It is said that home is where your heart is. I believe that is true, and by the same token the living room in the heart of your house. Not the true heart of the home of course. The living room is simply made up of wood, plaster, fabric and brick. The real heart of your home is the people who share in the making of the home each and every day. But within the house there is no room more alive, comfortable, and where we connect more with friends and family than the living room or family room.
This is the room where guests are typically invited to sit and relax. It is the usually the first room anyone will see. It is where the children play in the floor and where the family comes together to communicate and relax together for a movie, a book or just some good old fashioned conversation.
If you want to invigorate your home, and make it really speak to what is important to you, and the things you love then turn your attention to thinking over the current situation, and the limitless possibilities of the living room.
Does your current furniture, or even the way it is situated tell everyone who comes into your home about what you think and feel about your home and your family? It should, because every person who walks into your home can infer many things about you based on what your living room decor and furnishings tell them.
There are a couple of things you can do that will help you remake your living room into the heart of the house as it should be. First, take a look at your current set up. Does it tell a story of what is important to you and your family? Is it comfortable? Is it visually pleasing?
Ask yourself these questions as you step back and look at your current living room. If the answers are no, then it’s time to get to work. Here are a few tips that you can utilize to help you revitalize your living room.
1) Move The Furniture Around – Has it been a while since your moved the furniture around? If so, just reposition some things. This will inject new life into the room immediately.
2) Set up the Room for Comfort – Do you feel comfortable relaxing in the living room? If not, take steps to ensure that your guests and family are comfortable relaxing with you in the living room. Add more pillows, an ottoman. Just make it a comfortable place. A living room can and should be both comfortable and beautiful
3) Buy New Furniture – If you have the budget you can always redecorate your living room with new furniture. This is a guaranteed (but more expensive) way to inject new life into the living room. If you need a good place to shop try sellers of shabby chic furniture such as Layla Grace and The Bella Cottage.
4) Create Your Own – You are likely at this site because you are crafty and want to learn all about chalk paint anyways. So browse our site How To Distress Furniture.net for tutorials on how to turn your current furniture into new masterpieces all on your own.
Remember that your living room is the heart of your house and it needs to tell everyone who sees it something about you and your family. Get creative and start rearranging your living room today to add some new life.
Add a Beautiful Antique Patina Using Wood Stain or Antique Glaze
Using wood stain or antiquing glaze is one of the most effective furniture aging effects that you can utilize to antique a piece of furniture. There are so many options with these two. You can take a piece of furniture with shiny, brand new paint, and add decades or centuries of natural-looking aging in just a matter of minutes, and the results are incredible.
Depending on the piece you are working on, using stain or glaze can be a tedious job, but the results are well worth it. Antiquing furniture with stain or glaze will add a darkened patina to the top of your piece, and creates the appearance of dark buildup in any crevices, lines, and design work your piece may have.
So what is the difference in the two? Truth be told, not much, but there are some minor differences. Both essentially perform the same function and perform it well. Wood stain is very thin and can be a little messier to work with. Glaze is generally thicker, will finish a bit darker, and sometimes is more of a paste. Both come in multiple colors and shades. Stain tends to work better if you are working on a flat surface, but glaze is our preferred choice when working on anything with design carvings, lines and crevices. The glaze attaches itself down in those surfaces and ridges very well with very little running, and gives your piece a fantastic, authentically aged finish from another era.
To show you how to do it we will take a look at some kitchen cabinets that we were recently working on for a client of ours. We glazed all of their cabinets using M.L. Campbell Vintage Alkyd Glaze in a ‘Raw Umber’ color. The cabinets were a brand new, pure white, and they wanted them to look antiqued to add some character and aging.
What You Will Need
Antique Glaze or Wood Stain – In the picture you can see the Campbell Glaze and also the Valspar Antiquing Glaze. You do not need both of these. We are just showing you some of the available options. Both are great choices.
