DIY Chalk Paint Cabinet Makeover

I've been wanting to give a little facelift to these cabinets for quite awhile. Especially after we got the dining room aka homeschool room painted (saving that project for another post). At first I picked a green color…. and I really pretty much hated how it looked with the soft yellow in the dining room. I don't know what I was thinking. I'm totally blaming it on winter. Luckily, we had two of those smaller cabinets…… so I started over with a deep teal blue : Cathedral by Behr. The woman at the paint department was swooning over it, telling me her son's room had been painted that color and it looked different throughout the day depending on the light that was coming in…. she totally sold me. Even though I was worried it might be dark… or look odd once I mixed the plaster of paris into it (recipe after the pictures).









I'm really, really happy with the way they came out! The paint is a little gritty, but it adds to the vintage-y look. I'm sure real chalk paint would be more smooth….. but this was a lot cheaper and I could pick ANY color I wanted. I took the photo of the lid to show you that the color didn't really change at all adding the plaster of paris to it. (blob on the left is after, right is before) I was really surprised by this, since this color is so dark and has a deep base. After painting three coats on, I waxed the cabinets with minwax finishing paste. It's messy hard work. Don't let it dry too long. But it looks really great and has a durable finish. In the future I'll look for something more natural. It was pretty stinky!

I tried several DIY recipes online for the chalk paint before landing on one I liked. If it's too thick, it drips once you paint it on the cabinet, and doesn't seem to cover as nicely….. at least in my experience. I liked the look of thin coats. Even though I ended up covering it three times, I had better control of where the paint ended up. I chose a satin finish hoping it would be more cleanable because these are cabinets that get a lot of use. I'm not sure that made a difference? The end result was very matte until I waxed it. But I love the way it looks for sure! (the small one is our homeschool books, the large one is art supplies)



1/3  cup  plaster of paris

1/3  cup  water

1 cup paint (I used satin Behr Ultra)

*whisk the water and paint together. let sit for ten minutes to help the water absorb the plaster of paris. whisk vigorously again. some people blend it? I was worried about air bubbles so I just mixed it by hand. mix the paint in very well. that's it!


I did read that some people did not like the look of using a paint+primer if they were distressing the cabinet. I knew I was not going to do this, so I chose a paint+primer to make sure I covered years of grime on our old cabinets. I did lightly sand everything before I painted too.

I completely splurged on the knew knobs. I bought them with a 20% off coupon here. They were still kind of spendy……. but I ADORE them. And the project was still under $75, so not too bad.


Two old Ikea cabinets. Solid Pine. Previously had a waxed finish.

Behr Ultra Paint Satin Finish in Cathedral (Home Depot $16)

Plaster of Paris (Home Depot – clearance box because it had been opened $2)

Minwax Finishing Paste (Home Depot $10)

Decorative Knobs (Restoration Hardware – $12 each, I got them 20% off on sale)

I haven't painted furniture since I was in high school and my parents let me paint everything in my room black. (Thanks mom & dad!) And while I do love the look of natural wood, this is the perfect sort of project for tired old pieces that need a little makeover. I'm eyeing the bedroom set we bought from the previous owners and thinking of yellow….. or triangles. Decisions, decisions……

Have a happy Monday!




8 thoughts on “DIY Chalk Paint Cabinet Makeover

  1. They came out great! I really like the color – it’s so much lighter than it looked on the can.
    I wanted to recommend another book, this one for your gardening love. It’s called Carrots Love Tomatoes. (There’s a second one called Roses Love Garlic, but I find there’s not enough difference between them to need both.). It’s about companion gardening – which plants will thrive together, which plants should not be planted together. I used to use it all the time when I was urban gardening because I could pack the plants so much closer together and I’d get higher yields in a smaller space. The plants would often have a protective influence on each other which also meant it was lower maintenance. It’s a great technique if you like to garden organically, because it reduces the need for chemicals. The same author also wrote an intriguing book about planting by the cycles of the moon. I never ended up getting it but it sounded interesting. Thought you might enjoy the idea.
    I found that when I lived up north, this was the time of year when I couldn’t wait to get back outside and I spent most of my time planning my gardens for spring: reading my books about it, starting seedlings, sketching garden plans. The weather was always such a tease during April and May. We’d have a week of warm weather, blue skies would start peeping through the grey, and then we’d get hit with a blast of freezing temperatures. I gave up trying to get out early to work, and just got into the routine of planning and enjoying it inside for a few more weeks.
    The other book that I used to read at this time of year (but that I use year-round) is The Herbfarm Cookbook. I think I recommended it last year, but I don’t remember if the library ever came through for you. They have a decent section on gardening with herbs, but it’s the food that drives me. The recipes make me want to plant every herb in the book! Long before I started teaching, I used to cook professionally. This was far and away the best of the restaurant style cookbooks, and it remains my all-time favorite years later. I especially value the charts that show which herbs pair best with which foods, and with each other. Herbs add such fresh, bright flavors to food and it’s so rewarding to have grown them in your own garden.
    I know I keep recommending things to your to-read pile. I hope this is ok? I’m like this. (I teach reading, what can I say?). But books are so exciting and there’s one for every passion. I love to share them with friends. Although you live too far away for me to lend you mine. I saw the stack of gardening books in one of your pictures and wanted to tell you about another.
    Enjoy your day and your projects!


  2. I have been eyeing that book f-o-r-e-v-e-r! I think I need to pick it up this year before we start the garden 🙂
    I know just what you mean about the weather too….. it’s been 50 and then 27. Again, and again. The snow *IS* melting. Slowly but surely. I am definitely looking forward to getting out there and planting in a few weeks. So close!!
    I have the Herbfarm on my list! I was waiting for springier weather to request it from the library. Our CSA gives us a wonderful selection of herbs throughout the spring and summer…. I am so excited for it to start up at the end of next month. Looking forward to fresh eating again for sure!
    And I never mind book suggestions!! I wish we could share too…. we have so many common interests 🙂
    Happy spring to you!


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