Ahem! Did I mention that little old me…little old my house…was featured in the extremely very prestigious I am dining out on this for years yet Period Living Magazine? This is the money shot of the kitchen which (hopefully) beautifully illustrates my topic for this week “Painted Furniture makes an English Country Cottage” I painted the sink unit in Annie Sloan’s Old White and the doors in Farrow and Ball’s Old White for a gentle hint of contrast. The Island is painted in Laura Ashley Cotton white and even the fridge behind Mave The Wheeley basket is painted in a special paint to allow us to write on it (I scrubbed off the poo and bum hilarious small children writing for the shoot).
One of Annie Sloan’s followers on Twitter just asked her “Do you recommend a piece of painted furniture in every room? Or a roomful of painted furniture? Do you think one can never have enough painted furniture?” and Annie (she is now my best friend since I asked for her help with this article) replied “Well my house is covered in painted furniture and I’m pretty sure it looks okay LOL!”.
I have banged on at length about how dark our cottage can be (in the summer when the SUN SHOULD BE SHINING) so I was forced to lighten the rooms with a variety of off white shades. The beams add warmth, history and romance but it is the painted wooden furniture that gives colour and character to our rooms. Imagine the room if the dresser was still the original cheap orange pine and if the chairs were bare wood. A bit like a supermodel without her make up on after a heavy night clubbing with Pete Doherty. Pale and drained.
I left the varnish on the dresser and Sloaned my way through with no sanding, just the Old White as a basecoat and one of my favourite colours from Annie Sloan : “Chateau Grey” which is a gooey, scrumptious old fashioned dark grey green (beautifully described as “elegant greyed green inspired by the colour created when decorative painters mixed all their leftover colours together to make a base paint. It is the traditional colour found in French woodwork”(Annie Sloan) now you see why I fell in love with the dresser. I left the backboard Old white and used ‘Original’ (White) to highlight the edges and the panelling. It transformed the dresser from something garish into a piece of furniture that lends the room its faded charm and character.
When I spoke to my new best friend Annie..An…A…(Ok, we messaged but it STILL COUNTS OK?) she explained that: “When I invented Chalk Paint™ I’d been working as a furniture restoration artist and writing books on Interiors and initially I needed something to help me recreate these classic French farmhouse and English country looks which I was so often working with. The joy of painting furniture is you can age it to give a rustic look by overlaying colours and sanding back (the classic two step distress), you can add coloured waxes to age or sun-bleach, or you can simply use it straight out of the tin. A multitude of techniques for innumerable styles”. (Annie Sloan her actual self)
We were fortunate that we had moved from another old cottage so most of our furniture worked well in this house but it was the painted furniture that I added subsequently that provided the “rustic look”. My other dresser (yes – I’m not great at parting with things) was plain pine but looked too modern, as soon as I painted it and distressed the paintwork, adding a dark wax finish, the dresser looked more at home.
I asked my Best bud Annie to describe why Chalk Paint™ works so well in creating ‘An English Country Cottage’, An-An explained that her Chalk Paint™ possesses “a beautiful, velvety matte finish which looks high end and yet cosy, working brilliantly in any kind of country cottage or rustic traditional scheme. Think creamy washes of Old White on dining tables, Duck Egg Blue on kitchen cabinets or English Yellow for a dazzling burst of sunshine on garden furniture”.
I painted my first piece of furniture aged 11 (my tiny blue chair that has gone through a myriad of colours over my life) but I didn’t discover Annie Sloan until my twenties and it was a genuine revelation, I use lots of different brands but it is The Sloanster that I return to every time, I love the consistency and the range of colours. I asked my bestest friend in the whole wide word why Chalk Paint™ has remained so popular for so long: “Because anybody can use it, any way they like. I don’t think there’s a single person who can’t benefit or improve their home in some small or MASSIVE way with a bit of Chalk Paint™. It has to be very high quality to have this universal appeal, and I’m very proud about the DIY folk and paint tradespeople we’ve converted. Chalk Paint™ is now in its 30th year and I still use it every day because transforming furniture just keeps getting better!
My Father -in-law was in the RAF and he always jokes that if you remained still for long enough you would be painted white. He makes that gag every time he visits but I think when I painted the piano even he thought it was taking the joke a bit far, but by gum it transformed the room. The piano has been passed down through our family but it was dark and shiny and not in a good way. The sound is beautiful but it sucked all the light and joy from the room. I finally plucked up the courage to “RAF” it – although I went for (Old) White and Paris Grey – and my goodness it was a revelation! It blended into the room, retained it’s gorgeous sound and continued the relaxed rustic feel that I was trying to bring back to the empty shell of our 400 year old cottage.
I passionately believe in buying antique furniture and reusing resources that would otherwise become landfill. Painting an old and tired piece of furniture is brilliantly simple and gives you a unique piece that works perfectly for your home. Antique furniture can be terribly costly but buying something second hand and painting it can add character and charm to a home.
With grateful thanks to my new bestest greatest friend Annie Sloan https://www.anniesloan.com/ thank you for being as lovely as you seem and for taking the time to answer my slightly odd questions.