Foam Brushes – You can use regular brushes, but these foam brushes are excellent for flat surfaces, and for getting the glaze to stick in crevices. Plus they are very cheap so if you don’t get one cleaned in time, it’s not a big loss. Clean Dry Cloths/Rags – We recommend soft t-shirt or sheet material cut into smaller pieces. Lowes sells a bag of pre-cut t-shirt material cloths for about $2. They work very well with glaze and stain.
Wax/Polyurethane or Other Sealant – Minwax Furniture Paste works well or you can use something like Polyurethane for a higher gloss and stronger finish. We used the Minwax on these cabinets. Mineral Spirits – Mineral spirits will be needed to clean up any glaze or stain that goes awry, fix mistakes, and sometimes you just may need to start over – Don’t feel bad, it happens.
How It’s Done
Start by cleaning your piece VERY well. Warm water and a mild soap or detergent can be fine if it is dirty. You can also use a cheese cloth. Whatever is needed, just make sure it is clean.
When the piece is clean and dry, mix your glaze (or shake it well), and dip your foam brush in. Now begin applying the glaze to the surface. It will look awful at first, and will be very dark, but don’t worry.
Wait a few seconds. How long you wait depends on how dark you want your finish to be. The longer you wait the darker it will get. But don’t wait too long. It will also begin to dry and will be hard to remove. 10-15 seconds should be plenty for most projects.
Use a Smooth Hand and a Clean Cloth For Best Results
Now take a clean cloth and begin wiping the antique glaze or wood stain off. It will take a little practice to get the feel for this. Just work with it. You have at least 15 minutes, and maybe more depending on humidity, climate, and temperature so just work with it until you get the look you like. Apply more glaze if you take too much off, and use the mineral spirits to clean up mistakes or remove the glaze all together.
Get Your Groove On
Next you want to start working the glaze/stain into any grooves, lines, design work like in the first picture at the top of the page. This is where the best effects are made with antique glaze and stain. On this cabinet door you can see we had some nice grooves to work with, and this is where the foam brushes come in handy.
Dip the brush in the glaze and use the pointed tip to work the glaze into the grooves. Wipe any runs, and wipe back some of the glaze in the grooves if you get it darker than you like using a nice, clean, dry cloth. Just work with it until it starts looking authentically aged. Go with your instincts. You will know when it looks right. The keys with this technique are being patient, and working with it until you get it right.
Let it Dry, then Seal it
We would generally recommend waiting at least 24 hours, but 48 would be better. Just make sure it is fully dry before sealing the piece. If the piece is not completely dry you will wipe off your lovely new antiqued patina when you try to apply the wax or polyurethane. This will cause a big problem and will ruin your work. Just be patient and make extra sure that all of the glaze/stain is perfectly dry and will not wipe off when you apply the sealant.
Now that your piece is completely dry, go ahead and seal it with wax or polyurethane and you are all set. If you are using furniture wax, just apply with clean, dry, lint-free cloths (t-shirt material works great). Apply in a circular motion and cover the whole piece. Wait at least 15 minutes, then buff the entire piece with a new, clean cloth. The more you buff, the higher the finish shine will be.
Pro Tip: Wax will easily build up in grooves, crevices and design work so keep your eyes out for that and use a Q-Tip or something similar to easily remove it.
Using wood stain is the exact same process as the glaze. Just follow the steps above if you want to use stain.
We hope you have enjoyed this free tutorial on how to antique furniture with glaze or stain. It is a very time consuming job, especially if working on a large project like cabinets, but learning this technique alone can save you literally hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars.
Just wanted to share some pictures of this gorgeous blue 9-drawer distressed dresser we recently worked on for the cover of our upcoming book.
This dresser needed some work when we got it so we completed the repairs, and used the lines and design work to play two colors off of each other. We used a light blue chalk paint as the main color and completed the accent trim in a whitish/blue chalk paint, then distressed the finish, antiqued it using MinWax Golden Oak stain and finished it with MinWax furniture paste.
