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

Layering Many Colors on Furniture for an Aged Effect

It's rare that I completely gush over a piece of furniture, but this bookcase may have to be the exception! Lately I've been in a mood to experiment with different techniques and color combinations.  My goal for the rest of this month is to practice layering colors to create a one of a kind painted finish on pieces.  This bookcase is the first in my series and I can't get enough of it! 

Let me walk you a bit through my process.  I grabbed several cans of paint, as always going with Annie Sloan chalk paint.  I went with the colors Provence, Aubusson Blue, Florence, Napoleonic Blue, Arles, and a custom gray [I'm not sure of the exact mixture, but it resembles a mixture of Graphite and a bit of Old White to create a mid tone gray]. If you don't have the larger cans of all these colors, going with the small paint pot samples works just as well! 

For this piece, I haphazardly painted chunks of the various colors all over the piece, making sure to keep the colors varied but not overly intentional. I avoided having any of the colors overlap, since I didn't want the shades to get muddied and mixed together.

I combined Napoleonic Blue and Aubusson Blue with a bit of water to create a blue wash that I quickly coated the entire piece in.  I didn't try to get full coverage, but the lightly watered down paint does spread thinly and quite evenly. I then lightly watered down the gray color and again, haphazardly painted swaths of gray all over the piece.  As I painted, I used an old t-shirt to lightly brush the excess paint off.

I went with a few different sand papers, wetting some of them [black sandpaper is meant to be wet and works well here!], and sanded all over the piece, pressing harder on certain areas to reveal the colors beneath. This part was my favorite by far; it's such a fun surprise to see which colors would peek through as I made my way along the piece! [yep, painting NERD!]

To finish this bookcase, I started off by brushing a thin layer of white wax onto all the surfaces, trying my best to work along the grain. I wasn't thrilled with the result, since it seemed to wash out the bright colors a bit more than I'd have liked. 

To remedy this, I lightly wiped down the white wax, just to take away some of the tackiness, and went on with another layer of wax, this time using dark wax. I didn't try to cover every inch with wax this time, and pressed the wax deeper into some areas to create an uneven feel. 

This is when the bookcase really began to come together. I couldn't believe how the mixture of colors, distressing and multiple layers of waxed transformed this rather bland bookcase into something so much more!

I'm obviously such a painting nerd and was literally fan-girling over certain parts of the bookcase, like this top left corner where the color Florence made an appearance. The combination of Florence and a bit of blue and gray might be a new go to for me. The more I photographed the piece and gave it a look over, the more I fell in love with it!

I styled the piece with pieces that represented the colors used on the bookcase. I always love using vintage styling props with vintage pieces of furniture, but I'd also have loved to go against the grain and use modern pieces of pottery and more graphic, clean cut objects as a nice contrast. 

The bookcase has such a natural, organic feel to it. My little collection of shells oddly feels very connected to this piece.  The large conch shell has varying bits of blues and grays and peach and cream, and the way nature painted its surface reminds me of how the colors and layers on the bookcase are also varied, un-fussed with and natural in their application.


I rarely hold onto any pieces of furniture [par for the course in my line of work I suppose!], but this beautiful bookcase is going to be a challenge to part with.  The pictures don't do it justice, as the finish has even more depth and dimension in person.  You may see it pop up for sale in my shop, but more likely, it will soon make an appearance in another blog post!