Saturday, April 9, 2011

My Secretary and Chalk Paint


 This was an interesting process, using chalk paint and waxes.
But first, there she sits, in all of her frenchy glory.
I used Annie Sloan Paris Grey and 
Hemnants's wax in clear and antique brown.
If you are interested in trying these products I am 
going to share the trials and tribulations I discovered using them.
This is the secretary with one coat of the chalk paint in Paris Grey.
It covers completely and easily.
However, it is the flattest paint I have ever used, 
which I guess is appropriate for chalk paint.
It looks a lot darker in all grey, doesn't it?
 My plan was to paint the panels in Old White chalk paint.
Oops, look~ I slobbed it over the edges...I better wipe it off.
 One little swipe with a damp cloth 
and it took some of the grey paint off! Yikes!
 Tested it again..another swipe and it just comes off with rubbing. 
I am scratching my head now...
this stuff is supposed to stick to anything without prep work, right?
Blurry action is the grey chalk paint after trying to clean off the white paint.
New plan: I decide to rub it all off and pretend it is gold leaf.
I will paint the rest of the panels white.
But when I paint the old white over the paris grey it goes on rough.
Not smoothly like it does over the virgin cabinet finish. 
Maybe chalk over chalk gets "grabby".
I can't quite get it to go on smoothly, and you can see the brush marks.
 I decide I don't like the look of the white with the grey.
Too much contrast. But I am liking the gold color which is the
original finish underneath the chalk paint.
 This looks very french too me...the simple grey and gold together.
 I keep rubbing off the grey chalk paint.
 This paint was applied 3 days ago, and it comes right off.
If the paint comes off with a damp rag, 
I can't think this is how it is supposed to be, but any how...
*(Updated note: after the wax is applied and has cured,
the paint is secure to the furniture and does not wipe off)
 Now, I am quite sure I don't want white panels.
I'll have to paint grey over the white again.
 Liking this look very much.
You can see the grey is still drying on the dropleaf door.
It looks better to me this way...
but I know I have to take on the next step: WAX
And I am nervous.
 Here are the two waxes.
 First I use this cheap brush and 
I just brush this soft wax all over the whole thing.
I don't want it to look so flat and it is looking nice.
However I am nervous about applying the antique brown wax.
This is the clear wax, and it makes the chalky paint somewhat darker. 
I think it lightens as it drys.
Here goes the antique brown wax. 
It is very soft like a sour cream dip.
It has a greenish cast. 
I am trying my best not to be nervous.
 The middle panel has been wiped off. 
The bottom has not been waxed.
 The top panel is in the process.
Yes, it is a greenish color...
maybe in combination with the blue undertones of the Paris Grey?
I ended up liking it and added more wax to make it a bit darker.
Apparently you can add more clear wax to remove it if it is too heavy.
Which I may do, in the pictures it seems more busy looking than in the room.
It has pale greens and blues.
In the context of the room it looks softer.
Hi everyone~I do like this cabinet painted this way 
so much more than what it used to look like.
However I admit I loved it plain grey and gold!
The original store finish then, a little dark and dated.
And now:
A tale of chalk paint and wax and how it transformed this cabinet~
Into this little french number.

To purchase Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan
visit our online shop at


  1. Looks amazing! Also very french for sure.I am not to sure I would try the chalk paint myself, but love the color~Cheers Kim

  2. I think she looks great! I have got to try some of this chalk paint.

  3. She looks wonderful! Thank you for taking us through the process. I have never used chalk paint or wax but plan to try, so your photographs and insight are going to be very helpful. Thanks.

  4. Thank you for the honest tutorial! I've been seeing the chalk paint everywhere in blogworld but haven't bought any because of the cost, and while I do love the look it sounds like a pain to paint with!
    I do LOVE LOVE how your cabinet turned out though1!!

  5. The cabinet is just beautiful with the new color scheme. I was very interested in your comments about the chalk paint, mostly how it came right off after 3 days of drying. I did not think that was suppose to happen. It was quite a stroke of luck on your piece, but I am now hesitant to try the Chalk paint....

