I have no less than nine painting projects on the back burner - some for more than a year. A lot of it's been psychological because I swore off latex paint on furniture once I discovered milk paint, and using milk paint requires a certain mindset and commitment for true durability - like stripping the furniture beforehand.
I know there are tutorials that will tell you you can forego stripping or sanding when using latex paint, if you use certain primers. I did this with a stenciled dresser, before I discovered milk paint, and it will eventually need to be redone as the latex has started pulling off the top of it, despite the fact that I sanded and used a highly recommended primer. Annoying, to say the least. And milk paint can be used without sanding or priming, but it requires the addition of a bonder and it works, better than latex, but not quite as durable as the finish on the cabinet I stripped first. So I've been sitting around, waiting to get motivated enough to give each piece the care it requires.
But last week I had the pleasure (and luxury) of spending a day with Lisa Rickert at the U.S. headquarters for Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. It was my first time using the paint and I learned lots of different techniques and got plenty of hands-on experience. I know it's just paint, but I left greatly inspired and I couldn't wait to wake up the next morning and start painting (a small miracle in itself!).
So I tackled this dresser project first. It was a curbside find that I put in my dining room and it was in good shape structurally, but I wanted to remove the veneer from the front and give it some color. My inspiration was the cover of a notebook, the subtle variations in the blue background. I thought that would work well in my dining room where the light is moody and picks up nuance very nicely.
To say that Annie Sloan Chalk Paint has changed my view of DIY projects is an understatement. After finishing this dresser, I'm no longer looking at the eight projects I have left, filled with the sense that I'll never get them done. Now I'm just wondering how quickly I can knock them all out. The most tedious part of my dresser makeover was removing the veneer (not difficult, just boring). The painting and waxing were a breeze and the finished piece has the same beauty and depth as my milk painted cabinet. In short, I am OBSESSED and I've already started my second project (another small miracle).
My Dresser Before:
My Inspiration: (the lower left hand side, in particular)
My color recipe was 50% Duck Egg Blue and 50% Provence. After I'd painted the entire surface with that mixture, I poured a little bit of Duck Egg Blue on one side of a bowl and Château Grey on the other side. I used a damp paintbrush and dipped the left edge of the brush into the Château Grey and the right edge of the brush into Duck Egg Blue. I then offloaded the excess paint onto a paper towel and dragged my brush over the painted dresser, varying my brush strokes - left to right, up and down, etc. This mixed the colors of paint together, giving me some lighter blue areas and some brownish green areas. If my paint got too dry or the lines too distinct, I just dampened my brush again (without adding paint) and continued going over the painted areas until the paint was blended to my satisfaction.
It's subtle, but you see the difference between the first coat of paint and the light wash I added on top (both are before waxing, which brought out the tonal variations even more):
To finish it off, I applied a thin coat of Annie Sloan Soft Wax (clear) with a brush and after it dried, distressed it lightly with sandpaper, following the indentations and areas that had already been banged up and worn down on the dresser (distressing after waxing gently removes the paint with less dust and general messiness). I waxed the distressed areas again after 24 hours, then buffed the whole piece with a rag when the wax was no longer tacky.
You're likely to hear more about this paint as I work through my projects, but here's every reason I can think of now to encourage you to try it for yourself:
1. No sanding, no priming - Chalk Paint covers virtually any surface you can think of (including fabric) and it doesn't require sanding or priming beforehand. No bonders or additives required, even for fabric.
2. Flexibility - I changed my mind multiple times during the process of painting, from color to technique, and I was able to work with the paint all along the way. One of the things I learned about this paint is that water's your friend. If your brush strokes or color variations are too sharp, a damp brush smooths it right out. And if you change your mind about a color down the road, after it's waxed, you can paint right over the waxed finish (as long as it's been 24 hours after application).
3. Versatility - You can create an opaque, modern finish or a heavily distressed finish. It's suitable for all kinds of applications - color washes, thick gesso like finishes, crackled, cloudy stippled effects, dry brushing, layered, etc. Water thins out the paint or you can leave it with the lid off to thicken up and give you coverage that shows off brush strokes.
4. Easily blended - It's easy to create your own colors with the existing palette, and the paint is sold in sample sizes as well as quarts. Sometimes you'll only need an ounce of a color when you're mixing, so it's nice to have that option. I used a detailed shot glass to create my color recipes (or you can try a kid's medicine dispenser) and once I had the color I wanted, I mixed it in larger quantities.
5. Great customer support - I went to one of my local stockists to purchase a sample size of a paint color I needed. The stockist wasn't just selling it, she was using it (in all kinds of ways) and had lots of insight to offer. We worked on a custom color right there, so I could make sure I had what I needed. She's not an anomaly - all of the stockists have been thoroughly trained in using the product and most offer workshops or demonstrations.
6. Beautiful Finish - The paint dries to a matte, chalky finish (just like milk paint) and is meant to be finished with a coat of wax. The wax deepens the color slightly and gives it a silky, velvety feel. It makes your furniture look better than latex paint does. Period.
7. Quick drying time - It dries incredibly fast and can be recoated within a couple of hours - meaning that you can finish a piece of furniture in a single day, waxing included.
8. Easy cleanup - The paint itself is virtually odorless and you can clean your brushes with water, no soap required.
Quick and Easy Paint Transformations by Annie Soan - An invaluable resource that gives great guidance on working with this paint.
Annie Sloan Unfolded (U.S. Distributor)
See paint profiles (click on the name of each color) for information about the colors, see them on finished pieces, and view color swatches.
Annie Sloan's blog, Paint & Colour