Morning otters! As I mentioned the other day, when I moved my pink cane chairs from the living room to the breakfast room, I was left with a big, gaping hole in the family room. I INTENDED to practice patience and perseverance and perhaps even some fiscal responsibility and wait for the perfect replacements, which I would purchase with the giant nest egg I’d built up in my savings account. Alas, that was not to be. I found this monster of a 90’s yellow, plasticy carved wood at a local antiques shop marked down from $99 to $49.
OK. It really doesn’t look THAT bad in the pictures. I was tickled pink to find this guy available – I’d seen him before in the shop, but the first time I spotted him there was a rather militant looking older woman camped out on him in a manner that suggested she owned the item. And perhaps the whole shop. Imagine my surprise when I stopped by over lunch and saw him still sitting there.
Even though I got him AT an antiques mall, he is most certainly NOT an antique. But he is solid wood and I liked all the carving detail, the size and how open and airy he is. Once I got him home, I nearly left the wood alone – it’s a truly horrible color with a TON of varnish or something all over it. It had a bit of whitewashing – enough to show the detail in the carving and give the yellow wood a sickly limed appearance. Exactly like my kitchen cabinets…
Oddly, the light wood sort of looked nice in the family room as a contrast point. But I really, really wanted a grey, whitewashed chair and even thought the wood sort of looked good, color-wise, at the end of the day it was just an overly shiny, slightly worn dining chair. It needed some paint.
Enter Annie Sloan French Linen…
[image Alice & Jay]
Yay! Even Mr. Bug liked it!
OK. Let’s talk us some chalk paint and wax for a minute. I assume that you guys OBVIOUSLY read the exact same mix of blogs that I do… shelter blogs with a country/transitional/Belgian/Swedish focus, the usual gang of sewing blogs, Texas mommy blogs written by funny people who aren’t too mommy-focused, and Jezebel, Gawker, Gizmodo (do those still count as blogs?) As such, you all automatically know everything I know. I was reminded the other day that this might not be the case by a question from Shannon (she didn’t leave a web link!) that this might not be the case – she asked what the deal is with this wax I keep mentioning. So here’s a quickie rundown on Annie Sloan chalk paint…
This paint is from British designer Annie Sloan – you can check out her website here and she sort of tells the story. I’ll start out by saying the paint is SUPER EXPENSIVE, y’all. And unlike most bloggers I’m not going to go on with an unqualified “it goes real far.” Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. I haven’t painted enough furniture to really gauge that. What I CAN say is that it is SUPER AWESOME to work with. First, you don’t need to prime the paint sticks to everything. You can just start painting away. Secondly, it’s meant to be finished with wax, and it dries super chalky-smooth so it’s really easy to work with. My experience painting furniture in the past had been very frustrating, dealing with drips and brush strokes.
OK. The sorta bad. First, it dries REALLY FAST – like, 10 minutes fast. So you can’t really dawdle. Also, part of the charm of the paint is it leaves nice little brushy strokes, which gives it a lot of character, but if you’re looking for super smooth, mirror-like finishes, this is not going to be the paint for you. Finally, it makes up for the ‘no priming’ by requiring a wax finish. If you don’t finish it with wax, I guess it’s pretty delicate. Here’s the wax:
[image Annie Sloan]
It’s soft – like butter. Room-temperature butter. Perhaps I should have said Crisco. Once you’re done painting, you sort of massage the wax into the surface of the paint, a lot like rubbing lotion into your hands. It takes a bit to get the hang of it – it’s easy to put on too thick, especially if you don’t use one of the crazy-expensive wax brushes (pictured.) Of course if you DON’T use the brush, the wax is too thick and dries tacky so you either have to live with having a sticky piece of furniture or start all over with another coat of paint, which is costly.
There’s clear wax (pictured) that once applied makes the piece super smooth and awesome feeling. I’ve also used the clear wax on bare wood. It deepens the color (a bit) of what you apply it to. There’s also a really dark wax that can be used to deepen the color more and antique items. I won’t go much into that except to say it’s awesome and if you try it you HAVE TO PUT DOWN A LAYER OF CLEAR WAX FIRST – otherwise you stain the paint.
End of story: the paint and wax is pricey, but the results look WAY NICER than anything else I’ve tried. It’s been a lifesaver in furnishing our giant barn of a house, because it allows me to buy cheap furniture and make it look much, much nicer. Also, if you’re an instant gratification sort (like myself) the trade off of priming for waxing is a good deal. It’s still a lot of work, but you get great results with every new layer. And putting on the wax is sort of soothing and trance-inducing, where as sanding and priming fills me with anger and rage.
To find retailers, check out the stockist page on Annie Sloan’s website. I’m super lucky down here in Dallas there are THREE actual brick and mortar retailers (which means classes and shop examples!) but in Minneapolis there was only one and she didn’t really keep shop hours. A lot of people have to Internet order, which I know is a bummer. But it’s SO worth it!
OK… so back to my chair. I got two coats of French Linen on the chair – it’s a taupey grey color that I love. I wanted to whitewash it as well to lighten it up a bit as well as to bring out the carvings. Sort of the opposite of antiquing I suppose. This is the method I came up with…
First I dunked my brush in some paint – this is Anne Sloan Old White.
Paint some streaks on – working on small sections so the paint doesn’t dry too much.
Then I used a dry cloth to spread the paint around.
THEN I dunked a brush in water, blotted, and ‘painted’ over the section I’d just smeared around. I actually used a bigger brush for a lot of the chair – about 2″ wide with super short bristles from the cheap bin at Lowe’s. This step really spreads the paint around and you have to watch for drips. ALSO – this requires a very gentled touch as the underlying layers of paint will come off very easily at this point as they haven’t cured. But it washes out the paint well and gets the white into all the carved bits.
A final rub down with a dry cloth.
I went over the carved areas more than once, as I wanted them whiter.
I covered the seat with dropcloth fabric. I pulled off the piping and the modesty cover, but just covered over the existing upholstery. I avoid dealing with batting unless forced. This wasn’t the easiest cover job as the seat is so curved, but I just went slow, stapling on opposite sides and working from the center out. Not perfect, but it works. I’m thinking that I’ll spritz down with water and let dry, perhaps that will help get the fabric nice and taut.
I HAVE realized that this type of upholstering works much better with shorter staples – I use 3/8″ ones – and I don’t have to hammer EVERY SINGLE one in separately! Although I see one little guy that needs tapping in this picture…
Then I stapled the modesty cover back on, reattached the seat with the same screws I’d removed when I took the chair apart and I was ready to go!
I really like the detail in this chair. It’s the perfect amount of over the top for what is a fairly casual room. And the grey color is SO pretty!
Mr. Bug seems to really like the chair, although he DID imemdiately conjecture what we could sell it for! He’s such an accountant – I think he’d be pefectly happy to sell all our furniture and just hang out on air mattresses!
One more before and after…
Alas, with this project my can of French Linen is gone 🙁 Projects included… the sideboard, the breakfast nook table and this chair. I still have some of my 50/50 mix of French Linen and Old White as well, so perhaps this paint does, indeed, ‘stretch’ as everyone claims.
Next up… unless I manage to rectify the situation sometime today, tomorrow we’ll see a project flop!
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