So, I’m late to the chalk painting party. Better late than never, eh? I have recently been doing some home decor projects and one room I was soooo over was my dining room. My dining room has been painted every color under the sun over the last 12 years. Ok, not really, but it has been at least four or five different colors. For the last five years or so, it was a “blah” brown color. I recently had it painted a more refreshing silvery blue color, which set off a list of follow-up projects. One of these projects was making over our dining room furniture. I really didn’t want to run out and purchase a new set because I am pretty frugal, as it is. Plus, we are a single-income family these days and budget is key. And, to be honest, there was absolutely nothing wrong with our current set, except I was over the look of it.
The table is mostly MDF with pine veneers. I started researching ways to refinish the table without having to strip and sand. I researched some of the gel stains on the market and thought that might be the answer since very little sanding (if any) is required. The issue was that I really wanted the table to be gray. I wasn’t convinced gray gel stain was I wanted and continued to explore my options. In doing so, I discovered Annie Sloan chalk paint. I dug a little deeper and found a Stockist in my area offering an intro class, so my journey began.
After realizing how absolutely easy the product was to work with, I procured some brushes, paint, and a cleaning agent recommended by my local Stockist, and I got to work! I knew going in that I wasn’t a fan of the shabby chic distressed look. I am more of a smooth finish kind of girl. Not super modern, but definitely not that heavily applied, chunky, uneven paint look. Not my thing. I have seen some great pieces that are done this way, but it’s not for me. Hence, my solution was to dilute the chalk paint slightly and practice on some TV trays we had, just to see how smooth I could get the paint. Once I got my dilution down to the finish I liked (which was VERY easy), I began my work on the table. By the way, my preferred dilution is somewhere around 75% paint and 25% water.
Let me just tell you, I thought the table was going to be the worst thing to start with. My local Stockist even gave me a wide-eyed look when I told her that was the first project I was going to take on. It’s the focal point of the dining room. It was such a big piece for a newbie like me, and I was scared. Nervous. Anxious. Scared. At the end of the day, I reasoned with myself that I knew I didn’t want it to remain the boring color it was, and if the color and finish failed me, I could always start over. For less than $40 a quart, it was such a low-risk investment, it had to be worth it. Plus, since I was going with a smooth finish, it would be easier to cover up if I didn’t like the color.
The first thing I did was clean the surface with Dirtex. I am normally a fan of green products and I’m sure there are some pretty great ones out there that would do the job. I wanted to be absolutely certain I got all the grub and grime out on such a flat surface, especially since it was my first piece. That stuff removed some gross residue that I didn’t even know was there. I did wash it down with soapy water first just to do a “does this stuff really work” test, and yes, it did get gross stuff off even after the soapy wash. Then I went behind with another lightly soapy wash to remove any potential film that may have been left behind by the chemical cleaner. A bit of overkill? Maybe, but it only amounted in an extra 10 minutes work, so it was tolerable. Here’s the victim before it gets assaulted with some color and love!
The first thing I did was apply my base coat, diluted with 25% water. I used French Linen as my base color. I applied three diluted coats in total to the table. While that may seem like a lot, I’m happy I did it this way. Diluting the paint gave me the smooth look and feel I was aiming for and it was pretty easy to apply three coats, even with the spindled legs and other nooks and crannies. Below left, you can see a single (diluted) coat application and to the right is the result of three (diluted) coats.
While the table was looking pretty good at this point and I was happy I took the plunge, I still felt like it needed a little more “oomph,” so I got super courageous and decided to try a Paris Grey wash on the table. With this, I used a 50/50 dilution so that I could have a little more time to wipe back the Paris Grey if I wasn’t feeling it. Turns out, I was totally feeling it. Check out this table top!
Not so bad for a beginner, right? I have to say, after watching a number of tutorials on doing a color wash, I went against mostly everything I heard. Oh. So. Daring. I applied the wash and almost immediately began to pull back some of the wash with a clean rag. And when I say “pull back,” I mean that I was pretty firm, but not digging, with my pulling. That’s how I managed that sort of driftwood look. Now, you may think that I have more than one color wash on here. I DO NOT. The only thing going on here is the original pine color of my table, the French Linen chalk paint, and the Paris Grey color wash on top. How amazing is that? Maybe I’m the only one amazed that I got such a cool, streaky, multi-colored look? Well, me and my mom and my hubs!
Now, let me say this . . . when I first broached the subject of painting the dining room table with my husband, I got “the look.” You know the one: furrowed brow, slight eye roll, twitching lip. The one that says, “Here we go again!” You see, I have a history of furniture refinishing projects that involves stripping paint and reapplying stain. It isn’t a pretty history. I have a repeat offender record, actually. An ugly, ugly rap sheet of do-overs that I could never quite settle on. This is where “the look” was coming from. Hubs was remembering the other projects that ended up on the rap sheet.
Well, once my baby cakes saw the dining room table . . . he was blown away! He couldn’t believe a quart of paint and a couple of spare hours during my daughter’s naptime could produce this transformation. But I tried to tell him, it wasn’t me . . . it was the PAINT! So, now hubs is in my corner on this furniture makeover project list. He is even helping me hunt for a garage sale find for our entryway. I’m talking, he has driven me to garage sales. He is in deep with me, folks. He is invested and on board! In fact, he is in so deep, he has agreed to my earmarking of several items in the house that need some chalk painting TLC! And, the most awesome part of all . . . he has convinced me to go bold on the dining room hutch. Oh yeah, baby. Stay tuned. Mama’s going to get to work on that after the holidays!