An upcycling workshop with The General Office

So, I’ve got this chest of drawers. It’s second hand and painted duck-egg blue, which is a fine colour, but a colour I do not have in my house.

I’ve been thinking I need to freshen her up a little bit, but taking the plunge is a bit of a commitment for me. I’m keen to try chalk paint, but having never used it before I was a little apprehensive.


Thankfully, The General Office was on hand! I noticed Nina was holding some chalk paint workshops over at Milk & Moss, so I decided to head along to her intermediate class to learn how to make a good job of it.


Nina was a great teacher! We all started off with a wooden chair which was in desperate need of some TLC. Nina had prepped each chair to make sure none of the natural oils would seep through the paint by sanding and sealing with Grand Illusions’ Shellac. Then, we got to work choosing our colours!

Nina went through how to achieve various different effects by layering the paint. Some of my fellow classmates took bold yellows, greens and blues to their chairs but I had fallen in love with the wooden seat of mine. I decided to keep the seat plain, but highlight it by painting the rest of the chair in an antique white finish.


 First, we painted on our base colours. These were the bold colours we would reveal at the end through sanding to create a vintage finish. I didn’t want mine too bold, so stuck to creams and greys. Once these had dried, which only took a few minutes on such a hot day, we moved on to painting our main colour over the top.


 We used Grand Illusions chalk paints, and the colours in the range are beautiful! I was originally torn between the yellow of or the dark Nordic Blue, but once I’d chosen my chair I stuck to the Sel De Mer white. The paint brushed on easily and covered well, although some of the deeper colours came out lighter than the swatch.

Lunch was provided by the lovely Sophie of Milk & Moss whilst we waited for our paint to dry, and it was delicious! After a few helpings and a few glasses of fruit water and a cup of tea it was back to work.


Now that the paint was dry, it was time to sand back the top coat to reveal the colours underneath. A lot of my paint came off to also reveal the wood, but as I’d left the seat this added a really great texture. The lady beside me had gone for a bold red, and as she sanded a gorgeous yellow colour came through. Please with my work, I chose a clear wax to keep the white bright but opted for the deep brown wax for the seat to add richness to it. Those who chose a deep colour found that the darker wax really added a depth to their colour, making it closer to the original swatch.

The day was brilliant fun, and as Nina was so knowledgeable I learnt so much! I definitely have the confidence to paint all my old furniture now, and have stocked up on Grand Illusions’ paints and waxes ready for my chest of drawers!


The General Office paint workshops are held at Milk & Moss in Norwich, costing approx. 60 for 3 hours of tuition, lunch, drinks, supplies and a piece of furniture to paint. Bargain! You even get a tin of paint to take home, and 25% off other Grand Illusions’ products.


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