Janice Issitt                    Life and Style

travel, interiors, photography, home, crafts, personal style

8 Sept 2016

French Linen - Bedroom Makeover ii

Part two of the bedroom decorating: Now having assessed what I want out of it I move onto painting. 

Very often my reference for colours in decorating come from the smallest objects and sometimes I just crush over one colour and play with tones of it by mixing up my own variations. Completely coincidently or maybe subconsciously, just as I became besotted with French Linen sheets I also became very fond of the Annie Sloan colour French Linen!  There's a pinterest board showing this at https://uk.pinterest.com/JaniceIssitt/french-linen/ 

shelf and kidney shaped cabinet from One World Trading. Linen sheets from Soak and Sleep, original French Linen sheet and cushion covers from Gz Bboys Antiques
Paint on walls from Annie Sloan 

stencil is also available from Annie Sloan
Using this colour, I mixed it down with old white and pure white to create other shades which I have used on the wardrobe, radiator cabinet, walls and door.  Sometimes it is like a grey tone, sometimes more brownish and sometimes a bit lilac, depending on the colour it is painted over and how much pure white you add to it.

Let's look at the room to start with; Some of my existing furniture was too sentimental for me to part with, an original victorian wardrobe and chest of drawers which have been with me from my very first flat and were probably the first pieces of furniture I every bought. But the honey tones of the pine have been left natural for over twenty years so I felt it was ok to paint them.  Also last year I changed the carpet for seagrass flooring, (something I have fancied for years and eventually I just went for it).  While I like the flooring the fitters made a terrible job of putting it down, they came through Carpet Wright and I will never use them again, but that's another story.  The reason I mention it is that the natural seagrass colour is quite honey coloured and so this and the pine was all too much.  This tone looks nice as either a floor covering or a furniture finish but not both together.

My bed isn't very old but I made a rash decision when ordering it and I've never really loved the white metal headboard which is part of the frame. As there is nothing wrong with the bed it would be wasteful to change it completely so I got Ian to saw off the existing headboard end to create my own.  Beware if you do this, it has changed the rigidity of the whole bed (I think we took it down too low) but I think the bed will hold up.

Some of the other pieces in the room were gold, a mirror frame and a small cabinet. Another thing I never liked was the curtains, I changed them many times but because the window is quite small they looked twee.  I tried French cafe cotton panels, different lengths of drapes, but nothing every really pleased me. 

So here is the list of things that I wanted to change;
Walls (colour), all furniture including bed, window treatment and window ledge and bedding.  Everything except the floor and ceiling then.

gold mirror frame painted in Chalk Paint - French Linen mixed with Old White.  Walls also Chalk Paint

Lamp from One World Trading

I find some interior decorating blog posts can be quite short on details, lists of 'how to' and when I click they are just a lot of fluff about how to drape a curtain and such are a bit patronising, So I'm keeping an eye out here as I write this series of posts, not to be too 'blah' about decorating a room. In perspective it isn't life or death but I do meet a lot of people for whom decorating and interior styling does not come naturally so I hope this helps anyone who is lacking ideas or confidence.

I knew I wanted whites and touches of French Linen (colour), but I also had some paints left over which would add small touches of pink mint and blue.  I used Old White, Original and Pure as my white bases, however the Old White and particularly Original were more cream in tone than I had in mind so I bought a few more tins of Pure both as a white on it's own and because this is a great colour to mix with others.

the television is in this cupboard on the wall, easily made from cheap louvre doors from B&Q
I ended up with very subtle distressing but I feel I may still keep adding layers and chipping bits off, it is a work in progress

Starting with the walls (as I knew it would be easier to change the furniture than to keep changing the walls).  I had tried this technique once before with richer colours and really like it.  Using the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint I have three colours open, one brush and water.  

Begin with the main colour - Whites, I loosely paint an area then immediately dip the brush into water and start to add the water to the wall, then just touch the tip of the brush into one of the colours and work onto the wall, blending with the white and water. Don't cover all the white area with your colour, just like you are adding stripes or hints of the second tone.  Blend with the water and more white and continue like this.  It is best to not stop and start as the paint will dry and this technique works when it is wet. It leaves you with a look of old plaster, distressed walls and watercolour paintings. 

I would say that it might be over-kill to do all four walls so I just used plain white on one wall (the one behind most of the furniture) and the other wall is broken up with doors so not a large surface area. 

The furniture placement and use also came in for scrutiny and by moving the bed into a corner I had more room at the side for some different items.  In a small space if the furniture doesn't perform a decent function then it just ends up eating into the room.  I also wanted a few more romantic vintage looking pieces that would blend with the original old ones and here is where the colour comes into play.  The colour palette is the tie, the link that pulls it all together. As the room is multi-functional I became aware that if not careful it could end up looking like a student bedsit.  Chic and stylish grown-up colours and elegant pieces of furniture should keep it on track. 

