Chalk Paint Dixie French Provincial Dresser | Makeover

I’m going to be super honest with my opinions here… chalk paint is a biotch!  I mean, is this not the most gorgeous french provincial dresser ever now?  Yes it is, but my god, the drama.  Drama for myself of coarse, this baby made me cry a couple times.  I contemplated quitting painting furniture forever, I obviously sucked and made a mistake trying to start a new business.  I thought I’d wasted 15, YES FIFTEEN hours on this piece of garbage that I should’ve just left in the trash.

So, I’m still being a bit dramatic now, but even after finishing it, I’m still shaking my head that I made it so much harder than it had to be.  Especially because what made it harder was that damn chalk paint, I should’ve used alkyd.

I know so many chalk paint lovers who are going to think I’m crazy, but I did NOT enjoy it.  Chalk dust galore and more sanding than I’ve ever done in my life -which still yielded too many brush strokes for my liking.  Of coarse you can’t see them until you seal it with the wax, then you’re just screwed!

The dresser was intended to be a beautiful chalky, matte, perfectly pink finish, but despite my best efforts it is lightly distressed everywhere.  Like I said before, it is gorgeous, but it isn’t EXACTLY what I had laid out in my mind when I salvaged it.  With the way my brain works, if something doesn’t happen to every detail the way I picture it, it’s ruined.

Anyways, now that my little rant is over maybe we should start from the beginning.  This little beauty was left for dead.  I’m going to just guess that a teenager was having issues because it was burned, slashed a lot with a knife or something equally as sharp and had some sort of black dye splattered on it that was so deep I couldn’t even sand off.  There was also a decent sized chunk cut out and a big piece missing off the corner of a drawer.  It was gorgeous though and all the drawers worked perfectly, which is rare.  Also this french provincial dresser is made by Dixie, and from the info I could gather is from the 60s and I guess it’s kind of a big deal!

The second I spotted it, I knew in my heart that it belonged in a little girl’s room and needed to be pink with as close to the original gold trim as I could get.  Why did I have 3 boys??? LOL !  I fought between wanting this for myself and truly seeing this as being pink and gold and princess-like.

Because chalk paint is so popular I decided that this would be the piece I would really try it out on.  I had done a small side table before, but nothing of this magnitude!  After browsing my options I chose Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Antoinette.  It’s a very pretty light pink that isn’t too bubble-gummy.  It looks refined, not gaudy.

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French Provincial Dresser Makeover

  1. Prep work- repair, sand, tape and prime
  2. Paint, sand, paint, sand, paint, sand
  3. Gold Trim
  4. Clear Wax
  5. Paper Drawers
  6. Clean hardware

With chalk paint, you are supposed to not have to do prep work, but A.  I just have to and B. it desperately needed some TLC.  It’s not like I could just skip that important step, so after removing the drawers and hardware, I got my trusty mouse sander out and loved it to death with some 180 grit.  I have done a lot of research, trial and error, etc. on wood fillers/repair and went with Minwax High Performance Wood Filler.  It doesn’t shrink like some other stupid popular wood filler that will remain nameless and it is ready to sand in like 10 minutes.  It stinks, so make sure to have a window open and wear gloves because it will make your fingers tingle.  That can’t be good!  It dries SOOOO quickly, so only mix a small amount at a time.  I also found it so much easier to use my finger over a knife. I really like this product and will now have it as my go-to wood filler.  Let it set and sand it down; I started with 80 grit to get the chunks off and then went to 180 to get it more fine.

I sanded the snot out of the dresser, but didn’t strip it because of how well chalk paint is supposed to cover.  I then took my primer and TRIED to cover the black ink dots all over.  This was frustrating because multiple coats of primer wouldn’t even cover it 100% and if you go too thick it makes the piece look lumpy.  Sand again.  Tape off drawer openings and also the drawers themselves.  Almost forgot!  Most dressers won’t have this, but the gold trim on the drawers is actually a separate piece that was starting to come out in almost every drawer, so I used wood glue and clamps to let them dry overnight and nailed them back in afterward just to be safe.

After almost 3 hours of prep work, I was finally ready to paint!  I mixed up my chalk paint and got to work.  At first it was going on perfectly and then on the top it all of a sudden got chunky.  Like not a chunk or two, hundreds of little sandy sized dots.  WTF!  I panicked.  Cue cry #1.  I let it dry, sanded it off and started over.  This time no chunks!  I still have no clue why it did that.

I tried every different technique imaginable and got brush strokes no matter what.  After the first coat dried I went over the whole dresser with 600 grit sandpaper and it looked like I got them all out.  Dry wiped it down and did round 2 and then round 3.  I sanded it each time with 600 grit and it looked perfect!  Wish I could’ve left it like that.

