A sort-of “how to”: DIY chalk painted buffet

We did it! We painted our buffet and it looks good...from afar. Nah, I really do like it.

If you don't recall (I mean, why would you?), we purchased the buffet a few weeks ago from a used furniture place in Wicker Park. I have wanted to buy a large piece of dining room furniture to house EK's toys, paints and other bullsh!t stuff that I can't seem to throw away. And...voila!

Tightly wrapped delivery

Tightly wrapped delivery

Now we just had to purchase some paint. EK and I took a trip over to Vintage Pine nestled between Whole Foods and a sweet night club just off North Avenue. If your kid doesn't listen and/or has grubby hands, I wouldn't advise bringing him/her there; I fed mine jelly bellies like dog treats so I could take a gander at their Annie Sloan Chalk Paint section. In addition to paint, I picked up the rectangular wax brush they sell but I recommend being a bit more patient and ordering an Annie Sloan round wax brush. Why? Because apparently the brush I bought is for buffing the wax, not applying it. Whoops. Perhaps that is why it's a tiny bit streaky?

Next step was actually painting. I unscrewed all of the cabinet doors and after threatening to eat the screws, EK put them in a bag and promptly hid it.

Eager beaver makes paint streaks

Eager beaver makes paint streaks

Watering down the second coat helped smooth out the finish. Good thing I learned that at the end of the entire process.

Mr. Swirley set up a more civilized painting area in the basement and got to work. We used Purdy Pro brushes that we had left over from painting the dining room, however, I think I might try an Annie Sloan round paint brush if we do it again.

Those hands don't look a day over 34

Those hands don't look a day over 34

look at him go.

Look at him go.

While Mr. Swirley spent his nights jamming out to 90s rock in the basement, I worked on painting the body of the buffet. The front and sides received two coats of paint (the second being watered town) and the top got hit with three solid coats.

Ready for waxing.

Ready for waxing.

Next came the clear wax coat. After applying the first coat, I distressed the piece a bit. While this was not my original vision for this giant piece of furniture, in hindsight I think that it is probably good that I dinged it up a bit. EK will be going in and out of it to retrieve all of his treasures and the last thing I want to do  is worry that he will nick something and I will morph into a jerkface monster.

Three coats later (as the top will get a lot of wear), and a bit of buffing, the buffet was done.

waiting for the wax to cure

Waiting for the wax to cure

rough around the edges

rough around the edges

I tweeted Annie Sloan to ask for how long the wax has to cure before I can set anything on it. I sound like such a scumbag..."I tweeted". Anyway, she (or her Interweb person) said that it will take a few weeks. So look out tchotchkes, I'm a'comin' for you starting next Monday.

Some lessons learned:

1. Don't rush. I know you probably won't because it's such a big project with a permanent result. But I rush everything. Well, you can rush if want a rustic look, but if you want to minimize visible brush strokes, slow down. Here's the problem: the paint dries pretty fast. So, you can thin it with a little water to stretch out the drying time. We ended up using a base coat of "full-powered" paint and for the second coat, dipped the brush in paint and then in water to thin it out. We found this little tip out late in the game. Man, I wish there were 10000000 tutorials online that highlighted this technique.

2. I used a natural fiber brush, apparently that is the way to go. I think I might splurge on an Annie Sloan paint brush the next time around to see what the hubbub is all about. That said, the Purdy seemed to work fine.

3. A little wax goes a long way. Like a LONG way. A quart should be enough to cover a large buffet, dining table and chairs and probably a few other pieces. If you use too much, it's nasty and tacky and needs to be wiped down.

4.  Supposedly the Annie Sloan wax brush is dope due to the pliable bristles coupled with the round shape that allows is to get into hard to reach crevices (you really push it into the paint). We ended up using rags for the last coat of wax to even everything out but that seems a bit wasteful.

5. You can try to make your own chalk paint. So you can save some cash that way, but I think the Annie Sloan wax is the way to go. It really hardens nicely and gives the furniture a nice, professional-looking sheen.

6. Looking over your husband's shoulder and quietly coughing is not good for a happy marriage. At least for the 24 hours following your passive aggressive behavior. That said, the paint NEEDED to be thinned out and I was willing to pay the price.

7. The paint is very easy to sand pre-waxing (and even after the first coat of wax). We were a little sloppy in getting it on the inside of the doors and on the floor and are happy to report everything came off with very little effort.

Below is the sort-of  "how-to" part since I am basically linking to people who actually have their crap together.

I watched a few thousand YouTube tutorials on painting and waxing. Now you can too.

She seems like a friendly, knowledgeable teacher. Check out her other tutorials here.

And this wax tutorial is also really useful

Check out her other tutorials here.

Annie Sloan's website also offers some good videos and written tutorials that are worth checking out before you start. And a few other step-by-step tutorials can be found here, here, and here .

The claim that you don't need to prep the furniture before starting is true (with the exception of puttying). I painted a little bookshelf a few months ago and spent a lot of time sanding, painting it with a bonding primer (oil-based grossness) and then two coats of latex paint. This project, though more expensive, was easier and I believe turned out better.

Below is the cost breakdown:

  • Buffet - $125 (+$30/delivery)
  • 1 Q. Annie Sloan Paris Grey Chalk Paint - $34.95 (look up local retailers here.)
  • 1 Q (ish?) Annie Sloan clear wax - $24.95
  • Buff brush (post waxing) - $29.99

TOTAL  $244.89.  And if I decide I don't like the rustic look, I can easily sand it a little and repaint/wax it. Easy peasy.

Let me know what tips you have or share pieces you have painted/refurbished. Oh, and let me know what I did wrong.


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    Annie Swingen

    Chicago-based hyperbole enthusiast. Mom to a kid and sometimes my mom. Overboard (1987) obsessed weirdo. I like the funnies in life.

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