Painted Wooden Chest: A Makeover with FolkArt Home Decor Chalk Paint

Thanks to Plaid Crafts for sponsoring today’s tutorial. All opinions are, as always, honestly my own.

One of my absolute favorite things to do craft-wise is to take an old piece of furniture and give it new life and a whole new look! I’ve found tables and stools at Goodwill and even a buffet by the side of the road, then transformed them into statement decor for my house. Recently, a good friend asked me if I’d like to have a wooden writing chest. She’d had it for years and wasn’t using it, so she thought maybe I’d like to give it a makeover…which I definitely did! Here’s how I transformed it using one of my trusty go-to supplies, FolkArt® Home Decor Chalk Paint!


Wooden Box/Chest
FolkArt® Home Decor Chalk Paint
: I used Adirondack White, Parisian Grey, & Cascade
FolkArt® Home Decor Wax
FolkArt® Home Decor Brushes: Chalk and Wax Set
FolkArt® Stencils: Small Cassablanca and Scroll Medallion
FolkArt® Stencil Brush
FolkArt® Metallics: Sahara Gold
Sponge Brush
Painters’ Tape

Here’s a look at the outside of the chest when I received it from my friend. Keep this in mind as you see the transformation!

Step 1: Remove the hardware.

The only piece I wasn’t able to remove was the lock on the front. Everything else was set aside so that I had access to the entire surface of the chest.

Step 2: Paint the entire exterior with FolkArt Home Decor Chalk Paint.

I used Parisian Grey for this part, but there are 41 colors to choose from, so you can pick your own favorites. If you’d like to, you can certainly sand the surface first, but one of my favorite things about this paint is that there’s absolutely no sanding or priming needed. Even though the chest had a glossy finish, the Chalk Paint adhered wonderfully. I gave it three coats to get the coverage I wanted since I was painting a light color over a dark finish. Make sure to let your paint dry completely between coats. The FolkArt Home Decor Chalk Brush is made specifically to work well with this paint, and comes in two sizes, so you can choose the one that best fits your project.

Step 3: Stencil the lid.

Once the base coats are completely dry, gently tape your stencil in place with painter’s tape. If you don’t have any, washi tape will do the trick too! Then, load a dry stencil brush with your desired color of Home Decor Chalk Paint {I used Adirondack White} and apply the color to the open areas of the stencil. Reposition your stencil as necessary until the entire surface is covered with your pattern.

*Pro tip: When stenciling, less is more! It’s far better to have to keep reloading your brush with paint than to use too much. The most common complaint I hear about stenciling is that the paint bleeds under the stencil, which is caused by using an excess of paint on your brush. Also, apply your paint by gently tapping the brush up and down in the open areas. Do not rub it around or brush it on like you would apply a regular coat of paint.*

Step 4: Paint your hardware.

If the hardware is in great condition, you may not need to do this, but as you can see from the “before” picture, mine wasn’t looking its best. To maximize your time, this is a great thing to do while you wait for the coats of paint to dry in step 2. Choose the color of FolkArt Metallics paint that most closely matches the existing color of your hardware. In my case, it was Sahara Gold. Then, apply your paint to the surfaces of the hardware with a sponge brush. Again, you’ll want to dab up and down for great coverage rather than using normal brushstrokes. You will probably need 3-4 coats, so just come back and add another coat to the metal when you’ve finished a coat on the chest. If you alternate, they’ll both be finished around the same time.

Step 5: Reapply the hardware.

Make sure to do this only when both the chest and the hardware itself are completely dry. I hate waiting as much or more as the next girl, but it’s worth it to make sure you don’t mess up your project before it’s even finished.

Here’s a look at the exterior of the chest after the makeover!

Chalk Paint Furniture Makeover

What do you think? So far so good? I’d like to note that while I photographed this project outdoors, its actual home is in a corner of my dining room. FolkArt Home Decor Chalk is for indoor use only, so if you’re working on a piece of furniture for your porch, you’ll want to check out the new FolkArt Outdoor paint line instead.

