Tuesday, January 17, 2012

French chair redo, and DIY chalk paint

Well, I did it.  I moved into the new shop over the weekend, and I realized one main thing-- I really have to work in the next few weeks to put more pieces out.  I don't have enough!

This little reproduction French chair is one piece I refinished recently to move into the shop.

As you can see, it really wasn't in bad shape, it just needed a little dose of fun.  I started out by painting it with homemade chalk paint.  I told you I'd share the mixture this post, and so I will break in the before and after to tell you about it.  It's nothing new, but it's not widely spread around blog land as an option yet, so I hope it's new to you!

Let me start out by saying that I love Annie Sloan chalk paint, but don't love the prices and that you basically need a full supply of stock to be able to mix and achieve the color you're looking for.  Anyhow, late one night I was searching blogland, and came across Villabarnes blog.  She had some beautiful furniture redos, and as I read in them, I learned about her DIY chalk paint.  She uses a 50/50 mixture of gesso primer to latex paint, and then add a little water to make it the consistency of paint (gesso is thick!).

That's it.  Big secret, eh?  I was a bit skeptical and did more research at first.  I entered "gesso chalk paint" in google to see if anyone else had discovered this revelation, and the first site that popped up was this: http://www.earthpigments.com/finishes/gesso-chalk-paint-for-furniture.cfm

Yes.  A site that spells out using gesso chalk paint for furniture!  It also has a recipe to make your own gesso if you want to buy all the supplies to do it yourself.  Personally, I just purchased my gesso primer in the artists paint section at Hobby Lobby.  With a 40% off coupon, I came away with 84 1/2 ounces of primer for $9...pre-made.

But just what is gesso?  Well, it's an artist primer sometimes used to prime canvases.  It prevents paint from soaking into the piece, and gives the surface a little more texture so the paint sticks better.  Originally it was made with calcium (like chalk) and animal glue, but nowadays it's a mixture of calcium carbonate, a pigment, and an acrylic polymer medium.  You can buy it in black, grey, and white to better match to the color you're trying to achieve.  

I've been really happy with this mixture, and have found a few others out there in blog land who use it with great results too like Liz from The Midwest Cottage (she might actually make her own gesso?) who has some BEAUTIFUL pieces under her belt using this type of paint, as well as a variety of others.

Unlike the unsanded grout/latex paint combo, this mixes and goes on smoothly since the gesso is already a creamy, paint like mixture.  It also stores perfectly well if you mix up more than you need at one time, unlike unsanded grout, which will harden or stink like crazy if you try to store it pre-mixed.  It dries just as quickly as ASCP, and distresses just as well in a fine, chalky powder.  You still need to seal it with a wax (I use Fiddes and Sons), just like ASCP.

So that's it!  I hope you all try it, and please come back to let me know how you liked it!

Okay- onto the after.  I tightened the frame, replaces some screws, and painted it with my gesso chalk paint mixture with a gallon of oops paint I bought from Lowes that mimics ASCP Old White or Creamy from Sherwin Williams in color.  I distressed it with a sanding sponge, and sealed it with clear wax.

I reupholstered the chair in Dwell Studio's New Peony Canary (indoor/outdoor fabric).

That's it!  I also added some padding and upholstered the little armrests that were all wood before, and finished the piece with piping/double welt.  The end result is much more bright, fun, and modern.

She's now for sale at Flea Market to Fabulous in the yellow/gray corner, and looks cute as could be!

Hope you enjoyed!

Sharing at:
Restore Interiors
Domestically Speaking
Savvy Southern Style
Primitive and Proper
Coastal Charm
Beyond the Picket Fence
The Shabby Creek Cottage
Miss Mustard Seed


  1. Ahhhh...what a stunning makeover. Hop over and share it at NIFTY THRIFTY TUESDAY...hope to see ya there:)


    1. Thanks Linda! I'll pop over right now!

  2. Major improvement.....you have a very good eye....it looks beautiful!

  3. Love it....and I have been saving chalk paint recipes from different blogs. I never saw the one you used. Glad to have found your site!!!!

  4. OH MY !!! I think Im in Love:)) SUPER Transformation!! Love the fabric and color choices as well,Deidre~ http://simplysimplisticated4.blogspot.com

  5. It has just become fabulous,much better:)

  6. that fabric is amazing! i love it and i so need to try the gesso primer! i just got plaster of paris to try that route. :)

  7. I love these colors. Yellow and gray look so great together. You did a great job!
    I haven't tried Gesso yet. I tried unsanded grout which was so-so, but it left white specks when I sanded. I now use baking soda and I love it. I will have try this recipe too.

  8. So cute! Love the fabric! Thanks for sharing the paint mixture!

  9. Great job!, love the fabric and I learned that paint recipe from Rosemary and use it on everything.

  10. I love it...The fabric is perfect! I'm looking forward to doing my first chair. Wish me luck!

  11. Love your redo, the chair looks fresh and pretty, Laura

  12. Looks beautiful.. I has missed the paint mix tutorial so thank you for that and I will definately let you know how mine turns out.

  13. This turned out so beautiful! I love the choice of fabric. Awesome job!!

  14. Thank you very much for the post! I have been wanting to find a way to make chalk paint and save money! This is great.

  15. Hi there! Thanks so much for posting your find for an alternate "recipe" for chalk paint - definitely going to try this!

    P.S. I'm your latest follower - No. 100! :)

  16. Beautiful job and great tips! Thank you for sharing your wonderful post at Potpourri Friday!

  17. Great chair. Love the bold fabric. Thanks for sharing at wow.

  18. kayla, thanks for your comment. i can't find your email address on here? Anyway, I wanted to respond to your question about the chalk paint. I use hydrated lime mixed with a small amount of unsanded grout. I mix it with water and then add my paint color...it is exactly like chalk paint! I bought 5 quarts at SW today for the price of ONE can of ASCP--all her colors!

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