How to Chalk Paint a Dresser With a Modern Finish

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When you want to chalk paint a dresser and seal it with soft wax doesn’t mean the finish has to be distressed. Chalk paint can also be used to paint furniture and give it a modern edge. I did just this when I painted a dresser in my bedroom with homemade chalk paint. 

Post updated: 7/24/2021

Chalk paint a dresser with no distressing, including how to paint the metal details on furniture with brass paint.

Chalk Paint Without Distressing

I have painted quite a lot of furniture using chalk paint and this is the second piece where I didn’t distress the painted finish. I didn’t want it to look old and aged. I wanted a new, bright and chic look.

I chose a periwinkle blue color by Behr called Beautiful Dream #590A-3.  The perfect paint color name for a bedroom, right?   I wanted something bright, but not too bold that read calm, relaxing, and serene.

Pale green dresser before getting a makeover with chalk paint

Here is how the dresser looked BEFORE painting it with chalk paint.

It belonged to my grandmother and had been painted at least 2 times before. Once by my aunt back in the 70’s and then by me in the 90’s.

Light periwinkle blue chalk painted dresser with key tassel hanging from top drawer.

I found the glass knobs at HomeGoods. A set of four for $8!  They were in the checkout line area.   The tassel I have had forever.  

I didn’t want a distressed look for the finish, but still whipped up a batch of DIY homemade chalk paint to paint it.

Furniture makeover using DIY chalk paint that is not aged or distressed.

Chalk paint is not only for the “old and chippy” look. It can look fresh and modern, too.

How to Chalk Paint a Dresser

I prefer the look and feel of chalk paint sealed with soft wax over latex paint with a poly finish on a piece of furniture.

The painted finish looks more professional – like a smooth finish that has always been on the piece, not just a painted piece of furniture. The finish is smooth and with a subtle sheen with none of that latex tackiness.

If you are not familiar with how to make and use DIY Homemade Chalk Paint, you can find all the information you will need at the end of this post.

How to make chalk paint to make custom paint colors to use on furniture makeovers

For the dresser, I used the Calcium Carbonate Powder recipe to make my DIY homemade chalk paint.

  • It can be mixed with any paint, even a paint and primer in one formula. I buy it at my local health food store, but you can also buy it online, where beer making supplies are sold and farm stores. One 12 oz. container will be enough to paint a few pieces of furniture.

How to Chalk Paint a Dresser For a Modern Finish

No matter what you may have read, when using chalk paint, you do not have to sand, BUT… it can’t hurt to go over the surface using a piece of 100 grit sandpaper held in your hand. You will be rewarded with a lasting finish.

  • Sand the entire surface first with 100 grit sandpaper either in your hand or use a sanding block. All it takes is a quick 5 minutes to rough the surface up a bit so the paint has something to adhere too.  No major sanding needed.
  • Clean off the sanding grit.
  • To make the chalk paint, here is where you can find the recipe using Calcium Carbonate Powder
  • I only needed 2 cups of paint to paint the dresser. I gave it 3 light coats and still have a little bit left.
How to paint furniture with DIY chalk paint to create a modern finish

I let the paint dry for 24 hours before applying soft wax to protect and add sheen to the finish.

How to Seal a Modern Chalk Painted Finish?

The best furniture waxes for using over chalk paint

I have used many furniture and soft waxes and highly recommend the ones shown in the photo above, except Briwax.  Briwax has something in it that on a few occasions has taken the paint off a newly painted piece. It is better to use on bare wood.  I don’t have Annie Sloan clear wax in the photo, but have used it, I highly recommend it also.

Johnson’s Paste Wax is the least expensive and buffs to a nice sheen, but has quite an intense smell when you are working with it. Once dry, the smell goes away, though.

I do not recommend Minwax, unless you can find the white wax. I have only been able to find the orange tinted formula. It will change the color of your paint, especially if you are used a lighter color of paint.

Tips on Using Soft Wax to Seal Chalk Paint

The key to waxing a piece of chalk painted furniture is really not about the wax you use so much as how much wax you apply.

  • Use only a thin layer and buff with a soft cloth. Repeat the process after each layer. Some pieces of furniture take more effort to buff to bring up a sheen.
  • On this dresser, it took 3 thin coats of wax to get the level of protection and sheen I wanted.
  • I used a mix of Fiddes and Sons and Miss Mustard Seeds wax.
  • Use two cloths – one to apply the wax, and another to buff.  Old t-shirts work well to apply the wax.

