July 28, 2014

Chalk Paint Makeover: Napoleonic Blue Table

I recently received an email from my friend Jane asking for help and advice on painting a table that she and her husband, Chris, use in the entry way of their home.

The table had belonged to her great-grandmother in South Dakota and it was used to can fruits and vegetables.  Jane's dad was able to squeeze it in the backseat of her car and it's had a new home in DC ever since.  In her email, Jane said she knew she wanted to use Napoleonic Blue - a deep, almost navy color - to match some other interiors in her living room.

After emailing back and forth, it was decided that Jane would stain the top herself and I would come to her home to do the painting and waxing.  She lightly sanded the top and applied a stain and a poly coating to seal it.  She already had a piece of glass cut to protect the top, which really elevated the look of the table.

This piece is a great example of the unpredictability of painting.  If I had wagered a guess, I would have been certain that this table would have needed two coats of paint--since the wood was so light and the paint so dark.  This is what the table looked like after one coat.

For the second coat, I flipped the table over (setting the top on the drop-cloth on the floor) and painting upside down.  This was especially helpful since the legs were decorative--it made it much easier to get all the nooks and crannies.

After a second coat, there were still little bits of the wood showing through!  Jane and I decided a light third coat would be needed.  Sure enough, the third coat yielded a perfect result.

For reference, a 4 ounce test pot covered this entire table three times and we still had a little left over.  And remember: with Chalk Paint, there is no sanding or priming, which is a money and time saver!

Between each coat drying (about 15 minutes per coat) Jane and I sipped coffee, snacked on delicious red cherries and had the best time talking about everything from furniture to weddings to travel.  I even convinced her to re-vamp and paint her china buffet instead of buying a new one (more on that in another post!).

After the last coat was dry, I got out my Annie Sloan clear wax and dark wax and went over the entire piece.  The legs were particularly fun with the decorative woodwork and lots of crevices.

The dark wax toned down the brightness of the paint and gave it a subtle, aged look.  The wax needs about 24 hours to dry and about 30 days total to fully cure.

 This project helped me fall in love with Napoleonic Blue--here is a photo of the side of the table that is close to a window-- you can see how the light made it look a bit brighter.

Since the top was already stained, this entire project only took about 3 hours.  By lunch time on a Saturday, Jane and Chris had a new table.  And the best part?  This table has a story and meaning to Jane.  One of the most rewarding parts about recreating a family piece of furniture is being able to enjoy   the memory of a loved one's table while ensuring that it fits in with your current style and needs.

I call that a pretty successful Saturday morning.  You can do this too!  If you have questions about painting or want to see more examples and tutorials, check out my "Create" page or the Ask for Roses YouTube channel!

July 22, 2014

Video Tutorial: Creating the Washed Effect

The wash effect is an excellent technique on a piece of furniture that has age and texture.  By texture, I mean that it might be a little nicked or banged up from years of wear.  The wash effect can actually highlight those imperfections and help create a unique, one-of-a-kind look for your piece.

In order to create the washed effect, you will need:

*Base paint color (I used Annie Sloan's French Linen)
*Wash paint colors (I mixed Paris Grey + Old White + water)
*Annie Sloan's clear wax
*2 paint brushes (1 for base layer, 1 for wash)
*Wax brush (substitute: rag to wipe wax on)
*Stack of lint-free cloths (number depends on the size of your piece)


1) Paint base coat over entire piece
2) Working in a small area, apply clear wax
3) Wipe over wax gently to remove excess
4) Apply wash solution with a paint brush
5) Wipe immediately with a lint-free cloth


*Work in a small space!  If you try to cover too large of an area, the paint may dry and your wiping off step will not work as well
*Don't stress about the mixture of paint for the wash.  Start with a color you like and add another color until you get to a shade that you like.  If you're nervous, paint your base coat on a piece of paper and paint several samples of your wash shade over sections of it to see what the effect will be
*The Wash Effect is a great way to make a little paint go a long way!

I hope this video was helpful!  For more videos and tips, be sure to visit the Ask for Roses YouTube page. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section and I will be sure to respond.  Happy painting!

July 16, 2014

French Linen/Paris Grey Washed Antique Armoire

After I painted most of the furniture that I own, I began to hunt for new projects.  I had a successful dresser flip and since then, I've been perusing Craigslist daily.  I still can't believe some of the items that are listed for free!

