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Enterprising Women Paint Heirloom Furniture

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Ashley Jones and Charlene Saunders Chalk It Up Furniture Decorators/Sellers

Ever fallen in love with a piece of estate sale furniture but thought the finish was damaged beyond repair? What about those pieces already in our families that have received too much wear?  Two East Tennessee women are finding a fresh way to refurbish heirloom decor.

“We’re looking for pieces that need a little bit of love,” shared Ashley Jones, as she painted in her basement with business partner Charlene Saunders. The women have been painting and preparing furniture for their new enterprise called Chalk It Up that features both antique and vintage pieces with a popular painted finish.

“The pieces are all wood,” explained Saunders, “so when we’re done, they’ll all be heirloom pieces.”  The women, with support from their respective families, hope to share the personality-filled furniture with many other families.  They number and name each piece when they’re done. A dresser is named Lizzie and a small vanity is Ariel.  You can’t buy anything new that’s exactly like this, and perhaps not as well constructed for the price.


Jones and Saunders attended a class to learn the techniques for using artist Annie Sloan’s popular line of Chalk Paint.  The paint boasts a low-voc content and can be applied directly to furniture with no stripping, sanding or priming of the surface.  With some post-paint sanding, buffing and waxing, decorators can create smooth and beautifully detailed finishes. Pieces can be both pretty and practical.  For instance, a dining room tabletop will get six coats of wax before it’s done.  Each piece includes a date and a notice for its purchaser that it takes 21 days for the surface to fully cure.

Both women had some previous experiences with messy furniture refinishing, and they prefer the Chalk Paint techniques for both themselves and their eco-conscious customers.  “It’s an easy, fun way to do it,” said Jones.  Saunders, who has an art background said “for me, this is both artistic and crafty and marketable.”

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