Furniture Makeovers

Beginner Furniture Painting: A Practice Piece Using Americana Decor Chalk Paint

Green Apple Chair painted with Americana Decor Chalk Paint in New Life |

In case you’re new to the furniture refinishing scene and are wondering where to start, take heart.  Everybody has to start somewhere.  

And since this is a big week for furniture refinishing posts, I thought I’d kick it off with a little stroll down memory lane.  From the blog archives, I found a post that explains what I learned from the second piece I painted.

Before I became a DIY blogger, I worked in the pharmaceutical industry.  Not in manufacturing, but in the clinical arena. What does this have to do with DIY blogging?   Absolutely nothing….except that it may help you to understand why I think through product and project evaluations/reviews the way that I do.  It seems I approach them just as I would a clinical question.

Green Apple Chair Painted with Americana Decor Chalk Paint |

Or….at least I do now.

The truth is that when I retired from all things druggie, I wanted to walk away from the whole zero-error-rate mentality.  Dealing with precious lives day after day and having to be perfectly on your game had taken its toll.  In my new life, I wanted to throw caution to the wind and let my right brain create whatever it wanted.  And since I had some experience with DIY projects, I wasn’t too concerned.  After all, learning is part of the fun.  

Green apple chair (3) from The Chalk Paint Diaries | Lessons from a Practice Piece |

Well, except for furniture refinishing.  I had never had the occasion to refinish a piece, but had…over the course of time….collected about a dozen pieces that I someday hoped to refinish.

However, on my first outing, I fell into a trap.  You know the one…….about how easy furniture refinishing can be.  Just mix up a homemade batch of chalk paint…and go.  Totally believing this, I bought my paint and plaster of Paris, mixed it up, and tackled a huge chest of drawers….only to be crushed under the weight of two words.  Epic. Fail.

Green apple chair (4) from The Chalk Paint Diaries | Lessons from a Practice Piece |

What saved this project and my confidence in furniture refinishing was my experience with DIY projects.  To save the piece, I reverted back to an old trick and everything turned out just fine.  The piece is now totally awesome and I love it to pieces.  If you want a peek, click here.

But, since then, I’ve changed my tune about throwing caution to the wind.  And, have revived some of the old concepts used in drug research and clinical care.  Sound crazy?  Well, maybe…..but let’s just give it a whirl and see how it goes.  Green apple chair (5) from The Chalk Paint Diaries | Lessons from a Practice Piece |

The first action was to develop a laboratory…..where….in this case…. all types of paint are welcome….but nothing gets out of the starting gate without some research and practice.  The write-ups will explain what I learn from these experiments.  And, trust me.  I won’t hold back.  If I use a paint recipe, product, or technique that stinks to high heaven, you’ll get the scoop as it happens.

So, welcome to Lesson 2:  Lessons from a Practice Piece

After the homemade chalk paint fiasco in Lesson 1, I went straight to the store and bought some ready-made chalk paint.  I didn’t see any reason to buy the boutique versions if a brand from the home improvement center would do just as well.  And so, I invested about $9 for 8 ounces, and had another go.  

I ended up trying Americana Decor in the color New Life.  Given that this outing was designed to bring back my confidence in furniture refinishing, the color and the name were absolutely perfect!

Find the Right Piece:

Then I chose one of the least expensive pieces in my collection and gave it a go.  The piece looked just like this stool in the photo below……same color, wood, and finish…just in chair form.


I apologize that I did not snap a photo of the chair before it was refinished, but this stool is from the exact same furniture family as the chair.  I promise.  Both pieces came from a discount store and are extremely sturdy and useful, but fall totally flat on the design scene.

To take this chair from what you see on the left to this (below) was truly easy. Yes, I was surprised. Green apple chair from The Chalk Paint Diaries | Lessons from a Practice Piece | Using four simple steps, the gaudy orange-toned chair was converted to sweet green apple.  

How to Paint:

(1) Completely clean the chair from top to bottom.  Make sure to get into all of the nooks and crannies.  I did not sand or use a primer.  (2) Turn the chair upside down and paint underneath.  Then, flip it over and paint the top.  (3)  Let it dry, (I allowed the chair to dry overnight) and then gently buff with fine sandpaper to distress the desired areas.  (4)  Wipe down with a damp, but not wet rag.  After the chair completely dries, you may seal it if you want.  I used clear polyurethane.  It really made the color pop and I won’t have to worry about the finish in the rough and tumble boy’s room.  Other options are to leave it or apply a wax.

Lessons Learned:

(1)  This brand of chalk paint adheres very well to a slick, unsanded, but very clean piece.

(2)  Good coverage is obtained with one coat.  However, two coats are generally recommended.

(3)  The paint distresses very easily so use fine sandpaper and soft hands.

(4)  The color dries true to the color on the lid.  It dulls with sanding, but pops back to life with the clear poly.

(5)  There was no globbing of the paint and no uneven places due to dry paint clumps.  But, I did work quickly and kept the paint brush damp, but not wet.

(6)  The final texture, after complete sanding and distressing, is pretty darn smooth.  The ridges are slightly visible, but mostly just felt when touching the chair.  This photo was greatly enhanced to show these ridges.  It also looks like the color is streaked, but this is not the case.  The color is very solid.Green apple chair (6) from The Chalk Paint Diaries | Lessons from a Practice Piece | TheChelseaProjectBlog.Wordpress.comOn subsequent pieces where the same brand of paint was used, the wood had more grain and there were zero paint lines such as these. 

(7)  The paint finish is very dry, as expected, because this is chalk paint.  This made the water-based poly that I used soak-up in some areas, but not in others.  I was a little panicked when the first coat streaked, but settled down when the second coat sealed evenly.  So, just FYI….expect to apply at least two coats of poly.  If you get away with one coat….YAY!

(8)  Six months later, there is zero wear and tear on the finish.  Zero chipping, zero bleed-through of the orange tints, and zero change in color.  But remember, I did not sand before painting so I did not break the original seal applied at the factory.  

Green apple chair (7) from The Chalk Paint Diaries | Lessons from a Practice Piece |

Since the results for this brand are so positive, I will likely buy this paint again.  It more than met the challenge of sticking to a slick, orange-tinted utility chair.  It was easy to use and the color is great.  

Green apple chair (8) from The Chalk Paint Diaries | Lessons from a Practice Piece |

It has been a joy preparing this information for you.  Lesson 3 will compare the paint in this post and my home made paint to a new paint additive that turns plain latex into chalk paint.  I hope you will stop by and see what happens.

Green apple chair (9) from The Chalk Paint Diaries | Lessons from a Practice Piece |

And, as always…..please don’t forget to PIN……..Thanks… 🙂


Green Apple Chair painted with Americana Decor Chalk Paint |




  • Reply Toni | March 22, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    This chair is so cute, I love the color and the finish turned out great. Thank you for the painting tips. I have a bit of work to do on my technique and this is super helpful!

    • Reply theChelseaProject March 22, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      Thanks, Toni. Appreciate your kind words. And I’m thrilled some of the info is helpful. Good luck with your projects!!

  • Reply Product Review: Chalk Paint Made with Poppie’s Paint Powder – The Chelsea Project March 23, 2016 at 7:34 am

    […]  The paint did leave brush marks just like the ready-made used to paint the green apple chair (link to see here) and the home-made used to paint the chest (link to see […]

  • Reply Lessons from a Practice Piece | The Chelsea Project April 21, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    […] Beginner Furniture Painting: A Practice Piece Using Americana Decor Chalk Paint […]

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