Last week, I saw a listing for this antique armoire.  Without thinking, I immediately emailed the owner and told her I could come pick it up from her that evening.  Then I began to have second thoughts.  It's too big, one of the doors is off, what if it's not a good quality.  Before I had too long to change my mind, the owner called me to confirm pick up and told me that it was a real antique and that she had both doors, but had simply removed one to move it.

I took a deep breath and confirmed that I would pick it up.  About an hour before our agreed upon time, it began pouring rain.  Kern insisted that we could still retrieve it using a tarp he had.  We waited until a break in the storm, drove to her apartment and loaded it up.

As we were leaving, the owner smiled and handed me a small key.  The doors still locked!

We removed the second door, the shelves and all of the hardware.  I sat with it a few days and mulled over the color and finish I wanted to use.

Part of this "trash to treasure" adventure is meant to pull me out of my comfort zone with painting and encourage me to try new techniques that I would be hesitant to attempt on a piece that had special meaning.  Of course, I have to balance this desire with the fact that I want the piece to sell!

After spending some time in one of Annie Sloan's books, I had a vision in my mind and a new technique I was prepared to try.

The night before I was going to start painting, I was legitimately nervous.  I kept imagining it all going wrong and the armoire looking terrible.

The new technique that I used is called a "Wash." I will outline the steps for you below in photos and I have a video tutorial that I plan on posting soon that will contain the details of how to achieve this look.

The first step was to paint the interior Louie Blue.  The original inside was a dingy white and it showed years of wear.

I painted the outside with one coat of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in French Linen.  A little bit of the wood is still peeking through, which is perfect for the wash technique!

I mixed 2 parts Paris Grey with 1 part Old White and added water until the paint became translucent.  My "translucency" test was to stick a plastic fork in it and when the paint ran off the ends, I knew it was the right consistency.  Remember, this is an art, so there is no "exact" formula.  Any paint combination would work, as long as it's watered down.

Working in a small area, brush on Annie Sloan's clear wax and then apply the wash mixture with a one-inch paint brush and immediately wipe it off with a lint-free cloth. The area on the right is where I have applied the "wash" and the area on the left has been wiped with a cloth.

The wax acts as a resist and allows the wash mixture to "sit on top" of the base layer paint and not completely absorb into it.

The effect is a beautiful, one-of-a-kind finish that gives the piece a soft overall look.  On this armoire, the wash allows the old wood's natural patina to show through and gives it a textured look.

I was pleased with the outcome.  I like how this armoire has a little "extra" look to it--instead of just a flat color.

The key is still my favorite feature.  I tied of piece of burgundy silk ribbon through it.

The inside has plenty of space for television set or space to hang a clothing rod.

Kern did all the installation work.

The blue interior refreshed the entire look.

If you are interested in learning more about the wash technique, check back soon for a detailed video tutorial where I will walk you through each step.  It was much more fun (and quicker) than I expected.

I'm already on the hunt for my next piece!

July 14, 2014

View from the Top: Washington Monument

One afternoon in August of 2011, I was at work in the Cannon building standing at the copy machine.  Suddenly, the building began to shake--it was a sensation I had never felt before.  My initial reaction was: someone just bombed the Capitol.  Dramatic, I know.  Hill staff are programmed to expect the worst.  In my mind, there was not another logical explanation for an event that could shake our entire building.

Moments later, our staff learned that we had just experienced an earthquake.  An earthquake in DC.  Needless to say, I was relieved no one was trying to hurt us, but slightly puzzled at the natural disaster that was now causing every employee to evacuate.

So where I am going with this flashback?

The Washington Monument sustained significant damage, as did many other buildings in DC.  It was immediately closed and underwent extensive renovations.  As soon as I heard it was going to close, I wanted to ride to the top.  Too late.  I had missed my chance.

Nearly three years later, the Monument is open again!  I reserved tickets for Kern and me so we could ride to the top.

After a 30 second elevator ride, we were at the top and able to see DC out of a few small windows.

North: White House, Ellipse, Department of Commerce 

West: Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial, Virginia

East: National Mall, Capitol, our apartment

South: Jefferson Memorial, Tidal Basin, Virginia

We rode our bikes and enjoyed playing "tourist" for the evening.

