DIY shabby chic

Alissa Ugolini—homify UK Alissa Ugolini—homify UK
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The Shabby Chic look evolved in England, in the 1980s. It was formed by the impressive, yet slightly run-down estates and possessions of British nobility. The namesake can be a little hard to understand sometimes, with people often asking What is Shabby Chic?. Shabby Chic, as the name denotes, is a culmination of two styles—combining an element of something that is slightly rundown (shabby), yet stylish and fashionable (chic) at the same time. The interior design style has enjoyed a great amount of popularity for several years, especially as of recently with the advent of DIY, flea market finds and upcyling. You may also have heard the names Cottage Chic, French Country, Beach Cottage Chic and Gustavian to describe the same style.

Bright pastel colours dominate, so long as they are matte finish, and have a slightly used or worn-out appearance. Flaky paint, or visible signs of use are not discouraged in Shabby Chic, nor are they seen as a flaw. In fact, they are a highly desirable element of the style. Our expert Annie Sloan, creates a wide range of fun pastel colours for our homes. She began developing these specialised colours twenty years ago, and is the mastermind behind the ever popular ’Chalk Paint’. Trained as an artist, it comes as no surprise that she is well versed with colour! The paint is distinguished by its chalky matte-finish, which is absolutely perfect for the Shabby Chic style. Today we will show you how to use her Chalk Paints to spruce up your own furniture and interiors.

The colours

Chalk Paint™ decorative paint by Annie Sloan www.anniesloan.com:   by Annie Sloan
Annie Sloan

Chalk Paint™ decorative paint by Annie Sloan www.anniesloan.com

Annie Sloan

The Chalk Paint, for a number of reasons, is especially suitable for DIY projects; on the one hand, thanks to its special formula which allows you to paint without the need for a primer, and on the other hand, it is suitable for almost any surface from wood to concrete. Another advantage of these colours is their versatility. Whether they are diluted with water, or applied straight from the can, each effect is different. Therefore, depending on the desired outcome, the piece can emerge with a thin veil of paint or with an opaque finish. Nowadays, matte paint finishes are favoured over a gloss coat, which is a great fit for a Shabby Chic project. The colour range of these paints is inspired by 18th-century names like Napoleonic Blue or The Silk of the Emperor, which of course, fits perfectly with this style of furnishing. Don't forget, the colours can also be combined with each other to great effect! 

Painting with Napoleonic Blue

Chalk Paint™ decorative paint by Annie Sloan www.anniesloan.com:   by Annie Sloan
Annie Sloan

Chalk Paint™ decorative paint by Annie Sloan www.anniesloan.com

Annie Sloan

So, you bought an old dresser at a flea market a few years back, and while you love the piece, the colour just does not fit into the existing decor of your bedroom or living room. With Chalk Paint, you can transform the dresser in a few minutes, giving it a completely new identity. The best thing is, you do not need to sand off the old paint or varnish from before. The paint is low VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), and is virtually odor-free. This means you can place the item you have just painted back into your home, without the need to air it out and rid it of that strong chemical smell we often associate with fresh paint. The pictured dresser, or side table, is reminiscent of the Queen Anne style. Now that it has been painted blue, it has returned to its former glory with Napoleonic Blue as its new colour. Then, with a bit of sanding and wear and tear, this now French-style dresser will be the ultimate Shabby Chic item! 

Old world

Chalk Paint™ decorative paint by Annie Sloan www.anniesloan.com:   by Annie Sloan
Annie Sloan

Chalk Paint™ decorative paint by Annie Sloan www.anniesloan.com

Annie Sloan

To create a Shabby Chic piece of furniture, the item in question doesn't necessarily need to be old or vintage. To just as easily renew a pre-loved piece, you can use Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint to make something new look old to achieve the vintage, worn look. As mentioned before, paint a relatively thick layer of the desired colour, such as the pictured colour, called Provence, and immediately add the heat of a hairdryer or blower to it. This will result in a cracking and peeling of the paint surface, which is one of the coveted Shabby Chic effects. If its bright outside, you can also leave it in direct sunlight to achieve a similar effect. 

An emphasis on detail

Cabinet painted in Chalk Paint decorative paint by Annie Sloan: rustic Kitchen by Annie Sloan
Annie Sloan

Cabinet painted in Chalk Paint decorative paint by Annie Sloan

Annie Sloan

There are those times when we absolutely love the structure and detail of a finely crafted wooden piece, but the colour is just not right. The answer to this issue is to apply the Chalk Paint diluted, and it will give the effect as pictured. You can still see that is an underlying woody texture underneath, and the stunning detail on the door is still able to shine through. Note the colour should be applied in all directions, so that it can fall into the grooves of the wood. Immediately after you have painted it, you should remove a portion of the paint with a cloth, then repeat that same process once more. This will give it that extremely worn down effect. For this technique, it is recommended to use bright colours.

Pastel kisses

Bedside table painted in Chalk Paint decorative paint by Annie Sloan: country Bedroom by Annie Sloan
Annie Sloan

Bedside table painted in Chalk Paint decorative paint by Annie Sloan

Annie Sloan

This delicate and serene colour is called Antoinette, and is a great tone for those wanting to achieve a look that embodies country charm. Apply two to three thick layers, for a completely opaque effect. Combined with white, the pastel pink colour is given more personality and stands out further than it would if it were to be a single tone. The aged birch wall behind can also easily be painted with Annie Sloan's colours. Following the technique discussed above, you can achieve the same effect with a myriad of muted or bright colours.

A waxy finish

Chalk Paint™ decorative paint by Annie Sloan www.anniesloan.com:   by Annie Sloan
Annie Sloan

Chalk Paint™ decorative paint by Annie Sloan www.anniesloan.com

Annie Sloan

Regally named Burgundy, this rich earthy red colour is another to appear in the collection inspired by the early 18th century. Here we see this imperial shade of royal red give the dresser a luxurious and regal finish. To achieve the dull-wax finish you see in this image, apply a layer of the Chalk Paint, then once dry, follow with a layer of matte wax. This effect gives the dresser a little more texture, but if you wanted the real Shabby Chic look, you can rub or sand the piece down to create a totally different outcome. 

Each Annie Sloan paint colour can be combined to great effect with the others in her range. Thanks to her imagination and expertise with colour, DIY just got a whole lot easier for both the novices and experts. Your creative limits now know no boundaries! So, what are you waiting for? Hop to it!

Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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