We share all of our techniques in the upcoming book so stay tuned for more details and to get first access to the book at a special price sign up for our email list here:
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We are selling this dresser so if you are in our area in Whitsett, NC (or want to come here) please contact us. This is a very special and elegant piece. You have to see it in person to appreciate it.
If you are a DIY junkie and love to paint furniture, then most likely you have at one time or another made, or thought about making, your own chalk paint. If so then you know that there are several DIY homemade chalk paint recipes out there, and unless you have tried them all it can be difficult to know which one is the best. Perhaps you are just now hearing about chalk paint for the first time and wondering what it’s all about.
The Opponents Square Off!
Either way you have come to the right place.
We have received this question on numerous occasions from various readers, and until now we were unable to fully comment on which chalk paint recipe is the best – if there is one at all.
As many of you know we already have an awesome guide on how to make chalk paint that was one of the first posts we ever put on the site. However, our guide is for the Plaster of Paris recipe, and it works wonderfully, but we had not tried any of the other recipes out there.
So, Angie and I finally decided to get back to testing and take an in-depth look at the 3 main DIY recipes for chalk paint. We understand there are other ways of making chalk paint besides just these 3, but we didn’t want to get too out of focus. So we decided to lock in on the main 3, as these are the ones we get asked about the most.
In each section we will give you the recipe that we used to mix the paint. Please note, however, that there are many recipes out there for all three versions. Some will say use more or less of the main ingredient, or more paint, or hot water, etc. so do not take our recipes as DIY law. The Plaster of Paris recipe below is the one we give in our how to make chalk paint tutorial and what we use on every piece of furniture on our site. We use it because it fits our purposes the best.
The other two recipes we kind of came up with on our own by trying to duplicate the consistency of the plaster recipe so that it would be a fair test between the three recipes.
So if you use a different recipe or come up with a different mixture on your own that works for you then perfect. The purpose of this post is merely to examine all three side-by-side using similar mixtures.
For paint we picked up a gallon of Wal-Mart Oops paint for $5.88 – Nice!
Let’s take a look at what we found out.
**NOTE: These recipes yield 1 cup of paint each. If you need more paint for your project adjust the recipe(s) accordingly
If you need Plaster of Paris you can order it here:
How To Make It
First you mix the plaster and water together until you get a smooth consistency with no lumps.
Next mix the plaster and water mixture into the paint and stir well until all of the mixture is dissolved with no lumps; make sure the paint is as smooth as before.
Then we painted our test piece and set it out to dry. One coat did the trick and we were ready to go.
The picture to the right is the test piece after it dried. As you can see there are some dark splotches in the test piece of wood that bled through the paint. This is due to the very light paint color we used for the test. If we were painting a real piece of furniture we would have needed one more coat to cover these completely.
Less than $7.00 for the large box of plaster at Lowes
If you have been reading our blog long you know what we think of the Plaster of Paris chalk paint recipe. It is an extremely solid recipe. We use it a lot. It goes on smooth, covers well and exhibits all of the characteristics that chalk paint is known for such as no priming or sanding, sticks to most any surface and so on.
For this test the plaster recipe performed as expected. It dried fast and left us with an excellent chalky patina on our test piece. Perfect for distressing.
The Plaster recipe is perfect for any distressed furniture or furniture painting project where chalk paint is applicable. It is versatile and easy to use.
No matter your project you can not go wrong with the plaster chalk paint. It works well on just about anything and has never let us down.
However, we’re not stopping there. Up next………….unsanded grout!
First mix the grout and water together to form a paste. The powder is very fine but has a semi-rough consistency. This will not appear or feel as smooth as the plaster of paris but make sure all of the grout is mixed thoroughly.
Next, stir the mixture into your pre-measured latex paint and mix well. Be sure all of the mixture is dissolved into the paint.
We found that the grout seemed to turn the paint into a jelly-like consistency. It had an even jiggly movement to it. We tried to get a picture of it, but none of them really showed what we mean.
The picture to the right is our test piece painted with the unsanded grout chalk paint.
