Thursday, 18 April 2013

Ok. I've been a lazy blogger which bothers me more than you would think. Unfortunately, as long as I remember it, I struggle with keeping interest in one thing long enough to finish it. I fight it with my "multiple personalities" because I have to ability to self-motivate, as well as I self-delude.

So, I'm in New York. I have gotten myself temporarily out of a rut so really I have no excuse not to write anything.

I have painted a few pieces last month and even painted my stairs railing with Annie Sloan's chalk paint but I need to post the pictures when I get back. I find that posting them needs to happen almost immediately after painting in order to capture the essence of excitement and pride and in order not encourage the "been there, done that" feeling. So as I'm writing this, I'm struggling to keep my promise to post the pics soon after I get back. (Just being real - I find everyone makes blogging look easy but really, it's not alway!)

Anyway, I have a plan to visit one of the Annie Sloan stockist here in Long Island. The store is called "Suite Pieces". It would be fun to try to visit a stockist wherever I go. It could be one of those small personal goals that doesn't satify anyone else but me.

I am trying to relax on this trip. Maybe it will bring back some inspiration. I will post again as soon as I have some news!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Changed my mind! New color!

A month ago, I painted my lamp base from natural wood to green. Well, although I liked the result, I finally decided that it didn't go with the rest of the decor. (I was really eager to use the Olive!)

So, since I bought more ASCP in Graphite, I went ahead and repainted it. I literally just went over it again, even if I had previously applied soft wax. It gave me no problem.

See? I think it fits in better!
By the way, see the blue and white table. I will have to post the before pictures! I had so much fun repainting that piece!! I promise I'll post it soon.


Mixing chalk paint- it's so easy!

When deciding what color to paint this little bookshelf, I needed to think about where I wanted it. I don't know why I keep putting all the new pieces in the living room.

But I think I that's where it belongs right now! I didn't want to use all green as it might be too much and frankly I was getting a bit restless with just using the old white even though it was tempting to make it the same color as the little round table. I guess I'm just am not very consistent. but I am not that adventurous either so I decided to mix the old white with the Olive to reach a compromise in my mind. Why not, right?

So, I started with more white than green. Here is what it looks like after the first "slap-on". Although I'm sure with an original color that is lighter, I wouldn't need two coats but with the dark color underneath, one coat really isn't enough.

Then from an inspiration in the Annie Sloan's book entitled: " Annie Sloan Quick and Easy Paint Transformations, I wanted to try highlighting the trims in a darker color. So I dipped one side of the brush in the Olive and went heavy with it on the trims.
I knew in the back of mind that some dark wax would look great on the trims too. Once the paint was dry, I brushed on a coat of clear wax and just went around the trims with some dark wax and then some more clear wax to mix it all in. I put it on where I just felt like it would look good and made sure to put some on the drawer handle (I painted over the original handle). 

So here are a couple of snapshots of the finished bookshelf! I was really proud of it and more importantly, it matched my decor after all! Yay!

Lesson? Old White is super versatile and I will not hesitate to mix it with other ASCP colors! I really love the flexibility...and I'm loving how I'm getting so much mileage out of the ONE can of paint. All smiles.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Finding creativity in work

I haven't had a chance to paint or draw and do any soul-enlightening projects ( I would even consider re-organizing my closet as one). In fact, I have been immersed in a work project.

I work with systems and computers- not very enchanting to most nor to me. However, just because we are dealing with cold objects doesn't mean we have to approach it with coldness.

For instance, my project is named "Symphony". Doesn't it invoke an image of everyone working together in harmony? Like in an orchestra, the piece will only be good if everyone works together. I may be called a "Project Manager" and yes, it may be just a title but I don't have to fit myself to it. I know this may sound silly, but often we are "categorized" and we end up behaving as expected. It can be unbelievably stifling. So instead, in my mind, I'm the person who is moving the sticks in rhythm.

