Dark wax technique project

This is what I was working on:

The body of it is in good shape, however, there is a shelf missing behind the doors and there were some sort of sliding doors that would have been on the top portion- probably glass because there is a track next to the molding which is quite narrow.

You can’t tell from this photo but part of the caning is slightly damaged- just a small hole- nothing major.  There is also loads of dust behind the caning.

I painted the exterior with Country Grey and the interior with Old Violet.  I decided to do the dark wax technique on the Country Grey because once I had painted this the texture from the old lacquer was really coming through and I wanted to highlight these details as well as the rope style moulding  and the caning.

I did all of the exterior with dark wax and was really happy with it- then I waxed the Old Violet….not so happy.  It didn’t look good.  The interior was just too dark so you couldn’t really see the details in the paint and it just looked messy.  Luckily, with Annie Sloan’s paint it is possible to paint straight away without removing the wax.  So…I painted the interior again with Old Violet and then waxed with the clear wax- much better!

I also took the doors apart- it was quite easy, really, the back piece was only nailed on to the front.  The caning I painted with Country Grey and the back board I painted in Old Violet.  Unfortunately in the photos that is not quite evident.

I don’t think it is even noticeable that there is a track for sliding doors- it looks like it is an added detail and I can’t even see where the hole in the caning was!  I will price this quite cheaply and point out the damage if somebody is interested but once again just goes to show the magic of paint!


Dark wax technique

I do  this technique quite often.  It creates a lovely patina giving the impression that the furniture has been passed on from generation to generation.

I am working on a cabinet- which I will show tomorrow….today is just the tutorial.

Here I have the cabinet doors:

This is actually the inside.  So…start off by painting two coats.  This colour is Country Grey.  Paint in every direction.  Don’t be concerned with painting in straight lines- painting every which way adds to the character of the piece.

Do two coats of painting every which way.

Once the paint has dried you will need the dark wax, wax brush and a old cloth.

Work in small areas.

Apply the dark wax with the wax brush.

Be sure to get into all the cracks and crevices.

Then let it sit for about one minute- if you are using a light paint colour it really isn’t necessary to have it sit but the darkers colours will need a bit of time to darken.

Then with the old cloth and wearing a rubber glove (thanks Sarah for that tip http://storegarden.blogspot.com/ ) wipe off the excess wax.

This is where you can make some spots darker than others but be certain there are no clear patches that have been missed.  It is quite messy- that is why the glove is handy.  Really work the wax in to the paint and then wipe off the rest.

So once the small section is complete- move on to the next and keep going until it is completed.

You can see how the wax really shows the brush direction and all the little groves and textures in the paint.  Also be certain that you don’t create lines that overlap in the wax when moving from one small space to another.  It can be fixed with the brush but be mindful that where the wax has overlapped it will be darker.

This is the door front after this technique.

More on that tomorrow!

This is a really great method to tone down some of the brighter colours such as Emperor’s Red and Antibes.

Made in England

The furniture and the client!

My regular English lady that pops in all the time brought this in for her daughter’s room last week.

Pretty basic pine furniture, good shape, good condition- just needed a little sprucing up.

It has a great decorative spindle detail on the side and the legs are quite nice too.  So far all the things I have painted for her have been similar to this- great shape but out of date.  (there is a joke in there somewhere)

I have a chest of drawers in the store that houses Annie Sloan’s paint.  I painted the Union Jack on the front of it…I don’t want to sell it but just as an example that I can do this for people, anyway, this piece is for her daughter so she wanted to have the flag on it—a reminder of England.

Painting the Union Jack is a pain.  Luckily it is all straight lines and I found this site


to guide me through the process.

First I sanded down the top and stained it with a dark walnut stain.

Next I painted the entire body in Old White.  Then I taped the lines for the red and painted.  After the red was dry I painted off the lines for the blue and painted.


I used Emperors Red and Old Violet which are not the true flag colours but give a worn aged look–exactly what I wanted.

Then I did touch ups and painted the drawer front top so that the stripes carry on even when the drawer is shut.

It is a nice detail and people really appreciate the little extras—and it doesn’t take any more time than normal.

Then I gave the entire piece the dark wax treatment and a good distressing.

It has a really great aged look to it as if it came by way of ship from the Old World to the New World.

An important note with this project–it is necessary to paint from light to dark.  Annie Sloan’s paints have great coverage but the red and blue are quite dark and I didn’t want to fuss over the chance of some of the paint not covering.

