4 years ago

Thrift Shop End Table Painted with Homemade Chalk Paint

It seems like there is an end table shortage in this country.  OK, maybe not a shortage, but I get asked all of the time about finding affordable end tables.  Even at Target a little side table can run you $85.00 – $225.00.  It is no wonder people are looking for end tables that are stylish and affordable.

The other day my daughter’s doctor was running late.  The office called us and let us know our appointment would be starting about a half an hour after our scheduled time (shout out to Dr. Dijamco and her staff for being respectful of their patients’ time as well as being an amazing doctor).  We happened to be early for the appointment and already in the car.  As soon as I mentioned that we needed to kill some time, my oldest yelled “thrift shop!”  That was all of the convincing I needed.

thrift store side table before
This is what the table looked like when I brought it home. (the scroll saw work is not pictured but on the other side).

We made our way over to this little church run thrift shop that I had only noticed a few days before.  There I saw the perfect tiny end table to go next to my rocking chair in the den.  When I found out it was only $9, I was even more excited!  However, I was in the middle of the kitchen table project, so I tossed it in the corner of the garage.  There it sat until I needed photo examples of what to do before you paint.  It just happened to be the perfect small piece to use.

I knew I wanted a small, white end table next to my rocking chair.  Our den is a wooden paneled room, so I don’t want even more stained wood in the room.  I also knew I wanted a slightly distressed piece since there is a large distressed armoire in the room.  I knew that the table was missing a support beam and needed a little patching up on the surface.

something is missing
Clearly, there had once been a support beam that was now missing.

Fixing the support was easy enough.  I am not a professional wood workers, so I just kind of guessed at how to do this.  I cleaned the piece and then I took a large ball of clay and pushed it into the hole where the wooden dowel had previously resided.  I pulled it back out and measured how deep the clay had gone in the hole as well as the diameter of the hole.  It was only 1/2″ deep and had a 5/8″ diameter.  I measured the length of the missing dowel and added 1″ inch for the two sides where the dowel would be inserted and took my youngest to Home Depot for one of their Kids’ Workshops.  After she built a butterfly house we grabbed a dowel and cut it to size right there in the store at the hand saw station.  My daughter, Vivian, used the excess to make a broom and then spent the rest of the day pretending to be Elphaba from Wicked.  Once we got home I put a little wood glue in the holes on the bottom of the table, popped the dowel in and clamped it.  Easy enough!

structural repair
Sometimes it feels like glue and clamps can fix anything!

Just make sure you clean up any excess glue.  As a person who loves to re-do furniture, I cannot tell you the amount of time I spend cleaning up sloppy glue jobs (in fact you can see the dried glue I had to clean up in the picture where the support dowel is missing).  If you are going to glue something together it is not that hard to use actual wood glue and wipe down the excess (my favorite was a piece where they used foam caulk to repair a chair)!  Just my P.S.A. for the lazy DIY fixer upper type.

dont be this guy
Don’t be this guy!

After the support was set back in place, I went straight to repairing the top.  A little bit of sanding and priming and I was good to go.

oh rufus
Oh, Rufus! I bet his mom was less than thrilled!

I planned on distressing the piece, so I knew I wanted to use chalk paint.  However, I am cheap!  I only needed a small amount of chalk paint for this project, so it seemed easier and more cost effective to me to whip up my own chalk paint.  I also love making my own chalk paint when I want to try out a new technique that requires a lot of different colors.

If you haven’t done this before, you really should give it a try.  There are quite a few recipes out there for making your own chalk paint.  Early on when I was looking into making my own, I found an article from Denise at Salvaged Inspirations with a full rundown and rankings for homemade chalk paint.  I have just always gone with Denise’s recommendation of 2 parts paint to 1 part calcium carbonate.  I already had the calcium carbonate, so all I had to do was run to home depot and pick up a sample of matte paint (I choose Behr’s Country White since it had slight hints of orange that I felt would go nicely with the wood tone and rocking chair fabric).

chalk paint recipe supplies
Everything you need to make affordable chalk paint (chopstick and empty container are for mixing).

I mix the paint up in an empty container.  No matter how well you think you have mixed the calcium carbonate and the paint, just keep mixing!  However, if you do notice a bit of a clump, while painting, do not worry.  I found that any calcium carbonate particles that didn’t get mixed enough disappear and blend right in once you brush over them with your paintbrush.  I gave the piece two coats of paint with ample drying time between them and then let the piece dry overnight.

painted wooden table
Freshly painted.

I find the homemade chalk paint is identical to the types you buy in the stores, until you get to the sanding parts.  I have found it takes a bit more elbow grease to sand with the homemade version.  This is not a problem for me, since I tend to lean towards less distressing.  For this piece I just focused sanding the edges.  Since I did not strip and sand the table ahead of time, it left the hint of a brown stained edge to the corners of the piece.  I love the warmth that little touches like this add.

close up distressed
Just a tiny bit of the brown stain is showing through.

After the distressing was done, I dusted the piece and gave it 3 coats of spray Polycrylic (always use polycrylic when covering a white or light-colored piece to prevent yellowing).  I left the piece out in the garage to cure for a few days and then it was good to go.  I love the way it turned out.

redone table

It is such a simple little table, but it is just what the space needed.  It helps break up the wood walls.  I also find it really brings together the artwork, wood walls, and the rocking chair together.  It does make me wonder, however, if the rocking chair might need a quick coat of paint as well!  Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

table chair art
I feel like the table ties it all together nicely.

I spent roughly $16 on this project ($9 on the table, $3 on the paint sample, and $4 on the wooden dowel).  I already had the calcium carbonate, wood filler, and clear coat.  I would say the entire project took me less than 2 hours of actual working time.  Plus we got a new toy out of entire process!  The morale of the story is, I love it when our doctor is running a little late!

thrift store send table before after
Back of table before and front of table after.

Step Summary

  1.  Follow my 6 steps for prepping furniture for painting (which includes fixing structural, cosmetic issues, and priming).
  2. Mix 1 part calcium carbonate to 2 parts matte paint and stir well.
  3. Paint 2 coats of your paint mixture on the piece allowing ample dry time between coats.
  4. Let dry overnight.
  5. Distress edges with sandpaper.
  6. Apply clear coat of choice.


I would love to hear about your favorite thrift store re-hauls (and see pictures too).


#, #, #, #, #