Admittedly, I don’t do many modern pieces. I’m more of a vintage/distressed kinda girl. I had a friend ask me to paint this piece for her in a more modern or “full coverage” look recently, so I thought I’d share a few tips on how to give old furniture a modern look using one of my favorite, go-to paints, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®.
It’s relatively easy to update your furniture by following a few steps. In this case, I’m updating a dresser, so there are a few extra steps. If you’re just looking to update a piece of furniture and don’t have to replace any hardware, you can skip to the bottom of the post where I share some painting tips.
sanding sponge (or electric sander)
drawer template (or measuring tape) and pencil
drill and drill bits
Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®, clear wax, and brushes
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Here is a before and after of the piece I worked on. It was in great condition, but definitely needed some updating.
Here’s how to achieve a modern look on your furniture.
1. Remove old hardware with a screwdriver.
2. Following the instructions on the package, fill old hardware holes with epoxy putty. On a lot of older pieces of furniture, for some reason, they used larger drawer pulls. The pulls on this piece were 4.5″ wide and it’s hard to find that size these days, so I filled in the holes so I could use new, more modern pulls.
This putty is so cool! It’s definitely worth having on hand if you ever repair furniture. When it dries is just as hard as wood, if not harder. We’ve actually rebuilt part of a leg on a buffet with it!
3. Fill in any other holes, gashes, or gouges on the piece so that the piece is nice and smooth when you paint. There were a couple spots from the knobs that I wanted to fill, so I used wood filler on them. I just put it on with my finger and let it dry.
4. After the wood filler and epoxy putty have had time to dry, use a sanding sponge (or electric sander) to sand the drawers smooth.
5. Buy new hardware for your piece and note the size. This will be important when you drill new holes in your piece.
6. Using a pencil and drawer template (or measuring tape), measure and mark where you want to mount your hardware. If you have a raised drawer like this, I’d suggest using the template/measuring on the inside of your drawer. It’s a flat surface, so your measurements will be more accurate. (I figured the out after I did it this way!)
7. Grab your drill bits and find one that is a little larger in diameter of the screws that came with your new hardware. Attach the drill bit to your drill and drill the previously marked holes. I actually had to use a couple drill bits because I stared out too small, but I’d much rather have to move up a size or two than have a huge hole!
Now you’re done with the hardware and it’s time to paint. (I jumped the gun a little and did a coat of paint early!)
8. Paint your piece with one coat of Chalk Paint® making sure to use long, even strokes to achieve a smooth finish. Once the first coat is dry, lightly sand all flat surfaces with a fine sanding sponge – probably around a 220 grit.
9. Repeat step 8.
10. If you still have a little bit of wood showing through here and there (which will happen more if you paint a light color on a dark piece or vice versa), pour a little chalk paint into a plastic cup and mix in a bit of water to thin it out. Paint the whole piece with your watered down paint and smooth out brush strokes. This step will help you get a nice, clean finish with out globbing on another whole coat of paint. This is actually my favorite step. I tried different techniques and this one was my favorite by far. It gives a really great finished look to your furniture.
11. Very lightly sand the flat surfaces with a fine sanding sponge.
12. Apply a coat of clear wax, making sure not to let it set too long before wiping the excess off.
13. Once the wax has dried for a few hours – or even over night – take a lint free cloth and buff the whole piece to give it a slight sheen. The more you buff, the more shiny – and modern – your piece will look.
A few notes . . .
* I painted this dresser in Cream by ASCP because it was a custom piece, but to get an even more modern look, choose a bold color like Emperor’s Silk, Napoleonic Blue, English Yellow, Antibes Green or Barcelona Orange.
* Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® is very easy to distress. It also shows faint brush strokes even after sanding. Those are some of the reasons I love it so much. This can, however, make it more difficult to achieve a modern finish. If you really want a super modern look, I would recommend using latex paint in a paint sprayer. (Make sure to prime first!)
* Finally, I could have made this piece even more updated by filling in the details on the top drawers. To do that, I would use epoxy putty or wood filler like we did above. Wait for it dry, then sand it flat.
Here are a few more projects from around the web that have created a modern finish with chalk paint.
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I hope this post gives you a little encouragement to update your old pieces in a modern way. And I must say, I’m pretty proud of myself. I usually ask my hubby for help with drills, but I did this whole project all by myself! (Pats self on back!)
Interested in more tips using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®? Check out this post.
To see more pieces I’ve painted, check out my project gallery.