15 Feb

The DIY Blues – How (not) to Mix Chalk Paint


Over the summer, I found out a friend of mine was related to the guy who owned the (now defunct) company that built my house. Since the day we moved in I have whined wondered why they didn’t build the fireplace chase all the way up to the ceiling. I can’t imagine that another 3′ of brick facade would have broken the bank (though maybe so since they went under shortly after completing this place) and chalked it up to their lack of design style.


I had my pal dial up her bro-in-law (via Facebook) and get me the name of his brick supplier. After measuring the area and ensuring I was up to the task (read: googling “How to install brick veneer“) I called them up only to find that they, too, had gone out of business.


For the next several weeks the hubs caught me staring at the blank wall above the fireplace, wheels spinning. He knew it was only a matter of time before inspiration hit and I’d come up with some {awesome} plan to tear the living room apart again.

After we had our faux wood floors ripped up and relaid for the third time I was hesitant to toss out the leftovers so they sat in the box at the foot of our bed until last week. As I was vacuuming the dust/dog hair out of that box inspiration struck. {cue magical fairy music}

If you follow me on Instagram you may recall this photo. (and if you don’t – you’re missing pictures of complete nonsense and adorable puppies)


My initial plan was to piece the planks together (just like they are on the floor) vertically and build up over the fireplace mantel a la beadboard. However, that plan fell apart – quickly. While I had enough material to run the planks the width of the fireplace and build a box, they were 6″ too short to frame it out. Grrr x 2.

Since the wall was already all marked up and I finally had a clear vision I devised Plan B. I ran to Menards and picked up some 1″ x 6″ x 8′ pieces of pre-primed MDF board. I measured and marked then ran them through the miter saw. The frame went up with ease. The first, second and third planks fit perfectly. Wow – this was too easy. Something was off – my projects never come together this well.


And there it was. Somewhere along the line I lost a 1/4 of an inch and was left with a gap between the top board and the frame header just big enough to stick a fingertip through. Definitely too big to ignore. {Sigh} In ‘rewind’ mode down came the boards, recuts were made and my DIY project got a complete do-over.

…except this time I wanted it to be blue.


True, the white did coordinate well with the window cornices I’d made but faded right into the yellow wall at night. Why bother building up the fireplace if it wasn’t a noticeable change? And I wanted it to tie in with the bricks not the windows. So out came the paint and plaster of paris.

Now, I feel it only fair to admit that up to this point I had not jumped on the chalk paint bandwagon. Sure I’d seen tons of pins and read all the rave reviews from other bloggers who swear by the stuff but I hadn’t actually tried it yet so I figured how hard could it be? <~~~ famous.last.words

At nearly 5:00 am I mixed up an Annie Sloan knock-off. A cup of this, a tablespoon of that and I was ready to soldier on with the project.

First, I filled in the ‘seams’ and it looked pretty good. Then I went to reload my brush for a full paint stroke and hit near-solid goo. Um. I don’t recall reading about this…I hopped off the step stool, added a bit of water, mixed ‘er up and got back to work. All the while I’m thinking o O (this doesn’t look right) but I kept going.


frenchie1 #deeconstruct

I got the first coat on and stepped back for a full-scale look. Huh, something about it still didn’t look right and I said as much to the lazy pup lounging in the chair.

His lack of concern encouraged me to get a second opinion.

…whose incriminating stare forced me to take five and check back in with those ‘How To’s I’d read earlier.

milo_lou #deeconstruct



Okay. So, here’s the thing.

I suck when it comes to reading directions and I’m not too good at following instructions either. I prefer to gloss over the words and mumble “yeah, yeah I got this” and blaze my DIY trail full steam ahead.

Admittedly, this rarely goes the way I plan.

Yet my epic fails seem to work themselves out in the long run so I see no real reason to change my strategy. But let me tell you that it sure sucks when I’m stuck in the trenches of my own stubbornness with nowhere to go but up.


Are you seeing this mess through your tears of laughter?? It’s ok, I was crying too.

Apparently, when I put 2 cups of p.o.p. in the bowl, added some water and a bit of paint I totally screwed up the formula for chalk paint. The *right* way to do it called for a heck of a lot more paint and a teensy bit less plaster. Whoops!

Fast forward an hour and eleventeen million sandpaper swipes later and I was right back to square one. Oh, and the sun was coming up. Grrreat.