  6. Looks beautiful, Amy. It looks guilded and very, very French. Perfect in the end although you went through quite the process to get there. I love that you were fearless with trying things on your hutch. I'd be whipping out a board or something! I am amazed that you were able to paint that thing & blog about it in one afternoon! I was like, "What?" when I got your email. Ha! I can do either/or but maybe that's because I have toddlers running around. I can't believe the old white took your paint off like that. I can tell you that when I painted my hutch & drawer panels bright white (over the Paris Grey) that they were originally, I did not experience that...maybe because I didn't use white chalk paint? Makes me nervous to white wash my trunk (although I plan on using latex bright white on that too, so maybe it will be fine). I will have to wait for my Annie Sloan book to arrive and hopefully glazing is discussed in it! Thank you for discussing it in your post so that we new chalk paint lovers know what to potentially expect. I'll be curious to see if anyone else experiences this same thing or if it's supposed to do that. I'm still in love with the paint though! And, I'm in love with your hutch, too.


  7. I keep calling your piece a hutch...I mean, secretary desk! ;)

  8. Gorgeous piece Amy~ I love it. I thought it was beautiful before the paint too- such great lines and character- but all covered in its grey and pretty 'gilding' fantastic! I am surprised the paint wiped off like after 3 days too. I have been thinking about trying it as well, but I don't know... might wait and see a bit more reviews on it. I love the wax finish-it really adds an aged feel to it. It's gorgeous- you must just love it!!

  9. Jami, The old white chalk paint did not take off the paint, it was the damp rag when I rubbed the fresh white paint, it took off both layers! So the grey paint had been on for 3 days, and when I rubbed it with the damp cloth it came off! I did not prep on this piece, and I understand that to be correct. True, I did not have anyone in the house and it took me 2 hours at most to do all the steps. I love how it looks, but I doubt I will do my kitchen cabinets with this paint!

  10. Also, I did have the Annie Sloan book Creating The French Look. I will say there are very little directions on the wax. It says to wait an hour to dry and then buff, but I did not want the dark wax to dry as I intended to rub most of it off. I will have to compare notes on the damp rag thing with Miss Mustard Seed to see if she experienced this issue.

  11. Thanks for sharing about the chalk paint. Beautiful job.

  12. Amy, I LOVE IT! it turned out beautiful and very frenchy and I love how you added the dark wax inside the panels. Martina

  13. Yeah, I don't think I'd do kitchen cabinets either. Maybe a Paris Grey island or chopping block base. ;) Although I'm sure cabs would be very pretty, I read that you do have to re-wax them periodically. Personally, I'm not that committed. Thank you for clarifying that it wasn't the paint but rather the damp cloth. No prep work (and a beautiful finish) was my justification for the cost so I'm very curious about this H20 thing now. I'm not sure which of Annie's books is being sent to me but if it discusses this or waxes in more depth, I'll let you know. I'll also email Patty if you want.

  14. Wow! It looks wonderful! And, it's perfect in the living room. I love the softness in the colors. It was very interesting watching the process, i've been so curious about this paint. I'm wondering if when you wax it, if the paint won't rub off anymore. I really like the gold trim you left, it accentuates the beautiful curves... Even though you started with one idea in mind, what you ended up with couldn't be any prettier...

  15. Hi Amy,
    I love how your cabinet turned out. Thanks for sharing the process and for your thoughts. I thought about ordering some chalk paint but now, I'm not so sure.


  16. The secretary turned out lovely! Thanks for detailing your experience. Now I'm wondering if I'm going to like the chalk paint as much as I thought - my order should arrive soon. I read somewhere that the wax "sets" the paint, so perhaps it's meant to wipe off until it's been waxed? Hmmm...

  17. Your secretary looks absolutely wonderful! What a beautiful job you did! I love it and now I want one, too! :)
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia :)

  18. I saw your first photo and for a minute thought that was the "before" and wondered why in the world you'd want to change that lovely piece!

    I learned from your tutorial and experience... I, too, have been looking longingly at the chalk paint. I'm thinking twice but will probably still go ahead...