I gave the whole piece a coat of Old White and then only one coat of the Emperor’s Red and Old Violet.  When I distressed the piece the white was showing under the darker colours giving it an aged authentic patina.


I am learning how to take good pictures.  It isn’t easy.  In fact it is pretty tricky.

The wonderful thing about the internet is that there are loads of resources out there for pretty much any topic.  Photography is indeed one of them.  There are pages upon pages of websites and blogs dedicated to learning how to take photos and to actually take a photo on your own instead of the camera doing the work for you.

I know how to take a photo in manual mode.  Yeah!!!  I know what the aperture is, how metering is used, what the shutter speed numbers mean and what the ISO does!   I am still a beginner but I am on my way to taking better photos.  Now I need to practice.

So….here are some of my practice shots.  All taken in the same spot with the same lighting–I have just been manipulating the shutter speed.

Nothing like tulips to welcome the arrival of Spring.  We set our clocks ahead yesterday so our days our getting longer.  For the nine years I have lived in Poland I still find it strange to see daylight at 3 am.


a little romance….

can be added to furniture too!

I found this:

It is nothing special.  It is in good condition and has some nice decorative elements on the drawer fronts.

Last week I met with a lady who was in my shop- she has a flower shop about 10 minutes away from mine and she asked if I would be interested in putting something in her store —-of course!  This is a very good way to get the word out about my shop.

I had a lot of Old Violet left over and since I have fallen in love with this colour I thought it would be perfect in her shop with loads of flowers around it.

So I painted the whole thing with the Old Violet then stenciled Je T’aime on the top like I did on previous pieces- this time in Old White.

This is the result:

I found this sweet ceramic rose drawer pulls from Zara Home and thought they would be perfect.

I lightly distressed the edges of the top and then the body of the piece, particularly the drawer details.

I also finished inside the drawers with Amy Butler wall paper.

I think it is a pretty good representation of what I do in the store….hopefully this will lure a few clients in!!

Old Violet…oh baby!!

I opened a can of Annie Sloan’s Old Violet and was smitten.  What an amazing colour.  It is a blueish greyish colour that is really just stunning.

I started with this little side table:

The wood is Ash- not my favourite at all- every piece of Ash I have seen always looks really cheap, unfortunately because the wood is quite strong.  But it is in good shape and has nice decorative elements.  The only prep I did was filling in the holes where the previous handles were.

Then I simply painted with the Old Violet, clear waxed it, lightly distressed then added some patina with the dark wax.

This is the result.


Please excuse the mess in the back!  My work room is so full of stuff at this moment -I barely have any space to move!!  If you notice the blue piece just behind- that is actually Duck Egg Blue- you can see how the Old Violet has more grey to it.

I really like these carving details- it adds a subtle detail and dimension and always looks nice when lightly distressed.
The handles are from another piece I am working on but I think they suit the style quite well.  I usually have a stash of handles and knobs to replace the old ones but I have run out….time to shop!  Warsaw just got a Zara home and they have really nice knobs that suit the style I paint- unfortunately it is on the other side of the city so I can’t just pop in!


It seems as though every time I open a new colour of Chalk Paint- I fall in love!

English country

I don’t discriminate—I just like painting furniture no matter what country it comes from! I have a lovely client from England who is living in Warsaw for a few years- she has a few pieces of honey pine rustic English style that I have painted for her.
She came in last week with this:

It is in great shape- the only thing wrong with it is that it is quite outdated.

She knew what she wanted done with it- stain the top and paint the body and drawers. She chose Country Grey and away I went.

First I sanded down the old lacquer on the top because it was going to be stained with a dark walnut colour. First I used an 80 grit to remove the finish- then I went to 100, 120 and 180 so that it was smooth and would accept the stain well.

I then applied the stain on the entire top and wiped away the excess. Once that was dry I applied two coats of varnish in a semi matte finish.

Next I painted the body and drawers, waxed, sanded and waxed again with dark wax to give it a more rustic country look.


This is the result.


I think it turned out really great. The style of the furniture suits the paint technique and my lovely British lady just adored it! She told me she hated how it looked before but now she adores it and that is all I could hope for!!

Saturday morning……

The sun is up early in my part of the world….

This helps me start my day.

Can’t you just smell it?

I always seem to make a mess.

