19TH - 27TH MARCH 2016

Thrift Week Blog

Upcycling: The tale of the £10 dressing table

I’ve been lusting after a dressing table for quite some time now, and I’d even resigned myself to having to fork out almost £200 for one, as I couldn’t find the right piece of furniture to upcycle. However, by chance one day I was browsing eBay and had the idea to search for a desk instead of a dressing table, and 2 days later, I’d won a solid pine desk with drawers for just £10.


Once we’d collected it, I sat and looked at it and thought “this won’t take long at all”. Oh how wrong I was. Firstly, the drawers were already painted in a few coats of different colours, and trying to remove it by hand was proving slow. And very painful. A quick visit to my Dad equipped me with a rotary sander which helps things along. I did buy some more coarse sand paper which helped the process, as did removing the drawer knobs. It still took 4 sessions of sanding to get it all done – around 5 hours in total.



With the drawers had been sanded, I then painted a fairly thick base coat using Dulux white silk emulsion. The following evening, I set to with mixing up my chalk paint. Chalk paint (the paint that makes shabby chic furniture look so amazing) is very expensive, even on eBay. However, you can buy chalk powder to mix in with silk emulsion paint very cheaply – here is the one I bought. You can buy any colour, but I decided to get white powder and then use a tester pot to create my desired colour – a pale purple. There was no exact science to my mixing – I started by mixing the white emulsion with chalk powder until I got my desired consistency, then added a small amount of the purple colour (“Grape” from Wilkinsons) to the mix. Once I reached my desired colour, I painted my first coat, rather thinly. Chalk paint dries extremely fast, and by the time I’d finished giving each drawer one coat, it was dry enough to paint another coat. After a second coat, I left the drawers to dry properly, leaving the mixed chalk paint in the pot. It is really important not to keep mixed chalk paint in a sealed container, as it causes the glue to set.

Coming back to the paint mixture the following evening, it was still perfect to use, not a dry patch in sight. Chalk paint is nice to work with – it provides good coverage, a little goes a long way and doesn’t show up brush marks. It is also very strong – I tried to scratch off the paint using my nail and it did not budge. In hindsight, I didn’t need to mix the chalk powder with white paint as the amount of paint I used in total came to less than the amount in a tester pot.


I love the finished product – I toyed with the idea of painting the whole desk, but as we already have pine furniture in our bedroom, I think painting it all in chalk paint would make it look out of place. The next task is to paint the chair – I picked it up for £3 at a charity shop and have tied a cushion to it using ribbon for the time being, but I can’t wait to get stuck in to


This post was written by Emma Russell-Bennet, you can follow her thrifty blog over at fromalditoharrods.com.


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