Blog

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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WINE CART OR BAR CART? YOU CHOOSE! RED BAR CART IN ANNIE SLOAN'S EMPEROR'S SILK AND ENGLISH YELLOW

As soon as I saw this little bar cart, I hoisted it into my arms and walked it to the cash register, not bothering to wait for help. I couldn’t have anyone else to snatch it up! It’s so rare to find a great little slim cart that holds TONS of bottles. 24 bottles of wine is far more than I can keep on hand [I likes my wine!]. Now let’s talk about the painting process!

I painted the cart in a mixture of Annie Sloan’s Emperor’s Silk [4 parts] and English Yellow [1 part] chalk paint to achieve this bright, bold pop of red. It took nearly four coats, which was a bit unusual since I’ve always found my furniture to cover in 2 coats. This piece does have so many nooks and crannies and it just took a bit of time to get the finish to where I was really happy with it. But I have to say, it was worth the extra time and effort since it’s just a stunning piece in my kitchen right now!

I styled it two ways [see below] as a wine cart [didn’t have many bottles on hand, but just envision dozens of bottles lining the shelves!] and as a bar cart with the fixings for cocktails.

It’s perfect for a party, since you can just roll this little cart to wherever the party is! I just moved, and I’m seriously due for a stock the bar housewarming party, so I may have to hold onto this beautiful red cart until then. I’m tempted to just hold onto this guy permanently, but I did tell myself I wouldn’t hold onto any furniture if someone wants to buy it, so let’s see if I stick to that goal!

If you’re looking for a great little gift for your favorite wine drinker or cocktail enthusiast, head to my shop and check it out!

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Painting Mid Century and Retro Furniture: Annie Sloan's Barcelona Orange

Quick little painting projects I can complete in just a few hours are incredibly satisfying! Accent tables like this mid century demilune are a perfect candidate for injecting bold color into your home.  I've been experimenting with Annie Sloan's Barcelona Orange on all my recent projects, and it's a surprisingly versatile color.

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From Annie Sloan's site, 'This vivacious, modern orange is based on the colour used copiously by the Impressionists, in early advertisements and in 1960's decoration. Such a brilliant orange was not available until the early 20th century.' 

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The first time I saw this color, I immediately wanted to use it with retro and mid century pieces. It can certainly be used on more traditional pieces [and I just LOVE how it worked with this gorgeous dresser!] 

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With mid century pieces, I almost always will keep things simple, work with a solid color, paint on two or three coats, lightly sand to get a smoother finish and seal it with clear wax. I prefer this route since the colors remain vibrant.

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Keeping the paint process simple and unfettered with allows the classic features of mid century furniture to really shine.  I love the tapered, boomerang style legs, the demilune top and coordinating shelf.  The retro details coupled with this deep orange are a really satisfying combination for me.

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For my photos, I styled the piece as a bar table, cobbling together a few ingredients for a lovely little fall cocktail [more on that coming to my other website, States of Reverie!]. 

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Currently this little table is hanging out behind one of my sofas, but I could see this working as a nightstand too! Painted accent tables like these are perfect for adding a bit of color in almost any space.  I'll have it posted for sale in my shop soon! 

A Chat About Hoarding Vintage Trunks

The title of this post is self explanatory.  I have this thing about trunks. If I sees it, I buys it!  The older, the grittier, the better.  I've collected, hoarded and [much to my dismay] eventually sold quite a few trunks over the years. The only way I get to have a successful furniture business is by not allowing myself to hold onto anything really. If it makes someone else happy and they're willing to pay a fair price, I have to be okay about parting with it. Sigh...

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That being said, I once had this little red trunk that I adored. As beautiful and bright as this trunk was, the interior of it was a little funky, which made storing anything inside it a bad idea.  So when a client saw it and asked if she could buy it and for quite a bit more than I'd paid, I said yes without giving it much thought. Silly Jo. I still think about that trunk, and it is one of the things I regret parting with.

Now for some trunk redemption...Recently my mom was at a local thrift shop and saw they were selling a variety of trunks, three to be exact.  She sent photos, and I replied with, 'BUY THEM ALL.'  She assumed I was kidding, but oh no, I don't kid about my trunks. I couldn't say no!  Each one is so different from the next, and stacked together they look fantastic!

I did have an immediate favorite of the three, and have already decided it will not go for sale, because it's the buried treasure trunk of my dreams! It's small and wooden with leather handles and it photographs beautifully! I've decided it's a perfect storage piece for styling fabrics, and it also works well as a styling piece to place in furniture photo shoots [I already used it when photographing this darling lavender chair!].  The other two I will likely put up for sale in the future [time will tell], but for now they're all making for a lovely vintage/industrial addition to my home.

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Rainy Day House Tidying

On rainy days I like to tidy. It clears the mind and helps motivate me to tackle new projects. Yesterday was particularly soggy, so I managed to tackle a few rooms in my house. Due to an overly zealous beagle mix named Watson, the baby of our family, we had to rejig the the house a bit to help 'puppy-proof' things a bit more.

We used to have the small leather sofa in front of the window looking out onto the sidewalk. Watson has constant anxiety when seeing other dogs, humans, moving objects on the street, and would ransack the sofa, tossing off all the pillows, nose pressed up against the window pane, barking, howling, whinging at every passerby.  I decided to move the sofa away from the window, giving it a new home in the adjacent room, creating a new and cozy sitting area.

Now a dresser I currently have up for sale sits in front of the window, helping block the view of possible 'intruders' and prevents Watson from jumping on any of the furniture.  It seems like a minor thing, but I'm already noticing a quiet calm wash over the house.  So much less yelping!

In the room where I paint and photograph all my furniture, I put together a new wall gallery, prepped for the next piece I'll photograph on this wall.  

When I'm not working in here, we use this space as a workout room and spot to watch TV [there's an elliptical along the window and when there's not a giant dresser taking over, I have lots of space to do yoga, lift weights do a HIIT video or dance around to music [probably my most favorite workout choice!]. 

I also use this room to organize most of my styling props.  I just finished this tall bookcase, and it's perfect for housing my treasure trove of objects. Having all my little things placed on the shelves in an aesthetically pleasing manner is oddly important to me. I spent a good hour alone just rearranging everything on the shelves, trying to squeeze as much as I could, while still having it all organized and pulled together.

I have to say, even though yesterday wasn't spent working on furniture or writing, I felt really accomplished and at peace by the time 5 o'clock rolled in. Putting physical things in place manages to put my mind in place. Putting physical things in place manages to put my mind in place.