The customer is always right, right?

On Wednesday I had a lady come in with a bed side table.  It was in pretty rough shape.  First of all, it is about 100 years old- but besides the age of it, the veneer was peeling off on the bottom.

She asked me to paint it for her- she didn’t know what colours, she didn’t know where it was going but she wanted it painted.

Ok- she left it up to me.

So I started right away working on the piece- trying to fix the peeling veneer.  First I tried to fill in the places where the veneer had peeled off- this looked a mess.  So then I tried to take off the veneer with a hot air gun- this was also a mess because the glue was 100 years old and very stubborn and probably toxic.

I also discovered after closer inspection that there is quite a bit of water damage on the bottom which I couldn’t fix.  So I decided to go with the damage and paint and distress to highlight the damage-  huh???

The top of this piece was cheap pine -looks like somebody tried to fix it long ago and the base was a walnut veneer- so I needed to paint the base and top with two different colours so not to see the different grains through the paint.

I painted the whole piece with Old Linen and waited till it was dry to make a decision.

Because of the damage I thought it might be interesting to paint horizontal stripes and really give it a good distressing.  So I taped off some stripes and painted with Old White and in two stripes with Sienna Yellow.

I really liked how it turned out- but the top needed to be darker- so I used one coat of Amsterdam Green over the Old Linen and then waxed and distressed the whole thing.

This is how it looked.

I really liked it.  The damage works with the paint finish- it looks like it was meant to be- but the paint was raising the veneer in some places- like little bubbles, but it still looked authentic.

So then the client came by the store to drop something off.  Guess what- no go.  She didn’t like it.  At all.  She said she prefers the body with one colour and she has decided where this piece will go so she wanted me to paint it red.


And she wanted me to fix the damage with a wood filler.  ok.  So I filled in as best as I could because the veneer is only 1 mm – it is not the easiest task.  And then I painted it red.

It took two coats of Primer Red to hide the stripes.  Then I waxed (again) and distressed (again).  It looks good (again) because of the different paint colours under the red- giving the impression that it had been painted many times before.

I left the top in Amsterdam Green- she did like that, lucky me.

The colours look really great together, I will admit that- I think I am just in a snit because I really liked the stripes.  I actually had a lady come into the store yesterday, she has  commissioned me to do a large buffet, and she asked me if it was for sale because she really liked it.

I like both results- but I think I prefer the stripes, it worked better with the damage.  I am not going to fix the bubbles caused by the paint- they don’t look bad- but this would involve a lot more work- taking off the veneer, re painting, re waxing……

Now my fingers will be crossed that this lady actually likes the finished product second time around!!


another reason to love Annie Sloan paint

For those of you who are on the fence about the paint and trying to justify the cost of it- here is something that may help sway in favour.  This paint adheres to so many surfaces without any preparation.  This includes metal.

I bought this sheet music stand and had no intentions to paint or do anything to it.

It has a great shape but I have a feeling this is a made in China version – it is metal of some sorts- not ugly at all but nothing special.

Without any preparation I painted two coats of Old Linen and then highlighted in places with Old White- particularly on the curves, swirls and the leaf decorations.  I then waxed and sanded to achieve this look.

The colour is a beigey greyish colour- nothing drastic but it suits the style of the store more, shows the versatility of the paint and makes the stand a little more interesting….and a little less “made in China” looking.  Some of the original metal is visible after the distressing but it gives the piece some added dimension and authenticity.

A new technique

When I attended the paint course for stockists in Oxford I learned 6 techniques.  Some I knew and some I didn’t.  This one was new to me and my favourite and I am itching to try it on something.

This is the sample we did in the course.  The paint is Provence with the rustic wax on top- that is it.

And it was so easy.  Basically, the paint was applied in a real haphazard kind of way.  Every which way.  Brush strokes were visible and went in every direction.  Paint was thicker in some places- there were lumps and bumps everywhere.

Two coats of paint were applied to create massive texture.

Then a thick layer of rustic wax was applied and it was left to sit for a few minutes until it hardened slightly- then it was wiped off to reveal this technique.

It is an aged patina but specifically Impasto- where the paint is applied very thickly with visible brush strokes.

Even on this small piece of wood this finish looks authentic -which is the ultimate goal!  I was drooling at the simplicity and how beautiful it turned out.

