Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Newbie Tips

Last weekend I finally got around to painting my kitchen table, which is a project that’s been on my to-do list for weeks. You may remember that my table is actually a desk (Ballard Designs' Whitley desk):
I got it dirt cheap at the Ballard Outlet because the poor gal was in pretty bad shape – lots of dings on the desk top and a bunch of surface cracks on the legs. 
But the girl had some good bones (I love the scroll design of the legs!), she was the perfect size for my kitchen eat-in area, and I figured I could cover up her dings and cracks with some paint. Last weekend she finally got her makeover and I couldn’t be happier with her new look!
I started out by doing some damage control on the cracks – I shot some expanding Gorilla Glue into the cracks to fill them and hopefully prevent further cracking (LOVE Gorilla Glue – it’s my go-to for fixing just about everything!).  Then I smoothed a coat of wood filler over the cracked areas and sanded it smooth after the filler dried. That’s all of the prep that I had to do because I was using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to paint her up and as you may know, this paint requires NO prep work.  No sanding.  No priming. Nada.

I chose "French Linen", a dark gray, as my paint color. I used a natural bristle brush (a $1 chip brush from Home Depot) to apply it. I didn’t get very good coverage from my first coat, maybe because I was painting such a glossy surface, but the paint dries so quickly that once I was done with the first coat it was ready for a second coat. With the second coat I got very good coverage – you can see the difference here:

I probably could have stopped with the second coat but since this was a table that was going to get lots of use and abuse, I went ahead and did a third. Probably my favorite thing about using this paint (other than the fact that there is no prep work...) is that the brush marks smooth out so well as it dries.  I was loving how the table looked at this point

but I decided that it would look even better with a bit of distressing. After using my round waxing brush to apply a very thin coat of the Annie Sloan Wax (really working the wax into the paint by applying mild pressure to my waxing brush), I used some fine grit sandpaper to distress the edges of the desk so that some of the original ivory color came through:

Next, I used a rag to wipe off the sanded bits of paint, rub in the wax all over the table, and wipe off any excess wax.  After 24 hours, I finished it off with a second thin coat of wax, making sure that I covered the distressed areas well. Finally, I went over the table one final time with a rag to smooth out the wax and wipe off any excess. About two days after I was finished fixing her up and the wax seemed totally dry, I used a rag to buff the wax to a nice shine - done!:
The Annie Sloan Chalk Paint was great – definitely unlike any other paint that I have used.  While I’m a Chalk Paint newbie and by no means an expert on using it, I picked up a few tips from reading about others’ painting experiences before painting my table, from talking to Laine (my local chalk paint expert) at MissElaineous Studio, and from my own painting project. Here's my two cents on the paint and a few tips:

*It’s a great paint to use if you’re not experienced with painting furniture because it is very, very forgiving.  I almost had a heart attack after finding a long brush bristle embedded in my paint after the final coat had dried but I gently sanded it out, brushed on some more paint and it blended in seamlessly. I love that. 

*Use a natural bristle brush (usually labeled “pure bristle”) rather than your typical synthetic Purdy brush for painting.  I used a simple chip brush such as this to apply my paint:
The chip brush worked well for me but I did loose quite a few bristles while I was painting so keep a look-out for any loose bristles in your paint as you go along. For applying the wax, I invested in a round Annie Sloan Waxing Brush that was great to work with and really helped to get the wax into little crevices. It too was prone to loosing bristles – I guess it’s to be expected with any natural bristle brush. I bought an Annie Sloan waxing brush because I plan to do some more painting projects in the future but if you aren’t ready to invest in an expensive waxing brush, I’ve read about others who have used a chip brush or even a rag for the waxing and have been happy with the result.

*Don't apply too thick of a layer of wax – only put a small amount at a time on your brush or rag because a little bit goes a long way! Use some pressure on your brush or rag when applying the wax to work it into the paint - using a circular motion while applying it worked well for me. Also, don’t worry if you find that you have some very small pebbles of wax that don’t smooth out as you are applying it.  That worried me as I was waxing but when I went back with a rag to rub the wax in, everything got smoothed out!

*Distress AFTER you apply your first coat of wax and then add a coat of wax to the distressed areas.

