Café-au-Lait Bedroom Furniture

Maybe this is starting to sound insincere, because I do say it after almost every project… but I think I just finished one of my all-time favorites!   This time, in the furniture category.

I got to use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint again, which you know I adore.  I used it on this blue bar and this yellow chest and this green TV stand

For this project, my client wanted to simplify.  Her existing bedroom furniture was colorful, happy, great quality… but a bit too BUSY for her current tastes.  She hired me to transform her pieces into restful, neutral furniture. 

Before I got to work...

Before I got to work...

Key criteria for the new furniture:

  1. French country style
  2. warm tone
  3. darker than existing cream on painted furniture
  4. distressed/antiqued

We started by looking at the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint color chart.  We chose Old Ochre as our beige of choice.

Day One: I painted everything Old Ochre.

End of Day One: I hated the Old Ochre. 

It was far too white in the client’s warm, cozy bedroom.  It looked like nursery furniture compared to her pretzel-colored walls.  It did not meet the “warm” or “darker than existing” criteria.

Enter Brandy from Vintage Style & Designs!  You may remember that she was a huge help during the Yellow Chest project, and she came though for me yet again this week.  She stayed open late and let me mess around with samples until we came up with the perfect café-au-lait light brown.  It was a surprising trio of ASCP paints that combined to make the color:

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I used appx. 3 Country Grey : 2 Arles : 1 Primer Red.

Day Two, I slathered on the new beige-brown color, and LOVED it.  Everything was instantly warmer and more inviting.

Here are some photos during the waxing process:

Waxing furniture is a full-body workout. I was seriously working up a sweat after all that buffing and massaging.  And like most workouts… so worth it!  I LOVE the finished product!  We agreed that the new furniture met all four of her initial criteria.

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I hope to get more photos from the client when all the furniture is in place with her new bedding.  I’ll be sure to share them with you.  I love dramatic before-and-after changes, like this one!

It’s so satisfying to help someone beautify their surroundings.  I hope this client has even sweeter dreams at night, now that she’s enveloped by serene furniture!

Hello, mellow yellow

My first project of 2014 was refinishing this chest of drawers for a particularly dear client:

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This piece was in her childhood bedroom in her late parents'  home, and she has held on to it ever since.  I was touched that she would trust me with such a cherished antique!  However, it had dings and chips galore, and a knob was missing.  (Replaced temporarily with a Lego to protect toddling grandchildren… now that's creative!)

My client wanted something bright in her family room.  She gave me a pillow to coordinate with, and described her ideal yellow as "buttery, and NOT harvest gold or lemon."

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So I went to Vintage Style and Designs in Louisville and started testing colors.  I met with Brandy - she was immensely helpful and mixed a ton of color combos with me.  I came home with English Yellow and Cream.  These mixed to a perfect toasty butter color, and matched the pillow… at least in the store, they matched.

But then I painted my first coat.  And the second.  Oh God, they weren't matching at all - it was TOO much like a stick of butter, and looked like nursery furniture.

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I texted Brandy in a panic - she convinced me that another coat with sliiightly different paint proportions would work - plus the dark wax.  If it had been my own piece, it would be OK, but I was NOT about to mess up color for a client!

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Can you believe the difference a coat of dark wax can make?  I love it… my arm was sore for a day afterward, but I just love massaging that stuff into all the nooks and crannies of an old piece of furniture...

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The biggest lesson learned from this project is that

Yellow is notoriously difficult!

I've heard this from interior designers before, but thought paint would be some kind of exception… just think about all the types of yellow out there, and how different people would call them different things…

...school bus yellow... mustard yellow (and then is it Grey Poupon yellow or French's yellow?)… butter... sunflower yellow... harvest gold… cream… lemon... no.2 pencil... saffron yellow... dandelion yellow… 

...and they all look different when the light changes!  Why couldn't I have suggested an easy color?  :)

My client found some AWESOME knobs at Anthropologie that coordinate with the piece.  I love how it's so happy and sunshine-y!  The yellow was challenging to match but I'm SO glad I did it and know how to do it again.  (Hint, hint.  Let me paint your furniture.)

I look forward to enjoying this refurbished antique many, many times when I visit this lovely client in the future!  Cheers to a sunny new year!

Napoleonic Blue Bar

You guys already know I'm crazy about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  Often, when I mention the brand to people, they confuse it with chalkboard paint… but no.  This stuff is way better.  You don't have to sand or prime the piece before you start painting!  That reason alone was enough to convert me.  But additionally, it creates this impressive patina that looks sort of aged… I wouldn't know where to begin to imitate that look.  

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My latest project used her Napoleonic Blue paint.  We'd been using an old bedroom piece in our living room as a bar.  It looked way too much like a nursery piece, being white, plus our awful movers had beat the cr*p out of it when they moved us to North Carolina.  It really needed a makeover.

Look at all these nasty dings from the moving company...

Look at all these nasty dings from the moving company...

We placed the bar under my reproduction of Manet's Bar at the Folies-Bergere, so I thought a blue piece would complement it well.

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I really like how it looks in the room now.  Here are some in-progress photos:

First Coat… needs a couple more, doncha think?

First Coat… needs a couple more, doncha think?

The Annie Sloan Chalk Paint effect… see how the wet paint is glossy, but the dry paint has a matte, chalky appearance?  It gets a little bit glossier when you add the clear wax overcoat, but not much.

The Annie Sloan Chalk Paint effect… see how the wet paint is glossy, but the dry paint has a matte, chalky appearance?  It gets a little bit glossier when you add the clear wax overcoat, but not much.

After the second coat, I STILL needed to make touch-ups… I'd say this piece took two and a half coats.  It's difficult to get full coverage when you're painting a dark color over white.

After the second coat, I STILL needed to make touch-ups… I'd say this piece took two and a half coats.  It's difficult to get full coverage when you're painting a dark color over white.

Ready for wax! Almost finished.

Ready for wax! Almost finished.

…and we're done!  I'm still looking for some gold, brass, or bronze knobs… anybody know of good sources in the Triangle area of NC?

…and we're done!  I'm still looking for some gold, brass, or bronze knobs… anybody know of good sources in the Triangle area of NC?

UPDATE: Found some knobs on eBay!

A Table for the Crazies

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Whether you love Duke Basketball or not, there's no denying the unique passion the fans have for Cameron Indoor.  I recently painted a beer pong table for Duke students to use during Campout for basketball tickets.  

The wonderful Greg Snyder did all the carpentry - check out his equally wonderful wife's blog, Champagne Taste!

I'd love to make more of these tables... I think they could be used for beer pong, tailgating, or even shrunk to the size of cornhole boards... and I certainly don't discriminate based on your choice of school.  :) 

Better photos to come... 

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