How To Plan Your Next Chalk Paint Furniture Project

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Let’s talk about chalk paint project planning. Are you a planner or a free spirit when it comes to your chalk paint projects? How much do you plan out details of your projects before you get started? I have to admit that I am a planner, and to be more honest, sometimes that translates into being a procrastinator when it comes to planning out projects. And this holds true in so many other areas of my life, such as vacation planning as well as planning out gift lists. I like to ponder and think about my options, review other’s recommendations, and take my time preparing for a project.

All this thinking and planning ultimately often leads to disorganization as I make lists in various notebooks and on scraps of paper and sometimes even have the ideas floating around in my head not even written down anywhere!

To help get my ideas organized for an upcoming chalk paint project I created some helpful project planning printable worksheets. I think these are super cool and I’m so excited about them that I want to share them with you! Grab these free printables through the link below:

Now there is nothing wrong at all with being a free spirit and just grabbing a few jars of paint and getting started, but if you are a planner like me, then it takes a bit more time to decide how you want your final project piece to look. So, just for us planner types let’s take a step-by-step look at how to plan your next chalk paint project! And don’t forget to grab those printable worksheets above to help you out!

If you are totally new to chalk painting and want some basic information check out this blog post: Chalk Mineral Paint Basics: Tips and Techniques For Success!

Chalk Paint Project Planning Step 1

Decorating Style

First look over your furniture piece. Consider the style that this piece conveys. Can you envision it with a farmhouse look or do you see it with a chippy paint finish? Is it a modern piece with smooth curves that might be fitting of a sleek, smooth finish? Some common styles are shabby chic, french country, modern, farmhouse, coastal, and even traditional styles. To decide how to paint your furniture piece, you may want to consider the style of the other furniture in the room it will got in and the overall style you want to convey in the space.

Chalk Paint Project Planning Step 2

Choosing Paint Colors

What paint colors will you use? Neutrals are always in style, especially whites and grays. Look at Joanna Gaines paint line and you’ll see some many farmhouse style color, mainly along the lines of whites, grays, taupes, and greens. Modern styles bring in all types of bright and deep colors. Coastal colors are some of my favorites including the grays, sea greens, and blues that remind me of the ocean. Boho and shabby chic styles bring in lots of fun colors. but can also be neutral.

And just a reminder to be sure and get my Chalk Paint Planning Printable Worksheets to help you plan out your next project. You can grab them below:

Using Multiple Paint Colors

As there is no rule that you can only use one paint color on a piece of furniture, you will also see gorgeous blending of colors by some painters who are so well known for their expertise in blending techniques. There is also a color gradient technique called ombre where you use several colors in the same color range and create a gradient look to transition from darker to lighter or vice versa on your furniture piece. Here is a post about blending by the excellent Do Dodson Designs! Check it out at

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Gel Stain

There is never anything wrong with sticking to a single color either if you just want a simple update. One of my favorite combos is to use a single color on the base of the project with a gel stain on the top. Gel stain is gorgeous on tabletops or dressers. I love both General Finishes Java Gel Stain and Dixie Belle’s No Pain Gel Stain! Both are wonderful products and super easy to use! Check out this blog post for more information on how to apply gel stains at

Chalk Paint Project Planning. Gel Stain
Antique table after paint and gel stain
Chalk Paint Project Planning. Gel Stain
Gator HIde over gel stain on tabletop

Metallic Chalk Paints

There are also gorgeous new metallic paints that add such shimmer and shine to a project. These metallics can be used alone or over another color to add depth and dimension. I’ve used the Dixie Belle Moonshine Metallics and love them but I do find them to be thin so several coats are needed and most often you need a base coat of a neutral paint. Gray works great as a base neutral for the metallics. Here’s a look at metallic paint in Steel Magnolias by Dixie Belle Paint Company:

Chalk Paint Project Planning. Metallic Paint

White or Dark Wash

Another fun finish is a white or dark wash. This goes on after you do your base paint color and let it dry. You can then do a watered down wash of paint. Usually either a white or a dark brown or black paint is used for the wash. You apply this thin watery “wash” of paint over your base layer to add depth and dimension. I use a chip brush to apply the watery paint wash and a lint-free rag to wipe away excess. You’ll see this look often in a rustic, farmhouse or coastal style of finish. I did a tabletop for a friend with a whitewash over a gray base and it turned out nicely, although it’s a little hard to truly see the whitewash in these photos.

