I’ve never kept it a secret that I’m pretty bad when it comes to painting furniture. I have no idea why, I just know that after umpteen failures, I swore off painting furniture for good. That is, until the opportunity to review Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan presented itself.
I was perfectly up front and told the nice people that I’ve messed up nearly every piece I’ve ever painted. But they were pretty confident that this time, I’d have a good result using Chalk Paint®. To be honest, I’ve wanted to try it for as long as I’ve been reading blogs and seeing beautifully painted furniture all over the web.
And I had the perfect
victim subject . . .
This awful desk that I tried to refinish a few years ago for my mother. Bless her heart, Mom tried to use it for a while, but it was as if the paint never dried. It stayed tacky . . . forever. Eventually, it made its way outside, into the shop for a couple of years, until we moved last summer and I really needed a desk in my workroom. I figured if I had to sit and look at the thing every single day, I wouldn’t be able to stand it and I’d be motivated to strip the paint off.
Um . . . no. What’s that saying about the elephant in the room?
Now, part of me really didn’t think it was fair to test Chalk Paint® on a desk that I knew had an existing bad finish. But then, if it really could be covered without sanding or priming, not to mention stripping, well, I’d be ready to sing its praises from the mountaintops.
Oh yes, my friends. This paint is that amazing. So amazing that I couldn’t mess it up. So remarkable that it covered the icky, sticky brown goop that someone called paint which had been on there for 7 years or better. So incredible that I’ve already started painting another piece of furniture. Me! Painting furniture!
A convert has been born.
So let me show you the transformation of the ugly brown duckling to the gorgeous white swan. That’s not really a fair analogy because brown ducklings are really pretty darn cute. But you get the point. Unless it’s not an analogy but a simile. Or a metaphor. (I’m as good at English as I am at painting furniture.) ahem
When I painted the brown goop on the desk a few years back, I neglected to paint the drawer insides – thank goodness – no stickiness but they were sorely in need of either paint or shelf liners.
I mean, how long could it take to spray paint a few drawers? Pretty much the entire day, apparently, since it took a good three coats.
(Remind me to write a post about the difference in spray paints. Believe me, there’s a huge difference!)
I rolled the first coat on with a foam roller. Easy peasy.
This is one coat of Chalk Paint® over dark brown. Amazing, right?
Just for fun, I tried dipping a 2″ brush into the Chalk Paint®. Oh yeah, quite a difference. The foam roller is on the left, brush on the right.
Unlike all the other paints I’ve tried – latex in every sheen, enamels, oil-based – Chalk Paint® leaves absolutely no brush strokes. None. I don’t know why and I don’t care because that was the main problem I always had, visible brush strokes no matter what brush or paint I used.
I wound up painting a total of three coats. I probably should’ve added another but I was too excited that I actually had a successful piece of painted furniture. And, really, the brown was completely covered. I was anxious to get to the decorative painting.
Oh, you didn’t think I’d have a plain white desk in my workroom, did you? Huh-uh.
For the main body of the desk I used Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan in the color Pure White. They also sent me a 4 oz. sample pot in Provence, a yummy aqua/turquoise that’s just a tad ‘dusty’, which I adore and chose to add the detailing.
I’ll get into how and why I chose this particular pattern later this week. Download the scroll patterns here. I drew it some time ago, then redrew it on tracing paper to a larger scale for the desk top and left side, which is the only side that’s visible with the file cabinet obscuring the right side.
There are different ways to transfer patterns but I’ve always used graphite paper and a stylus. A ball point pen works well if you don’t have a stylus.
Slip a piece of graphite paper between the surface to be painted and your pattern and carefully outline the pattern with your stylus. It’s helpful to tape both the pattern and graphite paper into place to prevent slippage.
Once your pattern is transferred, just fill in with paint.
At first I thought I’d go for a dimensional scroll so I painted a very light coat, adding layers for shading. It was pretty but . . . well, I wanted something different.
