How to Use Up Leftover Chalk Paint

A creative idea that shows you how to use up leftover chalk paint or any paint in your paint supply stash so it does not go to waste.

A few weeks ago I showed you a few items I bought at my local thrift store and told you as I transformed each one I would post about it. You can read what I did with the cheeseboard, here. Today I have the second thrift store find finished.

I really enjoy taking on small projects like this that allow me to take something with good bones, but not my style and transform it into my vision. It makes me feel like a designer except I do it one piece of merchandise at a time and not in a mass market kind of way.

I also like to use up my project supplies leftover from previous projects.  For this latest transformation, a small bottle of chalk paint with a small amount of paint still in it. I didn’t want it to go to waste and came up with a plan on how to use all of it to paint this…

Thrift-Store-Haul-tea-box before getting a chalk paint makeover

…this stained wood box. I had already started taping the glass off before snapping this “before” photo. I think the box was originally from The Bombay Company. Do you remember that store?  It is a box with a hinged lid to organize and store teabags.

I didn’t make this over for myself as I store my teabags in a basket in one of my kitchen drawers.

I made over this box to give to my youngest daughter for her birthday. When Ed and I last visited her, I noticed she kept her teabags in a cardboard box that was not very pretty.

A thrift store box transformed with leftover chalk paint

Now she has a pretty place to organize and store them in.

A box used to organize and store tea bags after getting a make over with leftover chalk paint

How to Paint a Small Object with Leftover Chalk Paint

supplies needed to makeover a thrift store find

supplies needed:

  • Wood box, chair, table whatever you want to paint
  • Two grades of sandpaper – 100 grit and 220 grit
  • Inexpensive Chalk Paint  – Waverly Inspirations from Walmart in the color Plaster
  • Antique gold metal label holders – Hobby Lobby
  • Paint brush
  • Optional to attach label to box – drill and tin drill bit or glue
how to properly sand wood before painting with chalk paint
  1. Go over the entire surface of the box or object you are painting with 100 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface a little. A few minutes is all that is needed. You DO NOT have to sand to the bare wood ever.  A quick sanding before chalk paint is a good thing, most brands of chalk paint say you don’t need to sand, but I always do as it will only help the paint adhere.
Chalk painting tips

2. Set up the object to be painted on foam blocks. (I save this foam from packaging) I used toothpicks to hold up the box’s dividers so they could easily be painted. I started using the leftover chalk paint I had in the color White, but after it was dry I realized I wanted the box to be a softer white.

How to paint odd shaped items easily

So I went back to my craft store purchased chalk paint stash and applied the second coat using more leftover chalk paint in the color, Plaster. Both paints are from Waverly Inspirations and sold at Walmart.

The paint in this bottle was getting dried out and clumpy so I had to cut the bottle in half to get the paint out. The paint had become thick, but that doesn’t matter especially if you are creating something to look aged or vintage. I just used a stiff brush to brush it onto the surface of the box and the dividers.

NOTE:  When painting something that will go inside the box like the dividers this box had, remember to use light coats since these will have to fit back into the box, a thick layer of paint may make that hard. If needed, sandpaper will help smooth out the paint to get it to fit.

How to Distress a Chalk Paint Finish With Sandpaper

What type of sandpaper to use when distressing furniture?

Once the chalk paint is dry. I let the box dry overnight. Use 100 grit sandpaper to distress the edges. This is where many newbies to aging furniture get nervous, but if you are after a distressed finish, you can really sand as little or as much as you want.

I think more always looks better when you are going after an aged look.  I have also use chalk paint to paint furniture and have not done any distressing to create a more modern look. It is all personal taste and style.

How to sand furniture to create a distressed look.

For the areas that you don’t want distressed, I still go over them with 220 sandpaper to smooth out any brush strokes in the painted finish. If you look closely you can see all the paint that comes off.

Doing this leaves the surface super smooth. I went over the entire box and the dividers.  I did have to use 100 grit sandpaper on the edges of the dividers to get them to fit back into the box. I also use a mallet to help coax them back in.

How much should I sand when distressing furniture?

I distressed the edges of the box quite a bit.

What is the best wax to use over chalk paint?

Once I distressed the paint, I added a thin layer of Annie Sloan’s clear wax. I have used many waxes, but this is the best. It goes on like butter and shines up quickly.

Johnson’s Paste wax is much cheaper and will shine up fast, but the smell is intense until it dries. Annie Sloan’s wax only has a slight smell.

How to apply chalk paint wax

I use old t-shirts to apply and then a clean one to buff the wax to a sheen. You’ll know when you have buffed the wax enough, the rag will slide right over the surface. If you don’t have an old-shirt, any soft cloth or Workshop style paper towels work well, too.

How to Attach Metal Label Holder to the Box

How to find and mark the center on an object or wall.

To find the center of the box, I used a ruler and tape. Apply the tape by the center and mark the center on the tape. If you mark the surface of the box, you run the risk of not being able to get the mark off the painted finish.

how to attach a metal label holder to a box, drawer or door

I bought the metal label holder at Hobby Lobby in the scrapbook aisle of the store. It comes with paper fasteners not nails to attach it which was a nice option since the thickness of the box is only 1/4″ and I would have needed very short nails.

I then used my Dremel drill and tiny drill bit to make two small holes to place the fasteners in to attach the label holder. I could have glued it on, but since I had the tools I needed, I took the extra step. The splayed ends of the fasteners are inside the box.

How to make a label on a computer using Word or Photoshop

I made the label using Photoshop Elements, but you can simply type the word you want, size it and print it out using a word processor like Word. I cut the word out to fit inside the label holder.