Chalk Paint Project Planning. White Wash

Chalk Paint Project Planning Step 3

After you decide on your paint colors and styles you can consider adding decorative touches to further add dimension and pizzazz to your project. And this is where the choices seem endless! There are stencils like below:

Chalk Paint Project Planning
Stencils on Tabletop

Also Furniture Transfers add some cool flair. Here is a a vintage gossip bench with a transfer applied:

Redesign With Prima Transfers


There are moulds which add dimension and layers to your project. I haven’t added any moulds but plan to try them. Popular choices are the Redesign with Prima Moulds that you create using the mould trays with moulding material, but I’ve also seen painters use hot glue for the moulds. WoodUBend is a new line of moulds that are wood-like but flexible to easily adhere to any surface.

Other Ways To Add Decorative Touches

Other ideas for adding character to your project are to use glazes, gilding wax, colored waxes and even antiquing dust, such as Dixie Dirt. Another option is to use a paint texturizing product like Dixie Belle Sea Spray. Gilding wax works well with any decorative indention or grooves in your furniture. I used gilding wax on these painted chairs to add some character.

Chair With Gilding Wax
Chalk Paint With Gilding Wax
Chalk Paint With Gilding Wax


Using sandpaper to distress painted furniture can add some cool charm, making it look like it has gotten a little dinged up over time. . . but in a good way! Distressing involves removing a little paint strategically from different areas of the piece, usually on those areas where wear and tear would occur naturally. This distressing allows the underlying finish or base layer to show through. You can also distress while the paint is wet by using a moist cloth to remove some of the wet paint in areas you choose. Some people prefer this to distressing by sanding after the paint is dry.

Patina Paint

Patina is another type of finish that adds character by giving items an aged metal look. Like an old rusty car in a junkyard or an old anchor on the shore that has developed that greenish sheen. You may be wondering how that goes with a wood finish but the cool thing is that it looks really neat. You can use Patina Paint on anything even wood, laminate, and glass. I’m pretty crazy over patina finishes and have some examples below of patina on home decor:

Chalk Paint Project Planning
Chalk Paint Project Planning. Patina Paint

Chalk Paint Project Planning Step 4

Typically the last step in the process of planning your chalk paint project is to decide if you will finish off your project with wax or with a different topcoat such as the popular water-based poly-acrylics. Both can be good options and the best choice for a particular project really depends on how the furniture will be used and the look you want. It often boils down to what you are comfortable with applying. I more often use a water-based poly-acrylic topcoat. But I do reach for wax for some projects. I have a blog post to help you decide which to choose for you project. Check it out here:

Chalk Paint Project Planning Step 5

Once you decide your style and colors and additional decorative touches, it’s time to check your supplies. If you don’t have what you need, then decide if you will order online or visit a local retailer. This is also the time where you’ll want to look over your furniture piece and decide if there are repairs that need to be done? Decide if you need to prep sand or fix any holes or scratches? Do you need to remove any hardware? Do you need a primer or Slick Stick if you are working with a slick surface?

These are all the types of questions you need to ask yourself before getting started? It is so inspiring to see how a piece of furniture can be transformed with paint!


I hope this outline is helpful for you as you plan your next chalk paint project. And if you haven’t already, grab my Chalk Paint Project Planning Prinatable Worksheets using this link! These are fun printables to help you work through you ideas, so you can get started right away on another fun furniture makeover!


  1. Hi Abbey! I am like you. I need to plan my pieces and sometimes it can take weeks to decide. this is a problem for me because I have several pieces and I still don’t know what to do with them. I think I la k confidence. I want to step out of my comfort zone of just one. color with a transfer but once I start painting it happens again. one color. I see all of these amazing pieces online that I wish I could do. do you have this problem?

    1. Hi Cheryl,
      Yes, I sure do struggle with that. I am a big planner. I like to ponder over it. And I too get into ruts of doing the same design. Lately I have been breaking away though and doing a few more bold pieces using darker richer colors and some funky designs. But I’m pretty basic overall! I think you just have to do what makes you feel comfortable! And experiment a little here and there with different design elements in your comfort zone!
      Good luck with everything! And thank you so much for your support of my blog!

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