Chalk Paint Furniture Makeovers & Tips

Tips and tricks including tutorial and examples of painted projects, for using chalk paint and milk paint (and even regular latex paint) to paint furniture.

Over the years we have painted many, many pieces of furniture. Many with chalk paint, but some with regular latex paint. We’ve learned a lot about the best techniques to use to get the best possible results. We have also used most of the different brands of chalk/milk paint so read on to see the differences/results as well as our best tips.

chalk paint makeovers

First, let me show off my favorite pieces I have painted.  I wound up selling it because at the time I didn’t have the perfect place for it, looking back I wish I had kept it.

top of cabinet

If you missed the before, here it is. It was pretty as is, but I thought the french country look just called out for a lighter finish.

cabinet before

This cabinet was painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Paris Gray topped with Annie Sloan Light Wax. The original hardware is highlighted with some pure white chalk paint.  I painted the inside pale gray to match the outside. It was hard to photograph, the lighting in the room its in was terrible so I am not sure these photos really even do it justice.

bottom of cabinet

top detail of cabinet

cabinet finished

OK–Here are some tips to painting furniture with chalk paint:

First—don’t be intimidated! You don’t need a fancy class, just get some paint and start painting. If you don’t get the result you want, you can always repaint! 🙂

Clean your furniture first, wipe it down with a wet rag. If your piece has a “thrift store’ smell, give it a good wipe with both vinegar and water. I put my drawers outside to dry in the sun which also helps reduce odor. You can give your furniture a light sand first if you like, but no need to spend a ton of time if you are using chalk paint.

I use several coats of paint (at least two, sometimes three). You can thin the paint with water to get the coverage/ result you want. Use a good quality round brush for the paint, like this one.

Always sand between coats. I use varying grades of sandpaper, start with a high grit and sand your final coat with the smallest grit you can find for an ultra smooth finish. The sanding part is very therapeutic, but also very messy! Once done, wipe it with a wet rag to remove all the dust.

Wax lightly, the more you buff the smoother your finish will be. You can use dark wax to accent crevices and age the piece. Lighter wax will give it a bit of a luster and some protection.

If you want a really durable surface for high-use {coffee table tops, kitchen cabinets} I would not wax. The wax can be a little tacky the touch even when dry. I would recommend a polyurethane over the top–just my personal preference, but it gives you much better protection.

Here are some examples of different projects we have done here at 11 Magnolia Lane using different chalk paints and finishes:

Decorative Mirror

This mirror had the prettiest detail, it really stood out once it was painted and waxed.

photo (45)

After painting it with white chalk paint, the final touch for this piece was to finish it with this wonderful French Gilding Wax in Silver to give it some extra sheen. I purchased it from a local retailer, but this product is similar.

mirror top detail

mirror done after

mirror detail


 This sweet headboard already had some interesting paint on it, a sort of a color “wash” and silver metallic accent along the top. I made it over with Annie Sloan Pure White Chalk Paint, and finished it with the same light wax. Now it is perfect for any little girl’s room.

bedframe before

bedframe after

Dining Table & Chairs

Another tip: Don’t be afraid to mix the paints to get the color you want. The Pure White chalk paint has less pigment, so you can have some of the previous dark stain show through even with multiple coats.  I wanted full coverage for my new dining chairs, so I added mixed Pure White with Old White (the Pure White will cover better that way) and they came out perfectly. If using Pure White, it might be a good idea to start the first coat of Old White almost to function as a primer, then do your final coats with the pure (whiter) white.

Breakfast/SunRoom with Neutral Decor and Natural Roman Shades

{see this post HERE}

Girl’s Vintage Beds


{See this room HERE}

I painted my daughter’s twin beds by hand when we completed her recent makeover. The color is Tick Tock by Amy Howard One Step Paint and it may be my most favorite paint color ever. It is so bright and fresh! I used a small amount of light wax over the paint, but it has a lovely matte finish. They really brighten up the room!

There will always be debate about which brand of chalk paint is best. I have used most of them, but after having gotten to know Amy Howard personally, and having had such wonderful experiences using her paint I am now a die-hard fan of her brand. Not only are her paint colors fabulous, but her company shares my values which matters the most to me. You can find her paint at Ace Hardware or order online here. 

Black Kitchen Hutch

Don’t be afraid to go dark with paint.  This hutch was actually painted with General Finishes Milk Paint, isn’t it gorgeous? The white accessories inside really pop.

Black Milk Painted Cabinet

{See the post on this HERE}

Did you know you can even paint upholstery fabric? Yes, it is true.


This chair {above} started out a dated burgundy, with a few hours work and some paint it blends perfectly into my home.  The process couldn’t have been simpler–just mix some paint with water {at least a 50/50 ratio} and do several coats. While it is a bit stiffer than a normal chair might be, you can’t tell it has been painted and I saved over $500 on reulphostery. See how I did it HERE.

dining room table chairs painted white monogram

Christy transformed her dining room set with chalk paint and made her own monograms for the back. You can see how she did it here: Dining Chairs in Old White with monogram slipcovers

So, what if you don’t have the budget for chalk paint {it can be pricey}, or you just have some paint laying around in the perfect color that you want to use? I painted this cabinet below with regular latex paint and got a good result. I will say I have had paint chip off other furniture so I recommend giving it a very good sand, and perhaps even using primer but in the end, I am just as happy with this cabinet as my chalk painted pieces.

hutch1 after

Craig’s List Kitchen Hutch Makeover


See even more furniture makeovers including how to spray a piece to get a glossy finish in this post here.


Thanks for stopping by!

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  1. I love that cabinet! It looks gorgeous!

  2. Gorgeous!! You did such a good job. I’m drooling 😉
    Jamie @ Better With Age

  3. I love all of the pieces but my favorite is the cabinet as well! Thanks for the tips!

  4. Shannon says:

    Love the cabinet! What did u do to the glass? Take it out and replace with chicken wire? Thanks!!

    • Thanks! The cabinet came with the wire, actually. I just painted it with some chalk paint. Have a great day 🙂

  5. I like most of your above furniture. Those furniture are really attractive and gorgeous to look at. I already use french bedroom furniture at my home. I use those furniture because of those traditional outlook. Thanks for sharing your above post.

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