How to Chalk Paint- Antique Dresser Makeover


Follow along to see how we gave an old piece of furniture new life and how to chalk paint. Simple to use, chalk paint can be used for many different farmhouse projects.

How to chalk paint antique furniture

Old Pieces Add Character

We have a lot of hand me down furniture. But when we first got it all, none of it matched. Luckily, my style lends towards a mix and match look with a little wear and tear, but I still wanted it to feel cohesive.

For our dressers, we have two that were my dad’s when he was a kid. They had been painted previously but definitely needed some work. They were supposed to be white but a little tip- when you seal with polyurethane over white paint, it ambers and turns a creamy yellow. Not in a pretty way either. In a streaky, uneven kind of way. Not really the look I was going for.

I tend to lean more towards raw wood pieces and 95% of our furniture is raw wood. But I did not want to strip these dressers considering I was in my third trimester. Plus the bedrooms needed a little pop of color since we did not have much wood in those rooms. My theory is if I am unwilling to keep it how it is and there is no other way (such as stripping and staining) to fix it, then I’m going to paint it if that will give new life to a piece. It is not my favorite and I do not have a ton of painted furniture but a few pieces here and there can really add a pop of vintage charm.

This project gave the perfect pop while still remaining neutral enough to match our farmhouse. The knicks and imperfections in the older pieces add a lot of character and that is what I love most about the farmhouse style. There is something so comforting about a home with a little wear and tear and imperfect pieces. To me, it shows our family thrives in our home and it works hard for our family. Beauty in the everyday.

antique dresser before


We do not tend to keep a lot of clothes and our closets are fairly large. So we did not need both dressers in our bedroom. But I did have space for a dresser in the nursery and one of the dressers was the perfect size to fit in between the closet and the window. Perfect for decorating and functional for more storage. The other went in our room.

Since they are technically a set, I went ahead and painted them the same color. This was also easier and cheaper. It connected our rooms nicely without being too matchy matchy.

I wanted a light gray color to add a slight pop but to still keep it neutral. I love to keep more permanent items such as cabinetry, furniture, paint colors, etc. neutral and to add pops of color with less permanent items so that it is easier and more feasible to switch colors out for the seasons. Changing up rugs, bedding and throws, artwork and handmade items for each season simplifies home decor. This is a great joy for me to welcome each season in.

How to Chalk Paint

I love chalk paint because it is really simple. There is no prep work or sealing unless you really want to.

I did seal these dressers just to protect from the wear and tear but probably could have not sealed them and been fine. This may just allow for more scuffs but this can match some styles.

To start, we just cleaned up the dressers really well. I pulled all of the drawers out and removed all of the hardware, then wiped them down with a wet rag.

I would suggest finding a color you just really like as is, like with any paint, but I actually mixed this color. What looked gray in the can, was actually a really light gray-blue. I did like it but it was too light and did not give the pop I was looking for.

So I mixed in black chalkboard paint until I got the color I liked. Note-chalk paint and chalkboard paint are two separate things. They are not one in the same. However, I was just going with what I already had in the house instead of wasting a whole can of paint. I do think this gave the finished product a more matte finish but chalk paint also has a matte finish.

How to chalk paint antique furniture

Next, I just painted the dressers and drawers like I do anything else. I do find that with chalk paint you do not need to be super careful about how you paint. You do a few layers which smooth really well. And if you find it is needed, you can lightly sand in between each coat to get an even smoother finish. I usually skip this step though. We let each coat fully dry and did 3 coats on these dressers.

How to chalk paint antique furniture

If you like the distressed style, you can then take sandpaper and distress to your hearts content. Our pieces usually end up naturally distressed with the dog and baby in the house so I do not usually do this but I do like the look.

After the last coat was dry, I did go in with a wax. I applied it generously with a washcloth. This was my first time using a wax and I honestly probably will not use one again if I am painting. You have to work it in really well or else it leaves white smudges everywhere. And I did not find that it protected it anymore than not using it.

Lastly, I spray painted the hardware black and once dry, put back on the dresser. I used the original hardware making this project simple and cost effective.

How to chalk paint antique furniture

Farmhouse Decorating

I love the little pop this dresser gives to both rooms that it is in. It is still neutral but stands out against a lot of the white.

How to Chalk Paint Antique Furniture

I added a set of canisters in a light pink buffalo check print with blue and pink roses. These are perfect to hold bows, hats and odds and ends. Beside that is a matching tray and a jewelry box gifted to us.

I kept it simple by using functional decor on the dresser. But I love to add a personal touch with photos of our family. I hung a single white frame above the dresser with a photo of our family. Beside the dresser sits an antique chair that is a family heirloom with a diaper cake made by my mom.

I truly love how this turned out and what the chalk paint added. When used sparingly, chalk paint furniture can add a lot of character to an old piece.

More Ways to Use Chalk Paint

For most chalk paint projects, the process would be the exact same as these dressers. Some projects may require more sealing such as with polycrylic or polyurethane. Others, such as upholstery, may require a few additional steps.

  • Kitchen Cabinets
  • Beadboard or Shiplap Accents
  • Signs
  • Other furniture such as tables
  • Upholstery

Pin for Later: