How to Chalk Paint a Dresser With a Modern Finish

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. 

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.

If you can’t find paint in the color you like, check out the craft store where 2 oz. bottles of acrylic paint are sold. When using these, follow this acrylic craft paint chalk paint recipe.

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. You inspired me with this beautiful piece abc now Behr Beautiful Dream is the color I’m doing my 9 yr old daughter’s room, that and pearl white for her antique furniture, and the lighter Icelandic Blue of the same Behr palette as her wall color, trimmed in bright white. I’m not distressing her furniture either, and trimming the ornate carvings with metallic gold for a “Queen’s bed.” This color is GORGEOUS!!! I bought a gallon so I can make things for my friends. Thank you for finding and sharing. I spent months looking for the perfect periwinkle blue.

  2. Love the new look of your dresser. It turned out just lovely. Chalk paint really is a breeze to use on furniture projects and when you add new knobs like you did, wow!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Suzen – Thanks – The chalk paint and finish has held up perfectly for 6 years now. Another reason I think chalk paint is the best for furniture. It is so durable.

  3. Whitney Childress says:

    I love everything about that makeover. It’s absolutely stunning!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thank you Whitney. :-)

  4. It could just be on my end, but I can’t pin this post using the pin buttons at the top or bottom of post. Thanks for sharing this. I don’t generally go for the distressed look, so I appreciate your take on simply using chalk paint as a nice finish.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Michelle – Thank you for taking the time to tell me about the Pin buttons not working. I had my tech person look into it and was told all is back to normal. So you can pin again. Thank you for wanting to pin from my site. XO

  5. Greetings from Australia. Cannot believe I just found your post!!! I was in the hardware yesterday asking why I couldn’t use primer as ‘chalk paint’ and was just told because it’s undercoat and not top coat and wouldn’t be hard enough!! Had absolutely no idea how cheap and easy to transform any paint to chalk paint. I’m painting an old tv unit and want that coastal look – I’m so excited! How long does the paint need to cure before putting the matt polyurethane on top? Going to search around under the house for some calcium carbonate right after I finish my coffee!!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Ali – I am happy that you found my site. Many of the guys at the hardware store are a little behind the times when it comes to painting furniture. :-)

      If you can’t find Calcium Carbonate powder, you can also use chalk line snapping powder that is sold to go in a chalk line making tool. These are sold at hardware stores.

      After you get the paint coverage you want, I would wait overnight to poly it. You want to make sure that the paint is really dry and not just to the touch. Overnight or 8 hours is good. If it is very humid in your area, then I would wait 24 hours.

  6. Caroline W says:

    Wow – that dresser is pure class. You have a lovely eye and touch!

  7. Hi Diane! So after years of use–how well did the DIY chalk paint hold up? I was going to use your recipe for the CCP and latex paint only because I couldn’t find the exact color I wanted. It is a free standing cabinet in the kitchen which means lots of handling! There will be no distressing, so now I’m wondering if the real deal holds up better than the DIY chalk paint. Thanks so much for your feedback!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Valerie – After painting with DIY Chalk paint for many years, it is holds up perfectly – exactly like brand name chalk paints, even better. Distressing or not distressing does not change anything about the durability – only the style or look of the piece.

  8. I love your dresser. I have one similar that I am going to start on next week. You are so lucky to still have the key. Do you have any idea where I could get a key to fit mine. The key and tassel is the perfect finishing touch. Great job.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Shene – You can find skeleton keys at most antique shops and flea markets. You may have to try a few to find one that fits. It may not actually work, but it will sit in the hole so you can hang a tassel.

  9. Hi Diane ,

    I love these drawers they are amazing. I just typed in for chalk paint advice and your site came up. I am just starting to use chalk paint myself and have wondered where it has been my entire life!
    Thank you for the great tips. The colour theme you have gone for is beautiful.

    I am just starting up my blog, please let me know what you think.

  10. How can I get a shinier finish after painting with the chalk paint mixture? Thanks! :)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Angela – If you want a shiner finish, use Minwax Polycrylic in Semi-Gloss or Gloss over the chalk paint, not wax.

      1. Becky Ducsik says:

        I chalk painted a piece of furniture and waxed it (Annie Sloan products), but the finish was pretty dull and spotty (even after buffing it). I added a layer of polycrylic, and it’s very streaky. Do you have any recommendations for getting a consistent sheen?

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Becky – Did you remove the wax before applying Polycrylic? You can’t poly over wax. The wax would have to be removed first. If you polyed over the wax, then the poly may not adhere and that could be why the finish looks streaky. Let me know and I will try to help you figure out what to do to get a nice smooth finish.

          1. Becky Ducsik says:

            I didn’t remove the wax before applying the poly . I won’t wax next time, and I’ll see how it turns out! Thank you so much for the tip! Super helpful!!

  11. I can’t find your recipe that uses calcium carbonate and the paint+primer (photo here). I only see one with latex paint – is it the same?

  12. Julie A Shearer says:

    Absolutely beautiful !! Thanks for sharing all of your great tips.

  13. Elaine in Baltimore says:

    I love this dresser. You are so clever and I am so inspired. I have a chair in my garage I got at a 2nd hand store that I am going to chalk paint this weekend thanks to you. What an inspiration your site is!

  14. Chairforce says:

    Really Beautiful ! I love the texture and work with chalk paint. I really inspired with your way to work.

  15. interior designers in Chennai says:

    Good day Daine

    The finish and quality obtained by chalk paint and wax can never be compared with any other material.It is so evident from your work.The attention to detail part is what makes these works unique and stand apart from others that I have seen.We undertake similar work in Chennai-India

  16. Raquel Miles says:

    Hi Diane!

    I love your site! You are soooo creative! I love that you explain everything in detail. Beautiful pretties:)

    I am just starting out painting furniture. I have run into a few problems as a beginner.

    I hope I am not duplicating this question. If so, I apologize in advance! Can you tell me, when painting vintage/antique furniture, how do you keep the drawers from rubbing against the chest and chipping the paint or rubbing the colors off on each other? (I used chalk paint and a polyurethane for protection) I used a piece of self adhesive Velcro on the chest below the drawers but I am not sure it will hold up! Your expert advice is appreciated. Have a great day!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Raquel – I remove the drawers when I paint a piece and don’t put them back in the dresser until the dresser and drawers are dry. everything is dry.

  17. My husband is an avid woodworker and as always balked at painting solid wood furniture. I wanted to let you know that I used your chalk paint recipe an painted our bathroom vanity. It is such an improvement over the golden oak! It gave the bathroom a much needed update. Even Kevin was impressed with my results! Thank you for the info and inspiration.


    love how the dresser turned out the color fits it!
    i Would love to feature it, if that would be ok please let me know.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks for asking. Yes, you may feature it as long as you include a link back to my post.

  19. Elisabeth says:

    Hi Diane,

    I’ve read this post about 5 times now, and each time I discover another new link to another of your great posts! Ha ha. Don’t write any more until I’ve read them all…. and their links! Honestly your ideas and instructions are just fabulous, and greatly appreciated. The photos, too, are just great. Thanks so much, Diane.

    Cheers, Liz.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks so much Elizabeth. XO I fixed your comment so it says “link” :-) I have been blogging for 6 years and have lots of content. I can’t even remember all the projects I have posted about and have to scroll through every now qnd then to remind myself. Since starting my blog, I have learned LOTS about photography. It is one of the areas of blogging that I found I enjoy.

  20. Love your work,used your formula for chalk paint,I’m wanted to know if you have tried chalk paint on plastic or faux wood,I bought a large round clock from thrift store.i liked the chunky frame and want to chalk paint it,didn’t know if it needs a primer first.Im planning on painting clock face with real chalk paint you can write on.Thanks

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Susie –

      You can use chalk paint over fake wood. I have never used it on plastic yet, but have on a laminate surface. You can view the post that I did on a piece of laminate furniture:

      You do not need primer, but I always go over every surface with 100 grit sandpaper using a hand sanding block. I quick 5 minutes will be enough to rough up the surface so the paint has something to adhere to. DIY chalk paint that you make is pretty much the same thing as chalkboard paint that you can write on.

  21. Love the way the dresser came out. I have two ignored pieces in my bedroom I’ve been eyeing for rehab. I never luck out on the knobs at home goods, they alway have them but in designs I can’t use, not that I’ll stop looking. Love the bronze paint, will pick some up.

  22. Josephine says:

    Oh Diane! I just wanted to say I’ve been enjoying your posts and hope to someday find the courage to be as creative as you. Sometimes I get ideas but once I start to think too much, nothing happens. I will be trying to decoupage the top of a dresser in our guest room with the same gift wrap you used with yours. Before that I would like to paint it white and this post will be very helpful. If my husband can manage keeping our two kids out of the house for a day, I hope to get started. Thanks for the inspiration!

  23. Sharon Hoham says:

    Periwinkle Blue is a favorite of mine, too. Years ago I rented a loft in an old house in the Hillcrest area of San Diego and it was PB when I moved in, but the wonderful owner (still a great friend at 93!) had a contractor husband and they remodeled the entire downstairs and went with a different finish. My husband and I got to redo the entire top floor where we lived, our first reno! It turned out so well, we stayed ten years before buying our own home1

    I am always bragging about your blog to said husband, you inspire and always create such fresh clean happy looks. Keep it going! Thanks Diane.

  24. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    Oh heavens above, I love the new painted dresser. Periwinkle Blue is my all time, favoritest color in the whole wide world. I so wanted to use it in my bedroom, but my little powder room has the 60’s greenish blue ceramic tiles and baseboards. So the slight, but pale turquoise was my choice. And since I got it for $7 a gal as a HD boo boo…… I just mix it with a lot of white. But your dresser is my dream come true.

    You never fail to do everything so perfect. To me anyway. You are my total inspiration on all things I dream to do to my house.

    I want to ask you if you would mind telling us your new wall color paint and brand, cause I forgot it and where to find it? I personally only use the Behr for the last couple of years…. I really love it. And if we have a color code, HD will try to match it for us……. love that too.

  25. Paul @ eco stores says:

    Love to see before and after shots of all things done up. The drawers look lovely, so admire the color. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Curious as to why you used the Calcium Carbonate recipe and not the one where you also mix in plaster of paris with the calcium as you mentioned it was your favorite diy chalky paint in a previous post. Have you changed your mind? Thanks.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Erin – I used the CCP recipe because the paint was a Paint + Primer in One formula. Plaster of Paris can sometimes make these 2 in 1 formulas of paint get clumpy and not spreadable. I only use straight latex paint with no primer in it when I use Plaster of Paris.

      1. Ingrid Scholz says:

        You used paint and primer, yet in earlier posts you say not to use “primer”. So is OK to use it? I just got a bunch of sample pots and all are Behr Maquee 2 in1. I hope that I can use them. BTW, love the dresser, a beautiful job.

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Ingrid – Since I wrote my initial chalk paint posts, paint formulas have changed. Most major brands of paint have gotten on the Paint + Primer in One formula bandwagon. I have found that when using Non-sanded grout and Plaster of Paris to make chalk paint, you need to use plain ole latex. If you use a primer or acrylic formula it may turn to sludge when you mix it up. It may not, but that has been my experience. If you use the Calcium Carbonate Powder recipe, you can use any type of paint. This is one reason I like using it the most.

  27. Ruth Anne says:

    Love the color you chose for your dresser–it looks lovely with your bedspread and accessories. Not every piece of vintage furniture needs to be distressed and your finished piece proves that. Thanks for sharing!

  28. The dresser turned out beautifully. That color is so you and it will look great in your bedroom. The glass drawer knobs are so pretty and just enough sparkle. I always enjoy reading your DIY posts. You do great tutorials. I’m anxious to see the complete remodeled room. Vikki in VA

  29. Hi Diane,
    I have a question about chalk paint.
    I have done several projects with home made chalk paint using grout.
    The projects in the past were painted in light shades.
    My last project was painted in a deep red. I got inspired by your piece that you did when you went to Miss
    I was worried that if I used white grout that the red pain would turn pink.
    So I used grey grout. When I mixed the paint and grout together I got purple.
    I chose not to ditch the paint. I just couldn’t. I thought that the red satin paint that I had would adhere well because do the grout in the last layer.
    I did put two coats of the the red. Waited 24 hours and then put the Paste Wax as you instructed.
    But I still have this question to ask, if I followed through with the white grout and the deep red would I have been alright? Would the colour have stayed red?
    Diane I have ventured where I may have not ever thought to go before I saw your blog.
    I am extremely grateful for all your incredible clever creativity, your attitude towards recycling.
    You really are looking out for us. You keep the cost at a minimum. Making your project very affordable.
    Thank you.
    You inspire me.

    1. Elisabeth says:

      Here, here! I agree, Marsha. I love Diane’s blog.

  30. Stephanie @ Casa Watkins says:

    Love it! I especially like the drawer liner and the painted key hole. This is the second time you’ve lucked out with knobs at HomeGoods. I still can’t find them here in the Maryland branch. :( thanks for sharing.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Stephanie – Did you look at the merchandise in the check- out line? That is where I found the knobs. I was at another Home Goods today in my area and I saw two different kinds.

      1. Stephanie @ Casa Watkins says:

        Hi Diane, I looked at that aisle last week and I didn’t see them. I guess my branch doesn’t want to carry the awesome stuff your’s does. :( Thanks so much. You have the magic touch in incorporating these budget friendly accents into high end looks.

        1. Stephanie@ Casa Watkins says:

          I just found them at HomeGoods!!!! Thanks for the tip.

          1. Diane Henkler says:

            YAY! So happy to hear you found them Stephanie. Now you can say you are HomeGoods Happy :-)

  31. Betty Baker says:

    Hi you clever gal – I have said it before – “you are not just a pretty face” I love it, the colour is absolutely beautiful and the lining of the drawers are lovely. I so love your blog. Regards from Betty In Ontario, the way 2 and 2 is 4..LOL

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Betty :-)

  32. Connie Nikiforoff Designs says:

    Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous! I love the color and I also love the smooth look with chalk paint & wax. It’s nice to show people that not every piece of painted furniture has to be distressed :-D

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      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. :-)

  33. Susan Newberry says:

    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. :)

  34. Jo wright says:

    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.

  35. 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?

  36. Elisabeth says:

    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. Connie Nikiforoff Designs says:

      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. Diane Henkler says:

      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.