How to protect paper labels that you use for organizing around your home

To protect the paper label, I cut a piece from a clear plastic (acetate) sheets. I save the clear plastic from box tops that note cards, candy and more come in.  I marked a piece, then cut it to size and slid it in front of the paper label.

Thrift store found tea box made over using leftover chalk paint

If you have leftover bottles of paint in your craft stash, look around your house to see if you have any small objects around that could use a makeover.  If not, there is always your local thrift store where you may find something just right for your needs and personal decorating style for a few dollars.

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  1. Cheryl Atkinson says:

    I love this Tea bag Box. I need to make one for my daughter. Thank you for the inspiration!

  2. Tami Lyon says:

    I absolutely love the tea box idea. I’m going to be hitting the thrift stores!

  3. I can’t wait to put it to use! XO

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks – I can’t wait to give it to you.

  4. Diane you are the most creative blogger I follow. You are also my first blogger. My house is full of your creations like your tuna fish can outdoor light fixture which I love and still use. This tea holder is so perfect in every way; useful and pretty. Please keep creating.

  5. You are SO clever! Just last week I was in our local Restore and saw a cute box with 3 drawers. Not knowing what I’d do with it, I passed on it. Fast forward 1 hour later and I was back in the store to get it but it was already gone! Now seeing your cute tea box makes me long for that missed opportunity even more!! I know your daughter will love her gift — for its beauty and the fact that it was made especially for her by her sweet mom! Great job!!

  6. Corey Snapp says:

    Having this in your home would make you feel like your in an expensive coffee shop!

  7. The idea of a tea box hit home-just what I ‘need’. I love to shop 2nd hand, but know I’d never be focued enough find a box. Amazon to the rescue! Just have to make a decision as to which one.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Mick – What would we do without Amazon? :-) It does make life easier when we need things fast and son’t have to leave home to get them.

  8. What a great present you made for your daughter! I especially like your tip to keep acetate to use for projects like this. I have stayed out of thrift shops lately but seeing this fun makeover is giving me the itch to find something that I’d like to give a new look and I definitely have plenty of chalk paint containers that need to be used for a small project.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Paula – I hadn’t been thrifting in awhile since I was so focused on getting the house updated. I enjoyed going out thrifting again. I won’t do it as much as I used to as I don’t want un-needed stuff, but it is fun to find treasures from time to time. Definitely use up that leftover chalk paint you have. It can take something you are tired of and transform it to something you will enjoy again.

  9. Sue Bauman says:


    The tea chest turned out incredibly well; better than new, even! I think your daughter will get many years of efficient service out of the chest you transformed so well and it will look classy in her home!

  10. Funny… just yesterday while cleaning out an old closet, I rediscovered an old wooden tea bag box! Mine is lined inside with that fuzzy-like stuff, though….and the top is all wood. I will give this some serious consideration! Thanks, Diane.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sharon – I can picture exactly the type lining you are talking about. It is fun when you unearth something in a closet or storage and say, “Oh..thats where you have been.” :-) Not having to paint the inside will make transforming your box much easier.

  11. Great, creative idea! Love It.

  12. Norma Rolader says:

    Oh my what a great and beautiful transformation

  13. Diane, I love this wooden box. I would never have thought to use dividers and create a storage box; especially not a practical but DARLING storage box for tea bags! I love it! You know, it has crossed my mind before how lucky your daughters are to have such a creative and talented Mother! I bet they are frequently gifted with all kind of lovely treasures from their sweet Mom. Diane, I DO remember the Bombay Company and how disappointed I was the day I went to their store and saw a large “Store Closing” sign in the window. The sale was great! I bought a set of dinnerware, four throw pillows, a large framed print and a few brightly colored little Jars. I collect antique/vintage ceramic and porcelain buttons; so my official search is on for a glass window wooden box to “copycat” yours and display my pretty buttons. Tell Mandy “Happy Birthday” from one of her Mom’s biggest fans.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Judy –

      I remember loving shopping at The Bombay Company as they always had nice stuff at low cost. Kind of like shopping at HomeGoods is these days. My daughter’s enjoy getting all the stuff I make and the hand-me-downs. I guess since I have always done creative things for them since they were little, it is just how they know life to be. I know they enjoy it and it has rubbed off on them as both are creative and enjoy living in their own style.

      Happy hunting for the box, since it was a mass-marketed item, the chances are high that you may find one.

  14. Sheryll $ Critters. says:

    I love this redo/birthday present!!!

  15. Love it – I need one! We drink lots of tea.

  16. I LOVE the finished product. It is beautiful and your daughter will love it.

    But I must also add that Waverly Inspirations Matte Chalk Finish Acrylic Paint is NOT a true chalk paint but as the name itself indicates is an acrylic with a matte finish.

    The results are quite similar to real chalk paint or even a DIY version of chalk paint,but keep in mind this paint is not true chalk paint.

  17. maureen hughes says:

    Very Creative! Love it, Diane.

  18. This is so cool-wish I was a tea drinker!! I too love the idea about the acetate. Thanks and happy birthday to your daughter later this month!

  19. I LOVE it!!!!! I want it!!!!?

  20. romeogirl says:

    So cute! Makes me want to drink tea!

  21. Marilyn Holeman says:

    Love it! Thanks for sharing, Diane.

  22. This project turned out fantastic, as usual. I really appreciate your comment about saving acetate from other boxes and using it for small projects. It will come in really handy as I do some re-organizing this winter!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Christy – Thanks. I have been saving the acetate for years and have quite a stash. It really makes a difference in keeping paper labels clean for free. I could use lamination to protect the paper, but that gets costly, free I like better. :-)