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making a “vintage” chalkboard


As I shared yesterday, the past couple of weeks in the studio have been devoted to getting things finished that have been hanging around for way too long.  I’ve ignored some of them, because I knew they would be a pain-in-the-rear to work on, like the French chair with nailhead trim (yet to be revealed), and I ignored others because I just didn’t know what to do with them.  I knew they had potential and I wasn’t quite ready to give up on them, so they languished in “the stash”.

This oversized Eastlake mirror frame, minus the mirror, was one of those pieces.


I picked it up at a yard sale about three years ago.  I just loved the shape of it and the patina on the wood.  I immediately thought it could be a chalkboard or perhaps I could have a mirror custom cut for it.  I initially discarded the idea of a chalkboard, because it felt too overdone at the time and getting a mirror cut was a bit more than I wanted to invest.  I tried to sell it as is at Lucketts 2014, but it didn’t sell.


And it’s been hanging out in my house and then at the studio ever since.

One problem with it is that it is massive.  I didn’t realize how large it was until I got it home from the yard sale and tried to prop it up on a dresser.  It scraped the ceiling when I tried to stand it up!  I originally spotted it in a large barn, so my perception of the scale was way off.

The other problem is that, without a mirror, it felt like a big, light-sucking hole in whatever space I put it in.  It was dark and massive and those two things usually don’t contribute much to the decor of a room.  They tend to detract.

So, despite the pretty tone of the wood, I decided to paint the frame in Farmhouse White and the inset wooden boards, that were meant to back the mirror, as a “vintage chalkboard”.

I used the color recipe created by Allison from The Golden Sycamore when she made her “vintage-eclectic chalkboard gallery“.  She used Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint – two parts Artissimo to three parts Boxwood.

Vintage Chalkboard Collage

This piece was so dark that it took three coats of paint on the frame and the inset boards.  I didn’t use Bonding Agent, so the paint could chip and flake on the frame and would soak into the raw wood boards.  I lightly distressed the frame with worn (well-used) 100 grit sand paper and wiped it down with a microfiber cloth.  I decided to leave the milk paint raw in this case.


The inset boards were raw wood, so the milk paint soaked right in and it won’t ever chip or flake.  That paint soaked in like a stain and the multiple coats built it up to a nice, opaque surface that will hold up to lots of writing and erasing.


The color recipe that Allison created was spot on.  The key to making it look like a chalkboard, though, is seasoning it with chalk.


I rubbed the entire surface with a piece of chalk…


…and then wiped it off with a dry cloth to get the “smeary-chalky look” that softens the paint.  It also prevents lettering/drawing from being “burned” in the surface, meaning you can see it even after it’s erased.


I love, love, LOVE the way it turned out and I can’t believe this gem sat around for so long.  I guess it needed to wait until just the perfect time for inspiration to strike.  It may not have been as good if I forced it.


While I was resistant to painting this piece at first, it was absolutely the right decision.  It detracts from the chipping veneer and missing pieces and visually lightens it up a bit.


I even love the seams of the inset boards.

I’m just smitten and having a love fest with the entire thing.


I paired it with the landscape dresser and some old tins, books and a doll bed filled with a couple of artificial plants from Ikea.







Man, I wish I had the perfect place for this!!  Maybe I’ll find one, but more than likely, it’s headed to Lucketts 2016…


…and I bet I won’t be taking it home this time.


PS – The winner of the Pine Cone Hill Giveaway was Mary (geraldnissley) and the winner of the $200 Antique Farmhouse giveaway was Mary Koepfle.

I think everyone named Mary should enter my next giveaway.  Clearly, it’s a “lucky” name!  :)

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  1. Karen says:

    I bet you won’t either! It turned out lovely! I am one of those that lives to far away to make it to Luckets. I am excited to hear what your idea is.

  2. i’d have bought that frame. Its gorgeous!

  3. LOVE! Oh my goodness that is beautiful. I have a soft spot for Eastlake furniture. The color of the chalkboard is perfect. It looks just like the boards in the classroom when I was a girl. Yes I’m vintage lol, almost in the antique category.It looks so lovely paired with the dresser.

  4. I LOVE THIS! Turned out just beautifully!!

  5. I LOVE this. Just can’t even think what else to say. I was in love with the landscape dresser already, but now…with the chalkboard? Oh my. You have no idea what a union of all things magical this is to me. Love love love.

  6. Such an amazing transformation! Thank you for sharing your reasoning and thought process, as they really justified the makeover. You are slowly converting this ‘don’t paint over nice wood’ girl!

  7. This turned out great! I love what paint does for a tired old wooden piece of furniture!

  8. B Folk says:

    Congrats to the winning Marys!
    That chalkboard is beautiful! Sometimes, it pays to hang onto something.

  9. Jackie Burton says:

    Beautiful items!! Where is Lucketts? When is the next sale there? Will you be there Miss Mustard Seed?

