From shabby to chic…

It’s impossible to move these days for painted furniture, it’s everywhere, in all its off-white, distressed glory. You can buy pieces from specialist furniture restorers or upmarket furniture shops, or you can do it yourself – mostly with the help of Annie Sloan – either going on a course or learning about it online.

While I suspect it is in danger of going the same way as the feature wall of the nineties – once so hot and on-trend, now painfully dated – for the moment it provides a great solution for up-cycling and refreshing old furniture, a handy way to give your home a new look, without the serious price tag.

Our spare room – like most spare rooms – suffers at the fate of being the place we dump all our mis-matched, unco-ordinated, broken furniture. With plenty of guests expected over the summer, I wanted to take the time to try and give it a new lease of life, or at least create a sense of considered cohesion.

I started with a pine tv cabinet, that has served well as a bedside table, but was a horrible varnished yellow, and in definite need of some love. Annie Sloane Chalk Paint is the easiest (and laziest…) way to refresh your furniture. You don’t need to sand furniture before, even if its varnished, you don’t need undercoats and you often only need to paint one layer. When it’s dry, rub on some Annie Sloane wax and it’s protected from the day to day grime of life and will last for a decent amount of time. All the colours have a rustic, cottagey feel to them, and there’s a wealth of off-whites, creams and greys to choose from, as well as bolder colours too. I am a total convert.

I painted it with Annie Sloane ‘Country Grey’, and it went from this:



To this:

AnnieSloan2Bitten by the painting bug, I then bought a similar, but not matching, bedside cabinet for £5 from a charity shop, which I painted the same colour. I added new pink vintage door handles to both pieces, and lined them with pretty wrapping paper to keep the colour scheme running throughout.


I also needed a wardrobe in this room, and found a great double wardrobe with inset shelves for £35. Instead of painting it the same colour as the two bedside pieces, and creating a space that felt far too matching, I opted for a bolder colour, that made a feature of the wardrobe and gave a focal point to something relatively characterless. I was going to replace the metal handles, but a brief brush of paint across them created quite a nice effect, so I left them, and just changed out the tired yellow tassel on the key for a brighter pink ribbon to match the door handles.

AnnieSloan4A couple of tips:

  • Pieces of furniture with more detail – grooves, beading etc – are harder to paint but often look better, something very bland can look even more utilitarian when painted, so try to pick pieces that will stand out when painted
  • You can often get away with just coat of paint, so take your time with that first attempt – if you do a neat job then, you are less likely to have to touch it up later on and risk it drying uneven colours
  • Door handles and drawer liners are a great way to really improve a piece – think about your colour scheme and search for a while to find something you’re happy with
  • Lighter furniture is much easy to paint, if you have a choice, pick something in cheap, light pine.
  • A bold colour can really bring a colour scheme together and make a piece of furniture feel more interesting than it actually is, but don’t go overboard.

Address Book:

  • Annie Sloane Chalk Paint and Wax, £18.95 and £9.95, French Grey, Cirencester & Tetbury
  • Pink Door Handles, £2 each, The Organic Farm Shop, Cirencester
  • Heart Wrapping Paper, £2 a roll, Coln Gallery, Cirencester & Fairford
  • Red Hat Boxes, from £2.99, Sue Ryder, Cirencester
  • Pink Ribbon, 85p a metre, Bobble, Nailsworth
  • Vintage Terracotta Pots, from £2.99, Burford Garden Centre
  • Pink Rose Tissues, £1.50, Waitrose



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