I bought the Annie Sloan Gold Gilding wax and went to get all the details done.  WTF WTF WTF!  It looked like I smeared gold tinted poo on it.  I tried using a brush, my finger, multiple coats- it was just awful!  I even asked Ryan to come look at it to see if I was just being hard on myself and he was the one that came up with the poo analogy.  Cue cry #2.  I was especially pissed because it was $13 for that damn gold wax and the store I got it from wasn’t exactly close.  I walked away for the day and went to Hobby Lobby to see what else I could find.  Picked up this Liquid Leaf in Classic Gold for $4 with a coupon and it went on perfectly- after I sanded the other stuff off of coarse.  Looks gorgeous!  Sigh of relief.  When doing the drawers, I taped everything off so I could only see where I needed to paint gold and it worked really well.  A lot faster than hand painting like I did on the dresser and I only needed to touch up a few spots.

Now comes the Annie Sloan Clear Wax.  I didn’t like the way the wax looked over the gold, it made it less shiny, so I was careful to not get it on the gold details.  This process took several hours, especially because the drawers had to be done inside and out.  The wax brought out all of the brush strokes and once again I got upset.  On one hand I was so angry that I worked so hard with the sanding and it was still SO distressed without necessarily wanting it to be and on the other hand it really is gorgeous and brush strokes don’t change that.

I let everything sit for 24 hours and then added the paper into the drawers.  Man do I suck.  I felt like I did a horrible job, but Ryan said he thought it looked great!  Anyone that knows us personally, knows that we don’t sugarcoat things for each other so I was happy.  I notice every little off detail in my own work that makes me insane, even though I’d never see it if someone else did it,

I did a rough cut of the paper and then brushed the Mod Podge in the drawers with a chip brush.  Let it dry out a bit for a minute and then put the paper in, sticking the back in first and working my way forward.  The wallpaper smoothing tool helped a lot, but the paper was so lumpy!  I took an X-acto knife to do a really crappy job trimming the edges and then pushed the edges back down with the wallpaper tool again.  It actually wasn’t horrible, but it surely wasn’t perfect.  After the paper dried most of the lumps went away and I felt so much better!

Look at this paper guys, this is just amazing!  I kept the scraps and think I’m going to frame them for my office.

The last and final piece to the puzzle is cleaning the hardware.  Honestly, I didn’t look very closely at it beforehand and thought it was supposed to be like pewter and white.  It wasn’t until I got out the soap, water and toothbrush that I realized it was going to be gold if I really cleaned it!  I had intended on just painting the gold accents on, but SURPRISE!  A little Bar Keeper’s Friend and elbow grease got these babies looking gorgeous.  I am so happy with them, especially since they match the paint I had picked for the trim!

So there you have it friends!  The most mentally challenging piece I’ve ever done.  I am so happy with the way it turned out, but I don’t think I’ll be using chalk paint for a while.  Or at least until I find a piece that I WANT to be distressed.  I’m not trying to deter anyone from it either, it’s one of those things that if you like some paintbrush strokes and distressed edges it will be perfect for you.

Are you brave enough to take on a vintage french provincial dresser like this?  I hope you are fortunate enough to find one!  This was definitely a lucky find for me!  I don’t know if I can get rid of it…

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    • Julie
    • June 11, 2018

    It is gorgeous!! If you want to sell it let me know. I have the perfect little girl who would love that – her room is French inspired so it would be great!

      • Jessica
      • June 11, 2018

      Thank you Julie, that is so sweet! My link button isn’t working to make it look fancy LOL but its actually up for sale, with dimensions and stuff at

      If you decide you’re interested you are more than welcome to come over and take a look at it! I’d love to see you either way, I feel like it’s been forever

    • Nikki
    • June 25, 2018

    Beautiful piece!! I used the same paint on my daughters bed.

    After that project I tried out Paint Minerals from Etsy. You can mix this in with any flat latex paint. I adore it! I think it finished way better than the Annie Sloan paint and you can make any color you want.

    I may steal your mod podge wrapping paper drawer liner idea. I haven’t found a contact paper that I like for my kitchen drawers.

      • Jessica
      • June 26, 2018

      Thank you so much!

      I’ll have to try Paint Minerals! I’m currently doing an empire dresser with Fusion Mineral Paint and it’s making me nuts. 3 coats and I can still see through it 🙁

      The wrapping paper from Spoonflower was pretty expensive, but is REALLY thick! 10x more heavy duty than anything I’ve ever bought from a store.

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