    • marian says:

      It’s just outside of Leesburg, VA. The Spring Market is May 20-22, 2016 and yes, I will be there all three days with all of the stuff I’ve been sharing.

  10. Nancy says:

    Visual magic, Marian. It’s functional and gorgeous.

  11. karen l says:

    Great idea – the color mix for the chalkboard is perfect. I’ll be waiting to see what you do with the nailhead trim chair. I have a loveseat with nailhead trim that’s waiting patiently covered with quilts at the foot of my bed. I would just make a slipcover (from your excellent instructions), but the seat really needs some reinforcement. I’m just dreading popping out all of those rusty railheads! Need some tips and tricks!

  12. Carswell says:

    It can’t be said often enough – that scenic dresser is just so charming.

  13. Denise Cox says:

    Wow!!!!!! Now this is a match made in heaven!!! Beautiful!!!!! Who would have thunk…? Lol

    Denise Cox

  14. anneb says:

    Love what you did with the piece, but really LOVE your photography! You capture the essence of each vignette so perfectly :)

  15. Carla says:

    Oh you used some Bobbsey Twin books too. Takes me back to my childhood. That dresser and mirror make a great combo but you would need high ceilings.

  16. Sue Pagels says:

    Eastlake is a favorite of mine – sometimes I think I am the only one left that likes it! Next time, I will enter my name as Susan Mary….does that middle name count?

  17. Nancy says:

    Love it!

  18. Patrinky says:

    Absolutely LOVE it! How clever and what vision! I must say that I am forever signing up for email newsletters and then unsubscribing because they’re always so disappointing but not yours! I love and look forward to each one!

  19. Debbie says:

    Love, love, love, love, love EVERYTHING about this!!! Absolutely stunning.

  20. Marlene Stephenson says:

    Well it shines now and without a mirror, who would have thought such a perfect solution. Sure wish i lived closer or i need to quit seeing all these great makeovers, makes me drool! lol!

  21. So Beautiful!!

  22. marylisa noyes says:

    I didn’t realize that your paint to could be made into a chalkboard by just rubbing it with a stick of chalk. I bought this awesome large vintage gold and chipped frame yesterday at my favorite antique mall and planned to use it as a frame for a chalkboard. Thank you

  23. Wow. What a transformation. The vintage green is beautiful.

  24. Love how this came out! xx

  25. Jamie Bowers says:

    Beautiful and it fits perfectly with the dresser!! You have such a talent!

  26. Suzann says:

    Wow! Love the chalk board! I wish Lucketts wasn’t a 12 hour drive from where I live. Maybe some day. I enjoy your blog Marian. You are great!

  27. Patricia says:

    beautiful finishing. Scribbling with the chalk made all the difference too!

  28. Michelle Gaul says:

    Another fabulous piece!
    I just picked up your Farmhouse White today and your Hemp oil. My first purchase of your line. I’m a chalk paint user and had to try yours after this PERFECTcolor. Can’t wait to try it out next weekend!!!

  29. Natalie in Ohio says:

    Beautiful! And fabulous paired with your mural dresser! I LOVE the entire vignette ~ it’s perfection!

    Your talent is such a gift Marian ~ and we (your readers) get to share your gift with every blog you post! :)

    I’m in-love with your little wooden doll bed! Please let that be one of the pieces your readers who can’t travel to your shows can have a chance to buy! I have the perfect place for it!

  30. Jill Hilbrich says:

    Love this! It coordinates so well with the landscape dresser. That dresser may be my favorite of everything you’ve done! That is amazing talent!

  31. Chrissy says:

    Can you use it as a teaching aid in your shop?

  32. Marian, I think you love the seams in your chalkboard because they look like the original chalkboards in school rooms. Slate came cut in large rectangle slabs and were installed side by side. In my teaching experience I’ve used a few of these. They were incredibly heavy & cracked after time.

  33. Man, oh man. I’d hold onto that mirror and dresser for at least a year and enjoy that gorgeousness before selling it!

  34. Patty Kasparian says:

    So pretty!

  35. Krista says:

    That whole vignette is just gorgeous! I don’t think I could part with those pieces quite yet.

  36. Love love love. I too decorate with old books, have tons and many Bobbsey Twins too.

  37. Oh my goodness that is perfect! I absolutely love the soft green colour of the chalkboard and just adds something special to it instead of being black. So pretty <3

  38. Beautiful and OMG I LOVE the little dresser its sitting on, just beautiful as always xx

  39. Dana Wall says:

    I have 3 of these large frames (maybe even bigger) that I have been having the same quandary with! I may try this on one!

  40. Amanda Joyce says:

    Australia is along way from your beautiful shop! But I love how you restore pieces, the pie safe is gorgeous!

  41. Love this!! Can the same chalkboard effect be achieved using the bonding agent?? Cannot wait to try this!!

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