Other things I like to do is to explore different templates and tools that are freely provided on the Internet. I'm talking as simple as a word template that you can use to do something you need to everyday but maybe a little differently, a little more esthetically pleasing. Find ways to make your work pleasant. For example, instead of using Outlook to track my tasks (sure, it works fine), I use a tool called XMIND. They have different charts to help me stay organized and I feel good using them. Or I change up my font and my signature in my emails and it makes me dread writing emails as much for a little while.

One important thing that everyone should do is clean and de-clutter your surroundings. Not only is that Feng-Shui approved but its just renews your energy. Treat yourself to a new pen. Yep, as simple as that.

Now I can't wait to go back Monday morning and do just that. Hope you can find ways to make work pleasant, in your mind and in your space!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Involve your Kids + Sweet Decor!

I suppose that my excitement about painting was contagious because my son, Andrew, was eager to paint his own project too! So I went to the Dollar Store and bought a tissue box in wood as well as a decorative-sized crate for his debut.

He used Annie Sloan's chalk paint in Old White and painted two coats.
He was then quite insistent on using both the CLEAR and the DARK wax (because monkey see monkey do!).
I tend to be cautious with anything dark but he had no fear and went pretty heavy with the dark wax. At first I was aghast but then reminded myself that it was just a 2$ project! (To prevent heart-palpitations, I highly recommend the $ store.)
But then, and I really should have trusted his creativity, he started blending the dark wax with more clear wax with a brush and I have to admit that I found the finished piece super charming.  I did help him touch it up because honestly, a 9 year-old boy just isn't big on details. (Well, mine isn't anyway!).

 Tada! I think he did a great job.  Now I just need him to paint one for each room!

He is also the artist of the canvas painting here!
P.S. I love that this paint is very washable. There's practically no mess-just the way I like it! So go ahead and let your child go wild on this. They will be so proud to have their work on display!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

On a whim painting

It's as if I see decor pieces in my house differently now. What used to unmatched pieces which I tried to blend in together are now potential projects, just awaiting their second becoming. Everything is in line to have a make-over!

On a whim, I painted a natural wood-colored lamp base with Annie Sloan's chalk paint in Barcelona Orange and then Olive Green.

I think it added some character - the best part is if I get bored of it, I'll just paint over it again!

We are all full of it..potential that is!

Just a short post about this but I wanted to mention about something else I couldn't drop from my mind: the fact that I'm a "multipotentialite". It all came together when I heard Emilie Wapnick talk about it and her site on the radio one day. Yes, so as I had suspected, it's ok NOT to be passionate about just one thing or specialize in just one field. I always get so excited about an idea and have a hard time seeing it through. Sure, sometimes that's not ideal but it's also self-understanding to know when to quit.  I identify. If this rings a bell in you, check out her website. I'm sure you'll have an aha moment too!

In fact, she's having a "putty tribe" on twitter today - where people help out each other with ideas. Nice, right? #puttytribe

Cheers :)

Sunday, 10 February 2013

How I got off my laurels to paint my furniture!

I kept seeing these beautiful shabby-chic and "vintageous" furniture on my "liked" Facebook pages and Pinterest and I wanted so many of them so my surroundings can look like that. Short of spending my life-savings (which is almost non-existent), that would be impossible. After all, I can barely justify buying one piece! I had resigned myself to saying: "one day".

Well, one day I saw a posting from Deuxième Début on Facebook for a painting furniture workshop to learn how to distress them (among other things).  It was at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning (are you kidding?) and the cost of the half-day class was $199.  Usually, I wouldn't have even thought about it because of the time and money but I just couldn't stop thinking about this.

I am SO GLAD now that I signed up, went and followed-through. The class was a great introduction to using Annie Sloan chalk paint ( and techniques to upcycle furniture. The best part about this paint for me is the hassle-free factors of no priming, no pre-sanding and that it is fast-drying (I'm also big on instant gratification!). Annie Sloan also has an accompanying soft clear and dark wax that seems to make this easy and complete.

After getting some practical experience and great advice, I felt encouraged and inspired to practice what I had learnt. Yes, I was going to upcycle my own furniture!! At the end of the post, I'll summarize for you what it cost me to get started; I know it's something I would want to know if I was reading this.