*If takes close to a month for the wax to fully cure so use a bit of TLC for a few weeks after you've painted and waxed your furniture piece.

* The Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, wax, and waxing brushes aren’t cheap but after finishing my painting project, I still have over half of the quart of paint left and over ¾ of the wax. I have another project in mind for using them, which will make the money invested in supplies seem much more reasonable. Also, you don't need to spend any money on paint strippers & primers since no prep work is necessary.

*There are several advanced techniques that you can use with the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to create gorgeous finishes including techniques using two different colors and using both dark and clear waxes. Many of the studios that stock the chalk paint offer classes that allow you to experiment with either basic or advanced techniques before embarking on your own project. Click {here} to find a retailer near you with links to each retailer's website for information about classes.

* Have fun! The beauty of painted furniture is that it doesn’t have to be perfect.  Having some brush marks and imperfections is part of a painted furniture piece’s inherent beauty so have fun with your project and don’t sweat it if the final result isn't perfection - it shouldn't be. 

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Pink and Orange for a Girl's Bedroom

For my oldest daughter's tenth birthday, you'd think she'd want clothes from Justice or an iTunes gift card. Nope. She wanted to have her room repainted and get new bedding to make it less of a little girl's room and more of a tween room (I have cursed/gifted my girls with a love of decorating!). I kicked her out of her room for several weeks while I not only painted and added new bedding but surprised her with a new desk, fabric pinboard, lamp, and night stand. Some day I'll have to share the video we took of the big reveal - her reaction was priceless! My youngest daughter just turned nine but she's already started planning for her tenth birthday room redo.  She's cut all sorts of things out of catalogs but they are a mishmash of color and design so I suggested that she either find some bedding to use as a jumping off point or decide on a color scheme for us to work with.  I'm lobbying for pink and orange - I love this color combo and think they are colors that she wouldn't outgrow as she moves from tween to teen. My daughter isn't convinced.  She's thinking zebra stripes and sparkles. So this post is all about showing her how amazing the pink and orange color combo could be for a tween bedroom!

 Check out these gorgeous rooms and tell me you aren't convinced:
{Lynn Morgan Design}
[Phoebe Howard}
{PB Teen}
{Phoebe Howard}
{Better Homes & Gardens}
{Martha Stewart}
{Serena & Lily}
{Mona Ross Berman}
{Style at Home}
{Ethan Allen}
{Maria Barros}
{Andrika King Design}
Are you loving the pink and orange too??
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Darryl Carter's One Kings Lane Sale

Are you all familiar with Darryl Carter? I wasn't until about two years ago - I had been unsuccessfully shopping for a large storage piece for my dining room for months and had decided to give Thomasville a try. As I walked towards the back of the store, my eyes landed on this beauty and the decorating angels began to sing....
{Better Homes & Gardens}
Certain that this china chest was well beyond my budget, I walked with dread over to the price tag - it was on major clearance - I almost fainted. It turns out that this china chest was part of a collection designed by Darryl Carter for Thomasville.  Thomasville had discontinued the collection and was clearancing out all of their remaining floor model pieces. Not only did I end up with the china cabinet of my dreams for a fraction of the original cost, but I also bought two of Darryl Carter's Wessex Wing Chairs (also on clearance) for the ends of my dining room table:
{Better Homes & Gardens}
My salesperson gave me a brochure showing all of Darryl Carter's Thomasville collection and I was dying over each and every piece. After I got home, I googled Darryl Carter to see some of his work and completely fell in love with his designs.  He is known for his use of a neutral palette, rarely veering away from using a shade of white on his walls and decorating his rooms with shades of white, black, gray, and taupe. His style is classic and timeless but he incorporates some modern elements to give them a fresh feel.  The homes he's designed have a soothing, inviting feel that starts the second that you walk through the door (don't you love the glossy black entry door?!)
{Benjamin Moore}
and continues through entry
{Country Living}
and into each and every room of the home. Darryl Carter has decorated some of my favorite family & living rooms,
{Elle Decor}
{Elle Decor}

