Annie Sloan’s Top 10 Tips On Using Chalk Paint
If you’ve ever thought about painting a piece of furniture, chances are you’ve heard of Chalk Paint™ decorative paint by Annie Sloan. For the past 25 years, trained fine artist turned paint guru Annie Sloan has been inspiring designers and do-it-yourselfers to skip the fuss and fumes of regular paint by using her non-toxic, odor-free alternative. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of creating her legendary water-based paint, Annie’s releasing her 25th book: Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint® Workbook. We caught up with the Queen of Paint to get her tips on choosing colors and painting techniques for your next project.
What do you think are the hottest paint colors right now for furniture?
“I’ve been seeing a lot of people using a bright palette influenced by colors from the ’50s and ’60s, but with a contemporary twist.”
Where do you envision using those colors from the ’50s and ’60s?
“I don’t see colors being used in specific rooms. I think it’s more to do with the style of furniture. On a mid-century modern piece, I would combine hot and cool colors. I would use cool colors on the larger areas, like the drawers, and then use a hot color on the smaller areas to add pops of color.”
What are some of your favorite color combinations of Chalk Paint™?
“There are so many! It depends what style I’m after. If I’m doing something French, I would use Coco (a warm neutral) with Louis Blue (a cool, pale color). For something really contemporary, as in this bookcase, I painted a layer of Primer Red (a deep, red ochre), then a layer of Napoleonic Blue (a warm, deep blue) on top. Finally, I applied Greek Blue (a bright, clean blue) and while it was still wet I scraped it off so that it was heavily distressed throughout. The wall is Scandinavian Pink, for contrast.”
How do you decide if two colors are going to mix well together?
“All my paint colors mix well together. I don’t use a lot of black to make my colors so when you mix them, you know you’ll get purer, cleaner colors. If you want to lighten a color, add one of my whites. To darken a color, use its complementary. For instance, use my Olive to darken Emperor’s Silk, which is a bright red. I love making aubergines and purples. For the best result, mix my Burgundy (which has a little blue in it) with my Napoleonic Blue (which has a little red in it).”
What’s your stance on distressing — the more the better or just a touch?
“There are no rules! Distressing a piece of furniture makes it look like it’s got some history and character. On a really rustic piece, I say distress it to within an inch of its life. For a more modern look, I will apply my paint smoothly and sand very lightly to minimize brushstrokes. On this 1960s side table I used Provence and Arles.”
Are there any colors you’re tired of seeing for painted furniture?
“No, I love furniture being painted. Even the familiar ones like the whites and the neutrals still make a piece look really beautiful and reflect their owner’s personal style. I love seeing tired pieces that are probably destined for the dump given a new life!”
Do you always wax your pieces? Is there a certain technique to waxing?
“99% of the time I wax my pieces. I might not wax a frame or a light, but anything that gets touched really needs to be waxed for the protection. I think of applying wax like I do a hand cream — the wax should absorb into the paint, like hand cream does your skin. You wouldn’t leave lots of cream on your hands, this is the same with wax and furniture. If you’d like a matte finish leave the wax as it is, but if you’d like it to shine, polish the furniture the following day.”
How do you decide if a piece should have a light or dark wax?
“When I’m creating thick and textured looks I like to use my Dark Wax, as this helps to bring out the texture of the paint work and the brushstrokes. You can also just use my Dark Wax to simply make the color darker. I love waxing – it’s when it all comes together!”
How do you decide which brush to use for a project?
“When I’m wanting lots of brush strokes and texture I use a pure bristle brush — it holds lots of paint and makes painting so easy! The size to use depends on the size of the piece of furniture and the size of your hands. For a flat, even finish I use a flat brush. It’s perfect for creating a modern and smooth finish.”
Want to experiment with Chalk Paint™? Get Annie’s tips for transforming an old bookshelf using chalk paint here!