Now I’ll be interested to see what you think of today’s post. Before you judge have a little scroll up and down of the images. And then I’ll admit that I’ve had something of a change of heart on this subject. Yes we’re going to talk about painted furniture.
I have always been fiercely anti. Partly on principle and partly, yes. I’ll admit it, on taste grounds. I grew up with antique furniture and have always felt it was a crime to paint it. I also have a horror of the shabby chic trend; ornate cream furniture with bits scraped off it. No thank you. Unless it’s a genuine painted Gustavian it’s not for me. Or so I thought.
I will also admit that my mother’s recent discovery of grey furniture paint and her liberal covering of all her antiques in it makes me want more distressed than the furniture. She knows I disagree and said merely that I can strip it all back when she’s dead. So that went well then.
So I packed painted furniture away in the design crime box and thought no more of it. Not on these pages I decreed.
And then I saw these pictures, styled by the super talented Marianne Cotterill , and I got to thinking (you guessed it Sex and the City voice again): Is painted furniture always a crime or could it actually be a good solution to a bad table?
So I set out to investigate. And you can’t talk about painted furniture without speaking to the queen of chalk paint Annie Sloan. Annie, a fine artist by training, invented her paint in true entrepreneur style – she wanted to find one paint that would do everything. A woman after my own heart: “the most important thing for me was not having to do any prep so you can start painting whenever the mood takes you”.
Her water-based non-toxic formula sticks to just about any surface from walls to woodwork, inside and out with no need for primer. But I still wasn’t going to put it on the furniture was I?
And what about the antiques? Annie says you absolutely shouldn’t buy expensive furniture only to paint it. However, she says, if you are exhausted by a hulking great piece of brown furniture dominating your room then why not?
But, she adds, if you are shopping for something specific then put a cap on your spending. It’s far more gratifying to transform something you already have, or picked up cheaply and then create something completely bespoke. Also I have no problem with painting antique reproduction furniture, which is effectively a copy of an antique.
The other point to note is that it doesn’t have to be just wood you paint. People always assume you’re about to wreck the antique Chippendale, but using chalk paint on MDF or Ikea furniture is a great way to inject personality into a generic piece and create something more personal. Not to mention something that would cost several times more if it was attached to a designer label. And you might be amazed at how much of that expensive designer product is actually painted mdf.
So have a look around your home and, to coin a phrase, see if you have something that doesn’t spark joy and consider transforming it with chalk paint. You can also use it on the walls, and this bedroom above with the ceiling matching the bed looks wonderful. And there’s no hint of that distressing anywhere. Which means I am not distressed either.
The other great thing is that the paint goes directly onto almost any surface. Annie suggests using it on kitchen cupboards and floors as well as walls. She has also created a chalk paint lacquer to protect your handiwork.
If you want to create a really smooth flat finish then dilute the paint with water which will also hide the brush marks. If you live in a house where sticky fingerprints might be an issue, or want to use the paint in the bathroom, then the wall paint has been designed to have the same velvety finish as the chalky version but you can wipe it down with a damp cloth.
On a side note, it’s also very expensive to buy coloured garden furniture but on March (2019) Annie will be launching a new UV lacquer that is perfect for tarting up a shabby garden table and turning it into something chic – just make sure you keep the chic separate from the shabby and this painted furniture might be something to consider after all.
Do’s and Don’ts by Annie Sloan:
Do put a limit on what you spend
Don’t paint the antiques and heirlooms
Do think about painting Ikea or cheap mdf furniture
Don’t distress it
Do remember it for the garden furniture
Don’t do everything but select with care
Do mix the colours to get the one you really want
Don’t live with furniture you don’t like
What do you think? Converted?