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A hub for all things to do with design, furniture painting, photography, style, event planning [and some foodie bits for good measure].  

Painting in Lilac: Annie Sloan's Henrietta Chalk Paint

I've been working with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint products for years now, so I was surprised to find there are still a few colors I hadn't tried from her collection! Recently, my mom offered to pick up paint for me and I when asked her to grab something I hadn't tried, she went for Henrietta!

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I would describe Henrietta as a a bright lilac shade, with a bit of a red/pink undertone. I already know this color will look stunning when lightened with white, but I wanted to work with this color in its pure form.

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I had a chair from my childhood vanity that was looking a little dingy, so it became my guinea pig for my first take at Henrietta.

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The paint covered the chair quite easily. I barely needed two coats to complete the chair, which makes this a really easy shade to paint with.

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I could see this color working so well as a pop of color on an accent piece of furniture. Chairs, side tables and nightstands would all be perfect contenders for this shade. When it came to styling this piece for photos, I wasn't sure what color route I wanted to take.

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I started by bringing in a painting with lavender flowers, and slowly pieced together different bits that coordinated.

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I acquired a new plant that had shades of green and purple in it, and I always like to incorporate plants in my styling work.

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I would have loved to pair Henrietta with deep maroons and burgundy shades, but oddly enough I don't own any styling props in these colors! [add that to my prop shopping list!]

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Instead, I brought in some warm wood tones with a vintage trunk and framed prints. I added bright colors to the vignette with books and more art.

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I thought it would be fun to see how different colors pair with this lilac shade. It's a surprisingly versatile color to style with and I can't wait to experiment more with this shade!

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[Chatty Post!] Simple White Nightstand with Gray Details

I'm in a rambly, chatty mood...so bear with me :) I've taken a solid week or two off painting furniture and blogging, partly because I hurt my knee, partly because I've been busy with other bits, but mostly because I've been away the past few weekends.  One of the reasons I left town was to drive up to New Jersey [hey 13 hour drive...wish I loved you more...definitely don't] to pick up my childhood bedroom furniture. They've been in storage at my godmother's for going on 9 years, and since she's selling her house, it was time they made their way down to my home in Atlanta.

I managed to fit in my dresser, a rolling bookcase and a nightstand, among lots of other items into my big car. The dresser is currently living in my closet. It's in great shape, so I don't plan on painting it. It will provide an extra space for storage [because who doesn't need more storage?]. The rolling bookcase quickly became the perfect spot to house my painting supplies [will share photos of my updated painting/photography room soon!]. The nightstand...well I already have nightstands in my room and I didn't have a place for it elsewhere in the house. My mom asked if she could have it. Seeing as she bought it 20+ years ago, I figured I could return it to her :)

She asked if I would paint it to coordinate with the dresser I painted for her.  The dresser [this one!] is painted in Annie Sloan's Pure White with an ombre of grays on the drawers. This little nightstand only has one drawer, so though an ombre finish wouldn't work, adding a little hit of gray to it would help tie in with the gray on the dresser.  I did a light washed finish on the nightstand, keeping it slightly beachy. I then added gray trim onto the top and the bottom shelf. It's a rustic painted finish, so it's got slight imperfections, but that ended up being what I loved most about this piece. I styled it simply with black and blue and white details. I love that this little piece of my childhood gets to continue living on in my family!

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Quick Styling with Fall Colors: Mid Century Dresser in a Gray-Blue

Sometimes everything perfectly aligns. I finished this piece right around 5pm when the light was stunning and golden. The dresser was begging to be photographed immediately! Normally I give it a day, let the wax cure, and slowly style the furniture until it suits me. BUT THAT NATURAL LIGHT! So in a fit of madness, I started running around the house grabbing art to hang on the wall, and random bits to style the top with. I normally hang an odd number of pieces on the wall, but this set of four worked well and I liked how the large colorful painting was balanced out with the three smaller paintings in more neutral tones.

When styling, I [almost] always hang art first and then take look at my giant bookcase of styling props. This time my row of vintage books caught my eye. I noticed how nicely all their colors paired with the large painting I had hung, and grabbed the whole lot.  I quickly shoved them on the top, had that AHA! moment and continued grabbing a few more items to complete the vignette. There was so much color in the books, I kept the rest neutral with a cream ceramic lamp [Pottery Barn], my little brass mama duck and her ducklings [vintage from Highland Row Antiques] and a tall clay vase [West Elm]. 

Something about this set up really resonates with me. Mid century pieces are so timeless and simple, it really doesn't take much to make photos of them shine. But between the art and the books in that rainbow of shades, I'm simply in love. For my painting readers, I created the blue-gray finish on the frame using a combination of Annie Sloan's Aubusson Blue and French Linen. The mixture created the perfect neutral with a bit of a twist. The color works with warm accents or cool, whichever mood you're in.  

I don't know why, but something about these photos and this styling makes me think of 'back to school' time. I've only just put this up for sale in my shop, but I'm secretly hoping I get to hold onto it for a bit so I can do another restyle of this piece using actual school props [notebooks and yellow pencils and rulers oh my!]. I loved school as a kid, so this time of year and the color tones found in this photoshoot really just give me the warm and fuzzies!

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Subtle Blended Colors: Teal Sideboard

For a traditional pieces of furniture, it's always fun to bring in color schemes that are a bit outside of the norm.  I've been in the process of clearing out old cans of paint. For this sideboard, I combined Annie Sloan's Napoleonic Blue and English Yellow, along with a bit of Arles [a deep mustard] to develop this rich shade of teal. I've been working on some blended painting techniques, incorporating varying colors on a single piece, and I'm really happy with how the finish on this turned out!

