I passed up many a piece of furniture in my hunt for the perfect resell items to stock my booth with. Pieces were just too rough to restore with furniture polish and I was not up for the task of striping , patching and restaining. To be perfectly honest people just do not want to pay premium prices in second hand markets. The man hours it takes to restore a piece back to its original beauty is not worth what people are willing to pay.

I was hearing about chalk paint and how you could use it with little to no prep. Shabby Chic was a term I was not familiar with (at the time in 2012) so I took to the internet to research. I liked the look and wondered if others in my area would too. Via the internet I bought my first can of chalk paint and painted my 1st piece. I placed it in my booth and within days it sold so I tried another and it sold quickly. Wow I was onto something. The cost of a small quart of this majic paint mixture was a steep $35/quart plus shipping (the only way you could get it was online back in the day).

Back to the internet for some ideas where I stumbled across a chalk paint recipe.

4 Tbsp Plaster of Paris

2 Tbsp Water

1 Cup of Paint (Flat or Satin)

This created the look and durability I was looking for at a fraction of the price. Plaster of Paris was available at most craft stores so I was cooking with gas.

After using for approximately a month I decided to try a different recipe. Why you ask . . . . well this was drying too fast causing lumps in my mixture within 10-15 minutes of mixing up. This did not allow me enough time to paint an entire piece of furniture and mixing smaller batches wasn’t an option as I would have to stop and mix up every 10 minutes or so. Clean up was horrible.

Next I tried unsanded grout which was another easily available item I can find locally, this time at home improvement stores. 

4 Tbsp Unsanded Grout

2 Tbsp Water

1 Cup of Paint (Flat or Satin)

This method I did not care for at all. It was not smooth (too grainy) no matter which consistency I mixed it with.

Last but not least was the Calcium Carbonate recipe. 

4 Tbsp Calcium Carbonate

2 Tbsp Water

1 Cup of Paint (Flat or Satin)

Calcium Carbonate was not available to me locally so off to Amazon I go to order my 1st bag and I fell in love. Smooth, clean and my mixture would stay as crisp and clean feeling even the next day (if my project ran over).

For years I painted every piece of furniture I could find with my new found recipe. I loved painting different colors (by far the classic Shabby White is the best selling then and now). My second best selling color was a turquoise with a brown wax. 

Now that I have downsized my booth to a sweet little 5x3 space to concentrate on my Tamaras Treasure Trove online shop I don’t paint like I used to but when I do it is with the Calcium Carbonate recipe. 

My 5x3 booth located at The Checkerberry in Bowdon, Ga.  is accented with picture frames, candlesticks, wood signs, coasters, mason jars and any other small items that I come across all painted in chalk paint and distressed for the shabby/cottage chic look. 

Painting is not just for upcycling furniture it is for anything you want to add a little upcycled style to.

  • When mixing your chalk paint recipe always thoroughly mix the water and ingredient of your choosing separately first before adding to your paint color.
  • Paint (1-2 coats - chalk paint usually dries in 15-20 minutes) 
  • Distress using sand paper (either hand or the use of a palm sander)
  • Wax 
  • Let it cure for at least 24 hours - 48 hours even better

Waxing is important to add a protective layer to furniture especially those pieces that will see a lot of traffic (ex. tabletops). If you do not want to spend the extra time that goes into waxing I have had great success with a brush on polycrylic water based top coat by minwax (also available in a spray on - but this can get expensive)