Chalk Paint – They tell me a child could do it

Because constantly nursing a nearly 4 month old whilst the 4 (very nearly 5 year old) is off school for the next 6 weeks isn't keeping me busy enough, I thought I'd try my hand at up-cycling furniture. And not just any furniture, oh no! A donated wooded chest that is huge and a couple of my old bedside tables and a very old, hand made, family sentimental type furniture. You know, the sort you know could look beautiful if don't really well in a rustic/ distressed look, but you're scared witless that you'll ruin it completely and never get it back to its original French polished look if you do.

Now, to just get a feel for the paint (I've never used it before but spent hours browsing videos on YouTube and quizzing the lady who owns Oldswinford Galleries (who retails Annie Sloan paint), I feel like I should be a pro. That's how it works isn't it? Anyway, I tried one of my smaller, Next, cube style side table. It's old, was given to me years ago and doesn't matter so much if I completely ruin it (I'll just hide it in my bedroom). I've brought a medium natural bristle AS brush as it was recommended for the sort of finish I want. A bit pricey, about £12 for what is really quite a normal looking brush, but I've been assured I'll never need another brush and the natural bristles give a textured finish and you can load the paint up to get varying thicknesses, depending on the final finish you want.

As I said, the cube table was my trial. The thing I found most difficult was painting in random strokes. My natural instinct was to try to paint in straight lines, with the grain to get a smooth finish… which totally defeats the object of using chalk paint! I also kept being a bit stingy with the paint, thinking the old adage of 'less is more' might be in my favour. Not so. I quickly discovered loading the brush and slap dashing it onto the surface gave me a really quick coverage and looks great. It dries really quick too, so I could get a second coat on whilst baby napped.

So, now I've got a bit of confidence, I thought I'd try something a bit more adventurous. My grandads bookcase! Sentimental rather than expensive in its value, this piece of furniture has been back and forth between my mothers home and mine too many times to count of the last few decades. It's a lovely handmade piece that is stained dark and French polished apparently. It's in great condition, just a bit dated in appearance. I'd like to give it a make over and paint it with a shabby chic/ distressed finish. No pressure there then.

Step one – the great thing about these paints is no prep! Just give it a clean so it's dirt and dust free and go for it. I got a sample pot of primer red and got to work painting. It was so quick! And a tiny tester pot was the perfect amount for one coat on the bookcase

This is where I nearly changed plans. I liked the colour so much I almost didn't go any further. But then where's the fun in that? On went my second colour -Paris grey. I'd watched so many videos on how to do this to get the finish I wanted but still felt I needed to try a few, so for the top shelves I watered down the grey 50/50, aiming for a 'wash' effect. I wasn't too happy with this so for the bottom half I dry-brushed to get a more patchy effect. I loved this look!

After a bit of a sand down on the edges to take the paint down to the wood and rough up the doors a bit, I used a rag to put clear wax on and buffed slightly in some areas to get a sheen, leaving other areas matt. I'm really pleased with it. I may get bored of it as it's very different to the rest of my furniture and my usual style, but if I decide to change it at least I know I can have a totally new look in under an hour.

Now to finish the bedside tables and toy chest I've started!

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