When left to my own devices, I usually paint something or work on stuff around the house. I know, not exactly what most women dream of doing if given an almost three week respite from daily household chores and kid duties. My husband and kids were up in the Bay Area visiting Nana and Papa for some summer fun before school starts…I was supposed to go, but had to stay behind because of my work schedule. I had three weddings in one weekend and several invitation ensembles to print and assemble, so I knew I would be spending my vacation time worrying about my pending deadlines if I left town.
I had plenty of work to keep me busy and with no one to cook or clean for, shuttle to and from activities, or keep entertained…I welcomed the chance to get caught up on work. In between work projects: I thoroughly cleaned the house (marveling at how even at ten minutes or five hours, or two days later…it still remained tidy!); I did some random organizing (such as lining the dresser and nightstand drawers in the master bedroom); and I got caught up on a couple of blog posts.
I should have been organizing my office or finishing up some other projects I’d started months ago (but haven’t had time to finish, ahem…hand painting my stair riser tiles), but since I only had spurts of spare time for personal stuff in between all my deadlines, I needed quick projects. While I was printing paper elements for a wedding ensemble and waiting on changes from a client for another, I remembered I had three tiny sample pots of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint that I had picked up at Royal Design Studio awhile back…so I thought I’d try them out and paint our guest bathroom cabinet.
Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is hugely popular amongst DIYers, especially throughout the blogosphere, because it’s supposed to be so easy to use and a very forgiving product…you don’t need to be a professional painter or an experienced decorative artist to use it. You don’t have to sand, primer, prepare a surface, before applying the paint. It dries quickly and can be used indoors or out. And it will “stick” to almost anything…previously painted surfaces, glossy finishes, fabric, metal, plastic, glass. Its muted hues are perfect for creating the look of time-worn, distressed or antiqued furniture and it’s very versatile for creating layered paint finishes. I have used Milk Paint and mixed my own variation of “chalk-ish” paint in the past for my clients, but haven’t had a chance to test out ASCP for myself.
So I thought the bathroom cabinet would be a perfect “quick” project to see how the product works…and get a gauge for the paint’s coverage and usability. The sample pots are very small, only 4 ounces (expensive as far as paint goes at $12 each, a quart is about $40), so I wanted a project that wouldn’t require a huge amount of paint…and that I could get done very quickly. I only had about 4 hours total of spare time, in between print runs and meeting production deadlines, to finish the project. Plus I wanted to have it completed before my family was due to return home.
I was inspired by an image of a vanity I had seen in Traditional Home of Designer Berkley Vallone’s powder room. I loved the red, gold and turquoise finish on the vanity and how it worked with the golden and copper hues throughout. These color combinations have always appealed to me and I thought something similar may work in the bathroom. Of course, the sample pots I had purchased were the closest in Annie Sloan’s color line that match my “logo” colors. I had a Primer Red, which mimics the deep red ochre used for priming furniture and base coat prepping for gilding. Arles is a yellow ochre and Provence is the closest color to a turquoise blue that they had. Now there’s a new color called Florence that I would have preferred over Provence, but I was working with what I had on hand, so I had to make do.
Starting with Primer Red, I quickly brushed the paint loosely over the edges, corners and raised areas of the cabinet…the areas where natural distressing from wear and tear would occur to reveal the red primer coat. I did not clean or prep the cabinet beforehand and simply painted ASCP directly onto the surface, which was previously antiqued with an oil-based glaze. This took me about 15 minutes and used maybe a 1/4 of the sample pot.
While this coat dried, I worked on a print job and revised some design proofs…then came back and rubbed a little wax paste onto the areas that I wanted to reveal the red undercoat. Rubbing a candle or petroleum jelly (Vaseline) onto the raised areas also does the trick. It keeps the next coat of paint from adhering as well, and sands easily to show the base coat for a easy-to-do distressed finish.
Then, I mixed a little bit of Arles into Provence to warm up the blue and create more of an aqua-greenish hue. I brushed this on very loosely and messily (not concerned with brush strokes or direction), over the entire cabinet, deliberately missing some of the red areas. The finish was already looking distressed without sanding.
Although the color was pretty, it was too “sea foam” or “mint” for me, so I tinted the paint with some blue acrylics I had, to create the color I was going for. As the paint dries to the touch very quickly, I didn’t really wait to apply the new color. All in all, I spent maybe 30 – 45 minutes on these steps.
After this dried for about an hour, I sanded some of the edges/raised areas and applied a teensy bit of gold paint to some of the revealed red base coat.
The next couple of hours were spent on hand painting a decorative element onto the two cabinet doors. These I painted on freehand (no stencil), using white acrylic paints tinted with a little bit of asphaltum and raw umber (for shading).
Outlining and details were painted with gold metallic paint (by Modern Masters). Finishing touches of white highlights and a diluted asphaltum drop shadow were added…and within a few chapters of my audiobook, the painting was done and ready for the wax top coat.
The final step was to rub a finishing wax paste over the entire painted surface. I slightly tinted the wax with raw umber and polished with a rag to protect the finish and give the color a more vibrant tone. It took me a total of four hours to makeover this cabinet and I was pleased with the result. I may decide to add more red and gold…but for now I’m okay with it. Let’s see how it holds up to two crazy boys and our messy household! It’s a snap to paint over should I change my mind and want to try something else. And since I have more than half of each of the ASCP sample pots left over, I’ll definitely try this easy-to-use product again on some quick transformation projects.