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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].  

Layering Colors and Wax for an Aged Emerald Finish: Annie Sloan's Amsterdam Green and Graphite

It’s a new year and I’m back to working on furniture pieces today! [keep an eye on my Instagram account for photos of my current project!] I painted this great little antique find just before the holidays and I’m finally getting around to sharing it with you! This table is an antique, and one that wasn’t well taken care of. There were layers of sticky residue on the top and sides of the piece. Normally when using Annie Sloan chalk paint or any other similar calcium carbonate based paint, I never have to sand or really prep the piece for paint. This one required a good bit of love and sanding before it was ready to take to paint.

Sometimes furniture just speaks to a certain painting technique or colorway. Looking at the bones of the piece, I knew it needed a color varied style to highlight all the unique details of it. There’s a lot going on for such a small piece of furniture: scalloped edge at the front and back [the piece is double sided so it can float in a room if need be], fluted detailing along the squared frame, curved angles on the side magazine holders and the top and beautiful little bun feet at its base.

When something has lots of character, applying a contrasting wax brings all those intricacies to life instantly. For the base color, I combined three parts Annie Sloan Amsterdam Green with one part Graphite to help mute the bold Emerald a bit. [to see what true Amsterdam Green looks like on furniture, check out this dresser I finished a couple years back- it really is a gorgeous color!] I painted one coat with this mixture and then added one more part of Graphite to deepen it further and painted the piece here and there, not fully covering the initial greener base, so that the subtle change between the shades could still be seen.

I sanded using a wet piece of 400 grit sandpaper, which allows the paint to slough off a bit more aggressively. I wanted the original deep brown stain to peek through more, adding to that aged effect and creating lowlights on the piece. Finally, I brushed on white wax, not completely covering the piece, focusing on the crevices and details. I wiped the white wax with a white t-shirt rag, and then lightly applied a second coat of wax, now using clear wax. Combining the two waxes gives the piece that white washed look without completely altering the base colors. The end result is a multilayered, textured finish that shows off the aged beauty of this table.

I painted this piece to hold piano books in my living room beside my sofa, but it is up for sale now just in case anyone else has a place for this little gem! If you have any questions on my paint technique or inquiries on custom furniture pieces, contact me!

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UPDATES: BACK TO PAINTING! SPEARMINT GREEN NIGHTSTANDS IN ANNIE SLOAN'S LEM LEM AND FLORENCE

It’s been far too long since I’ve shared my work here! As I mentioned in my previous posts, my house went on the market a few months back. The whirlwind of preparing the house, going through open houses, showings and ultimately selling our home was much more work than I’d ever anticipated. Finding a home in my new city, Dallas, Texas was even more daunting. Five weeks ago, I said goodbye to my Atlanta home and hello to my Dallas home! I can’t wait to share all I’ve done to my new home already, but my first priority after getting settled in was to crack back into work! I haven’t had a space to paint furniture in so long, and I’ve been chomping at the bit to pick up a brush and start transforming new pieces to sell. I’m really pleased with how my first project turned out!

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This pair of nightstands was my first project in Dallas. They were found in my family’s storage unit collecting dust. I was happy to take it off their hands and give these guys a new look, since their current state was a bit drab to say the least.

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Most of my paint didn’t fare well during my hiatus and the move, so I just had a few bits of Annie Sloan’s Florence and Lem Lem chalk paint to work with for this project. To create the base color, I combined one part Florence, a bold turquoise with four parts Lem Lem, a light spring green.

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The paint mixture had a lot of texture in it [a nicer way of saying there were bits of dried paint in it- never fun!] so I decided to go for a distressed look to both get rid of the dried paint particles and add dimension to their somewhat boxy appearance.

After distressing, I took Lem Lem, thinned it out with a few drops of water and painted a wash over the base color, wiping it off in certain spots to create a lighter, blended finish.

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I went back and forth about changing out the hardware of the drawers. These are the originals, and at first I was unsure about how they worked with this paint finish, but once I styled the nightstands with objects, they really grew on me. I sort of love the nod to their original look. If someone prefers something more modern, it’s a two minute swap to screw in new pulls.

Depending on the angle and the lighting, the color really brightens up and transforms to a light spearmint shade. The way the colors transform throughout the day is really what I love most about working with the Annie Sloan line of paint!