    I've stopped by from Funky Junk's Saturday Night Special. Have a wonderful rest of your weekend!


  19. I'm new to Chalk Paint and did not understand when you said, "It comes off"... how long did it take to dry? How long before you applied the wax?
    I do like the finish product and it's rather Frenchy... Nice job!

  20. This turned out gorgeous! I love the grey with the gold leaf. I am thinking of adding the gold leaf to my cabinet.

    After all this do you like chalk paint and would you use it again?

  21. This turned out sooooo cool!!! How lucky is the antique gold lurking underneath the gray. It really adds to the overall look of the piece. I use a similar technique to finish furniture in my house, but I've never used chalk paint! I'll have to give it a try. I use paint with a satin finish -- add the antique gold details, then I glaze the entire piece with a fawn/taupe color which I wipe off. Then I wax. I think your process just might save me a few steps. I'm going to try it. Thanks for sharing!!! I need that secretary as much as I need those awesome aqua chairs. :)

  22. Amy,
    First, it looks gorgeous!! I love how all of the experimenting turned out.

    Here's the deal with chalk paint. It's meant to rub off easily with water, which is why it needs to be waxed. The nice thing about it, is you can wash it off if you don't like the look of it. When you sand it, though, the paint does grab well and comes off in a fine dust instead of pealing off like latex.

    The dark wax can definitely "get away from you" and change the appearance of the paint color. I'm learning that I like to mix the dark wax with some clear wax to make it easier to work with.

    Just some thoughts.

  23. It turned out really good, Amy! I love it! I would have been getting really nervous, too, if the paint started coming off. Kudos to you for continuing on. If you apply some kind of sealer would that help the chalk paint not come off?

  24. I love the secretary and I love that the yellow is showing through on the moldings. It is gorgeous. Great feedback on the paint. I have been wondering about it. Hope it doesn't wipe off now, it looks fabulous. Hugs, Marty

  25. Thanks for the information Amy.
    Kristy @ 4 the love of WOOD

  26. Just BEAUTIFUL!! I love that cabinet! It turned out wonderful!! :)
    New follower! Looking forward to seeing more!

  27. Thank you for the information. I started a chair last night and the texture is rough. I am going to attempt the wax process before I distress it so that it will seal it..right?? Not sure if I am crazy about the product yet but I still want to give it a chance..going to do a larger piece this week and see how that turns out! Thanks for the information..I was kinda feeling alone in the chalk paint world.

  28. Your secretary turned out beautifully, Amy! I love the pale gray color. How frustrating all your trial and error with the chalk paint. I've never used it. Would you use it again knowing how easy it was to wash off?
    It sure looks beautiful in your room.

  29. It blends in beautifully in that gorgeous room!

  30. Thanks for sharing your experience....sorry you had so much trouble! The pieces I painted both had stain finishes on them, wondering if that is why my experience was better....I did use my own natural minwax, so I did not have to deal with the wax they sell changing the color and being hard to work with. Are you going to try it on another piece? I painted my pieces on Tuesday and each have had days to dry....but I did just try to wipe them off with a damp rag and they both are not wiping off but I did put a wax on them.....I can understand why, after all of your problems, you would not want to risk your kitchen cabinets....Love how this piece looks...I know it was frustrating for you but for us it is pure eye candy!!!

  31. It looks great and having the gold show was a lucky stroke as it looks wonderful. I'm like you, I get nervous when doing finishes and distressing as I'm afraid I will ruin my hard work! Thank you for the honest post!


  32. Amy,
    I LOVE how you painted it
    It looks refreshingly new and unique!!

    barbara jean

  33. I guess if you wanted white panels, you'd have to plan ahead and not paint gray underneath...only paint them white. I like it better just gray and gold anyway. Do you feel like the finish will get banged up easily? Just seems like it's not stuck to the furniture. I know when I painted my dining room furniture I let it set a week before I distressed it and I barely could get the paint to come off..I really had to press hard and user a rougher grade of sandpaper than I thought I would. It's really stuck well to the furniture which is a good thing. I like the look of the wax.