Image from

Notice the round knob in the above photo- this is the same technique I learned- isn’t it a great effect!!

Image source

Here is another idea- this technique really gives a worldly effect to furniture- making it as though the furniture has been around for ages.

I am not sure how Polish people would react to this- it might look too old for some people.  However, my blue and white French piece I did sold last week and I received an inquiry yesterday from somebody who wants me to paint another one just like it…..maybe I will try it on something small!



A small change.

The thing about Annie Sloan’s chalk paint is that if you change your mind or don’t like the outcome of your piece- you can paint over the wax without problem.

I painted these chairs with Versailles when I was getting the store opening organized.

I like them a lot- but they are quite simple.  Typical farm house chairs.  Solid oak, great shape, sturdy but ugly wood.

I have them in the store, four of them, but nobody was giving them a second look.  I did have an elderly woman tell me they were to expensive.  I did mention to her that the price of four of them were cheaper than four chairs from Ikea- she wasn’t convinced.

I want them to go- I have 10 chairs in the store and they are taking up much needed space.  Anyway….I have a bit of Amsterdam Green left over so I decided to do this.

I painted the seat with one coat and distressed it to see the Versailles under it.  I also waxed the seat.  Much better, no?

Amsterdam green is an amazing colour.  It can look greenish or blueish depending on what is next to it.  It also often only takes one coat of paint and has full coverage.

With the distressing you can see the lighter Versailles, the old oak and then the sanded oak- it really is multidimensional.  Now, hopefully, with this small change these chairs will sell….to make room for more chairs!

How is this for a before and after?

I just discovered that I had a bunch of old photos that I had forgotten about on my small camera.  My carpenter had borrowed the camera and as I was burning him a disk- I found before and after photos of our new house.

In Poland, when you buy a new construction house, it is sold as “shell and core”.  What this means is that it is literally a concrete box.  Houses are built here using cement blocks- there are a few that are wood frame construction, our old house was, but Polish people don’t like them- they think they are poor quality.

Here are a few photos of how we bought the house:

This is the kitchen- isn’t it gorgeous!!

The window seat!

The stairs of course- are they great!!

The master bedroom and door to deck.

The loft.  I don’t really need to show more- you get the idea.  Cement box, literally.

So here is the after.  I designed everything.  Kitchen, stairs, bathrooms, bedrooms- and I chose all the finishes.  This was a pain staking project.  I bought a lot of items from Allegro (like ebay) – but some things like the floor and kitchen counters there was no bargain to be had.

My house pretty much still looks like this.  The two brown chairs next to the sofa have been changed and the round table was painted- but I think I might unpaint it….I like it better.  The window seat, not pictured has a wood plank that has been stained to match the floor- I will post about that another time.  We have also since put up a fence so we can’t see directly into our neighbours house.

Here is my rendering when I was trying to figure out the railing.

In my original concept I wanted to have the hand railing from wood- but the iron monger only does iron and it was looking to be like a hassle so I went with all iron- I am happy.

For my bathroom I had a sink installed on an old chest of drawers.  I am tall and my kids are going to be tall so the chest of drawers is above average height but it works for us.

The floor is slate and the wall feature is stacked stone (marble)- the counter is carerra.  I was not budging on the marble.

This is the master bedroom- not a great photo.  I had my carpenter drop the ceiling by 8 cm’s in most rooms to accommodate the curtains.  I was tired of curtain rods being pulled out of the walls as we have a dog that seems to cause destruction.  The curtains wrap two full walls and the colour under is a very dark green- taken from the green in the wallpaper….which of course you can’t see because the photo is bad!!

We turned the loft into my daughters room.  She is only 12 but I think the colour and paper will grow with her.

These photos were taken just after we moved in, furniture is sparse- as you can see from the stuff on the floor.

Sorry for the lack of staging – this was about a week after we moved in.  The bed is an antique and in great shape so I didn’t paint it.  Of course if I was to take a picture of this room today- it wouldn’t be recognizable.  My youngest likes to display all her treasures and trinkets everywhere.

I thought it would be fun to post these to see the before and after.  Maybe you get the idea behind “design disorder”–I have no French country in my house.  My home is more a retro eclectic.  I love painting furniture and making old new again- but my personal style is more of a mixture.  I love fabrics and I love natural materials- I also love mixing old with new.

