door intact.

Now moved to the opposite wall, destined to become the showpiece of the room.

Door and windows now removed. The wood is that gross ’70’s kind of pecan walnut something.  Very dark and scary…

Enjoy as my husband tells you all the details.

Frugal Tips for Transforming the Kitchen

How to Chalk Paint Furniture from Marty's Musings

From Tim: OK – so this is where I take over the post…the hubby!  This project was a “surprise” for my wife when she returned from a few days out with her friends.  The kids were gone, too, so I had the entire weekend to myself!  THAT’s the look on my face!  My house was SO quiet that I thought I was on the wrong side of the Rapture…left behind with chalk paint and an u-g-l-y hutch to transform.  Yuck.  But I digress.


You must first know that working with chalk paint goes against EVERYTHING I have learned in 22 years in the painting business.  The ladies at the business we bought the paint from, upon learning I was a contractor, told my wife that I was “NOT to make it perfect.”  Strike one.  All the instructions also said do not do perfect brush stroke applications, but criss-cross sloppy instead.  Strike two.  The last straw was their recommendation to use a natural bristle brush with chalk paint.  Problem? Absolutely!  Natural bristle brushes are for use only with oil based paints, stains, and polyurethanes.  One does NOT introduce these brushes to water, ever.  Guess what?  Chalk paint is water based, so you clean the brush with – say it with me – WATER!  STEE-RIKE THREE!  


I totally bailed at this point, despite the chief’s my bride’s protestations. So, I began with the inside to avoid working on top of wet paint on the outside and dove into the blue.  Not pretty, not straight lines, criss cross.  Ugh…it’s gonna be a long weekend.

Chalk Paint Makeover from Marty's Musings

With the glare of the camera flash, you can pick up a little of the haphazard brush strokes.  It really did make a difference when it came time for waxing; the variation in the surface enhanced the effect and would have been even more pronounced had I used the dark wax (we used clear).

Chalk Paint Makeover from Marty's Musings

While I knew I wanted the  back blue, I had no idea what to do on the rest of the outside.  The piece had some beautifully intricate detail work, but I didn’t want to over-accentuate all of it and end up with a circus tent.  I also knew that I could fix whatever became too garish with a re-coat of the other color.  So, the best option was just to muddle forward and see what happened.

Beginning to take shape now, and will you look at those brush strokes!  I’m still cringing.  You can see that the doors have tremendous potential, but that is some pretty fine detail work and I kept thinking that it would be so easy to do too much on those.  However, by the end, I would take advantage of most of that detail.

One of the unique features of chalk paint is that no priming is required.  That was a VERY close strike four for me!  I think one of the biggest deterrents to painting furniture that people have is that awful, smelly, messy, tedious step of an oil based primer before you really make progress.  With chalk paint, you jump right in and are transforming immediately.  You are only limited by what you cannot imagine, and even at this point, I decided to go a bit further with the details.


See!  It really grows on you.  This is almost finished, with two coats of each color everywhere.  You can also pick up some of the distressing that I did, but even that continues to this day.  The scuffs are achieved by simply going after the surface with some heavy grit sandpaper (60 grit!).  If you find you’ve done too much, just re-coat and start over.  Your mistake may actually shine through a bit and add to the desired look.  

Some of the videos suggest putting Vaseline on the areas where you are going to distress before you start painting.  Because Vaseline is petroleum based, it does not react with water, thereby rejecting the water based paint.  It, in theory, wipes right off.  Not for me – I knew had a 60 grit weapon in the wings!  Plus, that sounded like far too much planning.

A few close-ups of the doors for detail and distressing.  Until I painted the doors, I never paid any attention to the details.  Well, honestly, I always averted my eyes away from the hutch every time I walked by, but that’s for another day.

There are big honkin’ handles that go back on that are the door knocker style, so it made sense to distress where they naturally hang.  You also get a little better idea of the distressing.


The cavalry has arrived!  I enlisted helpers to apply the clear wax, since you really can’t do this part wrong.  It is “wax on – wax off.”  Just a light coat really draws out some of the brush strokes, the variations in the surface and the darker distressed spots.  A dark wax would make a huge difference, but I wasn’t bold enough to go there.

Trust me, it’s not THAT blue!  But it does change with the amount of light that enters the room. (From Marty: sorry about the color changes in photos. We shot at all different times of day and I had trouble editing the shots to all reflect the same color. But Tim is right, the color changes somewhat as you place other objects around it.)

And yes, by this point, I was quite ready to be done with the transformation.

