A Shabby Chic Farmhouse Table with DIY Chalk Paint

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When we moved into this house last summer, my Mom gave us their old oak farmhouse table that they had DIY’d about 20 years ago. I’m the oldest of 5 kids, and I have many fond memories of eating and playing at this table with my big, loving family. My parents had made this table with some antique table legs, oak trim, and an oak top. I love the lines of it, but I wasn’t a big fan of the red oak finish – with the “go ahead” from my mom, I knew it needed to be updated!

Shabby Chic Farmhouse Table with DIY Chalk Paint

To be honest, this table update project was a long and rather annoying one. First, I wanted to sand and stain the top a dark ebony (because I knew how dirty a white top could get) and then paint the legs white.

Here’s the “before”:

Shabby Chic Farmhouse Table with DIY Chalk Paint

Hello, early 90’s!

It turned out that after I sanded the table down…

Shabby Chic Farmhouse Table with DIY Chalk Paint

… any kind of stain I tried to apply to it was horribly blotchy. It was hideous looking (so hideous, in fact, that I could not bring myself to take a photo of the stain swatches)!

So, I came to the conclusion that I needed to paint the entire thing. My new vision for this table was a very shabby chic, white painted finish with lots of distressing to add some farmhouse-y charm!

I decided I wanted to try chalk paint on this baby. I’ve read so much about it and I’ve seen so many beautiful, distressed pieces refinished with it that I knew it would be the perfect medium for my table.

Being on a budget, I decided that I needed to make a DIY version of chalk paint, and I did a ton of research on the best recipe.

My research concluded that DIY chalk paint made from latex paint and plaster of paris was my best bet for a great consistency made with easy-to-find and inexpensive materials.

Here’s how I made my DIY chalk paint:

Shabby Chic Farmhouse Table with DIY Chalk Paint

I purchased a quart of flat latex paint and a carton of plaster of paris. I used tools I had on hand: a measuring cup, a plastic container, a stir stick and a paint brush.

Shabby Chic Farmhouse Table with DIY Chalk Paint

I used the ratio of 1 part plaster of paris to 3 parts latex paint, and first mixed the plaster of paris with enough water to give it a smooth, liquid consistency.

Shabby Chic Farmhouse Table with DIY Chalk Paint

Then, I added the plaster of paris & water mixture to my 3 parts of latex paint and stirred both vigorously with a paint stick.

The paint should be stirred periodically throughout the painting process to keep it smooth.

Shabby Chic Farmhouse Table with DIY Chalk Paint

My mom helped me paint 2 coats of a medium, warm grey DIY chalk paint onto the table. We were thrilled with the consistency and look of the paint – it’s think and a little bit brush-strokey – just how I wanted it to look! We used a brush to paint everything to give it that vintage, worn effect.

Shabby Chic Farmhouse Table with DIY Chalk Paint

When that was dry, I mixed up some warm white DIY chalk paint and painted 2 coats of it over the gray paint layer (and three coats on the table top).

Shabby Chic Farmhouse Table with DIY Chalk Paint

After that layer was dry, it was the fun part – distressing the table! I used a very rough grit sandpaper (80) with a medium to light touch, and went to work sanding off the white chalk paint layer on the parts of the table I thought would wear naturally with age (like the corners of the legs and top). On some spots, I even sanded right through to the oak, but I absolutely loved the antique, chippy look!

Shabby Chic Farmhouse Table with DIY Chalk Paint

This step took me quite some time, and then once I was finished (it was REALLY hard to know when to stop – I didn’t want to overdo it), I sealed the top of the table.

Shabby Chic Farmhouse Table with DIY Chalk Paint

I usually seal my painted pieces with a polyurethane, but my friend Amanda of Natural Mommie and my friend Cheryl of Bella’s Boudoir of Jewelry both suggested to use a finishing wax instead with chalk paint. While I’d love to try Annie Sloan’s Soft Wax one day, I decided to grab a can of Minwax Paste Finishing Wax instead from my local home improvement store (for the convenience and the price).

