How to Paint an Old Trunk or Furniture Speaks to Me!

Furniture speaks to me… really!  I can usually look at a piece and know immediately how it needs to be painted, re-upholstered  or up-cycled. So when a friend of mine gave me a really old, really primitive, really rustic trunk to paint I was a little shocked that I couldn’t hear a thing from it!  No little voice saying “Paint me red…or I would make a wonderful bench…”  Nothing.  Nada . Zilch.  I finally came up with how to paint an old trunk – sorta.

I started by painting it Napoleonic Blue.  Nope, that wasn’t right.  Then I decided that maybe it wanted to be an ombre – Gray to Black.  Nope.  So I let it sit for awhile.  FINALLY!  It hit me.  It wanted to be a mix of Kate Spade meets Ralph Lauren! Black on the outside and fun on the inside.


trunk interior 3


My color palate was going to be black, emerald green and white.  Which was kinda funny because as you can see the lid and the inside of the trunk, which has a cute side unit that has a lid and shelving that were already painted Hunter green.  But I wanted something a little more vibrant.  Since I was choosing such a bright color I decided that now would be the perfect time to try and make my own chalk paint.  I had done this before in college but that was a LONG time ago and  I had never used it on furniture!


chalk paint ingredients


The recipe:

1 cup of latex paint

2 tablespoons of cold water

2 tablespoons of Plaster of Paris

Pour the Plaster of Paris into the water and mix well, then add the plaster mixture to the the paint. Mix well.


I followed the recipe and began my first coat.



Trunk interior 2


I painted on the first coat.. and the second coat which you see above. Yikes! Way to0 thin and way too yellow!  The consistency of the paint was similar to that of my favorite chalk paint, the trunk  wasn’t too porous – the recipe just didn’t work!  Frustrated much? Oh, yeah! I tried a couple more coats and still didn’t get the coverage that I would have with a store bought chalk paint. ONE. BIG. HOT. MESS.  I finally decided to just put the latex paint on without the Plaster of Paris mix.




Now here’s where the insanity fun began!  I painted the lid of the storage unit inside of the trunk ASCP Pure white.  Using my cricut ( I just lurve that machine!!!) I cut out 1″ circles out of vinyl.


Trunk dots


I placed the vinyl circles randomly on the lid, being sure to burnish the edges well.  Then I painted over the entire lid with black.  Waiting a few minutes, I then used a craft knife to help me lift the edges, peeling the circles off.  This will give you an nice perfect circle!  I always remove vinyl or tape not long after painting. This way if you have any bleeding you can clean up easily.


Frog tape


For a little more pizzaz I placed my Chevron Frogtape on the bottom of the trunk.  I could have measured it out evenly but honestly I just eyeballed it!


trunk interiro 1


After placing the frog tape securely, I then painted the entire bottom of the trunk black.  This was the result.  Ummm…NO!  And not just because the picture is blurry either.  No little voice saying “Yes!”  It looked like tire marks on grass! Using the frog tape again, I taped off the black edges, leaving only the green showing and painted the green white.


Trunk interior


MUCH better!  Remember that I said this piece was very primitive and very rustic? The bottom was extremely rough.  So the chevron stripes are extremely rough.  Honestly, I used the frog tape with this really slick design in mind and quickly realized that it didn’t go with the piece.  So I sanded it all down a little bit, letting all of the imperfections show.  Ah, NOW I heard the little voice saying “YES!!!”


Trunk 1


Here she is in her finished glory!  I also distressed the exterior slightly before finishing her out with a clear wax.  She really is a nice mixture of primitive and chic!

So after ALL  of that, here is my breakdown:

Would I make my own chalk paint again?  Probably not.  Not unless there really was no other option.  The cost really wasn’t that much cheaper since I had to use multiple coats due to poor coverage.  With my store bought chalk paint I have never had to add more than two coats.  Also, I think the color was lighter when I add the Plaster of Paris mixture.  No bueno! As for it being convenient to to do… not so much.  I will buy store bought unless there is a world disaster going on!  Seriously.

As for the Chevron Frog Tape?  (No, I am not  being paid to try it.)  I liked the ease of using it but think it would be better suited to a smoother surface.  This one was the opposite of smooth.  I’m not gonna lie, it did bleed through to the point where I had to go back and touch up almost all of it.  And ain’t nobody got time for that here!!!

This piece would normally have taken me a day to a day and a half, at the most, from start to finish.  It ended up taking me four days off and on.  It was just one of my many hot messes that I have had this week.  But I do love the end result! A lot!!!

That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how not to paint an old trunk!

until next time…



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