Chair Makeover with Chalk Paint Recipe

In: Home Decor Tutorials, Mom's Riverside Bedroom
Hands Down Best ChalkPaint Recipe

Happy Monday everyone!  I’m so happy to be sharing another project from my Mom’s Riverside Bedroom Makeover with you today!  It’s a short one, a desk chair makeover with my tried and true chalk paint recipe.

So, Mom has had this chair with broken caning forever.  It sits neatly tucked under her roll top desk in the entryway, never seeing the light of day.  This is because if someone were to try to sit on it, they most surely would meet an unhappy ending.  See for yourself…

Broken cane chairIt’s really an adorable little chair, but obviously, not functional.  Also, the color, just isn’t going to match the rest of the space.  It needs a bit of work to say the least.

Not wanting to sand all of the nooks and crannies of this chair, I decided that chalk paint would be the best route.  No pre-sanding necessary.  Now, as much as I would love to be a part of the Annie Sloan chalk paint movement, I just can’t.  I’m cheap and that stuff is expensive.  I have, however, tested about 100 different chalk paint recipes found all over the web for the last year.

To name a few:

  • Paint + Calcium Carbonate
  • Paint + plaster of Paris
  • Paint + Baking Soda

I’ve come to a conclusion…

I love, love, love this recipe:


  • 1-2 tbsp. unsanded grout.  I’ve used white and light gray.
  • 1-2 cups of latex paint.
  • Finishing wax
  1. Mix the grout a little at a time with tiny bits of water until it’s smooth like yogurt.  I buy the plastic leftover dishes at the Dollar Tree and re-use them for all of my chalk paint mixtures.
  2. Add the latex paint.  I’ve used all different finishes-satin, flat, semi-gloss- whatever I have laying around the house.  It doesn’t matter, they all come out a flat matte.
  3. Mix it really well, but slowly so that you don’t get air bubbles.
  4. Apply in long even strokes with a synthetic paint brush.  I’m picky about my brushes, another post to come soon :)
  5. Apply as many coats as you like, but sand in between with a 280-320 grit sandpaper.  Use a light touch if you don’t want to do any distressing.  It sands really easily and smoothes really quickly.
  6. For the finishing wax, I’ve used Minwax dark wax for antiquing and then also the clear finishing wax.   I also really like the DecoArt Cream wax.


First I had to remove the caning.  Not an easy task, but it had to be done.  The hardest part is sweeping the junk up afterwards.  That’s where the leaf blower comes in handy 😉

chair with caning removed


For Mom’s Desk chair, I mixed my chalk paint using Valspar Magpie Paint to match the rest of the furniture in her room so far.  This chair used two coats and I did some mild distressing to allow the original color of it come through, then one coat of the DecoArt Clear Cream Wax.

Dark Gray chalk painted chair with caning removed


I cut some scrap board to add to make a full seat.  Then using my Kreg Jig, I drilled pocket holes into each side.  Using this method makes the seat super duper strong.

Using Kreg Jig to drill holes into board


Pocket holes made with Kreg Jig to repair a chair

Pocket holes made with Kreg Jig to repair a chair

For the seat, I knew that Mom would want a nice soft cushion.  Look folks, I don’t really do fabric.  I can sew a straight line, but other than that, give me wood, paint and power tools any day.  Still, I gave it my best effort and quick whipped up a cushion using some scrap fabric, foam, and a glue gun.

If she doesn’t like it, she can rip it apart and sew it to her liking.  Just like the apron I had to sew for 7th grade home ec.  Except this time, she doesn’t have to wait until I go to bed to fix it 😉  True story.  Sad, but true.

Dark Gray chalk Painted chair


Next time you’ll see this little lovey will be in my Mom’s room when it’s all finished!  I hope you give the recipe a try and let me know how you like it.  What homemade chalk paint recipes have you tried?  What one do you like best?




  • Hope Williams

    I can’t wait to try this recipe. Love the chair too!

    • Erica

      Hi Hope! Thanks so much! I’d love to hear what you think!

      • Hope Williams

        Hi Erica. I do not know what I’ve done, but I am getting bombarded by emails from discus. I have not heard of this till yesterday. Please help me get off of this. I did not install anything.

        • Erica

          Oh my goodness, I have no idea why! If you go on disqus and go to settings, you can probably turn off email notifications. I’ve never experienced that before! So sorry!

          • Hope Williams

            Got it! Shewww, thank you kindly.!

            (; I love mountian life 😉

  • Sue Pekarek

    Love the makeover x100. It looks great and I am a member of the cannot sew too, so thumbs up. As I was reading I am thinking I want to use your recipe for chalk paint to paint our wood piano white or black. Do you think it will work well on the piano?

  • Cecilia Bramhall

    I use unsanded grout recipe too. Works great as long as you get all the lumps out. :) chair looks wonderful!