Early this year, I moved into a tiny unfurnished flat that was far from beautiful. The only places I could afford to shop from were local auctions as well as Facebook groups for second-hand furniture, and even then I had to settle for the absolute cheapest items. While I’m sure in bigger cities you may be able to pick up some real gems from second-hand furniture stores, this was Grahamstown and there was not much to choose from that stayed within my budget.
To keep my new flat from looking like a complete nightmare, I had to get a bit crafty. The easiest way to do this was to paint as much of my own furniture as possible. Most old furniture can be revived with a coat of white paint, but I decided to be slightly adventurous and play around with colourful chalk paint.
I really needed a desk to work from, especially one that had drawers to store all my junk. I managed to get this for super cheap but the downside was that it didn’t look too great. It was quite banged up and had a few dents as well as coffee rings on the top. But mostly, it looked really boring and because my bedroom was already quite small and dark, I wanted something a little more colourful.
I’m not really a pink person but on a whim I decided to buy various shades of pink paint and see what I could do with that. To keep it from looking like something out of a Barbie movie, I used black chalkboard paint for the table and pink paint for the drawers.
Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is fantastic and you can get ideas and painting tips directly from the website. Other paint brands will do however. I got a giant bottle of Dala paint from a stationary store and smaller bottles of paint from my local hardware store, where I think the paint is mixed so you get more subtle varieties in the colours. Each little pot was about R24 and this is incredibly cheap considering that chalk paint is really thick, spreads easily and so you use very little of it.
I began by removing the drawers and placing them on sheets of newspaper so I wouldn’t get paint on the floor. Remember to also remove the drawer handles or knobs so that they don’t get ruined by paint flecks (unless you intend on painting them the same colour).
I then used quite a thick brush and just painted straight onto the wood. I’m no expert so I’m not sure if anything else needed to be done to the wood but it turned out okay. You have to let a coat of paint dry before you apply another to avoid an uneven texture in the paint but even then, because chalk paint is so thick, you won’t end up with a completely smooth surface. The photo below is the first layer of paint on the top.
I also painted the legs and the underside of the desk black. If you have a plain desk with no drawers, you could also paint your table top a neutral colour and paint your table legs a fun bright colour. I decided to keep mine black so that the drawers would stand out.
I painted each drawer a different shade of pink and let it dry. I then screwed the drawer knobs back on and the desk was pretty much done. Here’s what it looks like now. Having a plain black surface is great because it makes a great background for flatlays. I can also write my to do list directly onto my desk which is pretty convenient!
If you aren’t already convinced that chalk paint is pretty much your best friend, have a look at this other side table that I got for just R33! It’s ridiculous, I know, but every now and then there’s a local auction just down the road from me and you can pick up the most incredible things for dirt cheap. My only issue with this table was the horrible linoleum covering the top of the table. So obviously I ripped it off…
…and covered it in chalk paint! I quite liked the wooden legs which are also removable, making this table really easy to take apart, pack up and use elsewhere.