Posted by: Small House Under a Big Sky Homestead | June 25, 2012

Vintage Dressing Table Reveal

Trash to Treasure… my $10.00 garage sale scored, up-cycled vintage dressing table becomes my office desk.

When I was just getting started with painting furniture, I really wanted to paint this dressing table and stool in a true ‘country style’ with the much lauded Annie Sloan Chalk paint. This project this was the perfect push to help me do it.

The greatest part?  This water-based, low odor (VOC safe!) paint bonds so well that it doesn’t require sanding or an expensive primer coat, though it does require a final coat of wax to protect the painted surface from chipping and to give your piece the lovely, vintage and aged look so many of us love.

The dressing table sanded but before restoration.

This piece had quie a bit of veneer missing and had to be replaced.

And, a fair amount of overall wood repair needed too.

Painting the Dressing Table:

As seen above,  this piece required quite a bit of repair before painting. My dear husband helped me with this project since he loves to work with wood and I was off painting other pieces.  He glued the lifted veneer in several places and replaced missing pieces of veneer in multiple areas using  JD Wood-weld 2-part epoxy. We sanded quite a bit with a rotating and a belt sander as well as a Dremmel close up sander for edges to get the surface smooth enough to smooth out the imperfections.

I choose Emperors’ silk red as this color is so pure and so red and because it will look lovely contrasting against the deep green color of my office walls and the green and red patterned area rug.

Because I’m an artist that likes to experiment (and also maybe a bit crazy) and I often try things that the products say’s, ‘do not do.’ Here is a case where I experimented using a conventional paint (mistake number 1) and choose a Benjamin Moore green I used previously on a front door. Though I really like the color of the green paint, I do not think the experiment worked and will not be repeating it. What was I thinking?

Here was my thinking….I was feeling like a latex house and trim paint for the top of a desk might be more durable than wax and, was hoping that the insides of the drawers I was painting might hold up better as this paint is made for exterior use. I also had this paint on hand which meant no out-of-pocket costs and it was the exact color I wanted. (Same mistake as above…do not, as they say, try this at home.)

While the two-tone effect was definitely worth the effort, I will in the future stick with chalk paint with chalk paint, especially when I plan to wax.

I used the “dipped feet” method (though I actually did it by hand.)

This is the first piece where I used the dark wax and in all honesty I did not like the results using my novice method. Correction, I loved the wax on the ASCP Emperor’s Silk paint but not on the conventional paint. Now I get why this is not recommended!

I re-waxed the top three times, painting over it again one more time and then finishing with clear wax.

Why I love this dressing table:

  • I love its charm, its curves, the lines and the sweet feminine look of the piece.
  • I had a dressing table as a young girl (wish I still had it) and this brought back good memories.
  • I love the drawers, as they were built using tongue and groove technique and will probably outlast me!
  • I love the original glass pulls.

The Coordinating Stool: I had been looking for a stool for some time and found this simple stool with pretty legs at Goodwill for $6.99. I feel that I really tested the qualities of the chalk paint on this project. This stool was stained in a dark walnut and had a high gloss surface of most likely polyurethane. I applied the chalk paint directly over the existing finish and found that I had to paint the wood several times to cover the sheen. But I was able to paint this surface without any sanding, as promised.

The stool before, shiny…shiny.

Stool painted, no wax.

Fabric for the Stool: I could have bought a yard of upholstery fabric for around $30.00. But I hadchallenged myself to do this project on the cheap. I found two large bed pillow cases in a feminine pattern at a resale shop for $5.00 for two. This gave me enough material for the stool and a second covering for a future project such as a large throw pillow or maybe a matching runner.

Stool completed with fabric on it.

The Waxing: If you’ve read about others crafters who work with the ASCP paint and wax system you know that the dark wax highlights the details in the turned legs, carvings and so on. The wax also deeply really richens the look of final piece so it’s worth the cost and the time to apply. In addition, both the clear and the dark wax add a protective seal to the painted piece to protect it from chipping so it’s a necessary step.

I’d read that the wax dries rather quickly, so I assembled all of my tools; brushes and rags before I opened the can of wax. Because this wax carries an oily/waxy smell, I elected to work outside in the shade of my studio to keep the studio smelling fresher and take advantage of the shade so as to not increase the drying time of the wax.

I worked in a small section of the stool at a time, waxing it on and wiping it off as I went. In order to save costs, I tested an older somewhat stiffer than recommended paste brush (that I had on hand) with a flat painting brush on stand-by in case it was needed.

On the green, I “stippled” the wax onto the painted surface one section at a time. I gave it a few minutes to set and then wiped it off. I had a cotton t-shirt on hand so used that. Since this time I have used Annie Sloan’s preferred cheesecloth method of applying and wiping and like her method much better.

Total Project Cost: $44.99

Dressing Table: $10.00

Stool: $6.99

Stool Fabric: $5.00 for two pillowcases

Paint and Wax: Approx. $23.00 (figuring a per piece cost at $15.00 for the dressing table and $8.00 for the stool.)

Hope you enjoyed the adventure, I sure did!

Small House / Big Sky Donna


  1. You actually make it appear so easy along with your
    presentation but I find this topic to be really something that
    I believe I’d never understand. It seems too complex and very large for me.
    I’m having a look forward on your next publish, I’ll attempt to get the hang of it!

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