I applied it in a circular motion on a cheesecloth to my table top, and then buffed it about 10 minutes later. I applied two coats for extra protection.

Shabby Chic Farmhouse Table with DIY Chalk Paint

I’m so happy with the finish! It’s smooth with a very slight sheen, and it showcases the worn look of the table so perfectly.

Shabby Chic Farmhouse Table with DIY Chalk Paint

It makes me so happy to think that many more family memories will be created around my family’s now reinvented DIY farmhouse table. What an honour it is to have such a special piece in my home to share with my own little family!

Shabby Chic Farmhouse Table with DIY Chalk Paint

(Plus, I got to make a darling little table runner out of leftover drop cloth fabric from Baby A’s teepee to adorn my new-old table. I’ll share that tutorial next week!)

Do you have any special antiques or heirlooms in your home that you’ve updated?



  1. It turned out beautifully! I’ve never done a distressed look on any of my pieces because it makes me nervous – looks like you found the perfect balance of wear to give it that slightly worn look without looking like it needed to be refinished again! It looks beautiful in your space and especially with the black chairs!

    Did you wax the rest of the table or poly? I wonder if the DIY chalk paint is the same as regular chalk paint where you’ll get staining/discolorations if it’s not sealed? I would love to try DIY chalk paint some day…thanks for testing it out for all of us!

    1. Thanks Amanda! And thank you for all of your chalk paint tips. I think I should wax the legs too eventually, but I’m going to wait until after baby is born so that I can bend like that again… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Beautiful!!! Where oh where did you get your black chairs from? I have been wanting black chairs like that for awhile, no luck on Kijiji.

    1. Hi, Shiloe! It’s been great so far. The only issue I’ve had was when my girls painted with acrylic glitter paint and got it all over one corner of the table. Otherwise, everything has been washing off well. I’ll probably sand and repaint it again when the girls are older. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. I painted our table with regular latex paint and polyurethane on top. I hate it. I am going to try it with what you used. It is great! Exactly what I was going for! Thank you! It has been awhile now…is the wax still holding up against littles eating on it everyday?

    1. Hi, Tatum! The wax holds up well. My girls did accidentally get glitter paint on it that didn’t wash off, so I ended up giving the table a light sand before Christmas. I quickly painted and waxed the top again and it’s good as new.

  4. Hello,

    I’m about to paint my table and would like to know whether it is only the sides and the legs of table that you distress ? Or you also touch the top of the table ?
    Thanks a lot.

  5. I am definitely going to try this. I got water based paint to try (before I read this) and am wondering if that is an issue with plaster of paris or will it be ok? I was not going to do an undercoat of grey but on seeing this, I think I might!

  6. I painted my kitchen table with semi-gloss latex paint and It immediately stained and my boys peeled of bits and pieces. I used a dealer, but can’t remember what brand. So I have 2 questions, 1) can I use semi-gloss and plaster of peris and 2) should I do a primer coat first since my latex peeled off? Or does the chalk paint help that? Thanks!

    1. This recipe works best with flat or eggshell paint. I think if you give your table a really good sanding to make sure it’s smooth and roughed up a little, you wouldn’t need a primer.

  7. Great project, great results and gratifying comments to go with the gratification you must’ve felt finishing this beauty! One question: I may have missed it but it appears you left out the tinting part…what did you use to get the gray color you wanted? THANKS!

  8. I’ve made and used that very recipe for chalk paint and I love it. I’m glad to see that you do too and you got good results with a cheaper wax. Thanks for at the info on the wax.
    Your table looks terrific!

  9. I just bought an old pine table that I want to redo just like this. Do I need to strip the old finish off before I start, or can I just paint over it as is?

  10. Thank you for posting. Great step-by-step instructions. Looks like a lot of work, but the end result is beautiful. Love the look of a great shabby chic table!

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  12. I never leave comments but I just want to say after a ton of research and you tube videos this was the most accessible and best execution of anything I saw! Was originally not thinking of this color scheme either, but your project won me over. Midway through replicating your results and it’s brightening up my dark tiny dining room so much.

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