DEBORAH CROMBIE: Since we've been talking about home/decor/lifestyle trends this week (hygge), have you heard about chalk paint? Let me start by saying that I am NOT crafty. I don't knit, or sew, and the wee bit of quilting I have done is only with huge help from my quilter friend.
But I had some very, um, "well-used" pieces of furniture that I didn't want to replace, and a much more house-crafty friend had told me about chalk paint, so I thought, "Why not?"
And besides, it's VERY BRITISH.
Anyone who has ever refinished an old piece of furniture knows what a huge pain in the behind it is. First you strip, then sand, then--if you are going for the antique look--you paint with oil-based paint, then sand a little more to distress, then finish with oil-based stain. Very messy, very smelly. A huge project that I just couldn't wrap myself around.
Then an English artist named Annie Sloan came up with a paint formula that can be painted right over stained furniture. No stripping. No sanding. No stinky oils. And I was lucky enough to have an Annie Sloan stockist (How cute is that? Stockist!) just a few blocks from me in McKinney. And once I started looking at the color charts online, and then went and looked at the paints in person, I was hooked. The colors are gorgeous!
So last Saturday, with the help of some crafty friends, I started on the first piece.
This was a little chest that belonged to my mom, one of few things of hers I kept. You can't see in this photo, but beneath the stack of books, the finish had been ruined by someone getting the surface wet and setting a stack of magazines on it. It had been sitting under my guest room window for three years, and I was determined to refinish it and use it as a bedside table in my guest room.
So this is what you do:
Step 1: Wipe it down, very lightly sand any imperfections, although you don't have to.
Step 2: You paint it with the chalk paint. And, yes, there are special brushes.
Step 3: In this case, we wiped paint off the raised part of the carved design.
Step 4: Let dry over night.
Step 5: Now for the wax. This is one of the Annie Sloan secrets. First you brush on a coat of clear wax. Then, if you want a slightly darker finish, you brush on whatever amount of dark wax you fancy. While you are doing this, you can wipe excess wax with a cloth, and if you get too much dark wax, you can wipe and add more clear. (You need two separate brushes for this.)
I discovered this means working fast, while the wax is still malleable. When you've got the combination you like, you let it dry 24 hours, more or less. While the paint is water-based and has no smell (can easily be done inside, unlike traditional refinishing), the wax has a lovely shoe-polishy scent. (You do, however, have to clean the wax brushes with mineral spirits.)
Step 6: You buff, using a soft cloth pad. The buffing brings up a lovely gloss, and, voila, you are done! Here it is, the new beside table!
The little Henredon chest was a nice piece of furniture, worth preserving. But the next project (and now I was fired up!) was a total piece of junk. This little vanity table we picked up at my hub's grandmother's estate sale when we first moved into our house more than twenty years ago and were trying to fill empty spaces. You might get $10 for this thing at a yard sale now. But the thing is, it perfectly fit our space and needs for our guest bathroom. So, why not try chalk paint???
Well, I quickly discovered that the chest was easy. The little vanity table, with all those spindles, was a job.
But I got it painted (Duck Egg blue--isn't it gorgeous?) and then I got it waxed (hands and arms falling off from all the brushing, knees and back complaining from crawling around on the floor for hours.) On this piece I added a tiny bit of gilded wax for the last step.
And here it is, back in place.
Still needing new knobs, but pretty adorable, if you are into shabby chic, and a huge improvement over the before.
I have at least two (maybe three) pieces of furniture I still want to do, but they will have to wait until after book tour.
I also have a few pieces of advice for anyone who wants to try chalk paint.
#1--Buy the real Annie Sloan brushes. Yes, they are expensive. But although I bought Annie Sloan brushes for the wax, I skimped and bought a generic brush for the paint. A big mistake. The quality makes a huge difference, especially on wear and tear on your hands.
#2--Don't do any of this at night! (Which I did.) Especially the waxing. The paint is VERY forgiving. The wax dries fast and you need to be able to see what you're doing.
#3--If you want to use the gilded wax, a little goes a LONG way. Be gentle and sparing. It also dries really fast so you have to wipe like the devil if you get too much.
#4--Watch Annie Sloan videos. Not other people doing chalk paint. Go to the source. They're short, well-edited, and tell you what you need to know. And, besides, she's very cool.
I am tired, and sore, but very proud of myself. I love the results, and I think I can now call myself CRAFTY DEBS.
So, REDs and readers, who's crafty? Have you tackled projects like this? WOULD YOU tackle projects like this?