Want to ruin a brush, even a synthetic bristle brush, in one easy step?  Use it to apply wax!  This was a great way to get into the harder areas, but there was no getting the wax completely out of the bristles, even with boiling water. It’s now my waxing brush – go figure.

Here is a final view of a finished door.  See where the handle hangs right where I distressed?  Your distressing, while random, should still make sense. Unless you’ve bounced the furniture down your front steps or thrown it off the moving truck, it probably isn’t scratched everywhere.  We’re still not sure about the color of the handles, but we need to live with it for a bit before making a change, if any.

Less the handles, this is finished!  Total time was about 5 hours, I think.  By the way, chalk paint is EXPENSIVE!  At $40 a quart, a gallon would run $160! Strike five, six, seven, eight, and nine!  That’s the inning.  That’s the ballgame.  But it really transformed this behemoth into a conversation piece. FYI, we’re pretty sure the walls need to change to a pale yellow.  So, go for it!  If I get advanced Rapture notice, I’ll race you to get more chalk paint!  Not that I’m saying either one of us won’t be leaving…

From Marty: this post is just typical of our relationship. He’s the funny guy and I’m the sentimental one. I set the mood with a nostalgic look at the china hutch and he’s cracking jokes left and right and comparing the chalk paint to a baseball game! What can I say? We’ve made it 25 years and I guess we have a few more good ones ahead (at least as long as he keeps tackling my projects like the scrapbook room remodel, the den makeover , mason jar chandelier and his amazing window table.)

**The paint used in this project is Annie Sloan chalk paint, Provence and Pure White, with clear wax applied over the top.

This detailed tutorial from a professional painter explains how to chalk paint furniture with tips on turning an outdated piece of furniture into a beauty!

How to Chalk Paint Furniture from Marty's Musings

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  1. I think he did an absolutely terrific job! AND he agreed to paint your entire hutch, AND he has a sense of humor. Yup, he’s a keeper!!

  2. this looks so awesome! is he for hire?!

    • Amie, my husband could be for hire. Where do you live? I keep trying to tell him he needs to expand his horizons with making furniture and DIY projects. Thanks for visiting Marty’s Musings!

  3. I’ve never heard of chalk paint. Looks great!

    My hubby is also a painter (and baseball player), and he would have agreed with your hubby on all of the reasons this project should strike out. 🙂

    Great job, Hubby . . . and thanks for being willing to not only help your dear wife out with this project, but being willing to write about it, too. My hubby also has a sense of humor, and would have written a very similar post.

    Laurel 🙂

    • Laurel, I know your husband is a painter (we continue to have much in common!) I’m glad he’s had steady work recently. We’ve had fun with the projects and I love taking older sentimental things and making them new! (((hugs))) my friend.

  4. Awesome! Great job hubby, and how wonderful that you did this as a surprise for your wife (bonus points!) The hutch looks great! Thanks for sharing at The Fun In Functional!

  5. Beautiful piece and such a great post, as well, by both of you. Loved the nostalgia and loved the humor. You can definitely tell your husband is a pro, too.

    My in-progress chalk paint pieces never look so orderly. And how did he manage to paint all that detail without going outside the lines?

    Great tips here, too, on distressing and brushes. Lots of stuff I never knew.

  6. WOW! What a stunning transformation. I’m usually too chicken to do more than one color like that. but it looks amazing. Please share this at my link party. I know others will really want to see this!

  7. That turned out fantastic!

  8. Sandra @Beneath this Roof, Within these Walls says:

    An amazing transformation, it is really beautiful! How sweet of your hubby to do it for you, and to write about it. Yep, I’d say you probably oughta keep him around–at least for another forty years or so. Then you can decide about the future.:)

    • Thanks, Sandra, for visiting Marty’s Musings and leaving a comment on my hubby’s hutch project. Are you still blogging? I appreciate you always being so encouraging!

  9. I am loving the colors, you did a fantastic job. I am a big fan of making an old piece new again.

    • Thanks, Lisa, for stopping by Marty’s Musings and complimenting my husband’s chalk paint makeover! I have fallen in love with repurposing, too!

  10. The new teal and white look of your china hutch is just beautiful–a dramatic before and after transformation–well done!

  11. Amazing change, so much prettier now!

    • Thanks for visiting Marty’s Musings and our hutch chalk paint makeover. I love making old things new again, especially with the sentimental value of the piece.

  12. Hi Marty! I’m a new follower and your cabinet turned out great! You are much braver then I am right now. I’m stuggling with painting my dining set. I’m having a, “It’s a Social Hop like Crazy” party. I’d love for you to hop on over, grab a button and link up your blog.

    Have a crazy beautiful weekend!

