DIY Upcycled French Provincial Side Tables

My Mother-in-Law kindly donated some nestle tables that were a deep mahogany stain – which does not work with my light French cottage front room! So time for a little makeover.

What you will need:

  • Chalk Paint (or Chalk Emulsion – NOT Chalkboard Paint!)
  • Paper
  • Inkjet Printer
  • Masking tape
  • Biro pen
  • Drawing Pen
  • Finishing Wax

A bit of information before you start:

Chalk Paint is my most favourite DIY discovery of 2014. I am the LAZIEST DIY-er ever! I hate sanding, priming blah blah. I just want to paint already. Enter Annie Sloane – A British Artist who made a chalk based paint that can be painted directly onto any almost any surface (including fabric!) with no need to sand and prime! The finish is, well chalky, but it means it is beautifully rustic. Annie Sloane Chalk Paint is available through select Paint suppliers in UK, North America and also some states in Australia. Unfortunately there is not yet one in Victoria, Australia (where I now live) but Porters Paints came to my rescue with their own brand Chalk Paint – I used ‘Church White’ (available in store or online here). Be warned it’s quite pricey to get started – approx. $50 for 1L of paint and I would highly recommend purchasing the Oval Hog Bristle brush that is designed for use with Chalk Paint (approx $18-25 depending on size).

Lets get started!

1. Wash your tables thoroughly, I used Sugar Soap which is great at removing grease etc. Allow to completely dry. Place on a drop cloth and apply your first coat of Chalk Paint. I did this quite roughly, still using a back and forth painting motion but you dont have to be super neat!

Step 1. Wash Table
Step 1. Wash Table…..
Step 1. Then apply first coat of chalk paint
… and once dry apply first coat of chalk paint
You can see that the first coat is not enough to cover these tables because it is too dark.

2. The paint is touch dry in 30 minutes but allow an hour or 2 (see what the tin says depending on which brand you have) and apply the second coat. Allow to dry for at least 2 hours before applying graphic.

Now the fun part. I used free download French Typography templates from this amazing site: The Graphics Fairy. I decided to decorate these tables before I had looked into how to transfer the templates and this site does list a few different ways, such as using Mod Podge, but for me it was too late to go shopping so I improvised! This is what I did:

3. I chose my graphics and printed them using my Inkjet printer (there are instructions on the website if you need to enlarge and also they provide some graphics back to front if required) on to normal A4 white paper.

4. I then turned the sheet over and using a lead pencil (mine happened to be 2.5HB but I would actually recommend getting a darker one perhaps just HB) and I scribbled over the back of each letter and image, making sure to cover each line.

5. Once all letters were covered I turned the paper back over and place it onto the table pencil side down (print side up). I used some masking tape to secure it and then using a biro pen I traced over the outline of the printed letters so that it is pushing the pencil side onto the table top.

Et Voila! Just like magic the outline is traced in pencil on to the table top. Please excuse this terrible photo, I had to make the image rather dark just so you can see the outline! It was very faint.

6. Then using a drawing pen – which is a fine tip black ink pen (mine was 0.5 i believe) trace over the pencil lines and colour in. Now i started using a small Sharpie marker and whilst it was much quicker unfortunately the tip would blunt really easily and the ink kept drying out. So I had to downgrade to the tiny drawing pen which meant it took hours! Having said that it was so much neater with the drawing pen and also meant that I could do the finer detail with ease and also build the lines, thus avoiding mistakes.

7. Once it was finished I very lightly sanded it back using an ultra fine sanding sponge, to rough up the artwork a little for the rustic effect, but you may decide to keep it neat.

8. It is usually recommended that you seal the chalk paint using wax. You can get clear wax or black wax which is called antique wax. I opted for an antique wax which actually goes on a yellow sepia colour and gives it an aged look. As with all wax only a tiny amount is needed and using a cloth, just work a small amount in circular motions onto the table building colour to your desired taste. I’m sorry I forgot to take a picture of this stage but you can find tutorials online (look for Annie Sloane videos on YouTube or Pinterest)

The finished look:

NB: 1L of Porters Paints Chalk Paint covered these 2 tables, a door and the awful wood paneling in my kitchen! All with 2 coats. So I think it is worth the cost 🙂

I hope you have been able to follow this slap dash tutorial! If you have any questions please let me know and I will try my best to help!

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