  34. Your secretary looks beautiful! Thanks for the details on how the chalk paint worked for you. Still debating giving it a try.

  35. That turned out Great ! Love the Grey !!

  36. Gorgeous !! I'm really enjoying reading everyone's review of the chalk paint. Your "new" secretary looks fabulous. And, thanks for such great "notes" along the way. *Becca*

  37. I love what your did with this secretary. The grey and the gold works, and very French!
    Bone weekend,

  38. What a beautiful transformation, love that French grey look! Have you ever tried milk paint? I got a tip years ago about from a guy who does the Swedish grey furniture and have used it in my home on some pieces.
    xo, Janet

  39. This is one of the prettiest cabinets I have seen in a looooong time!!! Can I borrow you for the weekend? You are soooo talented to have the foresight and talent to do this! It is just fabulous beyond words looking....hope you are getting to enjoy it. LOVE IT!

  40. Hi Amy! The new finish is gorgeous!! Thanks for sharing the info on chalk paint. I was planning on ordering some but now I think I'll wait a bit. Even with the paint problems the piece turned out beautiful.

  41. Hi, Amy.
    Just pasting the email response from Patricia Seaman at Chalk Paint USA (my Annie Sloan distributor) like we discussed...

    "Hi Jami,

    ...Now regarding that other person regarding rubbing off the paint, Yikes! You have to let the paint dry completely unless rubbing or distressing it is the look you want. If you use a damp cloth on a water based paint of course it will rub off until it is completely dried and cured. It can take a number of days for the paint to completely dry and cure. Once you apply the wax and let it dry for a few days it marries with the paint it will not rub off. On kitchen cabinets we use Clorox wipes to clean them with no problem. There is always a curing and drying process. If you could respond to the bloggers and let them know this I would appreciate it.

    They don't have to be afraid of the paint rubbing off. I painted pantry shelves with two coats of Duck Egg Blue and two coats of Hannant's Clear wax, let all of it dry for two days then buffed. 7 months later, throwing cans and more into the shelves there isn't a scratch, same with kitchen cabinets and dining tables we've done for clients.You have to let the paint and wax dry and cure a few days before you put it into use then you are fine. You can even paint pieces for outside and not wax them like Annie does in her books and just let them age naturally, but don't put them outside in the rain for a few days until the paint has cured. Hope this has helped.

    Take care,

  42. oh Amy! this is fabulous...looks like all your hard work & attention to detail paid off - i love it! xoxo, tracie

  43. Hi Amy,

    I've popped over here from Marian at Miss Mustard Seed's blog. Your secretary is GORGEOUS, I *love* the gilded trim! Just beautiful. I would've freaked out completely had I experienced the paint wiping off like that! But it appears that it ended up being a happy accident as gold trim looks fabulous. I think so many of these projects are an experiment, we just have to go with the flow and make the best of the results, which you obviously did.

    I am adding you to my list of favorite blogs!



  44. Hey Amy
    You were always fearless and brave! It looks great! I have been confused with all the posting about chalk, milk, and waxes. Thanks for the honest tutorial. I love the results and have been playing around with rub and buff myself and it is truly different.

  45. Hi Amy, it looks fantastic! I love the makeover and thanks so much for showing us the process.. take care, Maryann

  46. Well, it came out beautiful! I liked it just plain gray, but now it looks super frenchy with lots of depth! I don't think I would have the patience to wait so long for the paint to dry. What is suppose to be so great about this chalk paint?

  47. I love the way it turned out!!!
    And another thing I appreciate is you showing your creative process...for one, I so enjoy seeing how creative people create...but also, seeing you push on and continue experimenting until the outcome is what you want encourages me not to panic an abandon a project!!!
    All Things Heart and Home
    (I signed up to get your posts by your blog-home!)

  48. Beautiful! I love the way you talked us through each change in the process. I don't use an waxes for my finishes - if I want to antique a piece I rub on Old English Scratch Cover after I'm done painting. You can get it in a light or dark finish.

    You did a great job - it has been updated beautifully!


