I feel like every few months we need to talk about what chalk paint style really is. I receive loads of email from you, my fabulous readers, & get to meet loads of you as well. I do quite a bit of custom work for people as well and alot of the time I find myself talking about the overall look that chalk paint offers when discussing and choosing color.
My interpretation and the look that I admire & try to create is a storied, high-end European look. There are many types of chalk painted looks out there, but whether or not you are working with the neutral end of the palette or the bright end – there is a certain aged look that represents this type of paint & process.
If you are looking for a covered, clean & pristine look, go to your hardware store and buy a can of colored furniture spray paint. Take it outside, work right to left and spray as you go. Let dry and repeat until you get the coverage you want. Careful for drip marks. I did this for years when I was first married when restoring old furniture & trying to create a cozy room. It’s easy, inexpensive, and a much quicker process. There is no shame in it.
If you want to create a piece with more character and history to it, look to Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. The look you will achieve is a WEATHERED, LOVED, ANTIQUE look. There will be places that are darker, places that are sanded more, places that look worn. It’s not a perfection kind of look. It’s not Pottery Barn & Ikea where everything looks hand-dipped. Instead, the ideal chalk paint look specifically works to achieve a storied look through specific techniques.
Please know what you are getting into. Every piece will turn out different and look custom. That is wonderful & exciting to me, but I do find myself having to explain the end result. For some of you, it may be out of your comfort zone to put a piece like this in your home. You don’t have to go crazy and do a full room. If you have one, special chalk painted piece it will be a highlight. Make the piece look deliberate & special as it is.
I don’t want you to shy away from “too much rubbing”, “too much dark wax”. Play & experiment. You can always go back and repaint the entire piece. But, nothing ventured nothing gained.
Since I do not have a store presence and I do quite a bit of shipping I sometimes feel the need to explain that a mirror or table top may have some weathered spots or cracks or scratches. I kinda hate doing that because to me this is not a flaw in the piece. Rather, it is a characteristic of the piece and adds personality and history. So when you are buying or working on a vintage piece you don’t need to excuse these spots. If you get it, you get it.
At the end of the day it is a design question. What are you going to pair your shabby piece with to create a look in a room? I’m not talking about making your whole home look like a barn. You put your aged piece in a room and then you contrast it with, say, new & shiney candlesticks, a patterned rug, a gilded mirror. Create contrast & interest. The furniture is just part of the look and your rubbed chalk painted piece is just one slice of the pie.
Thank you for your interior design advice. This is actually a question I was just asking myself, how do I incorporate a piece into a room when I don’t want everything to be chalk painted and distressed. This post sort of “gave me the go ahead” to mix and match. I never did like “matchy, matchy!
I’m so glad you posted this!!! I’m working on my very first pieces and following your great tutorials. Its slow going because I don’t have a ventilated / messy space to work on so I have to wait until its not raining (not often in London, UK). I do however have a question about the AS clear wax. I decided to distress before I waxed (I might try the next piece the other way around and experiment) I notice from your tutorial you wax first then distress, so my question is why do you prefer that method? My most pressing questions about waxing are “how many coats?”, “do you buff / polish between coats”, “how long do you wait after a coat before buffing”? I did my first wax coat yesterday, the wax is dry but feels a little tacky to touch (like its not been buffed up …) I’m not sure if I should recoat and how when to buff up. Sorry, lots of questions, I need your help 🙂
Sandra Nelsen says
I just want to finish off my table and chairs I’ve had seen we’ve been married. I wanted them to look weathered, but at least all be the same color. Have been exploring options. I want them to have some color. Not certain this process is correct for them–maybe I should just spray them all matchy-matchy……but do love the chalk paint look. Love reading your posts and enjoy the beautiful photographs.