When Buffing Wax On the Chalk Painted Furniture

Buffing is quite easy, but you do need to apply some pressure and use a lint-free cloth.

  • By experimenting with different types of cloths over the years, I have found that a cut piece from a very old and soft lint-free blanket works great to buff the wax to bring up the shine.  Not a wool blanket, but one that feels super soft against your skin.
  • Blue Workshop paper towels also work very well.

Should You Paint the Inside of Drawers on a Dresser?

How to wax furniture after chalk painting

When painting a dresser with chalk paint, it is totally up to you if you want to paint the inside and outer sides of the drawers.

I chose to paint them for this dresser makeover since the piece was old the inside of the drawers were very orangey brown. I wanted the piece to be bright and cheery, so I painted them.

Furniture makeover idea that uses gift wrap to line

No matter what kind of paint you use, chalk paint or latex, old furniture, especially the wood in the drawers can sometimes have a lot of wood tannins in it and these can leach out into a dried painted surface.

To stop tannins from coming through the paint, you can use a stain-blocking white primer or seal the inside with clear shellac before painting. Doing this will also help if the drawers have an old smell to them.

  • I used one coat of Kilz Original stain blocking primer first. Once that was dry, I used 2 light coats of ultra white paint.
Use decorative gift wrap or wall paper to line the drawers of a dresser

I lined the bottoms of the drawers with gift wrap.

Nice and bright with no more brown in sight.

How To Paint Key Holes on Furniture to Look Like Brass


On my dresser, both top drawers had a key hole that has been painted over previously. I tried to strip the paint off of them, but the metal did not look very nice, so I decided to paint each one to create a metal look with brass colored paint.

How to paint wood furniture to look like metal

A fine tipped brush and this Martha Stewart liquid gilding is all I needed. I bought it at Michaels.

Key tassel for furniture drawers

The final detail was adding the key tassel to one of the top drawers.

How to transform an old piece of furniture with chalk paint and wax that you don't need to age or distress.

How to create a modern finish on furniture using chalk paint.

I placed the dot art on the dresser to style the photo.  I painted a mirror that will go above the dresser, but it is not dry yet.  I will show you that later this week

I am so excited to have this done.  It makes everything I have done in my bedroom so far all come together.

To learn more on how to make and paint with chalk paint, check out these posts:

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    1. Thanks Connie – I get so many readers that write and tell me that they don’t want to use chalk paint since they don’t like aged finishes. I wanted to show that the paint can look great without any aging, dark wax, or distressing. :-)

  1. I love your new dresser. You did a wonderful job. I have made my own chalk paint, too, but never with Calcium Carbonate. You’ve inspired me to try that next time. Thanks for sharing. Love the knobs – what an excellent find. :)

  2. Thank you so much, I needed the inspiration and this post is perfect. Must be fate that this arrived the day I sat staring at my 20yr old chest of solid pine drawers, now a little bashed and gone a horrid yellow colour. I love the idea of making my own chalk paint & plan to use it as soon as the weather fairs up a bit so I can work in the garden. The glass Knobs are a very chic look too.

  3. I can’t imagine anything more perfect that Ultra White. Anything I do in white, its Ultra White. Its just so… clean. Perfect. Sparkling.

    I’m working up the courage to redo my master bedroom. Why is when you’re a craft-type person, you always are at then bottom of the list? Like the shoeless kids of the shoemaker?

  4. Hi Diane,

    The drawers look so lovely! What a gorgeous colour! Thanks so much for sharing all the details of the refinishing; always very helpful. I’ve used home made chalk paint using plaster of Paris, but not calcium carbonate. I would’ve thought they were one and the same??? But maybe not??

    You’ll enjoy those drawers every day! So lovely to have them done.
    Thanks again,
    Liz (Woonona Beach, Australia).

    1. Here’s what’s in Plaster of Paris (from the web)

      “Plaster of paris, quick-setting gypsum plaster consisting of a fine, white powder, calcium sulfate hemihydrate, which hardens when moistened and allowed to dry.”

      I’ve only used DIY chalk paint using Plaster of Paris but when I run out of it, I’m going to try calcium carbonate. So nice to know there are options for DIY chalk paint. Diane’s items always look stunning with her recipe :-)

    2. Hi Elizabeth – Plaster of Paris and Calcium Carbonate Powder are two different things. The calcium carbonate powder I use is food grade and is made to be ingested with water to build strong bones. Wine and Beer making suppliers also sell it.