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The photo below best shows the subtle highlights and lowlights found created by color blending. The colors are soft and not too starkly contrasted, a trick I'm really enjoying.

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I first painted the entire piece in a coat of that deeper teal, allowed it to dry completely, and then in small sections of the sideboard, haphazardly painted a lighter version of that teal.  

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As far as painting 'math' goes, for the teal I added bits of yellow to it to create that shade, and for the highlight color, I added a small amount of that teal back to yellow, creating a yellowy green shade.  They're made from the same colors, but are just incorporating opposite ratios to achieve that contrast. 

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The reason I work in small sections with that light color is it's best to get that subtlety if you immediately blend that light color in.  

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The way I worked that out on this pieces was by using a spray bottle of water, lightly spritzing the newly painted highlight areas, and then brushing over it with the brush used for the darker teal shade, gently dipping brush in that teal. I didn't load up the brush with paint, but added just enough to add another layer of color to the furniture.  

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I would repeat this blending process a couple times, making sure to gently wipe up any drips. I've gone with the drippy effect before and I LOVE it, but I wanted this piece to stay more in its traditional vein. 

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I used this technique on the front, as well as the sides and top of the sideboard, continuing the blending effect that creates a depth and interest to this piece.

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I sanded down the entire piece with fine grit paper that's meant to be used on wet surfaces. That way, if I wanted to play up certain areas and reveal the lighter shade below even more, I could lightly spray that spot, gently sand it down just enough to reveal the color, and occasional show off the original wood tone.

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For the photos, I wanted to keep the styling more modern to contrast with the traditional lines of the sideboard. I collected some of my favorite prints and art to create a colorful gallery wall. 

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I added a mixture of vintage and modern styling bits for the surface.  I almost always incorporate a living plant in my vignettes, but my bouquet of pink paper peonies [say that three times fast!] from Amaranthus Paper & Flora adds a stunning brightness and contrast to the teal sideboard.  

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This piece is all about the blended painted finish, but the little touches like the modern styling and traditional copper toned hardware create a perfectly eclectic look. I'm posting this beauty for sale today in my shop. Keep an eye out for it or shoot me an email if you're interested in it for your home!

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Combining Mid Century and Industrial: Gray Desk with Brushed Black Wax

I always get SO excited when I come across a mid century piece of furniture I can work on!  I was on the hunt for a client who needed a desk. She will be working from home more and though she wasn't picky about what the piece would look like, I had a good sense of her style and knew this one would fit perfectly in her space. 

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In previous design conversations, she showed an interest in industrial style pieces and neutral colors. We never discussed mid century, but I had an image in my mind of bringing that gritty, industrial style to this clean cut desk. 

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I combined two Annie Sloan grays, Graphite and French Linen. It's a go-to mixture for me, since it creates a perfectly balanced gray.  I initially thought I'd paint the desk in Graphite alone, but I wanted the black wax I'd add later to contrast with the base paint color, so I opted for a lighter gray.

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I didn't do much in the way of distressing with sandpaper on the desk, I simply sanded it with a fine grit paper to get a smoother finish and knocked the edges of the drawers and top a bit. I gave the piece texture by using a coarse bristled brush to apply black wax to it. I wanted the lighter gray base to show through, so I opted to apply clear wax BEFORE going over it with black wax.  The clear creates a buffer between the paint and the tinted wax, so it allows you a bit more control over that deep black wax.

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When the light hits it, the contrasting gray and black blends together, but in darker settings [her office is on the darker side], it shows the detail of the wax finish nicely. To add even more contrast, I applied the black wax heavily to the tapered feet, to accentuate their mid century style. It's actually my favorite little touch to this desk!

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Since mid century and industrial styles can feel masculine and linear, I added some organic textures with a collection of plants, my favorite Rifle Paper Co. calendar [it goes with EVERYTHING!] and a woven wall hanging. 

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I paired the painted desk with a vintage wood chair. It adds warmth to the overall look. I'm still working on finding her a wood chair [this guy is from my personal chair hoarding stash!], but often I'll see single chairs similar to this at thrift stores and antique shops, so it's just a matter of time before the right chair presents itself!

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This desk was in great shape, but if you come across a piece that has some imperfections, using this brushed on black wax technique does wonders for furniture with flaws. It adds an intentional grittiness, and makes the piece feel aged and worn, but in the best way possible.

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She loved how I styled the desk for these photos, I'm planning on styling the desk much like this in her office! There are a few key bits to creating this eclectic but simple styled look. I'll be on the hunt for a few vintage books with colors that will contrast with the gray desk. I'll probably source a lamp from Target, because they have a great selection of affordable lamps in all sorts of design styles. The one I used for this shoot is a Target lamp with a felt gray shade and a light wood base in a modern cut. 

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I'll also try to find her wall art and art for the desk top. She'll be using this desk for work, so I won't place too much on top of it, but a few bits make all the difference and will create a work environment she'll want to come to each day. 

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AH! I nearly forgot to mention the drawer knobs on this desk. It oddly came with a set of knobs shaped like Chinese characters, so I ditched those and found these simple oval pulls from Home Depot. I'd have liked to find something more mid century, but I would have had to special order them, and these ended up working beautifully. 

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I can't wait to see how this desk looks in her space when it's all styled and ready to be used as her home office space! If you're looking to restyle your home office [or any room in your house!], let's chat!