Less than $5 for a small tub. A 10 LB bag is about $30 or so. You can purchase online here:
The final grout chalk paint had a medium-thin consistency and a gritty feel to it as it went onto the test piece that we painted with it. This was quite different from the smooth plaster recipe, but it still worked very well.
It seemed as if the grout chalk paint did not paint onto the piece smoothly like regular paint, likely due to the consistency we mentioned above. However, after working it onto the piece a little bit it really began to spread and cover the piece well.
The paint dried quickly, perhaps a little quicker than the plaster but not by much, and would go on pretty much any surface with no prep work.
The final result was a very nice textured-feeling patina. The grittiness of the paint gave the test piece a very chalky finish with a rough texture. More of a chalky finish than the plaster recipe.
All in all we were happy with the grout recipe. This is a very good recipe for Shabby Chic and distressed furniture projects. It will distress easily. This recipe would be perfect for anything where you want a textured and rough look and feel, or are looking for a faded, chalky patina.
And now, last but not least, it’s Baking Soda time!
How To Make It
Mix the water and baking soda together until it forms a paste. If you’ve made it this far in the post you already know to make sure the baking soda dissolves completely.
Next, take your mixture and mix it thoroughly into your pre-measured paint. Make sure all of the baking soda paste dissolves completely into the paint.
Things Get Tricky
Now, here is where things got interesting with this recipe. In researching the baking soda recipe I found most others who use it tended to mention that the baking soda chalk paint was quite thick. This was not what we found at all!
As a matter of fact the second the baking soda paste hit the paint it thinned the paint so much that it could hardly be called chalk paint. It was really more of a wash. VERY RUNNY and not what we were expecting.
Again, we thought perhaps it was weather related so we made sure the paint and baking soda sat in room temperature for a few days before trying again. The second attempt yielded the same result.
Please watch this short video where I show you the consistency that we got using this baking soda recipe to get more of an idea of what we ended up with.
Baking Soda Consistency Video
We painted the test piece and it went on, as expected very thin. It was really more like a wash treatment than painting, but it still stuck to the test piece quite well. It still exhibited the usual chalk paint characteristics and covered with no sanding or priming.
This is very interesting since, as we said before, other people do not tend to have this same result.
SO WHAT’S TO BE DONE?
Well, we were testing these different recipes so we had to go with what we had. We painted the test piece and it went on, as expected very thin. It was really more like a wash treatment than painting, but it still adhered to the test piece quite well. It still exhibited the usual chalk paint characteristics, and covered with no sanding or priming. However, since we knew many others did not get this result when we began working on our book we decided it was time to take up the baking soda recipe once more and see if we got a different result.
If you have read our blog or asked us questions on some of our posts you have probably heard us say “It’s Best to Test”. We say this often because it is so true and this baking soda recipe is such a great example of how it pays off to test if you get an odd or undesired result.
So, for the re-test we chose a completely different paint from a different manufacturer, different color and mixed at a different store. The result was the complete opposite of the result in the first test.
The paint was chalky, thick and was easy to work with. The paint went on exceptionally well and covered the entire piece in just one coat. The consistency was a little thicker and chalkier than the plaster recipe. This was more in line with what we had read on other blogs and websites where the baking soda recipe was used. So, what was the problem? Well, in general it was the paint we used. Specifically, it is a little harder to tell why it thinned out, but we have a theory. The paint we used was found in the ‘oops’ section of a local paint supplier, but the can did not say why it was an ‘oops’ paint. While most ‘oops’ paints are mis-tints it is entirely possible that the paint chemicals themselves were mixed incorrectly. If so, it is reasonable to think that the improper mix of chemicals in the paint caused a strange reaction when the baking soda hit it.
We will never know exactly what happened, but it raises the opportunity to stress the importance of testing when unusual things happen as you paint and distress furniture. Trying different paints, different paint makers and even different stores can yield different results so keep that in mind as you work on your projects.
0.50 cents for some baking soda. Can’t beat that!
You can see in the picture to the right how thin the paint went on. If we had wanted to get a more thorough covering we would have needed to apply several coats.
