Inspiration

How to Upcycle a Chest of Drawers with a Glamorous Gilded Chinese Look

We’re blown away by this fiery chest of drawers using Chalk Paint® in intensely vibrant Emperor’s Silk by Painter in Residence Just Restore. Just Restore thoroughly cleaned the piece then painted two coats of Emperor’s Silk, allowing the paint to dry fully in-between applications.

Chalk Paint in Emperor's Silk used as a base for Chest of Drawers. Athenian Black Chalk Paint and Gold Transfer Leaf used to paint a dragon motif across drawer front.

Just Restore then created a black wash using Chalk Paint® in Athenian Black. Chalk Paint® washes are very popular, and very easy to try yourself at home. The amount of paint to water dilution will vary across colours, with lighter colours requiring less water. To create a black wash use 1 part Athenian Black with 3 parts water. Just Restore applied the wash using a large Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® Brush, then wiped back with a rag in vertical strokes. This technique highlights the velvety texture of Chalk Paint® and gives a fabulously authentic aged effect.  Just Restore worked section by section so she wasn’t racing against paint drying.

Once the black Chalk Paint® wash was dry, Just Restore lightly sketched her Chinese dragon design using a pencil before filling in with undiluted Chalk Paint® in Athenian Black to create a strong silhouette. Less confident painters may want to simplify their design, use tracing paper or opt for a stencil rather than drawing freehand. Another option is to use Annie Sloan Image Medium and decoupage an image directly to furniture (as Felix Sloan did with these lobsters).

Chalk Paint in Emperor's Silk used as a base for Chest of Drawers. Athenian Black Chalk Paint and Gold Transfer Leaf used to paint a dragon motif across drawer front.
Chalk Paint in Emperor's Silk used as a base for Chest of Drawers. Athenian Black Chalk Paint used as a black wash to create aged look.

To bring some dimension and glamour to this opulent piece (in keeping with traditional Chinese artistic tradition) Just Restore chose to highlight elements of the dragon – some of the scales and the dragon’s fiery breath have been emphasized and given a suggestion of movement using delicate touches of Gold Leaf. These subtle gold flashes elevate the design fabulously and create an almost 3 dimensional effect. To use Gold Transfer Leaf in this manner, apply Gold Size to your surface, using a small brush (such as the Small Oval Annie Sloan Decorative Brush). Allow the Gold Size to turn tacky and dry down to a see-through glaze before applying sheets of Gold Loose Leaf over the top. Press the gold into the glue using a brush or talcum powdered hands, wait for 5-10 minutes to dry, then buff away the excess leaf for a fabulous yet elegant shimmering effect Finally, Just Restore applied two coats of Chalk Paint® Wax to finish and protect this extravagant and beautiful piece.

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Chalk Paint in Emperor's Silk used as a base for Chest of Drawers. Athenian Black Chalk Paint and Gold Transfer Leaf used to paint a dragon motif across drawer front.
Paint swatch of Emperor's Silk Chalk Paint® furniture paint by Annie Sloan, a bright, pure red

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Paint Swatch of Athenian Black Chalk Paint® furniture paint by Annie Sloan, a true black

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