Save It for a Rainy Day!

by Bridget Baker

Go DIY… and give aging furniture a fresh look with Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint.

In recent years, Do-It-Yourself has become a worldwide trend. These days, it’s nearly impossible to turn on the TV without stumbling across a show dedicated to the growing movement, and your Facebook feed is likely full of friends excited to show off their latest rainy-day undertaking. Meanwhile, websites like YouTube and Pinterest are paving the way for eager DIYers looking for their next project, supplying endless tips to help people do everything from cutting their own hair to turning an old t-shirt into a fashionable keepsake.

One of the most popular DIY trends is the refurbishing and repurposing of aging furniture—a simple way to incorporate people’s evolving tastes into their homes. With the rustic, vintage look in high demand, some of us will pay a pretty penny for that perfectly distressed dresser or end table. But giving new life to old furniture is easier than ever—all it takes is some time and a little bit of paint—and the results can be truly inspiring.

Not Your Average Paint
One product that’s taken off in the DIY community is Chalk Paint, a line of decorative paints by Annie Sloan. Renowned for its versatility, it can be used inside or outside, on furniture, floors, walls, ceilings… just about any surface you could dream of painting. Named for the matt, almost chalky finish it produces—it’s not made from chalk!—Chalk Paint is a non-toxic, eco-friendly, water-based paint that’s easy to work with, dries quickly, and makes amazing results accessible to just about everyone.

Sloan’s line features 32 bright, rich colors inspired by European 18th-century furniture and 20th-century paintwork, making it a snap to achieve that charming, vintage look in your own home. If your coffee table has seen better days—and you’re feeling inspired to revamp it—look no further than Second Betty, the only retailer of Chalk Paint in central Illinois.

Help From Second Betty
Second Betty got its start at Step Back in Time, an antique store in Washington, Illinois, where Cindy Davis rented a space under the name “Vintage Design.” From there, Davis’ passion for repurposing old furniture “quickly took over my house, my garage and everything,” she laughs. “So we decided to either go big or go home. That’s when we opened the store in Morton.” Since opening Second Betty in the summer of 2012, Davis and her husband Mike, both retired from Caterpillar, have seen great success—so much that in February of this year, the couple opened a second location in Peoria Heights.

In addition to the complete line of Annie Sloan products, which includes paint, brushes, waxes, fabrics and books, Second Betty offers a range of vintage furniture, mirrors, lighting, picture frames, bedding, and other unique home décor items. Wandering through the store in the Heights, Sloan’s influence is unmistakable, as the checkout desk, one of the walls, and many pieces on display have been painted with her Chalk Paint.

Make It Your Own
The paint itself requires little to no prep work—“no sanding, no stripper and no priming,” notes Davis, making it easy for novices to get started. From Barcelona Orange to Château Grey to Greek Blue, the colors are timeless, beloved by Sloan’s many fans. “Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan is the original chalk paint—it’s tried and true,” Davis adds. It’s practically effortless to mix your own colors, and if Second Betty doesn’t have the exact shade you’re looking for, they’ll mix it for you until it’s just right.

Let the DIY Begin!
Would you like to transform that aging piece of furniture into a vintage masterpiece? Pick up some pointers at one of Second Betty’s Annie Sloan workshops.

  • Part 1: a basic introduction for the Chalk Paint and DIY enthusiast. $99.
  • Part 2: build on the basics to expand your techniques and knowledge. $99.
  • Bring Your Own Piece: Second Betty provides the tools you need to style your own piece. $75.
  • Kitchen Cabinets: learn how to transform your kitchen—supplies provided. $99.

Classes at Second Betty are offered throughout May and June. Organize a group of friends to schedule your own workshop—and get a discounted rate! Call (309) 321-8417 for details.

Davis believes the paint’s versatility is the perfect solution to redecorating in a still-sluggish economy—especially when combined with Annie Sloan waxes. Rubbed on after painting, the waxes allow for a range of finishes and textures, as well as adding a layer of protection and durability. “You can get a beautiful, modern, smooth, sleek look,” says Davis. ”It isn’t just a ‘shabby chic’ kind of look—you can get all kinds of finishes.”

One of her favorite restored pieces was a ‘70s-style hutch with plastic molding across the top. After repainting it from top to bottom with Chalk Paint, Davis says she couldn’t even tell the molding was plastic. The paint had completely redefined the hutch, which sold within days of moving into the shop window, demonstrating that Chalk Paint can take just about any piece “from drab to fab.”

Use Your Imagination
Indeed, Davis has nothing but accolades when describing Sloan’s unique paints. “Even if you don’t know anything about painting, they’re easy to use… They’re also good if you’re an artist, because you can do so many cool things with [them].” She advises budding DIYers to start small before moving on to a cherished piece of furniture, but with years of experience refurbishing old furniture with Chalk Paint, she adds that the opportunities are endless. “You’re only limited by your imagination.” And while the DIY trend goes far beyond paint, Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan is absolutely the king of its corner. a&s

Visit for more information on Chalk Paint and the rest of Sloan’s products. Learn more about Second Betty at, find them on Facebook, or visit them in Morton (318 S. Main St., 309-321-8417) or Peoria Heights (4111 N. Prospect Road, 309-679-1500).

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