Recently I discovered One World Trading when they asked me to photograph a posy vase.  I noticed on their website first a shelf in the sale which is super attractive and totally in the colour range that I'm working with, so I snapped this up before it sold out.  The majority of pieces on their site are reproduction of vintage and antique styles so fit with many different looks. Tones of Scandinavian and shapes of Victorian, elegant and very stylish. Unfortunately I couldn't fit any large pieces into the room but after much deliberation decided the 'kidney shaped bedside cabinet' and 'white wall cupboard' work with the dimensions and colour scheme perfectly.  

white glass front wall cupboard from One World Trading

lower cabinet painted in Pure chalk paint to match the new white wall cupboard from One World Trading

When I first used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint as a Painter In Residence, I didn't mix my own colours but now I always do.  I wish I had done back then, if I had my time again I would probably do things differently, although I did make a point of being as bold as I could to celebrate the more vibrant end of their colour chart. 

For some reason it didn't occur to me until the end of PIR to start to mix colours and these paints are just made for it.  You need to experiment as it isn't always obvious how to make new colours, unless you are an artist and then you probably have a good handle on what does what.  Get a good range of tester pots but also have a look on Pinterest as there are lots of example cards now of what different colour mixes look like. 

Painting the wardrobe and chest-of-drawers was a work in progress. I didn't have a really clear idea, just some general looks I like. I thought I would just see what they looked like as I went along.

The wardrobe is a single one, often thought to be like a child's wardrobe so I was keen to not let it look like furniture from a baby's room. One colour was too much like a slab, too much colour became childish.

To start I painted them both in old white, a few coats as a base, then a little sand down.

The main colour for the wardrobe is a lightened French Linen, which watered down slightly comes out as a lovely pale grey colour over the white. On the centre panel I thought another colour underneath with some stencilling would make it look more interesting.  For the centre panel I mixed Antibes Green with a lot of white for a pale mint colour then stencilled with some pastel mixes of pink and darker green.  I wanted this centre piece to look like I had discovered it underneath another colour so dry brushed the French Linen over and sanded it lightly. The piece was finished in the new white wax, which is good on pale colours as it doesn't darken them down at all.

Chest Of Drawers.
Boy, I painted a lot of colours on this. I didn't love love love anything I did to it so I kept painting on more colours and trying different distressing techniques.  In the end I consulted fellow Painter In Residence Agnieszka from Poland, whose work has so far been my absolute favourite of all the PIR's.  Her distressing is beyond brilliant and truly a great example of how to do it right.

this photo is a bit too contrasty, the colours are more subtle than this but I thought it would better show the process

There is always a debate as to whether to varnish or wax between layers.  I did do some as I was never clear in my mind whether the piece was finished or not, but Agnieszka does not. Here are some of her tips:

"Think about the final look of the furniture
- choose colours (what colours do you want to use for project? - where will be the best places for the chippy effect on the furniture? - how many colours do you want to use for project? ("primary" colours and "secondary" colour in a few places - one will be ok)
TIP 2: I'm always first painting a thin coat of paint - rather precisely. Then I put on more layers (thick coats of paint this time) in a few places, imprecise (in every which way, to create texture)
TIP3: I always use a "secondary" colour just in a few places (e.g. legs, locks, handles) and then I put again the "primary" colours to hide this layer. It will be the best effect if you use two coats of paint.
TIP4: Very important! All these layers of different colours you can aply in one day but you need to wait 1-2 days to create chippy look. Otherwise, you don't get this effect! Chalk Paints are cool because they dry quickly but for rustic chippy look, all these layers must "rest" before using any tools.
TIP 5: I work on the places that would naturally distress - I used a scraper and sandpaper for a distressing look
TIP 6: I love using dark wax at the end my work, to create a beautiful patina to my piece" Agnieszka explained.
This information was very useful to me and the experience of someone else who had also experimented was invaluable.
I mostly found the idea of leaving the paints to rest and harden a very useful tip. If the paints are dry but not 'set' they are likely to smerge into each other when you sand, and if you want chippy then use a blade to flick off the layers.
I have very mixed emotions about distressed furniture because done well (like Agnieszka does it), is one thing, but done badly it can be an eye sore. All I can say is don't over do it.

I actually don't like the process either, I hate the mess and the feeling of sandpaper on my hands, so after a few tries I got online and ordered a palm sander from Argos, same day delivery for 15 pounds. Then I started to enjoy it a lot more. I asked Agnieszka about the tools she uses and here is what she said;
"TOOLS. The best tools to distress furniture: my favourites are scraper, spatula and sandpaper (medium grit) and sometimes metal chain (you can beat it up to get aged look) and hammer to get a rustic chippy finish too.
TIP: I'm always using first a SCRAPER or SPATULA, then chain, hammer and then sandpaper at the end! If you use first sandpaper, you don't get chippy look at all (flaking paint). Sandpaper rubs layers, so you can't scrape this layers. So, first SCRAPER, then SANDPAPER (only in few areas)."
French Linen monogrammed sheet from Gz Badboys Antiques and French Linen colour from Annie Sloan 
To see some of these looks find Agnieszka's website here, and well done to her for writing these tips in English for me.

To my mind the chest of drawers may continue to be a work in progress, Im' still not sure about some parts of it.
I hope you find this blog post instructive and it spurs you onto a bit of DIY yourself. In the next post about changing the bedroom I look at the finishing touches.

One World Trading - https://www.one.world/
Annie Sloan Chalk Paint - https://www.anniesloan.com/
Gz Badboys Antiques - https://uk.pinterest.com/gzbadboys/

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