Reinventions – using Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint

DSC_0056My mother is OBSESSED with Annie Sloan’s chalk paint. Since discovering it, she and my father have chalk-painted literally everything in the house which isn’t made of fabric. Their dining room is literally doused in the stuff, from a sideboard, to the sconces, to a rather impressively chalk-painted metal Ikea chandelier job. Momma L’s passion for the stuff comes from the fact that it’s designed to go onto any and all surfaces with minimal prep. Easy? Straightforward? Designed to be idiot-proof? “Well then,” I thought to myself, “I can certainly fuck it up then.” That the results were less hideous than I thought they might be was something I figured was worth sharing.

The other reason I’m keen to post this is that it’s a bit of a break-the-pattern moment for me. It’s occurred to me that in the past few months I’ve been exclusively posting food and recipes, especially baking. This is no major issue, as I’m pretty confident in myself as a cook. But there are things that I am overwhelmingly shit at, and I’m pretty open about it. Decorating and creative projects are a major example – they take *such* a lot of effort and I often get bored halfway through. The joy of cooking is that it’s quite self-contained – you get the quick wins on a step-by-step basis even if you’re engaged in a 5-hour bake (yes, I’m thinking back to the horror of the Bee-Sting cake). Doing something different with my time has been an interesting experiment, even if I’m still suffering from the sense that, as with all decorating projects, the time spent might just outweigh the opportunity cost of going out and having some proper fun!

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Looking… pine-y

I’ve had this chest of drawers for ages and while it’s an attractive pine colour, it doesn’t really fit with the rest of the bedroom (or indeed the flat). The Lovely One has a penchant for shiny white box-style minimalism which rubs up uncomfortably with my higgedly-piggedly vintage EVERYTHING style. However, we’ve managed to reach an uneasy detente, with the LO accepting my little tchotchkes around the house whereas I agree to limit my passion for velvet and multiple pictures on every available surface, and agree that we purchase beautiful Scandinavian-inspired white furniture instead of gumtree-ing every disgusting old sideboard in the SE London area. . But this particular item, while undeniably useful and absolutely essential, was not in keeping with everything else.

The idea, unfortunately, filled me with trepidation. Sanding, priming, painting and varnishing are all words which fill me with horror as they sound… time consuming. Chalk Paint seemed to be the answer, if my mother was to be believed.

Step One: Buying and prepping 

First off, this stuff isn’t especially cheap. I spent £40 on one tin of paint and wax, and ended up using more or less the whole thing (there was a bit of wastage and I have a little left over). There was quite a bit of wax left, however, which was very satisfying.

I watched a lot of Youtube before beginning – I was certain I’d cock it up somehow and so soldiered through a lot of different tutorials. Annie Sloan’s own ones are the best, but you do have to put up with a pretty hard sell on her brushes.

Finally, after a rather strong coffee and having wrestled off the handles on the drawers, we were ready to rock and roll!

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Step Two: Painting

I’ll be honest, this stuff goes on quite nicely. I thinned down the first two coats with quite a bit of water, then eased up on the final coat. I had rather hoped I’d only need two, but as the pine was fairly dark I knew the paint, while not the whitest in the range, would need a fair bit of help.

Step Three: Waxing

This stage was pretty boring, I’ll be honest. While the paint smells pleasantly neutral, this stuff honks and, while easy to apply, was a magnet for all the fluff in god’s creation. I ended up whacking a load on and then spreading as much as I could with a brush and a soft cloth. But… it looked pretty good!

Step Four: Buffing

DSC_0067Tediously, the waxing renders the wood a little “ugh” feeling, like you can’t rub up against it without a transfer onto your clothes (like, accidentally, people, I’m not a sodding cat). The solution is to leave the wax to *cure* for 24 hours then buff to a shine with a soft cloth. This part was pretty fun, but having used up the bank holiday weekend it was a job for a Wednesday night and so frankly I didn’t put in quite as much effort as perhaps was merited. A day later, and following a further curing session, we assembled the chest of drawers and stepped back.

Not bad.

Conclusions

I only read this piece after using the Chalk Paint, and to be honest I do understand the criticism. This stuff is incredibly easy to use, but the finish depends on quite a bit of waxing and buffing, and I’m not sure I love the feel of the waxed piece I ended up with. It also ended up a bit more cream than I’d hoped. That said, I’m a household idiot who doesn’t like sanding, so whether you end up doing 2 days of sanding or 2 days of waxing and buffing, either way you will be spending at least three days on this project.

Overall? Pretty impressed. Impressed enough, anyway, to prepare to paint up the kitchen. Stay tuned!

 

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