DIY Chalk Paint – When You Want to Distress

Here’s a fun duo of DIY chalk paint makeovers to inspire you and an awesome tip for making your own chalk paint from regular latex paint!

Once in a while, you’re in the thrift store and you come across a piece of furniture or decor accessory that speaks to you. It’s begging you to take it home and make it into something that everyone will love.

So, when I stared at these flamboyant, statuesque candlesticks, there was no way I was ignoring them. They were heavy and had good bones but I didn’t like the shiny coral color.

And I knew the exact transformation I wanted for them – a softer, more matte finish that only chalk paint can achieve. Chalk paint is a unique type of finish that’s easy to apply and oozes charm and rustic farmhouse appeal.

Here’s what my candlesticks looked like originally:

3 tall candlesticks in a bright coral color, resting on dark brown nightstand

The happy trio needed a proper pedestal to display their magnificence after I was finished with them, so I also found the perfect little nightstand to accompany them.

Dark brown veneer nightstand with 2 drawers and silver hardware

OK, I say perfect, but I didn’t particularly care for the bland look of the veneer. It’s a solid piece of furniture with a nice shape to it, so I knew I could add more personality with a little DIY chalk paint.

Chalk paint works well over dark colored pieces (as you’ll see below). This nightstand couldn’t have been better for this particular furniture makeover project.

What is Chalk Paint?

I was going with a French countryside, beachy-look for these pieces, and chalk paint is the perfect way to accomplish this.

Now, I’m not talking about the blackboard chalk paint (that’s a whole different look). I mean the milky, whitewashed chalk paint that dries to a matte finish.

Chalk paint was invented in the 1990s by a woman named Annie Sloan. An original DIY-er, Annie couldn’t find quick-drying matte-finish paint that would give her that distressed Provincial look she wanted. So, she rolled up her sleeves and got to work mixing up her version of “chalk paint.” Eventually, she branded it and sold a line of high-end paint in stores. The finish of this paint has a soft, chalky appearance and is often available in whites and pastel tones.

Here’s the fun part—I decided to make my own DIY chalk paint to update my furniture pieces. Did you know that you can do that? There are several methods and “add-ins” you can try, but the simplest way is to find a chalk paint product. For this project, I used BB Frosch Chalk Paint Powder, which is basically a powder that you mix with whatever latex paint you want to transform into chalk paint.

A quart container of BBFrosch chalk paint powder sitting in a plate with a whisk and wooden mixing stick

Mix the Chalk Paint

Whipping up the DIY chalk paint was so easy! Since I planned to paint both the nightstand and the candleholders white, I grabbed some white ceiling paint that I already had on hand and mixed everything according to the directions.

It’s that simple!

The first coat of white chalk paint applied to the previously bright coral colored candle sticks, resting on old newspaper

The best part is that you can just the amount you need for one project. I made two cups of paint, which was plenty for these items. I poured my chalk paint mix into plastic disposable cups (so I could save the remaining ceiling paint for later).

Then, I got to work painting my pieces.

Apply DIY Chalk Paint

1st coat of white chalk paint applied to candlestick with a small paintbrush

Once I mixed up the DIY chalk paint, the actual painting process was straightforward. With chalk paint, there’s no need to sand, prime, or worry about a base coat. The “chalk paint effect” comes from a slightly uneven application.

First, I started with the candleholders.

These candleholders already have such a great shape. They look like beautifully turned wood…except that they’re not! I believe they’re some type of resin. But I was going for the look of artisan, handmade candleholders, so I knew that coral color had to go. As soon as I put on one coat of chalk paint, the matte texture was so much better than the shiny finish they previously had.

A second coat of homemade chalk paint applied to 1 candlestick, with original coral candlestick contrasted nearby

While the candleholders dried, I moved on to the nightstand. Each surface needed two coats of the chalk paint, but again, I didn’t worry about putting it on thick or getting an extremely even finish. The brush lines add character and give the pieces a casual, country feel.