This pair is now up for sale in my shop [which is now based in Dallas, Texas!]. I’m going to work on shipping furniture in the coming months so I can share my work with people from around the country! Keep an eye out for quite a few more things popping up in my shop during the coming weeks. I snagged three more pieces just yesterday and have already finished up a great little wine rack / bar cart. I’m SO glad to be back to work at A Simpler Design and can’t wait to end this year with a frenzy of paint in all kinds of colors!

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A Before and After Dresser Fairytale: Trash to Mid Century Treasure

I love a good comeback story, and this piece certainly deserves a proper one.  First, here's the AFTER photo, once I worked my magic [and this one needed some serious magic!].

Looks pretty good right?! Ok ok, back to the story...While I was in Dallas earlier this month, I was wandering around the Bishop Arts District, a beautiful little neighborhood with tons of local shops, restaurants, bars and everything else I could ever want [more or less]. I was walking down one of the residential streets when in the distance I spotted beneath a pile of garbage some semblance of mid century.  It was beckoning me, calling me towards it...

Is that a dresser? Could it BE?! It was covered in trash and definitely appeared to be out for slaughter, but I wanted to make sure it was up for grabs before I ran to my car and came back for it.  I thought about knocking on the front door of the house, but there were half a dozen tiny dogs of various breeds yelping beyond the fence, an army of miniature guard dogs if you will. What was I to do?! I didn't want to steal someone's property, even though I was almost definitely certain this was their garbage but still. By some magic, I heard some noises coming from the garage [that sounded like a human not a dog].  I realized someone was working on a car back there, so I began to politely shout 'hello!' and after a few of those an 'hola!' when out popped an older man from beneath the car. He was so lovely, and immediately insisted I take the dresser and that he'd help me get it in my car.  I ran [well mildly jogged since I was in a dress and sandals], grabbed the car and was over in a matter of minutes. This older man single handedly hoisted the entire dresser [I'd only managed to remove two drawers before he insisted on taking matters into his own hands] into my trunk. He offered me more furniture from the house, but the dresser was all I could fit, otherwise I would have happily taken it all! To make the story all the more unbelievable, as I was admiring his adorabnly tiny brood of dogs, he asked if I wanted to see a puppy.  A PUPPY?!?! Uh sorry no sir I'd rather not...said NO ONE EVER! I waited a little uncertain of what he was going to bring me when out he came with a tiny black pug looking baby the size of my palm.  I died.  Mentally fainted. All the emotions.

Yes, here is the tiny lilliputian sized pup he brought out to me to hold.  I squealed only like a small child could.  This little guy was five days old at the time. He then told me if I wanted one, I could come back in a couple months and take one home [there were three girls and three boys to choose from] FOR FREE. WHAT IS THIS LIFE?! First you hand over a beautiful mid century dresser to me, and then insist on providing me with a puppy, all free of charge?! I felt like Cinderella, only my Prince Charming was an older latin man covered in car grease. I mean who am I to judge, the man BROUGHT ME FURNITURE AND PUPPIES. I'm still debating going back for a puppy and I'd like for everyone I know to take one home too [and you get a puppy and YOU get a puppy and...]!

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Ok enough gushing about puppies, back to the furniture! Here's what the dresser looked like when I brought it home.  It was pretty banged up, but it was sturdy and all the drawers worked well.  Essentially, that's all I need to go ahead and work on a piece. After making the necessary repairs, I went over it with two coats of a custom light gray, similar to a previous French Provincial piece I'd done, and sealed it with Annie Sloan's white wax to give it a matte finish. I painted the drawer handles in Annie Sloan's Graphite to balance the light dresser [and because the silver was looking a little too battered and wasn't cleaning up well]. 

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I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT BELIEVE this is the same dresser that man practically threw into my car! This is precisely why I always encourage friends and family and clients to always try and buy vintage whenever possible [or find it for free if you're as lucky as I am!].  So much can end up in a landfill, but it only took me wandering around this neighborhood and politely asking if I could take this man's trash for me to end up with this stunning piece.  I am putting this one up for sale since I've had some requests on it just from the quick instagram I posted! But this piece does have some sentimental value attached to it now.  I can't wait to go back to Dallas and meet up with my furniture and puppy wielding friend to show him what his old dresser looks like now! If you're interested in this piece, head to my shop now to check it out!