    • Thanks for stopping by Marty’s Musings, Denyse, and leaving a nice comment on our hutch transformation. You said you were painting your dining set. That’s a huge undertaking! Good luck!

  13. Turned out great! I always use the original handles whenever possible. It is amazing what a little spray paint can do for them. My favorite colour to use is Satin Brushed Nickle, can’t remember what brand. Black works and so does white, depending on the piece.

    • Hi, Donna. We actually kept the handles on our hutch the same but we checked out spray paints for the chandelier (which I haven’t posted yet) and my hubby chalk painted them instead. Pretty cool! Thanks for visiting Marty’s Musings.

  14. Your hutch looks fabulous. The details in the design really stand out now. I look forward to seeing it filled with the china.

    • Ruth, thanks for visiting Marty’s Musings and our hutch transformation with chalk paint. Working on a post now showing pics of the hutch with the china (although now I’m working on Christmas decor!)

  15. Wonderful post that proves what Annie says about her paint…It’s a Girl’s paint but Boys can use it!

  16. What a great tutorial post! Just enough details to make me think I can do it too. Great job. And the hutch looks beautiful.

    • Hi, Amy Anne! Thanks for visiting Marty’s Musings and our chalk paint project. My hubby is a great painter but I bet you could do it, too! The sloppier the better with chalk paint!

  17. Marty, Jim did an awesome job! I love the colors. The transformation was incredible!

  18. Susie @Bowdabra says:

    Thank you so much for stopping in and sharing your awesome chalk paint idea in our Crafty Showcase this week! We love seeing what you have been up to and visiting your blog.

    Have a wonderful week!

    Susie @Bowdabra

  19. So beautiful! I would love for you to share this or any of your great ideas at the link party going on now (and every Saturday – Tuesday) at ‘Or so she says …’

  20. Laura (Blue Giraffe) says:

    That is amazing – I really love the blue paint and also how you managed to ‘persuade’ him to do the hard work!

  21. You did not include directions of how to hire your hubby! Fantastic transformation.

  22. Marty,
    You did an amazing job on this. It is beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing at Wednesday’s Adorned From Above Blog Hop. This weeks party starts at 12:01AM on Wednesday and runs through Sunday night. Have a great week.
    Debi, Joye and Myrna (The Busy Bee’s), Linda (Two Succulent Sisters)

  23. Thanks so much for sharing your hutch at my party at House on the Way! What a great transformation! Have a great week!

  24. Love the humor of this post. I get it. I rebelled at the chalkpaint methods too. But it works! I was so shocked when the pieces I did turned out well. The paint is expensive but there is a way to make it yourself. I found a recipe for it on pintrest. I haven’t tried it though.
    Nice job on that hutch–the black wax makes me nervous too!

  25. What a transformation. Thanks for sharing.
    Have a Beautiful Wednesday,

  26. Thank you for joining HSH!

  27. What a gorgeous makeover! Thanks for linking up.

  28. oh wow!! you did an amazing job!! well done!!!
    Thanks for sharing on Serenity Saturday! Can’t wait to see what you have to share tomorrow

    • Hi, Natasha. I’m glad you enjoyed our chalk painted hutch. I appreciate you hosting every week and allowing me to link up. Blessings!
      [email protected]’s Musings

  29. wow, what a huge difference! love the color you chose!

    Just a wanted to let you know our Silhouette Cameo Giveaway ends tonight, if you haven’t entered yet (or if you wanna get more entries! 🙂 Have a great weekend!

  30. that turned out great…now i need to go find a hutch that needs saving for my house!

  31. I love your hutch! Im a cheapo! I make my own chalk paint with plaster of paris and latex paint. usually buy white paint and tint it with Rit dye powder. It works just as well as any of the premixed chalk paints. I do use the Vaseline or candle wax. Before my final coat of paint which is only two, I add other colors like black, brown or whatever to areas that will look distressed, let it dry then add my top coat of paint. Then I just wipe it off when dry. I just finished one project, I dont have a website yet, but Im working on it!
    Happy painting!

    • Hi, Patty! Thanks for the chalk paint tips. You are brave to make your own. You certainly should blog about when you get that far! Thanks for visiting Marty’s Musings.

  32. Oh my goodness!!! I have the exact same china cabinet!!! I got it from my mom when she passed away. I so agree with you on how it looks…all dark and dreary. I am going to paint my cabinet old ochre and duck egg blue! My daughter gave me the paint for Christmas. Thank you for sharing because before I saw what your husband did I was going to paint the whole outside old ochre and the inside with the duck egg blue. Now I will venture out and use more color!!! Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Hi, Kim! How funny that you have the exact same china cabinet as mine. I hope yours has many happy memories attached as well. It’s so hard losing a mom, whatever age we are. I have actually written a lot about grief on my blog (my sister died at a young age, both my parents are gone and some other painful experiences) and I hope you’ll visit my blog and know someone else understands your loss.