The baking soda recipe is still a very good option for many different projects. Anything needing a thin coat, where you want to see the wood grain in a piece, this recipe may be a good choice.
Keep in mind, however that we tested with a very light green colored paint. If you are using a darker color you may get very different results, especially when it comes to being able to see the wood grain underneath. As always, test your paint mixture before applying it on your project piece.
If you are looking for a way to thin your paint into a wash, this seems to do the trick quite well, and will still give you that chalk paint patina. If you are looking to do a white wash project this could be a very good option for you.
As always test different things and feel free to report back here with what you discover, and how your projects turn out.
It would be difficult to say that any one of these chalk paint recipes is ‘better’ than the others. Each recipe has its own consistency, feel, application, look and purpose. You would be absolutely safe using any one of the three in any project where chalk paint would be used.
Still, you would need to think about your particular project and decide what kind of patina you are looking for before deciding which to use. I think that the plaster of paris recipe is probably the most standard, basic and universal type of homemade chalk paint of the three. If I were going to use only one of these recipes on every piece I painted, I would use the plaster. In fact, we have been using it on so many different pieces for so long and it works on everything.
In order to keep a good spectrum of tools in my arsenal I would definitely keep the grout and baking soda recipes handy and bring them out when the project demands it.
I recommend the grout recipe whenever a more textured look or feel is desired. Also if you want a very chalky finish the grout recipe is the way to go. The baking soda recipe would go well when a thin coating or wash look was needed, or in a project where you want to see some of the wood grain, though this effect could vary depending on the type and color of paint you are using as noted above.
Well! I think that about covers it (no pun intended) for now. We’ve gone over a lot of info, but we hope this has given you a lot of great information to help you as you decide which chalk paint recipe may be the best for you and your next furniture painting project.
Before you go remember that we are VERY interested to answer your questions, and especially to hear how your projects and testing of these recipes in the past or future turn out.
So leave a comment below and if you like this post share it on social media with the buttons below. Thanks for joining us! We hope this has been helpful.
I know it’s been a while since we’ve been in touch with you, and we didn’t want you to think we have forgotten about you. Angie and I have been very busy on several distressed furniture projects for clients, and a couple family members.
Today it was in the 70’s here in North Carolina and the beautiful smells and heavenly sights of Spring are all around us. So we’ve naturally been thinking about all the things we want to do with all of this wonderful weather that is headed our way.
It’s Almost Yard Sale Season
One of the most exciting things that we love to do together this time of year is go to yard sales, garage sales and estate auctions. The season for all of these great opportunities to score some great new items for the house will be in full swing, and we plan on taking full advantage of these.
It’s not just about housewares, furniture and great deals though. To get out early on a Saturday morning in the Spring with a hot cup of coffee, a pocket full of small paper bills, and start hunting for bargains is such a great experience. Yes, it may not be for everybody, but we love it and there are very few ways to find such amazing deals.
So here are a few tips to getting out there and having a great time.
Go Early – Not just early in the morning (although that is an absolute must), but go early in the season. Some folks have multiple yard sales throughout the year and you can be the first to get to the good stuff!
Bargain – Yard sales are about bargaining. Never pay the ticket price. It’s half the fun anyway and the people expect it.
Ask About Other Items – If you like the style of furniture that you see, but don’t see the right piece, don’t be afraid to ask the people if they have anything else they want to sell. You may get hold of something no one else will!
Go On Friday – This tactic can either blow up on you or work out great. Go around neighborhoods on Friday afternoons and look for yard sale people that are setting up tables and putting out merchandise. Ask politely if you can look around. Some people will tell you know but a lot will say yes. Remember they want to get rid of this stuff so they are more than happy to take your money in most cases.
Go To Upscale Neighborhoods – Look for sales in upscale neighborhoods. A lot of times you can find really nice pieces for a great deal. A lot of times it’s not about the money for them, but moving out the junk so ask for a good deal and you’ll probably get it.