Closer to the holidays I will do an update on my house- some things have changed but most have stayed the same.

Colour theory- a little help!

I am working on a sign for outside the store- pictures will follow soon.

I thought it might be interesting to talk about colour.  I am by no means an expert on colour.  I have studied it in school and I did teach a colour course for home staging- so I am comfortable talking about it and giving advice.  But, colour is such a vast and amazing topic- even a science, and I would never claim to be an expert.

That said… is a bit about colour for those that are new to painting furniture and styling there homes.

All colours in the world (except black and white- which are not considered colours) are made from three primary colours: red, yellow and blue.  They are primary colours because they cannot be mixed from other colours.  red is just red, etc.


If we mix two primary colours together we get what are known as secondary colours.  Yellow and red make orange, red and blue make purple and blue and yellow make green.


So then, if we mix a primary and a secondary colour together we are left with tertiary colours.  Blue mixed with green becomes blue-green.  Blue mixed with purple becomes blue- purple.  Yellow with orange becomes yellow- orange.  Red with Orange becomes red-orange etc etc.


And then by adding white (tint), black (shade) or grey (tone) you can get millions of colours.

Still following me?

Well, what does it mean when painting furniture??

It means that some colours work together and some don’t.  Colours have been organized into a colour wheel which visually represents how colours relate to each other.  From this wheel -colours have then been organized into schemes.

For example, the complimentary colour scheme are two colours that are directly opposite each other on the colour wheel.  Blue and orange, red and green, yellow and purple, etc.


Using complimentary colours at full strength, how they look on the colour wheel (no black, white or grey added) are too strong.  The best way to use complimentary colours together is to have one colour light and one colour stronger.  The lighter colour should be the majority while the darker is used less.

For example:

In the below photo we have blue and orange complimentary colours on one piece of furniture.  The majority of the piece is light blue and the interior is bright orange.  It is successful because of the light and dark- had these colours been orange and blue like on the colour wheel- it would be a disaster.  Similarly if the colours were reversed and the blue was dark and the orange was very light it would also be successful.


Another colour scheme is monochromatic- this is various shades and tones of one colour.  Light and dark colours working together to create a beautiful effect.


Another colour scheme which works really well when painting furniture is the analogous colour scheme.  It is three to five colours side by side on the wheel.


The table below has red, orange and yellow- these colours are next to each other and are a have a gradual change of colour which is pleasing to the eye.


It is not necessary to follow the colour wheel and its schemes when painting furniture- but it is necessary to understand what works well together.

In the beginning as you get better and better- I would keep things simple.  Try the 80/20 rule.  80% of one colour and 20% of another- and have a light colour and a stronger colour.

This could mean the outside of a piece one colour and the inside another.  It could mean the body of the furniture is one colour while the doors are another.  It could also mean an all over colour and then a stencil of a different colour.

Hopefully this helps.  But, what looks nice to one person may be gaudy to another- and different cultures have different ideas about colour.  Keep it simple until you build up your confidence when choosing a colour to paint with—and just remember, it is only paint!  It can always be painted again!




A short walk around Oxford.

So after the course I went for a walk to see what Oxford is all about.

It is a university town.  Really beautiful.  It has a great vibe to it- no hustle and bustle like London, but more laid back.  Loads of people are out walking and even more are riding their bikes.  Oxford is a great biking town.  I didn’t get to see a lot of things- I just didn’t have the time but I did take loads of photos of what I did see.

Unfortunately, I don’t really know what everything is!!!  Some buildings are pieces of the university’s, some public buildings and just some are just from walking along the High street.

I guess I am not really a very good tour guide but the architecture is so inspiring!

Oxford is known for its spires- you can see why!

This is part of a fan vaulted ceiling that has been decorated with recessed panels- it really is stunning.

The High street.

The pillar had such a great shape to it- I had to take a picture.

More spires- they are so detailed.

The Gothic architecture of Oxford is so lovely- I only wish I had more time to explore it in greater detail.  I didn’t even get to see the castle!!

I am not complaining- I did get to meet Annie Sloan and learn some new painting techniques- the rest was a bonus.