The dark-colored nightstand after two coats of white chalk paint to cover up the previous color; the result is a streaky, natural finish

I painted the top of the nightstand first and then worked my way down the sides and legs. I used a small brush, so I could be sure to get into all the nooks and crannies. It was a simple framework, but I wanted to be sure that I had good paint coverage.

The nightstand, now painted white, before drawer handles are reattached

Once the nightstand was painted white with the chalk paint, it was a HUGE difference. I mean, look at this thing – it’s a beauty! It just got lost under all that black, don’t you think?

Apply an Antique Finish

Now that my pieces were covered and the paint was dry, I wanted to add some finishing touches to give them a distressed but professional, high-end look.

I wanted to give the candleholders a farmhouse look to compliment the chalky finish—almost giving them a whitewashed feel. So, I applied a tiny bit of my favorite dark antiquing wax and buffed it all over each of the candle holders.

And just like that, they were transformed!

A 1.75 oz jar of Miss Mustard Seed's antiquing wax to give the candlesticks more of a vintage finish
The first candlestick after the antiquing wax looks like real, weathered wood, as compared to the other two, simply painted with white chalk paint.

Don’t they look like wood now? The antiquing wax gives them that perfectly weathered look and highlights the curves and beautiful shapes of each of these candle holders. You can see the contrast of the antiqued holder, versus the two I had yet to finish.

A close-up view of the effects of the antiquing wax on the white painted candles

Once all three candleholders were antiqued, they were ready for display. Neither the paint nor the wax requires a lot of drying time. Within a day, you can use these pieces without any fear (probably a lot sooner, if you like).

Add a Distressed Look

Finally, my newly painted nightstand had a date with some sandpaper to add a little character. I wanted a distressed look so that the piece would fit in with the rest of my guestroom décor.

The nightstand, now painted with white chalk paint and distressed with sandpaper

This method of furniture distressing really easy. I use 120 grit sandpaper and literally just sand away some of the painted finish around the corners and edges to expose the wood (or veneer) underneath. That dark veneer really worked with this project!

The completed nightstand, painted and distressed with sand paper, now with hardware reattached.

With some DIY chalk paint and sandpaper, I was able to transform a boring piece of furniture into a star!

Nightstand, now white and distressed, holding an arrangement of greenery in a white vase, next to a blue accent chair
White chalk-painted nightstand with white vase of greenery on top

And let’s not forget the gorgeous chalk painted candleholders! These are my new fave décor pieces! They look so chic.

As you can see, chalk paint is an awesome way to transform inexpensive furniture and update decorative items easily. You could use the paint on picture frames, pots, planters, shelves, and any other room decorations that need a facelift. It goes on smoothly and looks fantastic.

A trio of tall candlesticks on a blue table near a large photo frame
With a few simple coats of DIY white chalk paint, these candlesticks look like vintage finds!
Another close-up of the antiquing details on the 3 white candlesticks, now holding candles
3 tall white candlesticks, treated with chalk paint and antiquing wax

How to Use DIY Chalk Paint

Active Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Create your own DIY chalk paint to give a soft, matte finish to any surface.

Materials

  • BB Frosch Chalk Paint Powder
  • Latex paint of any color
  • Optional: Miss Mustard Seed's Antiquing Wax

Tools

  • Wooden stick or mixing tool
  • Bowl to mix the paint
  • Disposable plastic cups
  • Small paint brush
  • 120 grit sandpaper
  • Newspaper, plastic or protective cloth for floor

Instructions

  1. Mix the chalk paint according to directions from the chalk paint packaging.
  2. Make just enough for your current project (I only needed two cups for my night stand and 3 candlesticks)
  3. Apply to all surfaces of the item being painted.
  4. Let chalk paint dry completely.
  5. Optional: apply antiquing wax to resin or other surface and let dry.
  6. Optional: instead of wax, simply sand wooden surfaces lightly to achieve a distressed look.

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