Church Yardsales – These can be excellent sources of great items. They typically get a bunch of families in the church to set up booths or tables in the parking lot. You can go to 50 different yard sales at once when you find these.
Take Cash – I know this is kind of obvious but just don’t forget to go to the bank on Friday and don’t take all $20’s. A good mix of $1’s, $5’s and $10’s does the trick. You don’t want the seller to be rethinking the bargain he just gave you while he searches for change!
Those are some good tips to get you started. The main thing is to get out there. Spring is a simply wonderful time to be out looking for bargains and these types of sales will be everywhere soon.
Thanks so much! We love having each and every one of you around.
Distressed furniture has become a huge decorating style in recent years. Interior designers, celebrities, do-it-yourselfers, you name it. Everyone seems to be decorating their homes in this beautiful and elegant style, and it is not without good reason.
The ease with which anyone can make their own distressed furniture offers everyone from the antiques connoisseur to the frugal stay-at-home mom, the opportunity to fill their homes with the same type of furniture you would find in well-designed interiors from elegant country cottages to antebellum mansions.
As you know, our entire website is dedicated to helping people learn how to distress furniture themselves. We have decorated much of our home furniture using the same distressing techniques and chalk paint recipe that you see on our site.
However, if you do much looking around the Internet, especially on Pinterest, you will see that distressed furniture can mean anything from shabby chic to utter destruction! The type of style that we do our own pieces in may be far different from what you would want or need in your home, or even a far cry from what you think is beautiful.
I think this is a good thing. It allows a very unique decorating style to become an art form in the hands of the painter. We stress this in our tutorials, but there is no right or wrong in this area; there is only your decorating style personality, your decorating needs and your imagination.
With those three things you have the power of Rembrandt to create a masterpiece for your home, and the fact that your piece may look different than the one you saw online only means that you now have a one-of-a-kind item that nobody else does – and you made it!
With that being said, if you are one who wonders “Hey, what is my decorating style?” or feels overwhelmed with all of the different styles of distressed furniture you see online we want to help you sift through the noise and find a style that fits your personality and your needs.
Here are some tips to help you get started thinking.
There are many different home decor styles out there. This post is not about all of them, but specifically about what types of distressed furniture styles may fit your personality and needs.
What Is Your Decorating Style Personality?
Not just how you think, act and feel on a personal level, but in regards to furniture and decor. What kind of furniture makes you go crazy when you see it? What kind of furniture makes your breath stop, and your heart start singing “I Gotta Have This”?
Do you frequent antique shops? Is it the old, worn antique, filled with decades of obvious wear that brings you to life?
How about a piece that is so beaten and worn out it looks as if it is about to disintegrate before your eyes?
Or do you love the soft simplicity of the Shabby Chic look?
Start paying attention while you look at pieces in person or online, and let your eyes and your heart tell you when you’ve found something special. You can only find it inside. If you only buy or decorate with what is hot, what is new, or what is in, I think you will be missing out on what really moves you. Your true decorating personality is not likely to change just because some celebrity is decorating in a certain style this week.
What Are Your Decorating Needs?
Remember, to be practical. You do not need or have room for every piece that you see and love. It is always wise to strike a balance between your needs and your wants. What good is it to have that gorgeous, rare and central piece of furniture in the room if it’s crammed in there with a thousand other unnecessary and distracting items.
Look for ways to turn dull pieces that you already own into works of art. Do you own distressing and at the level that fits your style and your needs for that room. Even just a coat of chalk paint with no distressing can do wonders for a dull room.
Keep it simple and be honest with yourself. You do not need every piece. Just the best ones!
When you are creating distressed furniture there is no better way to express yourself than by being creative and letting your imagination, as well as the piece itself, determine the outcome. Don’t box yourself into a certain way of doing things just because everyone else is doing it that way.
Distressed furniture is art in its own way. Don’t worry about trying something new. Something new is something unique and that is always a good thing.
Lurking around your house, or possibly in the local thrift shop lies a piece of furniture that is screaming out to be turned into a new and amazing piece of art. Go get it and get started.