      But anyway…..I’d love to see your finished product! It’s amazing how much you’ll love it!
      [email protected]’s Musings

  33. The hutch went from outdated to fabulous! It’s now a fun, colorful piece. Thanks for inspiring me.

  34. Hi, Tracey. The white and aqua paint are both Annie Sloan chalk paint and they were terrific! All the details are in the blog post so just read along with my husband. He gives great details if you’re want to do it yourself! Thanks for visiting!

  35. Thanks so much for the tutorial. The sloppy methods & distressing attaches to my striping & redoing days from the 80,s. Now that I’m disabled my hubby as to do all the work. His perfectionism would probably make his head spin with the haphazard application. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  36. From Tim: This large hutch and another small hutch actually only took less than one quart of paint, and that was doing two coats. It really does go a long way! If you are not near a distributor you may have to buy a gallon, but it will keep as long as you don’t store it outside and it freezes. As to that nasty gouge in the top – you might try filling it with a couple coats of spackle, Rock Hard Putty, or wood filler, lightly sanding between dry coats. Two coats of chalk paint and wax will easily cover the patch and you just might be able to enjoy a revitalized top!

    Good Luck!

  37. Love the humorous post and love the hutch!!!! Great job!

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  39. I was amazed to see the color scheme in your house! That’s exactly what I have begun to do in my new home. Is there any way I could know the exact name of that yellow color on your dining room walls? Lowes or Home Depot? I would like something very similar to that. Your home is beautiful and so inspiring! I have a hutch that I’ve had since I was a child that needs major restoration ! I have now liked your page on Facebook and look forward to seeing more of what you do. Thank you so much

  40. Randy Cohorn says:

    Can you use chalk paint on outdoor furniture? Do you use a clear coat to protect it?

    • Hi, Randy! Here’s my husband’s response: I have seen chalk paint used on surfaces and projects I would never consider doing, but I am no expert on chalk paint! My gut reaction is that protecting it with a heavy-duty polyurethane, like Minwax’s Spar Urethane, would preserve the paint. However, normal traffic, use, and weather will mandate a re-coat now and then. To be safe, you might contact whoever you purchase your chalk paint from and ask their advice.

  41. Hi there 🙂
    I love that colors on this beautiful piece of furniture !!!
    I painted my whole kitchen cabinets with chalk paint and everybody love it …
    One advice regarding cleaning waxed brush – you have to clean it with mineral spirits 🙂
    Just pour a little bit of it into a glass container , dip your brush, stir and leave for a couple of hours than wash under the water and it’s done 🙂
    With love,

    • Hi, Kinga! You are so brave to paint your kitchen cabinets with chalk paint. I love the look, but I also know the paint is expensive. Thanks for the tip and for visiting my blog!

  42. Love it, I just did a kitchen hutch in my house over in black but I didn’t use chalk paint just ordinary latex paint from Loews, I distressed it with sandpaper and used clear wax which to me was the hardest part of doing this project. I could only find clear wax where would you get dark colored wax? I now want to do my dinning room set which was my grandparents its ugly and dated back to 1960, my night stand another hand me down, and about 5 other pieces of furniture. Whats the difference between chalk pain and latext? Cheers!!

    • Hi, Joya. Here’s some info from my hubby: Chalk paint and latex paint are both water-based. The major difference is the bonding property of the chalk paint; it is designed to skip the priming step that latex paint requires in order to bond to the surface. There is a relatively new product available at Home Depot and it’s DecoArt Americana Chalky Paint in a whole array of colors. They include 3 different wax finishes. I’ve only used them for a home decor project but I believe the cost is less than the Annie Sloan chalk paint. Good luck!

  43. Love the bantering back and forth between you and hubby….we have the same thing going on at our house but for some reason I end up doing the work and he ends up telling me what I am doing wrong…go figure. Anyway I love the hutch would never had thought the transformation of that old 70’s piece could come out so pleasing to the eye. I am looking for an old window so I can do one like yours, love the picture in multiple panes makes it unique to what I have seen around here. Great job, good work and I will be following you closely. 🙂

    • Thanks, Marianne. Trust me. We have our anxious moments and “discussions” over how things turn out. I’ve just learned to chalk paint so I’m afraid I’m going to have to do more of it myself! I’m glad you’ll be following along!

