We’ve all been there. You know… those times when someone says, “I don’t need this *insert random piece of furniture*, do you want it?” Or you’re walking through the furniture section of a thrift store and see all the cheap furniture. OR, your browsing through Facebook Marketplace and a piece of furniture pops up that you like, but don’t love. And you think… well I could use something like that, but it sure is UGLY!
These are the times when you need a cheap way to make a simple piece of furniture fit with your home. I’m going to tell you about one of those times, and how I made a super ugly dresser, into one of my favorite furniture pieces!
“Do you want this piece of furniture? That has been sitting in my basement for 20 years?”
Yup, that’s how it happened. When Bryan and I moved into our first apartment we had no furniture… like, ZERO. So we took everything we could get for free. Our next door neighbor had the most basic brown dresser and asked if we wanted it. Of course, I said yes, because my clothes were currently being stored in a box. I took it and lived with it for 2 years.
When we ended up moving to our current house, I was THIS close to throwing it out. But buying new furniture on top of buying a new house, was not a priority, so I kept it. I lived with it for another year and then decided that I was going to buy something new. I looked around for something, but everything I wanted was either my style but too expensive, or not my style and only sort of cheap.
So, I decided to grab some paint, and try out painting my first piece of furniture! I looked on Pinterest and tried to learn some furniture painting tips, and the thing that stood out most was chalk finish paint because it doesn’t need a lot of prep work or fancy painting skills. Anyway, the special brand of chalk finish paint is expensive, so after doing some research, I learned how to make my own.
Did it work?
The chalk finish paint turned out great, went on smooth and is still sticking well to my dresser 4 years later. I added 2 coats and didn’t add primer (although I’d recommend that you DO use primer because of an experience I had later with my bathroom cabinet peeling with the SAME chalk finish paint). Besides the paint, I also added some little details that I think you might like!
Below, I’ll lay out the steps I took to transform the dresser and the materials that you’ll need to gather!
This is what you need:
For the chalky paint-
Mix 1/2 cup Plaster of Paris with 1/2 cup cold water. It will be very runny but mix well with a paint stick. Pour in 1 1/2 cups latex paint into your mixture and mix again until there are minimal lumps. If you start painting and the paint seems too thick or thin, just add a little more water or a little more Plaster of Paris. Here is a tutorial that shows some pictures.
For the cabinet:
*Chalk Finish Paint (See above)
How to paint your dresser:
- Start by cleaning your surface with dish soap and water.
- Take off any hardware and save it (with the screws) in a zip lock bag
- Sand the dresser or piece of furniture lightly with 220 grit sandpaper
- Clean off your dresser with a dry cloth (microfiber works well for this)
- Prime your dresser with one coat of primer. Let dry.
- Clean your paintbrush and stir the chalk finish paint a little to make sure nothing has settled or separated.
- Do your first and second coats of chalk finish paint, letting it dry in between.
- Remember to paint your hardware if you are saving it to use!
- Put your hardware back on after it dries.
Do you want to distress it?
If you want to make your dresser look antique, you can use your sandpaper to lightly sand certain places on the dresser. Aim to sand parts of the dresser that would get worn naturally over time the most. For example, if you are saving the hardware, sand it more, because it would get naturally worn and will look more authentic. Sand the corners more as well as the edges of the dresser.
Should you wax it?
This is really up to you. I chose not to wax this dresser and it has held up fine, but I’ve also found that furniture that gets a lot of use, might chip more in the future if you don’t wax it. I’ve used Minwax Finishing Paste in the past and it worked well. Just make sure you do it somewhere outside or with lots of ventilation because this stuff is SMELLY!
Oh and what about those adorable little keyholes?
I got those from Etsy like it says above, and they are SUPER easy to add to your dresser (or whatever furniture you make over). All you need is a hammer and some tiny gold nails that you can pick up at your hardware store in the nail section. You just put them where you want them to go, and hammer in the little nails. It’s that simple!
Want to know how I added that extra shelf with baskets at the top?
Just take out your drawer, measure how big of surface you need to cover, get some plywood from home depot, I think mine is 1/2 inch, have the guys at Home Depot cut it to size, stain it (I’ll go over this in another post soon), and put it in your cabinet in place of the drawer! I made mine just big enough so that it could just sit there without even really NEEDING to be nailed in. Get some cute baskets and use them in place of drawers!
Once you try it…
You will want to paint all the furniture in your house! It is so easy and can really update the look. Let me know if you have ever used homemade chalk finish paint and how it turned out for you! As always, if you have any questions, leave me a comment or send an email!