I've had this old wooden highchair for several years. It was one my mom picked up at a garage sale and used for her last wave of babysitting kids before she retired to "grandmotherhood." She'd given it to me a little while before I got pregnant with Annalyn because I thought it was so much more stylish than the plastic/fabric kind with little animals all over them. *Note when I actually had kids, I realized how much more practical the plastic/fabric highchairs on wheels are and found this adorable one with a little giraffe on it... live and learn. However, I kept the wooden one tucked away in my attic because it would be perfect for one year old cake smash photos. I had it all planned out - I'd paint it a really fun color, maybe tie some balloons or buntings to it, and set it in the middle of a field somewhere while baby adorably destroyed his/her cake. It.would.be.perfect. Then my first baby was born in February, so that plan was out. But still, I held on to the ole highchair hoping that one day it would fulfill it's birthday destiny.
And then came Emma. On a beautiful May day. And then I blinked, and realized that she will be one in less than a month. And then I cried just a little bit, but got over it pretty quickly when I thought back over the last 11+ months and realized for the first time in a year, I was finally sleeping through the night. Maybe the end of the baby stage isn't the worst thing.
But back to the chair.
I found this recipe for homemade chalk paint and remembered the little sample size paint jar I had tucked away in my laundry room. It was the perfect shade of Robin's egg blue. Bright enough to be girly, but not so bright that it would distract from the picture. The paint recipe needed just baking soda, water, and paint, so I was set. Once the girls were down for naps, I got to work:
1. Lightly sand the highchair. This isn't necessarily needed with chalk paint, but it had a pretty heavy layer of varnish, so I decided to lightly sand (doesn't need to be perfect because this paint goes on thick).
2. Mix 1/2 c. baking soda with 3 T. water until a smooth paste forms.
3. Add 1 c. paint and stir until combined. (Note: these proportions made much more than I needed for the highchair. I even painted my little kitchen stool, and still had some leftover. You could easily get away with half of this.)
4. Using a brush, paint a single even layer over the surface of the chair. Mine went on pretty thick and evenly, so I didn't even need a second coat. I also wanted the wood to show through in some spots to give it a slight distressed look.
<end of naptime>
5. Allow paint to dry completely (aka, until next naptime). It will have a sandy/bumpy texture. With fine grit sandpaper, very lightly sand the surfaces to smooth out. Sand a little harder along some spots if you want the wood to show through. It will have a smooth, chalky appearance. Take a slightly damp cloth over it to remove the dust.
6. Seal with furniture wax so it's holds up against things like icing covered babies.
7. <optional> Place high chair in field, insert adorable baby, beautiful cake, and hope she doesn't just scream the whole time. Or get pushed over by her big sister. Or blown over by the crazy spring wind out here. Or get in the way of the farmer trying to get the beans in. Or... ya know, on second thought, snap a couple shots of the highchair alone first. Marvel in it's beautiful, painted beauty and how your hard nap time work paid off. Then add the baby, cross your fingers, and hope for the best.
My biggest tip for cake smash photography - don't try to do it while 527 family members are watching. Baby will be distracted, bashful, and forever bitter at you for subjecting her to such humiliation. Plus there will be at least 4 other cameras flashing and ruining your light. Take them beforehand, and let the party be a reinactment. Let the adoring grandparents take all the pics that day. Heck, maybe even jump in a couple with baby. I know my favorite little kid pictures always have my siblings and parents in them.