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Mixing Color and Wood Tones Using Annie Sloan's Graphite

Sometimes I take one look at a piece of furniture and instantly know what needs to be done to it. I envision its end before I've even picked up a paint brush.  This piece was calling out for a deeper, more stately shade, and Annie Sloan's Graphite is always my go to color when I want something to feel grounded. The drawers on this highboy dresser [a highboy is typically a dresser that's tall and has a wider base than its top...the more you know!] were in such great shape, they just needed some sanding along the edges to make them glide into the frame better. 

I removed the hardware so I could give the drawer fronts a good polish with a bit of Restore-a-finish [I only use this if wood needs a bit of brightening, not for any real staining work]. For the frame of the dresser, I painted it in two coats of Graphite, lightly sanding in between coats for a silky finish and doing a bit of distressing along the curves to highlight them a bit. I finished the surface with Annie Sloan's dark wax, which deepens the graphite. The warm tones of the wood complement the deep cool charcoal shade. This is easily my favorite combination. It instantly elevates any piece of furniture and makes it feel a bit more grand. 

I styled this vignette with a few things I'd picked up on my recent travels to Dallas. The Avett Brothers print is by an artist I met at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival [I can't seem to find his business card, but it's signed Jackson and I remember he's from Florida- I'll add him in if/when I find his information!]. I also grabbed a couple books from Goodwill, because of course I did.  I got an old Kennedy biography and a Webster's Thesaurus [I absolutely LOVE a thesaurus!]. I then grabbed a few red toned pieces from my collection to round out the color grouping. When I'm not sure how to style something, keeping things fairly monochrome is the easiest way to pull things together. Also, tiny cacti never did anyone wrong, so in those went too. 

This highboy is actually the partner to the previous dresser I shared. It's incredible how color can transform the feel of a piece. Both of these are French Provincial in style, and yet the first one feels so feminine and light, while this one is much more masculine and weighted. I really do love how this piece turned out! It's now posted for sale in my shop, and I can't wait to see where this beautiful dresser ends up!

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Classic Lines with Modern Style: French Provincial Dresser in Gray

FOIL   foil/  noun

noun: foil; plural noun: foils

  1. a person or thing that contrasts with and so emphasizes and enhances the qualities of another.

    "the earthy taste of grilled vegetables is a perfect foil for the tart bite of creamy goat cheese"

    synonyms: contrast, complement, antithesis, relief

    "Abbott was the perfect foil to Costello"

French Provincial furniture is one of those styles that's instantly recognizable.  Their curves and delicate hardware make them feel eternally vintage and feminine. Sometimes I'll paint them in a more modern shade to spice things up, but for this piece I went with a timeless combination. I mixed a few shades of Annie Sloan chalk paint to create this cool, light gray. Depending on how the light hits it, it also reads in shades of a faint blue. I love when furniture changes color in the light. It's in a constant state of evolution, adapting to its surroundings ever so gracefully. When I paint something in a seemingly traditional color, I like to go in the other direction when it comes to styling it. If I have a piece with so many delicate curves, I like to counter those curves with modern and linear objects. Much in the same way "Abbot was the perfect foil to Costello," French Provincial can be the perfect foil for modern style. Creating that contrast in your style gives a space this underlying sense of balance that's subtle and palpable, if barely so.  It brings this sense of relief to the eye you might not have picked up on. I love working in subtleties and I think it shows with this shoot.

For this vignette, my jumping off point was a take on modern botanicals: a cactus print from Society 6 [a fantastic resource for affordable art], a small abstract done by my aunt, a larger impressionist style piece [also painted by my talented aunt!], my Rifle Paper Co. calendar [because it's Rifle and the colors and that quote, my God Emily Dickinson you've got it right!], a couple plants I'd just potted in modern concrete planters, a few stacked vintage books [because who would I be if there weren't vintage books in there?!] my number one ride or die lamp [never change Target, never change], a little piece of pottery from an unknown source [but I do think it's from the Philippines], and finally my Archie's Press Atlanta map. Layering all these objects together; stacking them, hanging them, leaning them, arranging them just so, it's a bit of an art in of itself.  Sometimes I get so lost in the styling, I end up losing my natural light [golden hour, why are you so brief?], and have to postpone photographing for the following day.   The next time you're looking to add a little style to your space, consider pairing your classics with your moderns or vice versa.  Play with the ages, and you'll come out with an eclectic, effortless style all your own.

PS- anyone else here seriously craving goat cheese after reading the definition for foil? Just me? Ok cool cool :)

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