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How I Made My Old Dresser Look Brand New, the Easy Way

While 2020 had its ups and downs, many of us took the time to explore new hobbies and interests within the safety of our homes. Most of us have experienced the various phases of socially-distanced living, ranging from loneliness and boredom to spontaneously rearranging our bedrooms. However, it’s been a great year for starting new projects – and finishing ones that we’ve put on hold for a while. 

A project that I’ve been meaning to do since last year is repainting my old dresser and vanity. Now, I’m not going to lie: I’m a bit HGTV obsessed, and watching reruns of Fixer Upper and Rehab Addict motivated me to actually buy the supplies and finally get to work on this project. 

However, I soon realized that there are so many different methods to painting furniture. I didn’t want to stain my dresser with furniture stains, and I definitely didn’t want to sand away the original color of the wood because that process would take a long time. After hours of researching, I found the perfect furniture painting solution: chalk paint. Chalk paint is so incredibly easy to work with, and if you’re a furniture painting beginner like me, you’ll love the simplicity of it. If you’ve been wanting to give your furniture a new look, or have been wanting to save money by upcycling old pieces, I have all the tips and tricks you need to make your furniture look amazing on a budget.

What is chalk paint?

Chalk paint is a unique type of paint that can be used on furniture to create a matte, opaque appearance. Chalk paint is perfect for furniture that you want to have an antique or vintage look, and adheres to almost any surface (so you can use it on wood, leather, laminate and more). It also has a thick consistency and needs fewer coats of paint, and you don’t need to prime or sand the surface beforehand. After using chalk paint, you simply need to seal the furniture piece with wax to achieve a beautiful look that'll last for a long time. 

Supplies

When it comes to finding all the tools and products you need for painting furniture, I’ve got you covered. 

There are a variety of chalk paint brands, all with different colors and price ranges. In my research, I found two brands to be superior. The first, Retique It, can be found on Amazon. This is the brand of chalk paint I used, and it cost me around $30 for a quart. For reference, I painted a fairly large dresser and vanity, and I still had about a quarter of the can leftover. My dresser was originally a dark cherry color, and I used three coats of the Retique It Chalk Paint in the color Alabaster. This paint applied very smoothly, and it dried quickly. I didn’t notice any air bubbles or color differentiation once the paint dried. 

My other recommendation is Annie Sloan chalk paint. It's more expensive, but based on my review-scouring, its quality is supposed to be the best. 

You’ll also need paint brushes. I found that using rounded paint brushes worked best for chalk painting, and I bought this large chalk painting and wax brush from Amazon. While you can use different sized brushes for different areas of the piece you want to paint, I found that using one brush was more than enough to paint both large and detailed areas of my dresser. I also used a large popsicle stick to stir the paint once I opened the can to make sure that the color would be even and smooth. 

You'll want to get some drop cloths, tarps or old towels to protect the floor. You may want to consider sandpaper as well, if you want your painted furniture piece to have a vintage, antique look. Finally, if you want to give some extra protection or shine to your piece, a good furniture wax is a must. You can get wax specifically made for chalk painting, like this one from Annie Sloane, but any normal furniture wax will do. Waxing your painted furniture won’t alter the appearance of your piece, but it can provide extra protection against stains and regular wear and tear. 

Tips, tricks, and techniques

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the original color of my dresser

Now that we’ve got supplies out of the way, let's move on to the good part. Chalk painting might seem like a daunting process, but it’s really simple. All you’re really doing is painting, and if you make a few mistakes, you can simply add another coat of paint to cover them up. I’ve listed some of the tips that I found most helpful about chalk painting, as well as a few tricks and techniques I picked up along the way:

  1. Before you start painting, make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area, such as your garage or backyard. I wasn’t able to move my huge dresser to the garage, so I made sure to open my bedroom windows and door to let fresh air in.

  2. Lay down a drop cloth under your project.

  3. Wipe it down with a clean cloth to remove any dust or oil before painting. 

  4. Remove handles or knobs before painting. If you can, remove drawers as well — this will make it easier to cover every nook and cranny.

  5. Stir your paint to make sure there won’t be any discoloration, and paint in smooth strokes to keep it even. 

  6. Let the first coat of paint dry completely before starting your second coat. I waited about two hours in between coats.

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While your first coat dries, I reccommend keeping your paintbrushes in a cup of water between painting so the paint won’t harden on your brushes. After all of your coats are on, let it sit to dry overnight. Once it's completely dry, you can put the handles and drawers back in place.

If you want to add some “aging” and character to your piece, gently use sandpaper around the handles, corners, and legs to give it an antique look. Don’t go overboard, though, or you’ll lose all your hard work! Use the sandpaper sparingly.

Finally, to add extra protection to your furniture, use a brush or lint-free cloth to apply furniture or chalk paint-specific wax. Apply the wax all over the piece, but remember which sections you’ve already covered so you don’t apply too much to one area. After you’re done, use another lint-free cloth to remove any unneeded wax, being careful not to wipe away all of it. Let the piece sit for a few hours to make sure the wax has set in, and won’t move around.

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Now you can easily freshen up your old furniture and live out your HGTV dreams at home! 

While chalk paint is only one method of furniture painting, I found it to be the easiest and least messy option. Furniture can be so expensive, so why not repurpose old pieces to make them feel new, and have fun in the process? 

Harshita is currently a junior studying Information Systems and Human Resources at Loyola University Chicago. She is passionate about traveling, hiking, cuddling her two cats, and discovering cruelty-free beauty.
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