  49. This is beautiful! I've never worked with chalk paint and wax before--you've got me wanting to try it. Thanks for sharing!

  50. Frenchy fabulous! I can't comment on the paint since I rarely paint anything but you did an awesome job transforming this secretary!

  51. Genius that you had the vision to not be freaked out by the original finish showing though on the edges of the panels. I think that looks perfect.

  52. Wow, Amy... what a fabulous transformation! Love the secretary in the Paris Grey chalk paint... just beautiful!
    Jo :)

  53. Hola Amy, this is a really great, great work, wish I could paint as you do!!!
    hugs from Chile

  54. I love it! It reminds me of a beloved secretary my Mother owned. It was almost 100 years old and kelly green! <3 your transformation!!!
    Visiting from Between Naps on the Front Porch

  55. Oh Amy, what a gorgeous transformation. It turned out beautiful!

    Enjoy your evening,

  56. First - this is gorgeous!!!!! Second - thanks for sharing your experience with the chalk paint. I have really been wanting to try it and after reading your post and some of the responses it is really nice getting to learn a bit more about it before I do attempt to use it.

  57. maybe a watered down blue (you know how, I don't lol) would make the grey match the white and gold better. I like the before too! I guess my living room is so..out of date.

  58. Be still my heart!!! I have a few pieces that need painting and I am going to experiment with chalk paint. Glad I read this first and saw your tips. Love it! I am here from the French Cupboard and I'm your newest follower.

  59. Thanks so much for sharing your piece is beautiful! I would have been in tears your quite a gal for sticking to it. Think I'll stick to regular paint.
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  60. Love it. The bare wood really looks like gold. In fact, I thought it was until I read further!
    Paula ~ Mise en scène

  61. My first and only experience with the chalk paint was disappointing. It did not go on smooth as most bloggers have said. I tried adding some water to thin it and it worked a bit better. Not sure if I will try it on furniture again or save it for smaller decor items.

  62. Hi Amy! I stopped over because A Vintage Vine had mentioned your review on the chalk paint and I am now your newest follower. Thank you for an honest review of chalk paint. I also loved your little garden house you built last year that's on your sidebar. It's so cute I may have to make one of those this year.

  63. So far I haven't had any trouble with the paint. I lightly sand after it dries and then add the wax. The waxes deepen and change the color. The old white is probably pretty waxed. Thanks for joining WUW.

  64. I love it, and I am your newest follower! Being a francophile myself, I am in love with your blog. I do a link up on Fridays and am new to the party, I would love if you could link up with me. Thank you so much for sharing the tips too, I just ordered some chalk paint to complete my bathroom "redoux". Thanks! -Karen

  65. Fantastic post -- and thank you for being so honest with the steps you took. I think it was all a happy accident. I LOVE the new look and think the images of it are incredible. Thank you!

  66. Hi, friend! I'm admiring all your creative posts here so can you please share them with us at the Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop? The link is at Thank you so much :)

  67. Like everyone has said, your secretary is beautiful and even though wasn't what you first had in mind, it all worked out beautifully. Sometimes our mistakes were meant to be. :-) Also, everyone's comments were also very helpful. I just received my first order of Chalk Paint today and am dying to try it. I didn't realize the wax set it like that, so I wish I had ordered some of that also. I did see where someone used the Minwax Wax, and I may try that on a small piece first.

    Visiting from the Creative Blogger's Party and am now a follower.

  68. Hi, I'm doing a post on Annie Sloan's Chalkpaint do you mind if I add this post to mine?

    Thank you,

  69. Awesome!!! I’m your newest follower from Creative Bloggers Hop. Please follow

  70. Yay! You came! Really appreciate you sharing this great post with lots of eye-candies with us at the Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop.

  71. Amy, other than not having to sand, do you think there are any great benefits to this paint? Is it that it is so flat? Or that it washes off if you make a mistake? The cabinet you did should be on a magazin cover (really, it's that good), but could you have done it in regular paint? So curious about why exactly this paint is so good? Thank you!