I would like to share my first project experience with you here. I don't have detailed professional instructions but I will briefly describe what I did. If anyone wants to know more, I would be more than happy to tell and to share my sources of information!

Here's my first project - the little round table:

I found this little round table on a local garage sale site for $15 (great deal, right?). I thought that it was just small enough for my first go at this.

I decided to use Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint (here on end to be referenced as ASCP as it is commonly done so) in Old White. I wanted to use just one colour to keep it simple. I also thought that since it's originally dark, I will surely be able to get some of that colour through by slightly sanding after applying some clear wax to get that aged look. 
I know I didn't have to sand first but the surface was slightly scratched in some places so I sanded the top a little bit with a 320 grade sandpaper on the more obvious spots hoping that it wouldn't affect the smoothness after painting. I don't know why but I had so much confidence in the paint that I was willing to risk not putting much effort into sanding.

I painted the whole table (even the bottom of the top).

This is what it looked like after the first coat. I was so excited as it already started to look like what I had envisioned! It may look from the picture that it was good enough as it had some dark paint showing and it looked as though the effect is there but I didn't think it covered evenly (and I was really curious to see what a second coat would do!) so I decided to let it dry to put on a second coat.

After the 1st coat:

After the 2nd coat:

It had a much better finish. It was already beautiful in my eyes! I think I was just happy to have transformed something on my own. I know it was just paint but I painted it!
I guess I could have left it like that but I did learn some distressing techniques so I couldn't NOT try them. I was literally DYING to try but I had to let the paint dry really well first.

(While I waited, I started painting a lamp base - I will post some pictures of that in the future! Also, I was helping my 9 year-old son with his own painting project, which I have to show you next time as well!)
The next step was to apply clear wax to the whole piece to protect it. I waxed first before sanding to minimize the dust (BTW, don't worry about all the different materials I'm mentioning. I made a one-stop shop to get all these things which I'll list below along with the cost for you!). Then I used a 320 grade sandpaper to distress some arbitrary spots. I wasn't sure I wanted to sand the top. I didn't want to leave it all white so it stood out from the legs which had some distressing so I brushed on some dark wax and rub it in with clear wax to lessen the brightness of it.

Here are the finished shots:

I was so proud!! It was fun and really easy to do in one afternoon! I loved that I got to be creative on it like art. Best of all, I was just happy I got up to do this for ME. If I can do this, ANYONE can do this to change up their tired furniture.

I want to thank Dorothy from Deuxième Début. It was watching her beautiful work on Facebook that kindled my desire and her workshop that got me the courage do do this now. Please visit her website and her Facebook page to see what I mean!

Here is the list of materials that I used - all of which I got at Piorra Maison. They carry ASCP and it is the closest location to me. (I love their store - I want to have a store just like that!) You can check out the retailers near you on Annie Sloan's website. I will give you an approximate cost (in Canadian dollars) based on memory of the materials just to give you an idea:
  • 1 can of Annie Sloan chalk paint in Old White (646 ml) - $50
  • 1 can of Annie Sloan soft clear wax (500 ml)- $40
  • 1 can of Annie Sloan soft dark wax (500 ml)- $40
  • 1 2" (50mm) Nylon brush (for the paint) - $6
  • 1 natural bristle brush (for the clear wax) - $20 though you can go for cheaper alternative but these don't shed as much as I was told
  • 1 natural bristle brush (for the dark wax) - $20
  • 1 sheet of 320 grade sand paper (less than a $1)
  • 1 rag (less than a $1) -  or use an old cotton t-shirt
So $150 sounds like a lot but aside from the sandpaper and rag, everything else will last me for a LONG time, even the paint. It really doesn't take much paint; I hardly put a dent in the can for this project. I just figured it was worth the investment now that I can really redo my own furniture!

I haven't had a chance to paint again as it has been pretty busy lately but I am itching to do paint again. I'll probably do more in the same colour...but I haven't decided yet. Come back and find out! Hope you got something out of this post. Cheers!!