Inside the Monument is a quote from Senator Robert Winthrop on the day it was dedicated (February 21, 1885) that states: "The lightnings of heaven may scar and blacken it.  An earthquake may shake its foundations...But the character which it commemorates and illustrates is secure."

How true Senator Winthrop, how true!

After our adventure, we got pizza at a new spot on our block: Pizza Parts and Service...then headed back to our apartment.  Even after being a tourist, there's no place like home.

July 09, 2014

Alexandria Lifestyle: French Linen Gilded Side Table

Summer is the perfect time to spruce up around the house!

Check out my French Linen Gilded side table on Alexandria Lifestyle!
One of the best aspects of Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint is that it is odorless and can be applied inside...so there's no need to swelter in the heat once you put a drop cloth down.

A small table like this can be completed in just a few hours and it's a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

To see the all the steps, visit my post on Alexandria Lifestyle.

For more fun projects and tutorials, visit me here!

July 08, 2014

July Fourth at Penn Haven

I just had one of the most relaxing Fourth of July weekends that I can recall in recent memory.  Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that last July Fourth Kern and I had just gotten engaged--so the holiday was full of planning.

This year was the opposite--in such a good way.

My parents met us at Penn Haven and we spent three days soaking up all the Eastern Shore had to offer.  The first day was a little windy (thanks, Arthur) but we put the crab traps in the water and hoped for the best.

We hopped on bikes and took a leisurely ride through the Neck district.  The Shore is a biker's dream--mile after mile of flat land.

Once the winds left, we had two of the most perfect weather days--highs in the mid 80's, clear skies and abundant sunshine.

Dad and I blew up a little boat and we all took turns paddling around Brooks Creek.

We enjoyed using the new pier!

Doesn't that blue sky just make you feel like the sky has no limit?

Two peas in a pod...

We spent time in the boat, we grilled burgers and hot dogs, napped, made home made ice cream and blueberry crisp, read on the porch, watched fireworks...it was true quality time.

I am thankful for all the men and women who have served (thanks, Dad!) and who currently serve so that we can live in a country where we are free and safe.

May we never take it for granted!

July 03, 2014

Trash to Treasure: Paris Grey Dresser

I think I'm behind the curve on this...but...did you know that there is an entire section of Craigslist devoted to "free"or "curb alert" items?  Yep, dozens of listings from people trying to get rid of everything from pet hamsters to old bricks.

I've been cruising the free section lately and I saw this dresser--listed as free and only 2 blocks from my apartment.  I emailed the owner and told him I would pick it up after work one evening.  It was listed as less than a year old and in good condition.

I noticed that the drawers looked a little wonky, but I was confident that Kern could fix them.  He can fix anything.  Sure enough, we got it home and Kern began examining it.

He immediately realized that the previous owner had assembled the dresser backwards.  Yep, that's right: he nailed the backing on the front and installed the drawers where they came out of the back.  This explained the crooked drawers.  Kern set to work to fix this: he disassembled the chest and then put it back together correctly.  

Bingo.  A brand new chest of drawers.  It still smelled like pine it was so new.

I knew that I wanted to flip this "trash to treasure" quickly, so that meant I needed a few ground rules:

1. Only use materials that I already owned.  This meant no new hardware or fancy updates.

2. Get the refurbished piece on Craigslist within 48 hours.

3. No more junk hauling until this piece was sold and out of our apartment.

Two coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Paris Grey later...it was time for waxing and a little distressing.

It would have been fun to install new hardware, but that would have violated my number one "flip" rule.  Instead, I used a combination of dark wax and gold gilding to give the knobs a little hint of metallic.

I waxed the entire piece with Annie Sloan's clear wax and then waxed the top with dark to give it contrast.  I added a little gold gilding around the top rim.  Since this dresser had straight, clean lines I didn't do a lot of embellishment. 

40 hours after I picked up the dresser, I posted it on Craigslist.

I checked my email every hour for about a day.  It was exciting to see who was interested!

The second person that emailed me ended up purchasing the dresser.  Since we have Kern's truck, we also offer delivery.  We dropped the dresser off almost exactly 72 hours after we picked it up for free.

I'm now obsessed with curb alerts and free trash.

Do you have anything you want to get rid of?
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