diy chalk paint {and dresser makeover}


Alternately titled: How to Paint a Dresser as Cheaply and Lazily as Possible. 

One unmistakable hallmark of both Geraldine and Virginia was their incredible frugality.  Neither woman was destitute or in dire need of saving a penny, but they wouldn’t waste money on items or services that were unneeded.  (Depression upbringing and all that, obviously.)  This innate frugality is one reason I’m so drawn to what I call “Grandmother Craft”.  The depth of DIY knowledge that my grandmothers possessed is immeasurable.

One such benefit of mastering these crafts is that they were able to create things they needed and wanted for little or no money.  This dresser is one such example of something I could see either of them trying their hand at. (Had painting solid wood furniture not been a cardinal sin in their generation!)

I’ve had this dresser for 15 years now.  It was a part of a full bedroom set I was given for my 15th birthday.  It was a very nice piece that I was hesitant to paint, but have realized that getting rid of a special item is far more sad than devaluing it with paint. The dresser has been under threat of painting for a few years now, and I finally mustered up the courage this week.

All that hesitation for a few years about how involved the project would be, and it took me exactly 4 hours of active time.  Four. Whole. Hours.  Why, exactly, did I procrastinate for so long?



before. this corner of the room was far too dark. so much brown!

The secret to this quickie was the Pinterest darling- chalk paint.  You had me at “no sanding”.  But that stuff ain’t cheap! A while back I did some research and found several recipes.  I’ve finally narrowed it down to, what I think, is the best ratio.  It’s just made of three ingredients and is way cheaper.

(Dearest fans of Annie Sloan, I understand this is sacrilege to speak ill of St. Annie’s products.  I apologize.  But this little makeover cost me $0 because I had all the items on hand.  And honey, ASCP can’t compete with them numbers, however low VOC or whatever her paint is.  Feel free to scroll past my recipe and my photos of the process and we’ll meet at the end to discuss the final product.)

Step #1.  Remove all the items from your dresser.  Curse your husband for owning 400 pairs of tube socks and yourself for having 500 aprons.  Have a little cleanup party.  Feel better.

Step #2. Scoot, drag, haul, push the dresser into your backyard.  Realize you’ve left the contents of the middle (the largest) craft drawer in the dresser.  Laugh at how you just hauled probably 50 extra pounds out the door. Or, more curses upon yourself. Your call.

Step #3. Remove all the hardware from the drawers.  (I can’t decide which part was more hateful, removing the contents of the dresser or the removal of the knobs.)

Step #4.  Ensure that the dresser is wiped clean and place a drop cloth underneath to keep grass from ruining your paint.


Step #5.  Paint that bad boy.  Watch for drips, obviously.  They’ll be a pain to sand down when they dry.  I used a two inch edging brush, it does a fabulous job.  The nature of the paint is such that the brush marks usually disappear when it dries.  Let that coat dry and add a second or third coat.  I found that the second coat pretty much did the job on this piece.  I hit one spot with a third coat, but that was due to user error.

Step #6.  Come inside and collapse on the couch.  (Did I mention this was a nap time project?)

Step #7.  Once the paint has dried, take a fine grit sand paper to the high points and give the piece some interest.


Step #8.  Finish the dresser with a coat of paste wax applied with an old rag in a circular motion.

Step #9.  Have your husband help move the dresser back inside when he gets home from work.  You learned that lesson the first time.  (Bonus- have him go through his sock collection to rid himself of the tube socks he hasn’t worn since high school.)

Step #10.  Reattach all of the hardware to the drawers, assemble the dresser, and think of how amazing you are.


Here’s the recipe for the chalk paint:

DIY Chalk Paint: 

1 Cup plaster of paris

1/2 Cup warm water

2 Cups laytex paint (I used leftover kitchen wall paint for this project, it was an eggshell paint.)

Method: Dissolve the plaster into the warm water, then mix in the paint.  There may be lumps, but they’ll dissipate once you begin brushing on the paint.

much much better.

Store-bought-chalk-paint-devotees, y’all still with us?  Has this adorable finished product convinced you that my DIY ain’t half bad? Please say it did!  If not, I’m sorry. We can still be friends, no?


5 thoughts on “diy chalk paint {and dresser makeover}

  1. Your grandmothers would be proud….. but they would wonder why it has those “interest” marks. I can hear “mudder” now. “Sweetie, did you miss a spot?”

    1. Oh. I remember a very funny conversation with Mudder about distressed denim when one of the cousins was wearing it. She said for what it cost the store very proud of it!

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