Steamed milk makes all the difference.

I like mine in a tall glass.

With lots of foam.

I haven’t figured out how to do a design in the foam yet!

Hope your Saturday is a good one!

Emperors Red or Dead…

Well not really.

I am trying to move some of the older stock out of my store—older is pretty relative seeing as I have only been open for seven months!

I have had these chairs from the beginning.

They are solid oak and have a great shape but nobody has given them a second look.  Actually I did have an elderly lady tell me they were priced too expensively- I did point out nicely that they were priced cheaper than Ikea chairs–I don’t think she believed me.

Anyway- I originally painted them in Versailles.  Nothing.  A few months later I painted the seat in Amsterdam Green.  Still nothing.

Well, this week  I went for it and painted them in Emperors Red thinking that if nobody liked them at least people would notice them!

I had them in the back with one coat on them when somebody came into the store and asked me to put them on hold.  OK!  That was two days ago.  Since then everybody that has come into the store have commented on these chairs!

The lady that has them on hold is from South Africa and she was in the store with her Swedish friend- they both loved them.  I meet a lot of foreign people living in Warsaw- there is an American school close by and my store is in the area where a lot of expats live.  I love meeting new people and we usually discuss design and decor from their part of the world.  The red chairs were no exception.  This bright red is something that is quite Swedish in styling.

In many homes in Sweden everything, floor, walls and furniture are kept very white and then a strong burst of colour is added to contrast. The South African lady has an existing table that is from a slab of natural wood and she wants the chairs to brighten her room and to highlight the table.  Emperors Red will definitely do that!

So…..after I finished the two coats of the red I had a major decision.  Clear or dark wax?  This red is very vibrant.  It is also out of my comfort zone but the deciding factor was the dried paint.  For some reason in some places there were some dark splotches.  I didn’t want to do any distressing on these at all but felt I needed to even out the colour but make them feel aged without removing the paint.

When I was in Oxford at Annie Sloan’s shop taking the paint for stockists course I learned a dark wax finish technique.  This was done on a few of the more vibrant colours to give a wonderful patina.

This is the chair with the paint only.

Basically after painting only dark wax is applied.  A lot is applied to the surface then it is necessary to wait a few minutes while the wax hardens slightly then the excess is wiped off revealed a deeper version of the colour.

This technique was perfect for the chairs.  The spindles were a bit of a pain but the result was well worth it.  The red colour is still vibrant but its colour has been deepened and the grain of the wood is highlighted by the dark wax.

Here is the before and after the dark wax.  You can see how the dark wax has really enriched the red.

You can also see how the dark wax has set into the grooves and grain of the wood giving it an aged patina.


This is a super easy technique- I love the look of the dark wax with the red.  It is also beautiful with Antibes and Provence to give an aged effect but still keep the strength of the colour.

The only downside of doing this is the mess of the wax.  It is necessary to apply quite a lot then wipe off the excess- my hands were covered by the time four chairs were complete…but I think it was well worth it!!

a little bit folky


This week a lovely lady was in my store and she bought the cane chair that I had just finished only the day before!  She also brought in an old pine cabinet that she had found at the Kolo open air market in Warsaw.  She wanted it painted but had no idea what colour.

So I stopped by her house to have a look at her living area and kitchen to get an idea what colour would work.  Her house is painted in soft yellows and greens but she has beautiful furniture of many styles and colours that work really well together.  She wanted green so I suggested Chateau Grey.  She also wanted a fleur des lis on it as her children speak French.

I forgot to take a before photo- this is with one coat of paint.

It is a very sweet cabinet probably used as some sort of wash basin or similar- the top lifts up to store items under.

I really wanted to highlight the details on the sides so I painted them a darker version of Chateau Grey as well as added stencils in the same colour.  I then waxed and distressed.  I did something a little different this time- I mixed a bronze coloured paste wax to Annie Sloans wax to give the piece a bit of luster- especially on the corner details.

I also changed the knob to a Boleslawiec stamped one I had found a few months ago.

I think it is quite sweet.  It is a bit folky in styling which fits perfectly in the clients house.

The bronzing is very subtle and highlights some of the added details on this piece.

After visiting Annie Sloan’s website and seeing all the wonderful examples my client opted for a wow colour inside- which is Emperor’s Red.

I think it is quite sweet.  It is only a little bit folky…sometimes a little bit is all that is needed to create a desired effect.