When we moved into this house 4 years ago there was an alcove in the kitchen/diner that was screaming out for a display cabinet. The alcove to the right of the fireplace contained the fridge, but with boxes bulging with glassware and cake tins, it made sense that the other alcove accommodated a cabinet/dresser. The space is relatively narrow and the ceiling low, so it took me a long time to hunt down the right piece of petite furniture. After a two month search, I finally found the exact right thing on eBay and this pretty cabinet below became mine for the small sum of £40.
While this cabinet was perfect for what I required - it was short, thin, had hidden storage yet open space to display my elegant glassware - it wasn’t really my style in terms of its ‘look’. It had already been painted, but it was very ‘French-farmhouse’ in style. I changed up the wooden knobs it came with for small copper handles, but the unit was definitely more function over design. When I decided to give my dining space a revamp towards the end of last year I contemplated replacing this cabinet for something more contemporary. However, there was absolutely nothing structurally wrong with this unit; it worked well in the space and I knew it would be a slog finding something else to fit. I also had no budget for a total room overhaul and had recently been trying to be more sustainable with my purchases. Instead of replacing it, I decided to think outside the box to what could be done to modernise the unit and make it more ‘me’. With the weather turning colder I’d been obsessing over California-style interior looks with white walls, peachy-pink accents and potted houseplants, so, as part of the re-design of this room I decided to completely paint this unit a pretty light pink and replace the knobs for gold & marble pulls.
Grand Illusions Vintage Paint in Powder (colour 16) was the exact shade and finish of chalky pink that I was looking for. I did not want a ‘princess pink’ or a gaudy pink, nor did I want a shiny or ‘showy’ finish. Instead, I wanted a really pale, light shade of pink that was flat and humble. So, when Grand Illusions suggested collaborating together, I jumped at the chance.
Chalk paint can be used to paint most things. You can use it on walls and even fabric. However, it is mainly used for updating wooden furniture like my dresser. To start, you will need the following items: a couple of microfibre cloths, a medium/fine sanding block or sandpaper, mini-foam rollers, some masking tape or Frog Tape to cover any areas that you don’t want painted, a good-quality paintbrush (if your furniture has dips or grooves it is best to use a paintbrush with a pointy top or an angled edge), Grand Illusions Vintage Paint and Grand Illusions Simply Varnish. You’ll also need a screwdriver if you have to remove any handles and a some wood filler if you have any holes or cracks in your furniture that you want filled before you start painting.
Remove any knobs or drawer pulls and give your piece of furniture a decent sanding with a fine/medium grit sandpaper. The great thing with Grand Illusions Vintage Paint is that you don’t need a primer as a primer is already built-in. However, I would advise a light sand so your paint has a surface for the paint to adhere to. Once sanded, give your furniture a really good wash down using sugar-soap if required to get rid of any grease or dirt. Leave your furniture to dry naturally, then rub it down with a microfibre cloth to make sure there are no dust specks left that will show up under your paint job.
Use a low-tack tape to tape off any areas of your furniture that you do not wanted painted. I did not want to paint the main shelf surface of my unit so protected it from any marks around the joins where the two surfaces meet.
When painting a cabinet like mine, I remove the drawers and open the doors. I only paint the outside of the unit and never the inside. You may think it looks ‘tidier’ to paint the inside, but this can stop the drawers sliding out easily or the doors opening properly. I applied two coats of my Vintage Paint, leaving adequate drying time between coats. The good thing with chalk paint is that it dries really quickly, but make sure the first coat is really dry before applying the second. Use a roller for larger surface areas and a paint brush for the smaller bits.
A furniture varnish like Grand Illusions ‘Simply Varnish’ will protect your furniture from knocks, scrapes and water. If you are painting an item such as a chair or a table which will get regular use and will be consistently washed down, it is essential to apply a varnish over dry chalk paint. You apply the varnish sparingly with a roller/paintbrush, leaving 3-4 hours between coats. I’d advise using 2-3 coats to really protect your paintwork. However, if your furniture is a ‘display’ or occasional piece like my cabinet, you may decide not to use a varnish. All varnishes give off a slight sheen and you will loose some of the very matt chalkiness of your paint.
In the end I decided not to use the varnish on my cabinet as I loved how matt it looked and I found Grand Illusions Paint really durable in itself (still no chips a few months on). However, I would definitely use it on table legs or stools or items likely to get knocked.
Instead of the copper knobs I applied some marble/gold knobs from Zara Home which really complemented the pink, and now I absolutely love my cabinet! It was practically ignored before, but now guests always comment on the colour when they visit. It really is one of my most successful furniture revamps and I am so happy with it.
This post is a paid collaboration with Grand Illusions. However, all thoughts, opinions, colour choice and DIY advice is my own.