  72. I can't believe what a huge transformation that is. I like how you applied the dark wax to the trim and the inner portion. I think if the piece has these things defined the dark wax is great. Otherwise I am not a big fan of the dark wax on a plain piece with straight lines..You did a beautiful job!

  73. This is such an informative post! I'm considering buying this paint and the gray, white with gold is the frenchy look I love. Between your post and all of the comments I feel like I have a good handle on it! Thanks

  74. Ooooooh La-La!! J'aime le "Frenchy~Grey" Secretaire! xoxo

  75. Wow, that sounded like a lot of work . . . but I love the finished project in your beautiful room.

    I am hopping over from Sarah's big paint party. (Link #34)


  76. Wowee!! What a GREAT makeover! I LOVE it!! The point you mentioned about being able to see the brush strokes IS meant to happen. The paints are MEANT to build up texture quickly to help cover imperfections in the furniture.

    If you want a flatter finish then you can water down the Annie Sloan Chalk paint.

    What a beautiful home you have. I'm speechless! It's so pretty! I've signed up to follow you!

    Thank you so much for linking up to my Paint, Please link party.


  77. love it. but wait, if you don't wax it the paint can come off?

  78. hi just found this from enchnated home, this is so pretty and i am so impressed with what you have done, the color is really really pretty.

  79. Beautiful Job! I have been on your blog before and love all the creative ideas and projects you've done.

    Would love to have you stop by and link up to my weekly Chalk Paint Link Party

  80. This looks beautiful. I too had a few issues with the chalk paint, but in the end they worked out. The dark wax scares me because every time o use it is sort of gets away...will have to practice more.

    What really amazed me whas that you painted this in your living room...very brave. I do not think I would attempt this, although I may have too because I have a hide armoire and I cannot carry it down the stairs, it weight too much.

    Have a great day.

  81. Hi Amy,
    I'm happy to have found your blog. I found it when I googled 'how long does it take for chalk paint to dry'. Your desk turned out beautiful. I love the colors. I am working on a project as I write this. I have been refinishing and painting furniture for quite awhile but this is my first chalk paint one. I have always loved the look and feel of using a paste wax, it's a bit more work but so much better than a poly finish. Now that I know to wax first then distress I'm not so hesitant. Annie Sloan doesn't give that much info with her paints so your article is very helpful.
    Thanks for being so fearless.

  82. Well, I love how it turned out!
    What a happy accident, discovering the "gold" underneath the chalk paint.
    The wax addition gives the piece character without being jarring.
    Just lovely!

  83. You do the BEST tutorials! How heavenly that when you made that first wipe, you had instant gold leaf. Excellent choice Amy with colors and everything because now we see the very very pretty lines of the piece.
    Another fantastic transformation.
    Xo Lisa

  84. Looks awesome Amy! At first glance, I thought you had highlighted the molding with gold metallic paint... now I see it is the original pine wood tone. Love it.
    Thanks for sharing this with me!
    I do need the clear wax. That would have made such a difference.
    If the pieces had been for me I would like them a little less dark waxed!

  85. This turned out great! I love how you shared your thoughts throughout the entire process...and what you learned along the way. Yes, it does cure well after the wax is on for awhile. I chalk painted an antique desk, which I use all the time, and the paint is holding up wonderfully!

  86. Wow, This piece had me so excited...I had to do it myself. I made my own chalk paint by adding 1/3 plaster of paris to my paint. I also used Johnson's paste wax. I added stain to the wax to make the darker stain look. Not finished yet...but looking very good!

  87. This piece is fabulous! One of my favorites!!

  88. Such a smart girl you are...looks great :)

  89. I love it! I am big fan of gold and grey. I noticed it one day in my church. Everytime I go I admire the color combo. I am about to use paris grey to paint a side table in my living room. Thx for the tips.


  90. I love it Amy. I am about to use that color to paint a piece in my living room. Thanks for the tips.


  91. It's beautiful, I got one out at brimfield last summer and I keep looking at her and know she can be a stunner like yours, thanks for all the tips......and inspiration :)


  92. Your piece turned out absolutely beautiful! It's very french! I love every single detail of it! Fabulous job!


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