Friday, 29 January 2016

Chalk painting furniture ...

I've always liked the shabby-chic look of painted furniture, but I've never been quite brave enough to take the paintbrush to anything that I liked having in the house. Call me a coward! Anyway, I have to dress up a stand for Knit & Stitch it 2016 and I'm on a budget (spent all the money on wool <ahem!>). I have four square metres of space, some (very ordinary) shelves that will be filled with my (very wonderful) wool and a (very ordinary) table and chairs where I'm scheduled to do some knitting demos - and it's all got to look super-duper wonderful on the shoe-string that is my expo budget.

The table and chair set was carefully chosen from Ikea on the basis that it was: (a) small; (b) foldable, and hence presented easier transport/ storage logistics; and (c) cheap as chips. Taken together with the shelves the whole ensemble looked a bit mismatched and uninspiring.

An almost-before shot. I was way too keen to get going to faff around with before shots!
So far, so not shabby-chic. But I have a plan, a cunning plan, to use some chalk paint to make my disparate collection of odds and ends look like it all belongs together. I’d read about this amazing product, Authentico Chalk Paint. And I kid you not: it’s going to be the stuff of my DIY dreams and fantasies for a very long time to come.

First of all it offers a range of colours that are totally gorgeous. It’s a thick water-based paint, which means that there aren’t many drips and it doesn’t smell, so you can do it indoors without asphyxiating, which is handy when you've got a deadline to meet. If you wanted a more splish-splosh (subtle) finish you could dilute it with water. I wanted a dull flat finish that would totally obliterate the boring tones of my lacklustre brown furniture, so I didn't bother with any dilution. 

I chose a subtle neutral called Almond, cos’ I’m really wild and funky (not). I loved it straight out of the can, and when it dried it had that delicious, solid chalky texture that I’d been hankering after.
The Wonder Dog (now sporting a tasteful, but not-so-subtle, almond patch or two of his own) and I have had an engrossing couple of days applying two coats to the shelves, the chairs and the table. 

I’ve been saving old duvet covers and pillow cases to use as drip cloths for when I finally plucked up the courage to go painting. These are all double thickness, and I use them folded up to quadruple thickness, so they work way better than a sheet would. I don't care what thread count you have, any decent splodge of paint will go straight through a single-thickness sheet.  I laid my improvised drip cloths out on the conservatory floor to catch any spills and got to work. 

And here's another great thing about this paint: it doesn't need a primer. You can get right down to the painting. It is advisable to wipe down the surfaces that you're going to paint with a damp cloth to remove any dust, but apart from that you're good to go straight out of the can. 

I think the trick with this sort of painting is to take it easy and to not over-load the brush, especially on all those narrow edges where run-over can accumulate leaving unsightly ridges of dried paint when the job’s done. Reckon on applying a couple of coats to get a good solid finish. The first coat will look a bit ropey, but don't lose heart: everything will come good when you overpaint with the second one. 

We finished painting all the wood exposed on one elevation, waited for it to dry, and then turned everything upside-down to paint the other bits. Happily this paint dries in about half an hour, so we were able to get heaps done in one sitting.

Chalk paint creates a lovely dull surface, but there's a bit of a downside in that it's really porous, which makes it vulnerable to staining. So once you've painted your two coats of paint onto the wood, and left them to dry, you really need to seal it with some wax. As I was on a bit of an Authentico trip I also bought their clear wax to seal off my work. The trick with the sealing wax is to only do a little bit at a time. Scoop some of the wax onto a paper plate, and dab your waxing brush from there. In that way you'll keep the rest of the can clean and free from the gunk that might come off your brush. You could go and buy a special waxing brush; Blogland is full of folk who'll tell you that they're indispensable, but I found that a clean, stumpy paint brush did the job just fine. 

Dab a smidgeon of wax onto the brush. Swirl it around over the painted surface, leave it for a brief minute or two, and then wipe and buff it off with a lint-free cloth. Keep your ambitions modest, go slowly, taking a little area at a time, and you'll be fine. 

And here’s my finished waxed result. Ta-dah! It needed an over-night drying off period to dry out and seal.

My boring, mis-matched, functional furniture has gone from lacklustre to just a little bit shabby-chic-ilicious. And, yes, that’s a technical term that those of us in the know use to convey our high-regard for a positive outcome!

All the best for now, and if you're in the vicinity of Farnborough on Friday 26th February or Saturday, 27th February do pop in to Knit & Stitch it 2016. I'll be hanging out at Stand S38. Swing by and admire my paintwork! ;-))

Bonny x

PS I am not getting any commission or financial reward from Authentico for recommending their paint. This is a straight-up recommendation from a happy customer!