{Architectural Digest}

{Elle Decor}
libraries and offices,
{Elle Decor}
{Elle Decor}
{Elle Decor}
{Elle Decor}
{Elle Decor}
{Elle Decor}
{Country Living}
{Elle Decor}
and dining areas:
{Elle Decor}
{Elle Decor}
{Elle Decor}
{Elle Decor}
It's my awe over all of Darryl Carter's gorgeous interiors that has me excited to see what is offered through his Tastemaker Tag Sale, which starts at 11am EST this Wednesday on One Kings Lane. (If you haven't already joined One Kings Lane, you can click {here} for an invite that will get you a $15 credit!) His Tastemaker Tag sale is going to include a curated selection of antiques along with upholstered pieces from his newly designed collection. As of this morning, One Kings Lane hadn't yet put a preview of his sale pieces online but I have no doubt that the sale will be filled amazing things.  And unlike Kelly Wearstler's One Kings Lane Sale last week, which I loved browsing through but didn't see any "have to have" pieces for my home, I'm pretty sure the Darryl Carter sale will require lots of self restraint to not jump on that "buy" button!  Leave me some comment love on Wednesday to let me know what you think once his sale has gone live. Have a great start to your week!
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Decorative Growth Charts & Rulers

With several of my friends expecting little ones in the upcoming months, I've been on the lookout for unique baby gifts - something other than a frame or onesie that new moms get a zillion of. Earlier this week, I spotted some adorable canvas growth rulers at Hobby Lobby that come in light blue or light pink with ivory dots. And the price is great - only $6.99 each (just a little over $4 with the weekly 40% off coupon!). 
The perfect find for a baby gift basket! The growth charts would look adorable hung up in the nursery and, as a sentimental mom, I think it would be such a nice keepsake to pass down to your child once they have their own kids so that the next generation can see how they measure up to mom or dad!  Also, with so many families moving at some point when their children are young, it's great that this is something that can move right along with you (unlike those pencil marks on the inside of doors that many of our parents used for keeping track of our growth!). After finding this cute canvas growth ruler at Hobby Lobby, I did some searching for other decorative growth chart options and found some absolutely adorable ones to share with you! Two of my favorites are Dear Lillie's hand-stenciled Oversized Ruler Growth Chart in ivory 
and a hand-stained version of it:
These rulers are normally $74.95 but at the time of this post, Dear Lillie has a batch that are discounted to $49.95 due to imperfections.  The great thing about the Dear Lillie rulers is that have a classic design so you aren't limited to using them in your child's room - they can also be used as wall decor in other spaces such as your family room or kitchen.  

A similar Ruler Growth Chart ($70.00) is sold by Etsy shop One Little Belt, which offers personalization with your family or child's name for an extra $10:

For those of you who prefer a more modern design, there are several adorable growth chart options available through Etsy such as this Watch Me Grow Giraffes Modern Growth Chart ($35)

or this EleFUNt Modern Growth Chart ($35), both of which are from Giraffes + Stuff.

I also love this Billboard City Growth Chart ($48) by Etsy shop Urban Tickle that can be customized with any color scheme and personalized with your child's name:

For a more traditional little girl design, Pottery Barn Kids' linen Tree Growth Chart ($39) is adorable:

as is Etsy shop Buzy Lil Bee's Coco Dot Growth Chart ($50), which is hand painted on canvas and personalized with your child's name.  The colors can be customized to match your child's bedding or other room décor:

Etsy is also loaded with shops selling growth chart decals such as this Growth Chart Giraffe Decal ($45) from Designed Beginnings that can be made in several color options:

Would you love to have a decorative growth chart but find that most of them are out of your budget? I've got a few DIY options for you such as 517 Creations' DIY Ruler Growth Chart (click here for the tutorial):

I've also fallen in love with WhipperBerry's DIY Growth Chart Kit, which Heather created with inexpensive jute webbing.  She cleverly uses decorative tags and safety pins to mark growth milestones (click here to see Heather's growth chart tutorial): 
I love how Heather rolled her DIY growth chart into a compact size and packaged it in a fun box with the tags and pins - it would make a fabulous baby gift for new parents or a cherished keepsake for your own child:

I wish that I had growth charts such as these when my girls were little - sadly, they're getting too close to the 5' mark to justify getting one now.  At least I can have the fun of giving them as gifts :-)  Thanks so much for stopping by and have a great weekend!
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