Something fresh. Bright. Contemporary.
I spend a huge amount of time at my desk – well, either here or at my work table right behind the desk – so I wanted a design that makes me smile every time I sit down to work.
The scrolls needed something else. It took me a while to “see” what. Especially since I’d decided against dimensional scrolls, which is my usual design.
So I got out some white chalk and started doodling.
Of course, the white only worked on the Provence so a pencil was fine for doodling on the white. Both the chalk and pencil markings wipe off really easily with a damp cloth so it gives you a chance to “see” your design before you paint it out.
A little tip about working with chalk (especially if you’ve joined the chalkboard craze like the rest of us), moisten your stick of chalk with a bit of water first, then sharpen it in a regular ol’ pencil sharpener. You’ll get a nice fine point on your chalk!
Once the paint has dried – and it dries really fast – wipe off your chalk marking with a damp towel so you can fully see the paint and whether you need another coat or not. The chalk can camouflage some areas that you think are painted.
Now, in case you’re thinking that you can’t paint thin, curved lines, I want to give you a little tip that I use all of the time.
See that little blip in the left photo? Ok, not a big deal but those little blips are sometimes big blips, huh? All you need to do is grab a clean, damp flat brush and carefully swipe along the unpainted edge of the painted line. If there’s a little more paint left, rinse your brush, blot on a towel, and repeat until it’s completely removed.
This is the best way I know of to get straight lines or nice curves. No matter how many years you’ve painted or how careful you are, mistakes happen. Just grab a clean brush and wipe ’em away!
And the side of the desk.
Oh, the little dots were made with cotton swabs dipped in Provence.
After completing the top and the side of the desk there was still something . . . missing. Or unbalanced. Or something.
Again, it took me a while to visualize it. I thought I needed something on the right side somewhere to balance the over-sized graphic on the left. Also, I had originally painted the wood drawer handles Provence for contrast. But with the overhead fluorescent lighting, the color looked off, even though it was the exact same color. So I painted the handles out with Pure White again.
Then it was much easier to “see” what was needed.
I just added another scroll on the drawers on the right side.
While I wasn’t particularly pleased at the extra time required to paint more detailing, I knew it was needed to balance the design.
All that was left to do was apply the Soft Wax in Clear. Wax was new to me too but it was super easy.
I used a soft cloth to wipe it on and another to buff it out. I did a total of three coats. I was a little afraid that wouldn’t be enough to protect the top of a desk but I’ve had my computer, coffee cup and who knows what else on here for the past couple of days and it’s held up beautifully.
I can’t tell you how much lighter and brighter my workroom is now, even with large scrolls in Provence. It’s like an entirely new room!
And the turquoise rug I slid underneath the desk. Poor thing has been needing a home ever since I bought it on sale. Even though the colors don’t exactly match, I like the complement between the Provence, the rug and the filing cabinet.
And am I so glad I took that day to paint the inside of the drawers! Even though I thought it was a total waste of time. I would’ve been crushed to have a beautiful white desk, then open the drawers to over 50 years of wear and tear. Ugh.
Oh, didn’t I tell you that part? This desk was built by my real father for my two brothers, before I was even born.
There are actually two desks, the other is at my brother’s house. I’ll be picking that one up later this week when I’m done packing all of his things since he died two weeks ago. It’ll go upstairs in Mom’s living room and I’ll paint it to match her decor.
Can I tell you how happy I am that Annie Sloan Unfolded allowed me to review their fabulous Chalk Paint®? Not only am I now totally confident that I actually can paint furniture, but I now have given new life to a family heirloom. And I’m all ready to paint my brother’s desk for Mom and she’ll have something that my brother sat at for the last few years of his life.
I think my dad would be happy that his desks are being used after all of these years and are loved more than ever.
Disclosure: I was given Chalk Paint® and Soft Wax by Annie Sloan Unfolded. I was not told what to paint or what to write. All opinions and designs are 100% my own, as always.