  44. Myra Lovett says:

    Just found this blog. Was searching for chalk paint. Great post and site! I also love that the hubby calls his wife, his bride. After 28 years, my husband calls me his bride too.

  45. Hi, Caco. Good luck on your house. Painting everything sure takes time and patience, as you said!

  46. Hi, Faye. Our hutch is solid wood but I think the chalk paint would be fine even on the pressed board. You could always test a piece that doesn’t show, possibly the back and see how it does. Good luck!

  47. Hi Jeff. Thanks for commenting. Good to know about the outdoors application although I can’t imagine it on a driveway! Good tip for the wax brush as well. Thanks!

    • Sounds like you could use a Chalk Paint class-I had to unlearn everything or wipe my slate clean to believe how simple this paint was(is!). It’s a good cheap investment and you’ll learn and master 5-9 techniques to be able to jump right in and hit grand slams. Girly paint yes, but I like it too.

  48. I am just learning about chalk paint and am excited to try it on a garden stool that I have had for a couple of years. I have never been happy with the white color. I suppose it is ceramic and it has lots of cutwork on the sides. Will ASCP work on this type of surface? Will the steps be the same as with a wood project?

    • Hi, Mary. Here’s my husband’s response: The “ceramic” description concerns me a bit, but you could test the ASCP on the under side or somewhere else, let it dry and give it a test scrape to see if it will hold up. Depending on that result and how much traffic the stool would get, you can proceed as normal or prime it with an oil-based primer first (must be oil).

      As for the process it will, indeed, be the same as wood. Don’t worry about perfection, but you don’t want drips. You’ll need to watch that with the surfaces that are more dimensional (cut surfaces). If you are going to distress do that before you wax and you’re done!

      Have Fun!

      • Beatrice Gerald says:

        There are many good ideas in this blog. I read everything carefully because I want to paint a wood table and 4 chairs. I’m not sure about the color, I am afraid that will look worst than now. I want to use this table in the garden this summer.

  49. The hutch is exactly like ours.. thank you for featuring it. In addition, my mother had the same china (on the top shelf) and now my sister has it. A friend at a distressed furniture store has suggested mirrors fitted onto the back to bring a bright look on the china. What do you think? I like the idea.

    • Hi, Denise. That’s an interesting idea with the mirrors. It might be a little pricy but you could check it out. This particular hutch had a light that illuminated the inside from the top but I’ve never used it. That might be another idea. Good luck and send me a picture when you finish it!

  50. Pat Arnold says:

    I need to ask a question. I am going to paint my table and chairs with chalk paint. I do not want a rustic look, can I just paint and not wax and them still hold the paint?

    • Hi, Pat. Here’s my husband’s response: I would not recommend that you leave the chalk paint unsealed in some way. It simply will not hold up to the traffic your use demands. Chalk paint really grabs dirt, stains, spills and general nicks and scratches. It will also not clean well, which will be important for the table. Over time, the pieces will naturally distress and morph into a look you are not going for.

      If you don’t want to wax, you might consider an oil-based polyurethane in a flat or satin finish. This will seal the pieces and work to maintain the finish you desire. Do NOT use a water-based poly as this will re-activate the paint (water-to-water reaction). This will also allow you to touch up as needed and re-seal with the poly. I was shocked at how much dirt and abuse our table showed, so much so that I actually re-painted the top of the table with a Rustoleum oil-based product with a semi-gloss finish. Very hard finish and quite easy to keep clean, plus I can re-do it any time. However, be aware that oil-based products will yellow over time, and faster in the absence of light.

      Good Luck!

  51. Robert R. Prosser says:

    You have learned in 22 years in the painting business! Wow, Unbelievable. I will have to learn from you so many things about paint.

  52. Love it! I so appreciate yalls humor too, its fun! May I also interest you both in a chalk paint that does not use wax to seal and no more buffing? AND its much less expensive than Annie Sloan to boot!!?? It is a chalk acrylic paint, NO VOCs, made here in good ‘ol USA. They have proprietary Vax and varnish,, also VOC free, in multiple colors, shimmer paints, shimmer glazes, in addition to a wide range of paint colors to choose from. Shabby paints brand also has gelato wood stain– again VOC free–AND everyone of their products can be mixed together for custom colors/finishes. Take a peek and give a try, you will fall even more in love with chalkpaint!! (Plus, wax breaks down requiring u to reappy every year or two…Shabby Paints Vax and Varnish lasts a miliion times longer. Even on outdoor items, vax/varnish last 7 years!! As aposed to one year with wax for best protection. 😉

  53. Great job. I have a very similar cabinet and I am planning on painting it. I think your handles (look like my cabinets) would look great painted white and distressed.

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