Chalk Paint Furniture Makeover

Now, let’s take a look at transforming the inside, shall we? Here’s how it looked initially. There’s a wooden piece inside that flips up and down to reveal lots of space and a cute little repositionable tray for your pens and other writing materials…or really, anything you want!

Instead of using the same colors on the inside, I thought it would be fun to add a pop of something unexpected. Cascade is hands down my favorite of the 41 Chalk Paint colors {in fact, I have a coffee table, two end tables, and part of a bookshelf painted with it}, so I decided to use it for this step.

Step 6: Paint the entire interior with FolkArt Home Decor Chalk Paint.

I plan on storing my hand lettering supplies, like markers, sketchbooks, and more in this chest, so I like knowing that this paint is water-based and non-toxic. I don’t have to worry about whatever I store inside being exposed to chemicals or anything that would damage it. Once again, I applied three coats of paint, allowing it to dry completely in between.

This was probably the most time consuming step, because I couldn’t disassemble the box other than removing the little tray. I had to do one side of the divider and then the other, and there were lots of small spaces in the top that I had to make sure I covered completely.

Step 7: Apply decorative stencils.

Using the same stenciling technique, I applied the Scroll Medallion stencil to the pocket in the lid of the chest as well as inside two of the tray compartments.

This is one of my all-time favorite stencils because it’s so small and fits perfectly as a decorative touch on just about anything!

Here’s a look at the painted interior after its makeover:

Chalk Paint Furniture Makeover

I absolutely love the combination of colors and the elegance that the stencils give to the piece. Now, it fits in perfectly with the decor in my home and will be the perfect place to store my lettering supplies. Unlike the glossy sheen it had before, the chest now has an ultra matte chalk finish and a whole new “personality.”

As you can see from the stencils, this Chalk Paint is perfect for layering. It’s also ideal for distressing if you like. Normally, I do distress my painted wood projects, but for some reason I just couldn’t bring myself to do it this time. The piece is just so pretty painted as it is, and I didn’t want to risk damaging it. However, if you choose, you can simply sand off some of the paint by hand or with a small power sander along the edges and corners to give your piece an aged and worn appearance. As for me, I’m keeping mine as is.

Chalk Paint Furniture Makeover

Step 8 {optional}: Apply wax.

The next step, if you choose, is to seal your project with FolkArt Home Decor Wax. It’s totally optional, but if you expect your project to get a lot of wear and tear, you may want to consider it. The wax adds a rich texture and depth while sealing and protecting your paint job. Like the paint itself, the wax is water-based, non-toxic, and made in the USA. I always seal furniture pieces to protect them from the potential damages of daily use. To apply the wax, simply use the FolkArt Home Decor Wax Brush to gently rub the wax into the painted surface.

Step 9: Finishing touches

This will depend on your unique piece…obviously you aren’t going to have a chest exactly like mine, so you’ll be working with the characteristics of your individual piece of furniture. In my case, there was a key tied to one of the handles with a red plaid ribbon when the box was given to me. So, I replaced the ribbon with one that better matched the new color scheme.

You may have also noticed that the chest sits on a tray. The legs are metal, but the tray itself is wood, so that needed to be painted as well. I gave it three coats of White Adirondack, in addition to painting the hardware to match that of the chest.

Overall, I couldn’t be more pleased with how this upcycle turned out. As it was, the chest had some really neat features, but the metal was old and worn looking and the wood itself didn’t match the decor in my home. Now, I feel like it’s a statement piece that perfectly complements the rest of the furniture in my dining room, including the dining set and buffet I repainted as previous projects!

What about you? Is there a piece of furniture in your home that could use a similar refresh? FolkArt Home Decor Chalk Paint is available in craft stores near you in the 8 oz size containers I used as well as in new 2, 16 and 32 oz sizes, so there’s a perfect size for every project! Looking for more ideas? Be sure to follow Plaid on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for more crafty inspiration!

Chalk Paint Furniture Makeover

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  1. Hi Amy your new room looks awesome!!! It gives me inspiration to do my room. I love the the colors too!! Relaxing and comforting room. Really nice Amy, just love it Warmly, Sue

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