When my husband and I were building the table top for our dining room table, we knew we wanted a relaxed feel. I didn't want to buy six of the same chairs instead I wanted four chairs and a bench. Benches are great for children because they can be wiped down, and you can line up three kids! It also helps save space since you can push the bench in when it isn't in use and get around the dining room easily. Everything I do has to be on a budget. Of course it would be so fun to go on over to Restoration Hardware or West Elm and pick out whatever bench I love, but realistically I just can't justify spending so much on furniture. I was looking at Ikea and realized all the benches were either too wide or too low. Next I checked out Target online and I found a great solid oak bench for under $70! The only downside was the finish. The legs were stained black, and the seat was stained an orange hue. I didn't love that look, but that's where homemade chalk-style paint comes in!
I've seen the Annie Sloan chalk paint all over the Internet, but again the price point was too high for me! I just can't pay $40 for a quart of paint, and then I would be limited to the colors that were available. I got to Googling and found that there are several ways to make your own chalk-style paint. I had baking soda on hand, so that's what I tried. It's so simple, you just need latex paint preferably in a flat finish and baking soda. The ratio is 2:1 paint to baking soda. So for this bench I believe I used 1/3 cup of baking soda and 2/3 cup of latex paint. Because I like to over complicate things I didn't just use white paint, I mixed flat white with a bit of the doeskin gray we used on our walls. I really like the look of the slightly gray white paint so it isn't too bright.
Once the legs were painted I knew this bench was headed in the right direction! The chalk paint is so easy to work with, it's basically just thick latex paint. You want to work very quickly and in small sections. You can't brush over a section that has started to dry or the paint will start balling up from the baking soda. The legs took two coats of the white paint, I waited about 45 minutes between coats. Once it was fully dry I sanded the paint with 400 grit sandpaper. It will feel very rough before sanded, but once you sand it's incredibly smooth. Be careful on the edges because if you sand too much you will start to distress the piece. I actually wanted the distressed look, so I did sand off a bit of paint on the edges to let some of the black stain peek through. To give the paint durability you will want to seal it with a clear coat of some kind. I don't like using clear furniture wax because once you've waxed a piece you can't paint over it, also the wax will wear off with time. I've read that most pieces need to be rewaxed every few months. I love working with polycrylic in the clear satin finish. The fumes aren't too bad and it doesn't yellow over time like polyurethane does.
For the seat of the bench I combined the paint I used for my front door and a bit of light gray paint and white paint to lighten it up a bit. I could have used a paint roller to get a smooth finish for the seat, but I used a good brush to create a bit of brush strokes for more of a hand painted look. I really love the pop of color it adds to the dining room! I kept everything super neutral, but I love that blue paint so much I knew I wanted it to show up around the house. If you're painting a bench you will want at least two coats of polycrylic. I did two coats on the legs, and four coats on the seat for added durability.